§ (1) For the purpose of enabling the members of the police forces of England and Wales to consider and bring to the notice of the police authorities and the Secretary of State all the matters affecting their welfare and efficiency, 2442 other than questions of discipline and promotion affecting individuals, there shall be established in accordance with the Schedule to this Act an organisation to be called the Police Federation, which shall act through local and central representative bodies as provided in that Schedule.
§ (2) The Police Federation and every branch thereof shall be entirely independent of and unassociated with any body or person outside the police service.
§ Mr. ROYCE
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "other than questions of discipline and promotion affecting individuals."
We are quite conscious of the great benefit that this Bill proposes to confer upon the police, and before proceeding with the Amendment I should like to express my regret and the regret of the Labour party in this House at the ill-advised action of the police in connection with last night's strike. We regret it, especially at a moment when efforts are being made to increase the liberties of the force, and we consider that such action is entirely detrimental to their interests and reflects in a measure upon those who desire to further extend their liberties. We feel, in connection with the establishment of the Police Federation, that that institution will fail in its object unless the members of the federation have a fairly free opportunity of expressing their views and their wishes, and when you rule out at the beginning such matters as promotion and pay you practically remove the greatest interest in the men's lives so far as their service is concerned. The hope of reward is the one thing that appeals to every man, and, in the event of any dissatisfaction, surely it would be to the interests of the force and of all concerned that they should have an opportunity of expressing their views freely in this connection.
The Federation, so far as I have been able to gather, fails to find favour with the police. It is a sort of a three-storey institution. I really do not know which is the top storey and which is the bottom one, and whether the ground floor is the place that the men will aim at occupying or the top storey. But in any case, if you rule out questions of pay and promotion then this Federation will fail to deal with what must be one of the ruling objects of the men in the service. I see no reason why these subjects should be debarred. If injustice is done in connection with either pay or promotion, the men should have full freedom of expression for their views on the subject. I recognise that there must be certain restrictions in a force 2443 constituted as the police are constituted, but there should not be these restrictions pertaining to items which are of the greatest possible interest to every man in the force.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I am afraid that my hon. Friend has not read the words of the Bill with that care which usually characterises him in this House. There is no question here as to pay. It is discipline and promotion that are mentioned, and, moreover, there is nothing in these words which will prevent any board or conference discussing questions of discipline and promotion. They can make any representations they like on these matters. It is only in the case of a single individual that the restriction is imposed. What it means is, that it is impossible, where there has been some disciplinary action, that the body should be allowed to deal with individual cases. As my hon. Friend says, there must be some restrictions in a body like this. But there is no intention to impose restrictions on the discussion of, or the power to make representations, concern-ins promotion or methods of promotion, or matters affecting the success of the men in their career. Practically, every objection which my hon. Friend has raised is one which does not exist in the words as they stand here. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will not press this Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I beg to move, to leave out Sub-section (2).
The meaning of this Sub-section is that once the Police Federation set up by this Bill is established, it will not be able to associate with any other association, nor will any branch of the Federation be permitted to associate with any other body of persons outside. I suggest that this is too drastic and explosive a part of the Bill, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether it is reasonable absolutely to isolate members of the police force from all other activities, and to declare that they, unlike all other wage-earners, must form one separate section and be totally denied all contact or association with their fellow 2444 wage-earners in different trades and occupations. In face of what has occurred and what may occur, it is necessary to approach this subject in the broadest possible temper and the most reasonable frame or mind. The Home Secretary must now feel that while the police force is disposed to do its duty it is not disposed absolutely to submit to the law of force, as imposed upon it by this Bill. Something more than this repression will be necessary if the loyalty of the police force is to be assured and its good will in the public service is to be continued. I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman is taking too optimistic a view of the immediate prospects if he has revealed to us what is in his mind in his statement to-day. It is disquieting to see even the beginning of discontent in the police force revealed in this form. It will be a worse thing to provoke further discontent and acts of revolt by pursuing a course which is not consistent with the sense of liberty with which these men are supposed to serve.
As I understand, the police last year were assured in the words of the Prime Minister that they would not be interfered with in the exercise of their right to be in any association chosen by themselves. This Sub-section not merely denies them the right to be in any association, but even forces them by law to be in an association chosen by the Government. This Subsection says that that association must have no contact with any other association, organisation, or body of men of any kind outside the police force. I would even go so far as to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the surest way to secure peace and to enlist the highest degree of loyalty from the men in the force would be not to proceed with this Bill this afternoon, but to withdraw it and to take such steps as can be taken to try to settle matters by mediation, discussion, and negotiation, and by appealing to the men's sense of loyalty, and not by using this extreme instrument of oppression which is to be used to-day. We have previously in this House and in the Committee stage discussed many aspects of the Bill, and I will not go into these details now We on these benches are as anxious as any Members in this House can be to retain the loyalty of the police force, but I repeat my profound conviction that you can only have that loyalty in exchange for freedom and if you deny these men the right to associate themselves together in order to improve their position as wage-earners and 2445 their personal condition in the service, you are placing them under a sense of injustice which will rankle and may grow worse, and I think that you will not have in future that trustworthy body of men which you have had in the public service in the past. This is not an opportune time for proceeding with a Bill so drastic as this, which proposes to force them into one association set up by the Government and which denies thorn the right to form themselves into a voluntary association, and which in any case prohibits them entirely from any association with any other body.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I appreciate to the full the desire of my right hon. Friend and those who act with him to secure a loyal and efficient force, but I cannot possibly agree with him either as to the best method by which that can be done or as to the necessity at this moment for any such negotiations or appeals as he has indicated. The information I gave to the House amply proves the complete loyalty of the police force. They are absolutely loyal, and they are a force of which this country, I think, may well be proud. As to the suggestion that this Bill should be withdrawn, I cannot imagine a more unfortunate time than the present in which to bring that proposal forward. I think nothing could have proved more conclusively than the events of last night the absolute necessity for this Bill. The question has been raised as to what this Bill provides. It does not provide to isolate the members of the police force from their neighbours or their neighbours' associations and institutions. It deals with the question of the federation as a federation. This particular Sub-section does not affect the liberty of the individual policeman in the slightest degree. His liberty is affected by Clause 2 of the Bill, which makes it unlawful for a member of a police force to be "a member of any trade union or of any association having for its objects, or one of its objects, to control or influence the pay, pensions, or conditions of service of any police force." We are told that this is far too drastic, that it is a measure of force imposed upon the police. In September of last year, when the police were in a very much more un restful condition than they are to-day, they came to an agreement as to what right they should have for joining any other body of persons. My right hon. Friend was incorrect in saying that the Prime Minister ever for one moment sug- 2446 gested to them, or that they insisted, that they were to be entitled freely to join a trade union as a trade union. The terms upon which they joined it were signed by Mr. Marston himself on behalf of the police force, and they are these:There can be no objection to a member of the police force joining the National Union of Police and Prison Officers so long as such union does not claim or attempt to interfere with the regulations and discipline of the service, or to induce members of the force to withhold their services, but that in the event of the breach of this condition—and if it was never broken before, it was certainly broken last night—members of the force may be called upon to sever their connection with such union.Those were their own terms, the terms signed by Mr. Marston. Take the words of this Sub-section—The Police Federation and every branch thereof shall be entirely independent of, and un-associated with, any body or person outside the police service.What were the terms they agreed to in September? Here is one of the terms, again signed by Mr. Marston:The organisation shall be entirely within the force, and shall be entirely independent of, and unassociated with, any outside body.Those are the very words which are in this Bill, and they were accepted by the police last September, and signed as accepted by Mr. Marston himself. I think, in view of these facts, my right hon. Friend Is hardly justified in using the expression he has used with regard to this particular position. I appreciate his motive to the full. I can assure him that I am as anxious as he is that we should have a loyal and efficient force. I can assure him that I want, if possible, and so far as it is compatible with the discipline which is absolutely essential, the police to have as full and free power of expression, of recommendation and of discussion as it is possible to give them. I have made here an honest attempt to give that.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I want to join with my hon. Friend on the right in an expression of regret at the ill-advised action of last night. It places myself and my colleagues in a most difficult position in our attempts to modify the provisions of this Bill. I trust, however, that anything which happened last night will not be allowed to prejudice the merits of the case we seek to put forward. I am not concerned myself with what took place in September 2447 last. What I am concerned with is the principle involved in this Sub-section, and that is that members of the police force are prohibited from joining any outside body. There are chief constables with varied minds. It is still open to a chief constable so minded to say that the policeman, who is invested with civil powers as far as his vote is concerned, shall not belong to any particular political body. That limitation is not placed on any other member of the Civil Service. I see no reason why a policeman should not be affiliated to a political body, and I see no reason why he should not present to that body in a purely constitutional manner any grievance he has got in order that legislation may be enacted for his benefit. Whether or not Mr. Marston or the Police Union signed the terms which have been referred to, the principle still remains, and it is still just possible, if I may reduce the argument to absurdity, that some fractious chief constable might object to a constable belonging to a Christmas goose club.
§ Mr. SHORTT
This does not affect the liberty of the individual policeman in the slightest degree. His liberty remains absolutely, except in so far as it is limited by Clause 2. This does not touch the liberty of the individual. He can belong to any body which does not affect the police.
§ Mr. CLYNES
Is it not the fact that he loses his individual liberty in this sense that he is deprived of acting in association with his fellow policemen.
§ Mr. SEXTON
Let me press my point which is that under the Federation to be established by the Bill the policemen would be prohibited from even discussing or putting before anybody other than the police force any question. They could not even come to the Labour party to state a grievance, although not affiliated to them, and to say that they wanted to move in a constitutional manner in order to secure benefits in the direction of pay or promotion, or for any other object, without any attempt to strike or threat to strike. This Bill denies them that opportunity and for that reason I shall vote against this Clause.
§ Colonel GREIG
I am in thorough sympathy, as I am sure every Member is, with 2448 the position of the police, and with the desire to remove any grievances they may suffer from. I should be the last man to say any word out of sympathy with the police. From my experience of them during the War I believe they discharged their duty as well as any other body in. this country. I had many of them under my command, and they were eager to take up arms in defence of their country; and from the way they discharged their duties as civil officers I was satisfied that they would do their duty in the War, and they did. If I say anything now it is not out of sympathy with the police. What is their position. They are not in the position either of the ordinary citizen or of the ordinary Civil servant. Until we get home that root idea I am afraid hon. Members on this side and hon. Members opposite will not agree on the point. What is a police constable or policeman? He is an ordinary citizen who has confided to him by the rest of the community some of the most vital rights that affect the liberty of the individual. He has the right to interfere in crucial ways with the liberty of every one of us. That is a right which is confided to him by the rest of his fellow members, and it is a right which requires the utmost discretion in its exercise, and it is a right for the exercise of which he is responsible to his fellow citizens and not to any particular one of them. What does this Clause do? The first Clause of this Bill enables policemen of all ranks to form an association such as is set out in the Schedule of the Bill. That differs in no way from an ordinary trade union except this. Before the Trade Union Act of 1871 a trade union was an illegal association.
§ Colonel GREIG
It is not. Trade unions have been recognised. They have to go to the Registrar of Friendly Societies to be registered.
§ Colonel GREIG
Everyone knows that it may be an illegal association unless it does, and all the great trade unions, in order to put themselves in the same position as friendly societies, have to register. They put before the Registrar their objects, and the method of appointment of officers, and are subject to control in regard to funds.
§ Mr. SEXTON
My hon. Friend is entirely wrong in his knowledge of trade union procedure. Trade unions are not legally liable for benefits.
§ Colonel GREIG
A trade union is registered under a certain provision. This Bill gives the policeman a statutory union comparable in every way with the other unions, the only difference being that it is set up by this particular Statute. The essential difference between it and any other union is that while a trade union, registered or unregistered, can choose anybody to be a member or an officer in control of the union, that is a right, and the only right, of the ordinary citizen which the police-constable is deprived of by this Bill. What is set up is a federation, and policemen can use that federation as a means of communicating any complaints, but everybody in control of that federation must be one of themselves and must not be an outside person. That is quite right, because, to come back to the point I made originally, if we, the whole of the citizens of the community, entrust to a number of men the right to interfere with our liberty, those men are not merely acting as agents of the particular Government of the day, but are acting as the deputees of the whole of the community. We will not submit those rights to a particular section if we know that that section may be controlled by outside influences which are not responsible to the community. That is the whole point under which the police-constable is deprived of the general right. That is quite correct, and it is constitutional, and does him no harm. If that is what this Bill does, there can be no suggestion that the policeman is put in a worse position than anybody else. It is essential, if policemen are to be in a position to discharge their duties to the whole of the community, and it is only fair to the rest of the community that they shall not be subjected to outside influence or outside control by individuals who have no responsibility to the Government or to their fellow-citizens, and who will in moments of excitement do things which policemen themselves would regret. I hope the Government will resist the Amendment.
§ Mr. WATERSON
It is exceedingly strange that the Government should bring up this Bill at this particular time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] We are bound to treat the matter with a certain amount 2450 of suspicion when we consider that the police have been in existence a good many years, and if all the good things foreshadowed by the Home Secretary are to be provided, it is strange that the Government should bring in this Bill, with all the unrest which is going on in the ranks of the policemen of this country. The hon. Member who has just sat down has referred to the question that this Bill enables these men to form an association, but when we come to examine what that association will really be, we venture to say that it will not give them that individual liberty and freedom which to-day is found in the ranks of what is commonly known as ordinary trade unionism. It was stated by the hon. Member that the control of this new Federation will be entirely by the men's representatives themselves, and that the men themselves can appoint and control their own officials, but that they must be members of the force. I ask the Home Secretary, and the hon. Member in particular, how it can be possible for any man of the force to be a general secretary of this union, at the same time carrying out his duties as an. ordinary constable or officer of the force? Any man who has a spark of knowledge of trade union work knows it is necessary for the secretary of a union to give the whole of his time, his power, and his ability to it, and not to be tied down by any other official body, in order that he may be able to do his duty to the men who belong to that particular union.
Besides, this is setting up an employers' trade union, nothing more nor less. I have been in my experience a representative of the men on what I could easily term an employers' friendly society, but although we had the majority of representatives on that committee, we were utterly useless, because the employers held the upper hand every time, and although their voting power on the management committee was in the minority, the conditions were framed in such a way that we were unable to get any advantage from the position we occupied as representatives, just as it would be in the case of this Federation. As the right hon. Gentleman below me (Mr. Clynes) suggested, if we are to have a loyal force we should have within it the individual liberty which will give these men their rights as British citizens. Even if this Bill to-day may tide over the difficulty for the moment, I want the Home Secretary to think of what is going to 2451 happen in the future. The age in which we live is not an antediluvian period, and people have not got the same ideas to-day as they had a good many years ago. They have greater aspirations, and the ex-Service men coming from the Army are not going to be treated in the same way as they have been treated hitherto, and these men, from whom the force largely recruits, arc not going to bind themselves under any military dictatorship, because that is what it amounts to. We should expect this Bill to come from the War Office rather than from the Home Secretary's Department, and I submit that it is no inducement for the rising generation to be recruited into the force. I want to draw the Home Secretary's attention to the fact that this principle is not being applied all round, but only to the policeman. If it is logical for one section of the Home Office to belong to a trade union simply brought in and probably managed by the Home Secretary's Department, is it not just as logical to say that the Home Secretary himself and others of the great legal profession should withdraw from their union and come within the scope of a Bill of this character? If it is good for the ordinary man at the bottom rung of the ladder, then the whole of the legal profession should withdraw from their union, and the same provisions should apply to them as are being made to apply to the police. What is the Home Secretary afraid of in this respect? If the men have a just case—and I consider that they have —there is no measure in this Bill that will prevent them from amalgamating their forces with the idea of getting better conditions. I hope the Home Secretary will view it from the point of view that it is no encouragement to young men to join the force, but rather is distasteful to the community, and I hope he will withdraw this Clause from the Bill.
§ Gentleman the Member for the Platting Division (Mr. Clynes) and the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton), as trade unionists and men who have always fought for the full trade union principle, should oppose this Clause, but I am sure that if either of them was in the position of the Home Secretary at such a time as this, and quite independent of trade unionism, they would feel bound to support this principle, for I think they will see at once that it would be impossible for a federation such as is proposed in this Bill to become affiliated with any outside trade union, because what might happen would be this: They would be affiliated with some trade union, such as the transport workers, for example; there might be a big strike on, with rioting and disorder, and the police would be called out. It would be said, "They are affiliated to our union, and we cannot therefore do anything against them, although we believe they are in the wrong." I am sure all hon. Members will see that point of view. One hon. Member said he thought no policeman would ever be able to put his grievances before Members of the Labour party, but I should like to hear what the Home Secretary has to say on that point. The Federation as such cannot approach the Labour party, but I do not believe any individual policeman would be debarred from putting an individual grievance before a member of the Labour party or before the Labour party as a whole, and saying, "The members of the Federation feel such-and-such a thing very strongly, and I wish you would take it up in the House of Commons." [Mr. SHORTT indicated assent.] I believe that is right and just, and I am glad to see the Home Secretary assents. It does away with the feeling that the policemen have no opportunity of getting their grievances ventilated.
§ Question put, "That Sub-section (2) stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 117; Noes, 28..2453
|Division No. 82.]||AYES.||12.54 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Courthope, Major George Loyd|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Breese, Major C. E.||Craig, Captain Charles C. (Antrim)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. F. W.||Bridgeman, William Clive||Craik, Right Hon. Sir Henry|
|Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Davies, T. (Cirencester)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Buckley, Lt.-Col. A.||Dockrell, Sir M.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Edge, Captain William|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Carille, Sir Edward Hildred||Falcon, Captain M.|
|Barrand, A. R.||Cautley, Henry Strother||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Clyde, James Avon||Farquharson, Major A. C.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Cohen, Major J. B. B.||FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Colfox, Major W. P.||Forestier-Walker, L.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||M'Donald, Dr. B. F. P. (Wallasey)||Short), Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John.||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Stirling)||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Glyn, Major R.||M'Guffin, Samuel||Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Green, J. F. (Leicester)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Bosworth)||Sturrock, J. Leng-|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.)||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sykes, Col. Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Griggs, Sir Peter||Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Guest, Capt. Hon. F. E. (Dorset, E.)||Moles, Thomas||Thomas, Sir R. (Wrexham, Denb.)|
|Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hon. W. E. (B. St. E.)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Hacking, Captain D. H.||Morison, T. B. (Inverness)||Walton, J. (York, Don Valley)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds.)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Ward, Colonel L. (Kingston-upon Hull)|
|Henderson, Major V. L.||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Warner, sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||White, Col G. D. (Southport)|
|Hood, Joseph||O'Neill, Captain Hon. Robert w. H.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Parker, James||Williams, A. (Conset, Durham)|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Parry, Major Thomas Henry||Williams, Lt-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Hurst, Major G. B.||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Jameson, Major J. G.||Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Jessen, C.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Jodrell, N. P.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Johnstone, J.||Rees, Captain J. Tudor (Barnstaple)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord E|
|Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)||Seddon, J. A.||Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Seely, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. John|
|Arnold, Sydney||Macveagh, Jeremiah||Short, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Morris, Richard||Sitch, C. H.|
|Briant, F.||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Coins)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||O'Connor, T. P.||Waterson, A. E.|
|Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||O'Grady, James||Wignall, James|
|Dawes, J. A.||Onions, Alfred||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Young, Robert (Newton, Lancs.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh)||Royce, William Stapleton||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Harbison, T. J. S.||Sexton, James||T. Wilson and Mr. T. Griffiths.|
|Hartshorn, V.||Shaw, Tom (Preston)|
Question put, and agreed to.