§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir G. Cave)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
This Bill proposes to raise the limit of the Metropolitan Police rate from 11d. to 1s. 1d. The main purpose of the Bill is to enable us to carry out a promise which we have made to raise the war bonus of the Metropolitan Police from 8s.to 12s., and the additional allowance to married men from 1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. for each dependent child. The Metropolitan Police have done their duty, I think we all agree, admirably during the War, and without complaint, but there is no doubt that the cost of living and other necessary expenses have increased, and the Commissioner thinks that there is a good case for the increase in the bonus. It is the fact that in the provinces the local police have been granted bonuses from time to time, and in many cases they have been the same amounts as we are giving in London. Having reviewed the whole position, I am satisfied that the proposal is justified and that we are bound to give this increase in the war bonus. This will involve a rate increase of 1d. in the £, and a further increase will have to be made to meet the pay of men when they come back from the Army. Therefore we propose an increase of 2d. in the limit, but the effect of the Bill is that we can increase the rate at once by id., making it 1s., but that before the rate is raised by an extra 1d. we must present to the House a Minute stating reasons for the increase.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Might I just say, in a word, that personally I am very glad this Bill has been introduced, and I am quite sure it will meet with no opposition from any quarter of the House? We all know that, so far as the Metropolitan Police are concerned, they discharge their duties with great efficiency, courtesy, tact, and judgment, and that they have been hard hit, as many other people have been, by the continuing rise in the cost of living. I am quite sure, therefore, that they will appreciate what the House is doing this afternoon, and, for my part, I give the measure my hearty support.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I want to associate myself with the remarks of the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Anderson). I am quite sure there will be no kind of opposi- 636 tion to this Bill, and I rose only to ask a question. It appears to me that this necessary and well-deserved increase in the pay of the police may not be adequate —especially the bonus which is given. I do not want to labour that point at all or to discuss it, but I do want to ask the right hon. Gentleman what steps he has taken in arriving at the basis of the increase to ascertain the present rise in the cost of living. We heard recently that there was some disagreement between the Board of Trade and other Departments with regard to the estimates of what the cost to the working classes has been owing to the increased cost of living, and that an expert inquiry was going to be set on foot to attempt to determine the matter. I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman has been able to avail himself of any expert inquiry in the matter, and if he has acted in consultation with the Board of Trade in this direction?
§ Mr. KING
I want to draw attention to another point. Of course, I agree with what was said by both my hon. Friends, but I wish to draw attention to the increase of the rate. There is a feeling in London, which has been expressed very strongly in times past, and which may be expressed again, that to go on increasing. the police rate without giving the local authority any power or say over one money spent is not to act in accordance with the true principle of local government, and I, as a London ratepayer, object to having my rates increased without—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That question does not. arise upon this Bill. It is a very wide question of general policy that cannot be raised here.
§ Mr. KING
Perhaps I shall be able to put down an Amendment which will bring, at any rate, part of this question up on this Bill; but there is another point. I am aware, and the Home Secretary is aware, that in certain quarters of the police force there has been friction, and I believe myself that the Chief Commissioners of Police—two or three men at the top of the police force—are unsympathetic. I do not want to labour the point. Some of my questions have reference to this matter, and I do not want. specially to attack anybody at the, moment.
§ Mr. KING
Why? Well, perhaps I will; but the Home Secretary knows what I mean when I say that the power of the Chief Commissioners becomes greater when you raise the pay of the men, and I want, therefore, to appeal to him to do everything he can to create and increase a feeling of confidence, sympathy, and humanity between the men at the top of the Metropolitan Police Force and the rank and file.
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ Sir G. CAVE
May I say a few words with regard to the question of the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark (Mr. Whitehouse)? Before the bonus was fixed very careful inquiries were made, and we not only had the advantage of the official figures, but care was taken to ascertain the feeling 638 and experience of the men themselves. It was after that inquiry that the scale was fixed.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Tuesday next.—[Sir G. Cave.]