HC Deb 13 February 1917 vol 90 cc560-1

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £56,770, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1917, for the Expenses of the Royal Irish Constabulary."


The Royal Irish Constabulary stand on a different footing from the Dublin Metropolitan Police. They are paid by the taxpayers of the United Kingdom, and are mainly a military body. I desire to raise a question as to the pensions and gratuities payable to the widows and children of members of this force who lost their lives in the rebellion of last spring. Before the right hon. Gentleman was Chief Secretary I asked a good many questions about the widows and children of, at any rate, two of these people. I have always had difficulty in finding exactly what pension and gratuity were being awarded. Naturally enough, in the regulations of the force, nothing has been laid down as to what is to be done where a constable loses his life in what may be called civil war. A policeman does not expect it. A soldier joins the Army to fight. If he loses his life his wife and children get certain gratuities and pensions. But a constable enlists in the force with the idea that he will serve his time, and that when he arrives at a certain age, or becomes infirm, he will retire with a certain pension, or, if he dies suddenly, or in certain circumstances, his wife and children may get a pension or gratuity. But here we have men who were killed in action, just as much as any soldier who is killed in the course of this terrible War. After a great deal of negotiations and trouble, and after the widow of one of these men had taken an action at law they come out not too well. The widow and four children of a head constable are, I understand, to get a pension of £75 a year. The head constable is about equal to a sergeant-major in a military battalion. If a sergeant-major killed in action left a widow and four children they would certainly get more than £75 a year. I have worked out that at the very lowest they would get £104 a year, and I think that they would get more. On that showing alone the widow and four children of Head Constable Rowe are not getting what they have a right to get, and I would ask the Chief Secretary to see that that pension is increased. The other two cases are much the same. It is not enough to give the widow and child of a sergeant merely £56 to live on. In the case of a sergeant in the Army the widow gets a much better pension and gratuity than is put down in this Supplementary Estimate. I do not know about the three disabled constables, as to whether they are totally disabled. But even if they are I think that £l a week is a reasonable pension to give them. But with regard to the widows and children the sums which are being given should be increased and made equal to what would be given in the case of widows and children of soldiers who are killed in action.


I have gone into each of these cases, and I discussed them with the officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary. We arrived at a figure which they and I were satisfied was the figure we ought to recommend. That figure was laid before the Lords of the Treasury and accepted, and except from the hon. Gentleman I have heard no objection.


Will the right hon. Gentleman have the kindness to answer a question I put last Wednesday in regard to the payment to be made to Mrs. Sheehy-skeffington?


That does not arise on this Vote.


I did not say it did.

Question put, and agreed to.