§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
asked the Home Secretary if he has issued instructions to police authorities to swear in 1515 citizens as a special police force; whether persons are being informed that it is compulsory on them to be so sworn; and whether any instructions have been given to the police as to their action in the case of those who, for conscientious or other reasons, refuse to take the oath or to serve?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
Two circulars were issued from the Home Office last autumn calling the attention of police authorities to the desirability of making provision for the temporary increase of their forces in times of emergency by the establishment of special police reserves or the enrolment of special constables. By law any qualified person appointed a special constable who refuses to serve is liable to a penalty; but what the Home Office suggested was the enrolment of persons willing to serve. I have issued no such instructions as those referred to in the first part of the question. I am not aware that any persons are being informed that it is compulsory on them to be sworn, and as I have no reason to think any police officer or magistrate has proposed to make use of the compulsory powers, there has been no occasion to issue any instructions of the nature referred to in the last part of the question.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I should like to ask whether the railway companies have power to swear in those constables, and if he is aware that preferential treatment is given to those who allow themselves to be sworn in as against those who conscientiously object?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I believe the answer to the first part of the hon. Member's question is in the affirmative. I have no information as to the second part of the question.