§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Shortt)
I beg to move,That the Bill be now read a second time.It will not be necessary for me to refer at any great length to the circumstances which led to the introduction of this Bill. It is common knowledge that for some considerable time an amount of discontent has existed amongst the police, not only the Metropolitan police, but the police in other parts of the country, and that that discontent came to a head in September last year. At that time an agreement was made which it was hoped would have allayed the discontent and put matters upon a better footing. Unfortunately, that hope was not realised, and when I took up the office which I have now the honour to hold, in last January, it was quite evident that there was an amount of discontent among the police all over the country which was exciting disquiet. Every one of us knows perfectly well the record of the police force in this country. We know the class of men who compose it. Therefore, to anyone who takes the trouble to think, it must have been evident, when we find men of that class and character discontented, ripe for even revolt, and, unfortunately, rapidly becoming a fertile ground for the doctrines of men of very wild and extreme views, that something had to be done, and done as quickly as possible. The police forces of this country are not very large in number. In the Metropolis the number at the present time of all ranks is about 21,500. The City of London police, which is a special body of its own, constituted by charter and by various private Acts, number 1,160. There are fifty-eight county police forces in England and Wales, and they number about 18,000 men, and there are also about 128 city and borough police forces, who number very nearly 19,000, so that in England and Wales there are about 60,000 police. in Scotland the numbers are much smaller. There are thirty-one counties and twenty-nine city boroughs, with police numbering something under 6,000 in all. Thus the police are a considerable body, 796 but, having regard to the work which they do, the responsibilities which it involves, and the circumstances in which they work, they are a surprisingly small body to maintain in this country the order that is in fact maintained. As I have said before, it was quite evident that something would have to be done. Therefore, in February last I approached a number of Gentlemen, and we set up a Committee to deal with the police question. The reference to the Committee, which was appointed on 1st March of this year, was:To consider and report whether any and what changes shall be made in the method of recruiting for, and the conditions of service of, and the rates of pay, pension and allowances to the Police Forces of England. Wales and Scotland.We were fortunate enough to secure Lord Desborouh as chairman, and the Committee at once set to work. I should like now to express, as far as I am able, the deep sense of gratitude which we all ought to feel to that Committee and the great debt we owe to them. It has been a much more complicated, a much more onerous, and a much longer task than any of us contemplated, but they have brought to it an unsparing and untiring industry and zeal which has been of enormous value They have gone very completely into the subject. As the House will realise, the terms of reference were very wide. It involved practically the whole of the questions, save one, which were at that time agitating the police. One of the main agitating questions was the question of the Police Union and its recognition. I am glad to remind the House that, so far as the Committee is concerned, that question was specifically kept out of their scope; they had no concern with it of any sort or description. It was felt that it was not a matter germane to their inquiry; it might have led to difficulties in the personnel of the Committee. Therefore we kept away from the Committee the question of the Police Union and its recognition. I would ask the House to recollect that anything I say in regard to the union and its recognition, and the permission or power to be given to the union, is not based on any recommendations of the Committee. They are entirely apart from the Committee and for them the Committee had no responsibility whatever. Practically every question, except that one, was within the purview of the investigations of the Committee. The Committee have now reported. It is a first 797 Report and another will come. It was received by me on 1st July of this year, and I venture to say that it is a document of the greatest possible utility, clearly drawn up, comprehensive in character, and making recommendations which go deeply into all that concerns the police and their welfare. It deals mainly with the questions of pay, pensions and hours—I mean remuneration as a whole and hours. It touches on other points, but those are the two main questions with which it deals.
That does not exhaust the scope of the inquiry. As they themselves point out, there still remains for them to consider the question of recruiting and training, discipline, promotion, leave, medical arrangements, the other questions relating to pensions, the grouping of police authorities for purposes of control, and the merging of smaller boroughs into county forces. Therefore the position is this: We had before us the Report of the Committee dealing with the question of remuneration and hours. In course of time we shall have reports dealing with the other matters I have just specified. There is the question of the union, and all that that question involves. The question then arose, what was the best course to adopt? We might, had we chosen, have introduced one Bill dealing with remuneration and hours, have awaited the second Report and then brought in another Bill dealing with questions dealt with in that Report, and a third Bill dealing with the question of the union and all that that involves. That, on the face of it, is a cumbersome method. On consideration, it became perfectly clear that the method in which the recommendations of the Committee could be best carried out would be by giving to the Secretary of State powers to make regulations standardising the forces of the country. I shall deal with that at greater length in a moment. They are recommendations which will involve change from time to time. Rates of pay which are adequate to-day may call for revision years hence. It may be possible to organise hours to-day, but they may call for change later on. Therefore we came to the conclusion that the only practicable method of carrying out the recommendation was to give the Secretary of State power to make regulations, carrying out the recommendations of the Committee, and, equally, if any future Committee were set up, to carry out the recommendations of that future Committee. It was evident that it was possible to put the 798 whole of the recommendations of this Report in this Bill, and when it arrives carry out the whole of the recommendations of any second Report by means of powers given under this Bill. In other words, that we were able to avoid a cumbersome method of procedure and the taking of more than one bite at the cherry.
We, therefore, thought it better to include in this particular Bill the whole of the police questions, in so far that we have taken powers which will enable us to carry out the recommendations of this Report, and the recommendations of any subsequent Report, and will enable us to put upon a proper footing the question of the union. I want, in fairness to the Committee, to make it perfectly clear what their responsibility is for that which appears in this Bill. Their responsibility is for the recommendations with regard to pay, remuneration, and hours. They have no concern whatever for recommendations with regard to the union, and all that that involves, nor with regard to the powers which are taken for dealing with benevolent associations. That is the general position, and that is the reason why the Bill is introduced in this form. I am aware that there are some who think that the subjects ought to have been divided. We have considered that. We came to the conclusion that it was much better to deal with the whole subject at once. One tiling the Committee made perfectly clear, and that is the absolute necessity of maintaining in the police forces of this country that local character and those local associations which have proved so efficient in the past. They have gone into the question and considered how far it was desirable to have a national system of police. It is very difficult to institute a system of national police without it at once assuming a military character. We have succeeded in this country, by local protection and local control and local association, in having police forces which have worked in close harmony with their surroundings, in close harmony with those with whom they are dealing and for whom they are responsible, and I agree entirely with the conclusion of the Committee that it would be highly undesirable to change that local and closely - related position which has existed so successfully in the past, and to introduce anything which might eventually take upon itself a military form and a military aspect. Therefore, so far as that is concerned, the 799 police would remain as they always have been in this country, a local matter under local control, it may be as the Committee point out subject to local readjustment in the sense of grouping the very small boroughs, and so on. But substantially the police will maintain the local and civil character which they have always had in this country.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I am dealing, as my hon. Friend knows, with the question of Great Britain, and I am prepared at any subsequent suitable moment to discuss the question of Ireland. That is the position so far as the character of the police is concerned, but the Committee have found that the circumstances and conditions vary very considerably all over the country in uniformity either of control or of hours or of any of the conditions, and that there is no standardisation, and the result, in the opinion of the Committee, is that that lack of uniformity and the differences which exist between one force and another have been a very prominent cause in the unrest existing. And they recommend, and again I am glad to say that it seems to me their recommendation is a wise one, that there should be a standardisation of the police right throughout the country which would ensure that there was similarity and equality of remuneration of work, of liabilities and responsibilities, and, equally, of privileges, and that can be carried out without any way interfering with local control, local associations, and local sympathies. In the Bill we have therefore taken power to enable the Secretary of State to make regulations as to Government pay, allowances, pensions, clothing, responsibility and conditions of service of the members of all police forces in England and Wales, and every police authority shall comply with the regulations so made. The regulations of the central body are for the purpose of securing uniformity and similarity, and are not in any way for the purpose of interfering with local control. Those regulations, if this Bill becomes law, as I hope it will, will be set up and carried out as quickly as possible.
I will intimate as briefly as I can to the House first of all the proposals made by the Committee and the intention so far as they are confirmed by the Government of accepting and carrying out those recommendations. First of all, dealing 800 with the question of pay, the Committee have come to the conclusion that in the ranks of constables and sergeants there ought to be a standard rate of pay. They have taken an immense amount of evidence on the subject and with the knowledge thus ascertained they have come to the conclusion that although it might seem on the face of it that there was a great difference between the position of say a constable in a pleasant country district and a constable in a rough part of an industrial centre, yet when you come to investigate and inquire into all the circumstances of all the cases that there was indeed a great similarity and great equality of burden in both cases. They have, therefore, suggested that so far as constables and sergeants are concerned their work is equal, and so far as difficulty of burdens is concerned, is standardised and that therefore their pay should be standardised also, and that an equal amount of liability and work should receive an equal amount of pay, no matter what the geographical position of the man was. With regard to higher grades than that of sergeant they find that is not so, and therefore they have not been able to recommend a standard rate of pay for the higher ranks. They have been able to suggest, first of all, that it should be ascertained how far a man of the rank of inspector in one force was doing the same work as a man of the rank of superintendent in another. They find from their evidence that that sort of thing exists and that in the organisation of one force an inspector may be doing work which a superintendent is doing in the organisation of another. They, therefore, have adopted again the equitable principle that as far as possible similar work should receive similar remuneration. It is very difficult or, indeed, impossible to set up a standard rate of pay in this case and therefore they have set down what may be described as a basis on which rates of pay can be fixed.
Dealing first with constables they have recommended that constables should be taken on probation and that they should commence with a pay of 70s. per week, rising up gradually by 2s. per week to 90s. per week. There is a further provision that there should be two further payments for good conduct and efficiency of 2s. 6d. each, so that the constable who reaches twenty-two years' service may be receiving, if he has not been fortunate enough to be promoted, 95s. per week. This is in- 801 clusive pay, and war bonuses are abolished, and allowances for children are abolished for reasons given in. the Report, but I will not take up the time of the House by going into such details as that. The recommendation is, after full consideration, that this should be inclusive pay. With regard to sergeants, they recommend that sergeants should start at 100s. per week on promotion rising by five equal annual increases of 2s. 6d. to 112s. 6d. per week. Those two recommendations we propose to accept exactly as they stand, and the Regulations that will be brought into force will carry out those two recommendations exactly as they are without any modification. I would remind the House that I gave a pledge when we discussed this matter before the Whitsuntide Recess that any amount which was awarded by the Committee and accepted by the Government should be retrospective to the 1st April last, and that pledge I need hardly say we shall keep. The position, therefore, is this—with regard to the amount of arrears back to the 1st April the matter is one that will require calculation. They will have to be calculated for each man in accordance with what his rate of pay was at that time, and whether he was a first-year man or a five-year man or an eight-year man, or a fifteen-year man, and so on. At the same time we do feel that the men have been kept out of their arrears long enough, so what we propose to do is this, to pay to the constables and sergeants in the Metropolitan area, and we hope and believe that the country authorities will do the same, a lump sum of £10 so that each of them will receive £10, that is very nearly all to which a first-year constable would be entitled, and as quickly as ever it can be calculated the balance will be paid, and that, I have no doubt, will enable some of these men to enjoy a holiday, which they richly deserve. May I just mention this, that we are also making provision for a payment in advance to all local police authorities to enable them to do the same thing with their forces if they come into line with the Metropolitan Police Force.
With regard to chief constables, again they cannot be standardised, and, indeed, you cannot even standardise the pay of a chief constable by the number of men in the force. Some boroughs involving equal work, with equal population, have smaller forces than similar boroughs possess, and it is very difficult indeed to 802 get any sort of standard for that rank. But what the Committee has suggested is that there should be a minimum scale, and that suggestion the Government are prepared to accept. There are other matters, for example, the question of housing. The Committee have decided that there should either be provided for the police a free house, or, if that cannot be done, its equivalent in an allowance, a rent allowance. That will be non-pensionable. There is also a boot allowance of 1s. 6d. a week, which is a rise on what they had in the past. Substantially it comes to this, that a man joining a police force and hoping to make it his profession in life, coming in in the early twenties will start with £3 10s. a week. He will have a year on probation, during which period he will have to pay for his own lodgings, but, if he is successful and is accepted as a member of the force, he will start as from the date of his first beginning, the date of his year of probation, with £3 10s. a week. His second year after his year of probation is over he will begin as a fully accepted policeman at £3 12s., and he will so go on rising, if he remains a constable, till, after twenty-two years' service, he will be receiving £4 15s. a week, if he is fortunate enough to get the excess for good conduct and efficiency; and if he has been promoted to a sergeant he will start on his promotion at £5 a week, and he will be able to go up till, in ten years, he will be receiving £5 12s. 6d. a week. In addition to that he will have the assistance towards his boots of 1s. 6d. a week, and he will be living house free, as far as allowance of rent can make it so, during the whole course of his period of service. I hope the House will believe and agree with this Committee that that is most generous and just, and that that is a matter which we arc amply justified on the recommendations in accepting, and it is a financial burden which the public will gladly bear for the men who protect both their lives and their property.
With regard to pensions, they have made a suggestion which requires further consideration before the Government can say they finally accept it. It is a suggestion which is an improvement in some cases and not in others. It is a standardisation of the rates of pension; and, as I say, if it were accepted some forces would find their position improved and others would not, and for that reason, therefore, as I am sure the House will appreciate, it 803 requires more careful consideration. That we shall adopt it, so far as it improves, I think I may safely assure the House, but at the same time I am not in a position to-day to speak as definitely on the question of pensions as I am upon the question of pay. Take, for example, the Metropolitan force. They can retire without a medical certificate after twenty-six years' service. The suggestion of the Committee is that it should be standardised, and that after twenty-five years' service a man could retire without medical certificate with one-half of his then pay, and after thirty years with two-thirds of his pay, with a scale running between twenty-five and thirty years. That would be an improvement, for example, in Scotland, but there are forces in this country where it would not be an improvement, and therefore, as I say, that requires further consideration, and the only assurance I can give the House in regard to that is that we shall do our best to see that there is a measure of improvement all round. Certainly, we are satisfied that standardisation, if possible, is most highly desirable, and that the option to a man to retire earlier than the thirty years' service is equally a proper and a right provision to make, but I cannot say to-day anything more definite than that.
I would like to give the meaning of certain Clauses in the Bill which may appear to be a little obscure. First of all, take Clause 5, which deals with a grievance which exists, and it is this: A policeman joins up, either the Army or the Navy, he is wounded and disabled, he is entitled to his Army or Navy pension, and under the provisions of the existing Act he is entitled from the police to a supplementary pension limited to one-half of what he gets from the Army or Navy. That has been found to work injustice, on this ground, that a man who happens to join up and is disabled from a wound on service, even with the supplementary pension may be receiving less than he would have received had he been injured on duty on the same date as a policeman, and therefore this change is really to ensure that a policeman who has joined up, is wounded and disabled in action, shall receive as good a pension as he would have received had he been injured on duty as a policeman on the date when he received his wound. That is all that does. It is a grievance, and the Clause is intro- 804 duced for that reason into this Bill. The next Clause is "Abolition of limits on police rates." That is the only legislation necessary to enable us to carry out the whole of the recommendations with regard to remuneration and all the recommendations which involve financial payments, and therefore that very short section is really the section which gives us the power to increase the pay and pensions and everything which the Committee recommends. Then there is Clause 7, which is the calculation of amounts payable out of the Exchequer contribution account to the police. That is a provision which is necessary to enable us to make to local authorities the payments which would ensure that the Treasury pay half of the whole of the increases that are given. The Treasury pay half, and the local people pay half. It further provides for some past hardships that have been incurred with regard to the Exchequer contribution account. I do not propose to go into all the complicated details of the Exchequer contribution accounts. It took me a considerable time to understand them, and I am not going to weary the House with then: But I would explain that there was trouble over the complicated details of that account, and that this Clause will enable us to put that right, and to ensure that the Treasury will, as it has promised, bear half the cost of all the increases I have mentioned.
§ Colonel Sir J. REMNANT
Will the right hon. Gentleman agree to-day to confine the Bill to the pay which he admits is overdue and the Clauses dealing with the pay, and how the money is to be found, leaving the other part of the Bill until the final Report is received from the Committee, which will deal with all these points, which are likely to raise considerable discussion to-day and so prevent the immediate payment of the, money which we are all anxious to see?
§ Mr. SHORTT
There is not the slightest necessity, in the first place, for delaying the immediate payment of the money. We propose to take that risk without further delay. We are going to commence at once to pay the flat rate and the increased rate, and we propose to run the risk of the rejection of the Bill. With regard to the other suggestion made, I do not think that my hon. and gallant Friend was in the House when I explained at some length why it was I had put the whole of these matters into this Bill, and why I thought 805 it was so desirable it should be done. Clause 8 deals with contributions out of police funds to provident funds. Some Members may recall that I outlined in some previous Debate—I forget exactly what it was—a suggestion for an imp rove-men in the Police Benevolent Fund. The Metropolitan Police have a fund which is unsatisfactory. I have made arrangements with a very large insurance company for a substituted scheme. That scheme has been put before the men. They have not accepted it. Equally, there is in the country a provident association, which is also on a bad financial footing. This gives us the power, if the forces desire in the future to put their provident funds on a better footing, to give them any assistance they might require. If they do not desire it, then no harm is done, but if they do, this will enable us to give them any assistance necessary in the circumstances.
Those are the whole of the details, and now I come to the question of police combination and police representation. As I have already told the House, the question of the union, the existence of the union or the recognition of the union was not one which was before the Committee at all, and I was surprised—and most agreeably surprised—to find in their Report that they had, although not in great detail, considered the question of an internal organisation amongst the police force, and I was equally—I will not say surprised, but I certainly felt very gratified to find that their recommendations were substantially in accord with those which I and my advisors had worked out in some considerable detail.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I am afraid we cannot accept that. We gave no expression of opinion as to outside organisation. We left that entirely alone.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I thought I had made that perfectly clear. I have taken upon myself full responsibility for all that is in the Bill, and I hope to make it perfectly clear that the Committee have no sort of responsibility for the suggestions we make in this Bill. But I was pointing out, as a matter for legitimate congratulation on my part, that in the one paragraph they suggested there should be something in the nature of an internal organisation. It goes no further than that, and such outline corresponds very substantially with that which I and my advisers had worked 806 out. In the first place, may I remind the House that for a considerable time past I have made it, I think, as clear as it could be made, that the Government had made up their minds, after full consideration and after full trial, that there could be nothing in the nature of an industrial trade union connected with the police force, and that no man could belong to an industrial trade union and remain a policeman? That decision may be right or wrong. It was come to by the Government after very careful consideration, and it is one to which I feel bound to adhere absolutely and entirely. Therefore, everything in the suggestions we make with regard to internal organisation is based upon that which we consider to be absolutely essential, namely, that there shall be no outside relations of any sort or description between the police organisation and any other body, and there should be no outside interference of any sort or kind with the police organisation. Therefore, the suggestions I make have regard entirely to those absolute essentials. We set out, as far as possible, to set up inside the police forces themselves an organisation which should be really representative in the sense that it should be based as its foundation upon an absolutely democratic system of franchise. We set out to discover an organisation which would represent equally every single member, no matter how newly-joined to any police force, no matter how small. Having obtained that thorough democratic foundation, we then had to consider what was the best method of really obtaining the views of the police, of enabling the police to discuss, to consider, to represent and to ensure that any representation of any sort or description should reach the highest possible authority. Those were the objects that we had in view, and in the hope that, to some extent, we have obtained those objects, we put forward in this Bill the provisions contained in the Schedule.
May I remind the House of the words which are used in setting up the constitution of the Police Federation? Clause 1 says: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, 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 Federa- 807 tion, which shall act through local and central representative bodies as provided in that Schedule.It goes on to provide that the Police Federation, and every branch, shall be absolutely independent of any body or association outside the police service. The intention of these words is that they shall be as full and as comprehensive as it is possible for words to be. There are two things, and two things only, which it eliminates—and when I say "eliminates" let me interpolate what I mean by that expression. There will be no power or desire to interfere with men discussing whatever they like at their branch meetings, or Federation meetings, and so on. When I say "eliminate," I mean eliminate representations made by any body, which the authorities could not possibly consider, and they cannot consider representation made either with regard to the promotion of an individual—either a request that A shall be promoted, or a protest against the promotion of B. Individual promotion we cannot receive representations upon. Cases of individual discipline we cannot receive representations upon. They can be discussed, and they can be used as a basis of representation of the general principles which shall guide the authorities in matters of promotion or discipline, but we have come to the conclusion, after careful consultation and consideration—and I may say I have consulted with regard to this part, deputations representative of forces all over the country and all ranks all over the country—that representation of individual cases cannot be received, but that they may send representation dealing, as I say, with the general principle upon which the system of promotion or the system of discipline should be based, and of course for that reason they would undoubtedly—and be entitled undoubtedly—to discuss amongst themselves the right or the justice of any particular cases they chose to discuss.
The proposed structure of the organisation is this, that every police force will have its own Branch Board right through from the top to the bottom. Again, after careful consideration and consultation, we have come to the conclusion that there must be a threefold organisation. There is one organisation for constables, another for sergeants, and another for inspectors, but right through, from Branch Board to the central committee, the separate rank 808 organisations are entitled to sit together for either a special or a specific purpose, or generally for purposes of common interest, but they must have their separate existence. Indeed, I have found amongst constables, sergeants, and inspectors alike, that a large majority of those who spoke on the subject thought this the better plan—that they should have a separate existence so that matters which concerned one rank should be left to that rank alone. At the same time, they should be entitled to sit together, as I say, either for specific purposes or general, all ranks alike, sitting two of them together for matters of common interest to those two, but not to the third.
The election is provided for in this Schedule. So far as the first election and the first meetings arc concerned, somebody has to decide how they are to be carried out and convened. There is no existing body in the police to-day to do it. We therefore propose that the first election should be carried out by the authorities and the meetings convened by them. The moment, however, the first meetings are convened and the Branch Boards or Councils are established they can decide upon their procedure and election, subject—this is our present view, but we shall be glad later to have assistance in debate—that the election should be by ballot. We think that is right. Our present view is that that should remain as a statutory provision, but I hope to have the opinion of hon. Gentlemen who understand these matters. They will decide their own method of election, and their own procedure, in their own way exactly as they like. They will elect their own chairman from amongst their own body, and their own secretary likewise. There will be one Branch Board for each force. Their numbers, of course, will vary in accordance with the size of the force, But, speaking generally, each force will have its Branch Board elected on the broadest possible democratic basis—after the first election—electing itself in its own way, conducting its own procedure in its own way. Having elected the chairman and secretary whom they desire, in their own way, they can discuss any subject that deals with their welfare. They can make representation either to their own chief constable or the police authorities, the Standing Joint or Watch Committees as may be, or they may make representations, if they choose, right to 809 the Home Secretary in London That is the provision in regard to the Branch Boards.
In regard to the Central Councils, the delegates for that council will be elected by the Branch Boards. They will elect them in their own way. The different boards will have delegates varying in numbers with their size. These delegates will meet once, or it may be twice, a year—once is what we have suggested in this Schedule. They may elect their own delegates for the Central Council. Any Branch Board can send up any resolution to that full meeting of the Central Council, of which an agenda will be prepared for the subjects to be discussed.
These will include anything which concerns the welfare and efficiency of the police. The county forces will be grouped. The borough forces will be grouped. Their interests are different in many ways. A member of a borough force would not speak satisfactorily for the members of the county force, therefore we suggest that they be grouped. County and borough delegates can each elect two members of a Central Committee, while the Metropolitan and City of London Police will also elect two members of the committee. That Central Committee will be a Standing Committee available at any time for any case of emergency which requires immediate discussion. That is the general structure of the organisation. There is a provision made that the Secretary of State may call together a joint council or a deputation from it to meet representatives of the chief constables and the higher tanks to discuss any matter which affects either the welfare or the efficiency of the force, and which requires discussion by the higher ranks and the authorities, the members of the force, of course, attending. The Secretary of State him self, or a member of the Home Department can preside, or if it is a matter where it seems necessary an independent outside person can be called in to act as chairman, and the matter thrashed out thoroughly and discussed between the parties across the table. That is, as I say, the constitution of that force. May I just instance one of the things which that council would do. If hon. Members have got the Bill before them and look at Clause 4 they will see that in dealing with, and making Regulations to carry out, the recommendations of the Committee there is a provision that 810 a draft of any Regulations proposed to be made, except where the matter is certified by the Secretary of State to be a matter of urgency—which must be done and cannot wait—must be submitted to a council consisting of the Central Committee, or a deputation from the Central Committee of the Police Federation, representatives of the chief officers and the police authorities selected by the Secretary of State, and before making any Regulations or putting them into force the representatives of that council will have to be considered. That, Sir, is an example of the value which these joint meetings and joint councils will have.
Therefore, you will have, if this is accepted, inside the police force a democratic organisation elected upon the broadest franchise which the force possesses, managed by the force itself, conducted by the force itself, discussing and conferring exactly as they choose, and making, with only the two limitations I have pointed out, any representations they like to the highest police authority there is. Having put that forward as an organisation which we believe to be, and which we ask the House to say is, amply sufficient to safeguard all that is necessary for the welfare and well-being of the police, and to do all indeed that an industrial body, a trade union, say, can do, we then come to a consideration of the matter of how far any member of the police force is to be allowed to belong to an outside union. We do not only speak theoretically in regard to that. We speak with full knowledge and the experience of some months' trial. One of the terms made last September was that members were to belong to an outside body on condition that that outside body did not interfere with the internal concerns of the police force. Full scope has been given to this, and it has proved absolutely unworkable and impossible, and we have therefore come to the conclusion that in the interests of the community, and I believe also in the best interests of the police force, because after all the best interests of the police force are the best interests of the community, it is essential, provided always you ensure that full justice can always be obtained for the police force, that they should be absolutely separate from a union or association of that description. We have, therefore, provided in this Bill that as soon as this Act passes no member of the police force is to remain any longer a member of any outside body. I foreshadowed that when 811 I spoke on this question just before the Whitsuntide Recess, and I stated then that that was the intention of the Government and further consideration only confirms my view that this is absolutely essential to the well-being of the police. We have made one exception and that will be found in Clause 2, Sub-section (l), which is as follows:Provided that where a man was a member of a trade union before becoming a constable he may, with the consent of the chief officer of police, continue to be a member of that union during the time of his service in the police force.No doubt hon. Members know that many men have been members of a union before joining the police force, and may wish to continue to be a member of such union, and it would be unfair that a man should be forced to sever himself from connection with a body to which he belonged for financial reasons. Therefore that provision is to safeguard men of that description.
§ Mr. CLYNES
Will the right hon. Gentleman make one point clear? He says that a man may continue his membership with the consent of the chief officer of police. Does he mean the chief of the police or the chief officer of the district?
§ Mr. SHORTT
The intention is the chief officer of the district, the object being this. A man may continue belonging to a union for two reasons; one, he may be connected with it in such a way that he is bound to come out on strike from sympathy; and secondly, he may belong to a union because it has benefits. He may be insured under the Insurance Act, and things of that description, and you have to decide whether or no he is really belonging to the union for purposes of benefit or for purposes of interference with the police.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I quite see the object of the right hon. Gentleman, but what I fear is that if the decision be left to a considerable number of different police officers you may have many different decisions.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I quite appreciate my right hon. Friend's point, and I think that requires standardisation, as well as many other things. I shall be glad to discuss it with my right hon. Friend and consider whether any words can be put in to meet that point. I fully appreciate the justice of what my right hon. Friend puts for- 812 ward. That is the provision with regard to the union. I have already in this House set out very fully the reasons why this step was taken in regard to the system of allowing police to belong to any outside body. In the first place, it involves the washing of a certain amount of dirty linen in public which I would not like to do. We have, after full inquiry, come to the conclusion formed by almost every other country, that it is absolutely impossible that the members of an outside association should be permitted to interfere, so long as a man chooses to belong to a police force. In Canada only last October special measures had to be passed doing theoretically exactly what we propose, and I have no doubt about the propriety of this provision.
In this matter we are not limited to theory, but we have facts, and I must tell the House that the Government are determined upon this point. This is a Bill for which the Government and myself are responsible. The Committee have no responsibility for those proposals. It is a matter for which we are solely responsible. I thought it was a Bill which did require some explanation. it is a very serious matter that the police forces of this country, of which we are so justly proud, should not suffer any deterioration. Grievances have undoubtedly existed for some considerable period of time which, going unremedied, caused in the police force what they cause in any body of men, that is a spirit of unrest which is very dangerous to efficiency and discipline. They had to be removed, and at the same time an attempt had to be made to put the police force of this country upon a sounder and more satisfactory basis.
We had to consider two things—welfare and efficiency. Taking the members of the force as a whole they themselves attach as great an amount of weight to the efficiency of the force as they do to the personal well-being of the members. Whatever may be thought of this Bill, I beg the House to believe that it is a sincere and honest attempt to put matters upon a more satisfactory and a more just and generous basis. That is what we have tried to do. No doubt in Committee alterations will be made. I do not claim infallibility for myself or perfection for this Bill. No doubt improvements in Committee will be made as discussion proceeds, but I assert that this is an honest and sincere attempt to improve the condi- 813 tions of the police force, to improve its efficiency where it requires improvement, and to put things upon a generous as well as a just basis, and endeavour to secure as far as possible that contentment, that sense of justice and fair play which is essential to good work, and which we must have if we are to continue to have in our police force that great civilian body which it always has been.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the wordsupon this day three months.Before dealing with the Bill, I want to clear up one point which has been raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Clynes). He asked a question in regard to a man belonging to a trade union when he joined the force. The Home Secretary himself is aware of the fact that in No.2 Report we are dealing with a phase of the question giving the man a right of appeal on such points as that. I mention that matter in order to show that we have not forgotten that very important point. Before this question came before the House to-day, I confess that I was approaching this subject in view of the Amendment down in my name on the Paper with a feeling of great embarrassment. As a member of the Committee which has considered this very important question of the police discipline, pay, and organisation, I felt myself in somewhat of a dilemma in putting down a rejection motion for a Bill of this character, which was double-barrelled in its capacity dealing with questions of finance with which I myself agreed, and to which I am one of the signatories.
I would have liked it if the right hon. Gentleman could have divided this Bill into two. My embarrassment has been somewhat relieved by the very lucid and eloquent speech of the right hon. Gentleman, but I still feel considerable embarrassment. The case has been put by the right hon. Gentleman with that ability which has secured him, and rightly secured him, a very prominent place in the counsels of the nation and with that geniality which endears him to those who disagree with him when they come in contact with him. Still, I confess to a feeling of considerable embarrassment. The right hon. Gentleman himself spoke. of the democratic nature of that Section of the Bill dealing with organisation. I am afraid that we sometimes use that 814 word "democracy" in a very convenient spirit. It is an admirable word for a peroration, but when you come to apply it it sometimes shapes itself so that the essence of democracy is lost, and the substance of autocracy takes its place. That, I submit, is the case with the Schedule dealing with the organisation of the police. Let me read Clause 1, Sub-section (2):The Police Federation and every branch thereof shall be entirely independent of and unassociated with any body or person outside the police service.I am giving away no Cabinet secret when I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, although we have not specifically mentioned the question in the Report, we did consider whether it should be in or not, and we deliberately left it out so that there should be no undue controversy.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
On a point of Order. May I ask whether it is in order for a Member of the Committee to state what were the resolutions, views, and opinions of that Committee, which are not embodied in the Report?
§ Mr. SEXTON
If I am transgressing, it is owing to my ignorance, and I must plead ignorance of the procedure. I am a young Member of the House, and I did not know that I was transgressing the law, but if I have done so I must apologise. For my own part—I am expressing my own opinion; some of my colleagues on these beaches may disagree with me—I entirely agree with the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman that there cannot be any affinity between the police force and an industrial trade union. I expressed that opinion on the Committee, but whatever shape the organisation may take the initiative should be taken by the men directly interested, and not by the authorities of the Home Office. That is my objection. May I put this as a comparison. Fancy an employer calling a conference of trade unionists to lay down the conditions and rules under which that trade union should be run. I cannot myself conceive how any affinity can exist between the members of a force taking the oath of fealty to the King to protect the lives and property of his loyal subjects and a body which even under the law to-day is looked upon as an illegal society. I have taken that stand all along, and I am not going to depart from it no matter what agitation there may be. The right hon. Gentleman, with all 815 his learning and all his legal knowledge, will excuse me if I say—and I say it merely as a figure of speech—that there is such a thing as educated ignorance. It is quite true that the police union, as it is now understood, is affiliated to the Labour party and the Trade Union Congress, but, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, neither of those bodies are trade unions in the proper sense of the word. Both of them are legislative bodies, and not industrial strike bodies at all. No strike or disturbance can be initiated by one or the other. Therefore, when we are told that these men shall not join any outside bodies, it might also apply to a political organisation. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us whether it does apply to a political organisation or not.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I am reading Clause 1, Sub-section (2)—No body or person outside the police service—I may be wrong in my interpretation, but it appears to me that will cover a political organisation. The policeman is invested with civil rights in so far as the vote is concerned. The right hon. Gentleman himself is a member, and, if I may say so without flattery, a very brilliant member of one of the strongest trade unions in this country, and yet he is the head of an important Government Department. If that principle is applied to the right hon. Gentleman, I do not see how it can be denied to the ordinary humble constable. I agree that there should be limitations. Let me put a case in point. It would be a very embarrassing position, if a general strike occurred in some city and a police constable affiliated to the local trades council were compelled according to his oath to convey fraternal greetings to his fellow trade unionists with the thick end of his baton. It would be extremely awkward and extremely embarrassing. Therefore, I think that the principle of belonging to an outside body which supports strikes, and which makes it possible that a policeman may have to use some kind of force towards his fellow trade unionists, is, on the face of it, a little absurd. That is my only objection. While I am quite prepared to go with the right hon. Gentleman that far, while I am prepared to give 816 him every safeguard to protect the peace and to have the force under a proper system of discipline, and free from any influence that would weaken or endanger their power to keep the peace and protect life and property, I do not see how the Home Office authorities, as the head of the police, can consistently say to the men, "We want you to have an organisation, but you can only have an organisation which is on lines laid down by us." I submit that an organisation of that character is not going to have any power or any influence with the men. I think the-Schedule lays it down that the conference shall be called by the police authorities; nay, it goes so far as to mention how many meetings they shall have, and it limits the number of delegates.
Apart from these two points—namely, the maintenance of necessary discipline in the police force and the influence that would result from having a union in the police similar to an industrial union—those two points apart, the one point I want to make is that, whatever shape the organisation should take, surely the men who have got to carry on this organisation should be those who shaped its rules and destiny as well. It is on those grounds alone that I find myself, much to my regret, in conflict with the right hon. Gentleman. My difficulty is that, if the rejection of this Bill is carried, the financial advantages must go too. That is my difficulty. But I enter my vote against an employer—
§ Mr. SHORTT
May I remind my hon. Friend that the Home Office is not in any sense the employer of the police? So far from that, the Home Office, as head of the police, is a part of the police force itself. May I also remind my hon. Friend that these provisions merely affect the beginning. If my hon. Friend can tell me of any other body who can start the men going, I shall be glad to hear of it. This is a model scheme started off with the authority of the Home Office. Afterwards the men can do what they like with it.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I anticipated the right hon. Gentleman's interjection. He says the Home Office is not the employer, and yet he lays down in his own Bill that if a man joins a trade union he gets the sack. The Treasury, through the Home Office, provides 50 per cent. of the cost of the police of this country. How can he say 817 that they are not the employers when they not only lay down the conditions of service, but also provide 50 per cent. of the cost of management of the force? He asks if I can point out any other body. A trade union, when it is started, is started by the energetic and intelligent section of the men who think such an organisation is necessary for that particular trade or industry. They frame skeleton rules, which are submitted to the men for their rejection or acceptance. The right hon. Gentleman lays down no such stipulation. He says they must themselves belong to tills Federation and no other. I cannot conceive of any trade union formed on lines of that kind.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I would respectfully point out that there is a police union in existence already which at least would form the basis on which a trade union or federation like this could be started. I do not know whether that would be possible or feasible, but I do say that amongst the police themselves there are men of quite sufficient intelligence to form their own organisation under their own rules. Any objectionable rule that they might make would come before the right hon. Gentleman, and I should say that the Home Office would have the right to step in and demand that an objectionable rule should be reconsidered. Surely, the men who have to carry out the rules of the organisation ought to be the men to have a voice in the making of the rules, and not the authorities under whose supervision they may be when the organisation is started. I submit, therefore, that this question ought to be reconsidered when the Committee stage comes. If I am assured that an opportunity will be given to reconsider it, I promise to withdraw my objection and to withdraw my Motion for the rejection of the Bill.
§ Captain O'GRADY
I have been trying to discover from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens whether he really was or was not moving the rejection of this Bill. On one occasion he spoke distinctly against the union, but in the latter portion of his speech he begged the right hon. Gentleman to retain the union. However, we are both Irishmen and therefore I suppose we shall understand one another.
I came down to the House with a view to seconding the rejection of this Bill, be- 818 cause I thought that the adoption of the recommendations of the Committee with regard to the pay and pensions of the police was contingent upon their agreeing to the suppression of the union by Act of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman has disabused me of that idea, and therefore I find myself somewhat embarrassed in seconding the rejection of the Bill. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has said that no matter what happens to this Bill he is going to carry into operation the recommendations of the Committee which presented its Report to this House in respect of payments and pensions. That has very much eased my mind. But I should still have voted against this Bill even had he not done that. There are one or two points which I should like cleared up before I begin to mention the paragraphs in the Bill to which I object. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not quite see his way clear to accept the recommendations of the Committee in respect to pensions. I assume that the right hon. Gentleman does really accept the suggestion of the Committee that the policemen who by a certain number of years of service qualify for pension will receive two-thirds of their pay.
§ Captain O'GRADY
I know, but I have a doubt upon that point because the right hon. Gentleman in dealing with the question of pensions said that in some cases it would be to the benefit of certain of the force, and in other eases it would not. The recommendation of the Committee was directed to equalising the benefits all the way round. Then the right hon. Gentleman perhaps overlooked the fact that, while the recommendation of the Committee propose to lengthen the period of qualification for a pension from twenty-six to thirty years, that does not apply, and will not apply if our recommendations are accepted, to any of the existing uniformed men; it will only apply, if this Bill becomes law and all the recommendations are officially accepted by the right hon. Gentleman or the War Cabinet or the Treasury, to all new men joining.
§ Captain O'GRADY
In considering that: proposition, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that our recommendation was not good enough. But we were faced with this difficulty: In Scotland a police- 819 constable has to serve thirty-four years to qualify for a pension, but on this side of the Border and in Wales he only has to serve twenty-six years. In order to standardise the conditions, our recommendation was that it should be extended in England to thirty years, and reduced in Scotland from thirty-four to thirty. We attempted to equalise the benefit all round. I hope that on the question of the finance of the matter the right hon. Gentleman will take that into consideration.
I come to the Clauses of the Bill upon which I support its rejection. The right hon. Gentleman has laid down plans in the Bill for an internal organisation of the police. I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens. I believe they are of the most democratic order. I disagree with him and agree with the Home Secretary when he says that the authorities are not laying down rules and regulations at all. As I understand it, they are making arrangements by which the machinery shall be set up, and leaving it to subsequent conferences and congresses to alter the machinery and settle the terms. The reason why hon. Members on these benches cannot accept the Bill is that for the first time in the history of the Labour movement—or, rather, since the emancipation of the trade unions many years ago—the Government has now set out in a Bill to suppress a registered trade union. Let me submit to the House our difficulty. Whatever may be the reasons for that—they may be good in the opinion of the authorities, but we cannot accept any reasons at all—here is a dangerous precedent laid down. It might apply to any trade union later on. The precedent will be set up in the Bill that a trade union can be suppressed and disbanded by Act of Parliament. I object to the enormous powers given to policemen. Clause 3 says:If any person causes, or attempts to cause, or does any act calculated to cause disaffection amongst the members of any police force, or induces, or attempts to induce, or does any act calculated to induce any member of a police force to withhold his services or to commit breaches of discipline, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a term not exceeding two years, or on summary conviction, to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a term not exceeding three months, or to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.I hope it will be understood that I do not want to disparage the individual policeman at all. I object to any power of this 820 character being put into the hands of a policeman or any other individual. A policeman, like every one of us, is human and has a spirit of temper and dislike of certain persons. It might happen—this would not apply to the force generally; I say emphatically that I have sufficient faith in the force generally to believe it could not operate—but it is possible under the terms of this Clause that an individual policeman might have some spite against a neighbour and then say later on that that man had said something to cause disaffection in the force. I hope the Home Secretary will agree to the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Holborn (Colonel Sir J. Remnant) that the Bill should be divided into two parts. I would accept the Bill and persuade any hon. Friends to accept it, provided Clauses 2 and 3 were eliminated. Then, if the Home Secretary liked, they could foe brought up in another Bill. I would thank the Home Secretary, and I do so with the consent of my colleagues upon the Committee, for the very frank statement he made dissociating all members of the Committee from Clauses 2 and 3. I was uneasy about the matter. When I was asked to become a member of the Committee, I looked carefully at the terms of reference and found there was none which would allow the Committee to inquire into the Police Union. Had there been such a reference I should have refused to have sat upon the Committee, for, obviously, I should have gone there prejudiced upon the question of the union, and, therefore, any report to which I, being a trade unionist, attached my name would be of no value. The Committee did not consider the question of the union at all, and I thank the Home Secretary for making the position perfectly clear. I regret exceedingly that my hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens and I have to take up this attitude. We want the Bill so far as its financial provisions are concerned. I say there is a democratic organisation set up. If it is not democratic enough, it can be made more democratic later on. A trade union has been established, rightly or wrongly, and I think rightly. The status and conditions of service of the policeman and the grievances from which he suffered would never have been brought home had not the men been driven by the force of circumstances to form a trade union. If hon. Members will look carefully through the Report of the Committee, and particularly the balance-sheets, they will find the most tragic state- 821 ment I have ever yet read in connection with the conditions of life under which a force like that of the police live. Many of us knew something about slums, hunger, and poverty. These pages prove emphatically that the powers that be have been compelling the police to live above their income. One might ask how is that possible? The evidence will prove that the policemen themselves admit that they have had to do things in order to make up a deficiency which they could not do in strict accord with the regulations of the service. One of the balance-sheets relates to a man who came out of the Army. He had to use his gratuity, given to him as a discharged soldier, in order to provide food and the ordinary comforts for his children. If there be any economists in this House who think there is not only a public expenditure upon the Service but too great public expenditure, I hope they will look at these balance-sheets, and I think they will agree with the Committee and the Home Secretary that such a criticism does not apply to the police. How they have kept up their status I do not know. The conditions under which they have been living might well have brought the law into contempt. The wages of a skilled workman and, indeed, an unskilled workman, have been above those of a man who has to see that the law is carried out. He cannot live in a slum or in a semi-slum, but the authorities have said, "You must live in a house that will give you, as a man who has to carry the law into effect, respect, and therefore cause respect for the law." The only reason I support the Amendment is that for the first time since trade unions were emancipated we are going to suppress a registered trade union by law, and I dread to think what the effect of that would be. If the Home Secretary would let the thing stand where it stood, and where it stands now, and provide for this internal organisation in this Bill the police themselves would say quickly and readily which was the best form of organisation which would bring their grievances forward in a legitimate manner without interfering with discipline. I think they ought to have that opportunity.
§ Sir J. REMNANT
I should like to offer my thanks and congratulations to the Home Secretary for the way in which he has grappled with an extremely difficult question and liberally met the just demands of the police force. I should have liked to leave out the contentious part of 822 the Bill and give a Second Reading to a Bill which would give the extra pay to the police force which the right hon. Gentleman himself said was well overdue. But for reasons best known to himself, he has practically refused to do that. One of the main reasons I would have urged would have been that the Report, so far as it has at present been submitted, only dealt with half the questions, and many very important questions remain to be dealt with in the second part, not the least important of which is the question of pensions. So that a second Bill will have to be introduced later, and if the contentious part of this Bill could have been delayed until then I do not think any harm would have been done to the police force, and I believe a good deal of friction might have been avoided by doing so. But we have to deal with the position as we find it to-day. The rejection has been moved and seconded from different points of view. Neither of the hon. Members' objections was really a very serious one. They both blessed the Bill with faint praise. All they were afraid of was that the question of the recognition of a trade union would be omitted. The cry of the police force was that they had no means by which they could bring their grievances to the authorities. The main provisions of the Bill will allow these men, by their own elected representatives, to bring their grievances to the authorities and to the Home Secretary, who will have the power to remedy them. I have had many communications with the various forces of the country during the sittings of the Committee, and the majority of these communications have been very much in appreciation of the scheme as laid down by the right hon. Gentleman. I would appeal to the two hon. Members if they could see their way not to raise the point they have raised, which deals more particularly with industrial trade unions. The vast majority of the men themselves would be satisfied with the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that they would be left free and unfettered to air any grievances they may have. If the hon. Members will see it in that way, and will withdraw their Amendment, it will tend to a speedy passing of this long overdue Bill. The point has been made that no one from outside shall be allowed to be a member of the Federation. One of the great points urged by members of the force throughout the country is that they, should be allowed to have an opportunity 823 of rising from the bottom to the top. They are satisfied that there are men in the force capable of doing anything the force may be called upon to do. They do not want outsiders. It would be a dangerous matter if that were given in to. The men themselves, as a body, are the envy of all the civilised nations of the world. They are quite capable and competent to own their own Federation on their own basis without outside help. But, after all, it is a small matter to bring forward in opposition to the Bill. I would appeal to the hon. Members who have shown such an open and broad mind all the way through in dealing with the question that they will withdraw their Motion for the rejection and let us get the Bill through another stage.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
Anything done to improve the position of the police force will be welcomed by every section of the community. They are a fine body of men. All who respect law and order look upon the policeman as a guardian and as a friend. There is no body of men in the country who hold such high esteem in the minds of all classes, and especially visitors from all parts of the world, as the very fine police force we have in London. In improving the pay of the police the right hon. Gentleman has provided for a standard rate of pay all over the country. I do not think that will be satisfactory, and by and by, there will be seeds of dissatisfaction and agitation in it, because, undoubtedly, there will arise a claim in the future that there should be differentiation between the pay of the police in London and small country villages. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rent."] I am quite aware of the provisions made for rent, but in fairness there ought to be a differentiation. I am hopeful that what has been indicated by the Home Secretary will result, so far as the Scottish police force is concerned, in the rectification of a grievance they have always felt, namely, that the retiring age to qualify for a pension in Scotland has been thirty-four, while in England it has been twenty-six. Policemen in Scotland have felt this acutely for very many years. They have borne it most patiently. They were hopeful that it would be rectified. I am not sure whether the Home Secretary will agree to make a uniform retiring age of thirty or not.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
That is for new policemen, but that does not meet the present grievance. For present members of the police force this modification of the years to qualify for a pension should be carried out. With respect to the formation of the Police Federation, I sympathise a good deal with the views of the hon. Member for St. Helens. I have been connected with employers' associations for a long time and have come in contact with trade unions. Men in trade unions are very susceptible to outside authorities laying down machinery in regard to their unions, and I think it is a mistake in this Bill to lay down machinery for the formation of the Police Federation. The Home Secretary was well advised in regarding the police force as a different body of men from an ordinary industrial organisation, and that what applies to an industrial body of men forming a trade union cannot apply to the police force. The Home Secretary ought to have called upon the men themselves to set up their own Federation, and there should not have appeared in the Bill any form of dictation that such and such a way should be adopted and that this and that regulation of the Police Federation should be set up. He should have bud the onus upon the members of the police force of drawing up the constitution for carrying into effect the Police Federation, exercising controlling powers over the constitution by having a right to object in certain respects. Whenever a central authority begins to dictate to a body of men as to what they shall do in this way to bring the Federation into being, you immediately set up suspicion, and I do not think you will allay agitation. The seeds of agitation will be found in this centralised form of regulations that the Home Office is seeking to exercise under this Bill. The men ought to be allowed to set up their own machinery and their own regulations and to elect their own board and councils, and this Bill should not attempt to lay the thing down for them.
§ 2.0 P.M.
Mr. J. JONES
As a rule the sting of a Bill lies in its tail, but as far as this Bill is concerned the sting lies in its head. The second Clause says that it shall not be lawful for a member of the police force to belong to any ordinary trade union. The Government are going to provide him with the kind of organisa- 825 tion he ought to have. To some extent there has been some justification for the action taken by the Government, because in the Labour movement there are a certain number of hot air merchants who are always crying out for something which they cannot achieve, but I respectfully suggest that the very best way to play into the hands of the people to whom the Home Secretary has a very strong objection is to adopt the prohibitory Clauses contained in this Bill. In my opinion the police force is a civil force and not a military force. Throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, with the exception of London and Ireland, the police are largely under the control of the locally elected authorities, and as a consequence they look upon themselves as servants of the civil community locally, and not as State servants under military discipline. Therefore, I respectfully suggest that we ought to be allowed to take the good parts of this Bill and reject the bad parts. The principal argument used by the Police and Prison Officers' Union is that the grievances of the policemen were never listened to or attended to until their organisation was formed. Can that be denied? Is it not a fact that for a very considerable number of years before the War the policemen grumbled about certain conditions existing in their service? They grumbled about outsiders being introduced into high positions, that promotions were retarded and increases of pay denied, and that, generally speaking, they had practically no word in the making of their conditions, as had other classes of people. There has been too much strain placed upon their loyalty, and as a consequence the breaking point has been reached.
Surely it is reasonable to suggest that the men themselves should have a chance of saying what kind of organisation they will have; whether they will have a spoon fed union or a union guaranteed by themselves and organised and controlled by themselves! The proposition in this Bill seems to be that the men have to have the kind of organisation that the authorities expect them to have and decide that they shall have. That is the worst way to deal with British citizens that can possibly be invented. To compel them to have something which they do not like is the best way to bring about a rebellious feeling. I have attended some of the meetings of the men, and arguments on the 826 other side have been put forward. The argument that the union is not properly organised, that it is associated with outside organisations, and that outside people interfere in the carrying out of its work, and the answer of the men has been, "Give us a chance to make a proper organisation. Let us enter into conference with the authorities. Let them point out the faults of our union and we will be prepared to make it such a union that it will give satisfaction to them in so far as the protection of the public interests are concerned." The police are in no different position from the Civil servants in the Post Office and other Departments. They have no more power than those Departments. They cannot paralyse the community as much as the postmen could or the telegraphists, or the men who work various Departments of the State, who are now recognised as Civil servants with full civil rights of organisation.
We are not opposing the main idea of the Bill. The best protection against strikes is the confidence of the people who are sometimes called the makers of strikes. Therefore, we say to the Home Secretary that, if he is prepared to recognise the position, that if these prohibitory Clauses are taken out of the Bill, it would give us an opportunity of at least appealing to the common sense of the men concerned, instead of making them think that they are put under an inhibition and prevented from doing what other classes of workers are allowed to do. The right to strike is not something that appears as a figment of the imagination. Every trade union and every body of workers look upon the right to strike as something which differentiates the worker from the slave: the right to refuse to work if you do not like the conditions. We do not insist that that right shall be exercised on every occasion, but only when it is absolutely necessary. So far as the police force are concerned, you would bring about contentment if you would give the men the chance to decide for themselves the form of their own organisation, with proper safeguards, rather than having an organisation forced upon them.
Then the organisation is going to be divided up into departments and compartments, and one section is to be kept away from the other. On and after a certain day the men shall not be allowed to hold a card of the union to which they have already belonged. That means that if a 827 man has got any principle, having belonged to a union, he is not going to surrender his membership. What would be the consequence? Is he going to cease to be a policeman? The issue contained in the second Clause of the Bill simply means that you are throwing down a challenge to every organised body of workers in the country, and the Government are mistaken if they imagine that we are going to stand idly by while the Government make known that workmen, because these are workmen, must not belong to a certain union, and that if they do belong to it the Government are going to bring the whole power of the State against them and going to make it impossible for them to continue the membership of that union which they have joined voluntarily. In doing this they are raising an issue which is not going to end with the introduction of this Bill. Britons have never been told that they must not do certain things just because their employers tell them not to do so. The men are quite willing to be reasonable. They are prepared to have the matter fully considered. Even now it is possible for the Home Secretary to have a conference with representatives of the men, properly elected to form such an organisation, as will do away with the difficulties created by labour circumstances. Therefore we hope that the proposition moved from these benches will be carried, and that a challenge will not be thrown out, not merely to the police, but to the whole organised labour forces of this country.
§ Colonel GREIG
I am not going to follow the hon. Member's criticisms on the earlier part of the Bill. I just wish to say one or two words from the point of view of Scotland. Clause 10 gives the power to the Secretary of Scotland to make Regulations with regard to the pay of the police force. As I read it, the Regulations have to be submitted to the Secretary of State and also to the council constituted under the Schedule to the Bill, and I presume that if there is reason for differentiation in the pay owing to different systems, cost of living, and so on, that can easily be done under the Bill as it stands. I do not apprehend trouble in that respect, though why there should be differentiations is quite another matter. Each case must be looked at from its own point of view. In Scotland, I must confess, it does seem to me that there is some margin for 828 increasing the pay and allowances. We are a very law-abiding people in that part of the country. In the counties, with an estimated population of 2,309,000, we are policed by 2,100 constables, and in the cities and boroughs, with a population of 2,571,000, the constables number 3,853—one to each 1,100 persons. I think that that shows that our law-abiding instincts are extremely good. The average cost per man for the police force for pay, war bonus, and clothing—and this may include a few other incidental expenses—in the counties was £107 8s. 9d., and in the cities and boroughs £lll 8s. 9d. I cannot help thinking that there must be a margin, without laying yourself open to the charge of extravagant expenditure, for remuneration of the police force. I observe that Clause 10 says that the Schedule shall apply to Scotland with such modifications-as the Secretary for Scotland shall by order prescribe, and I hope that any objection of the nature that has been urged may be properly adjusted in Scotland under the regulations. On the whole, I think that this Bill will be welcomed in Scotland, and though it may be subject to revision in some detail the general principles are such as will commend themselves.
§ Mr. W. R. SMITH
I associate myself with the observations and opinions which have been expressed by the hon. Member for Silver town. Previous speakers have referred to the fact that the police force of this country has been a very excellent body of men who have carried out their duties with every credit to themselves and in a manner that has won for them, especially for the London police, the admiration of all who happen to visit these shores. But, unfortunately, while it is true that the police have risen to a standard of efficiency and recognition of their obligations in the way that has been indicated their efficiency of service has never yet been recognised by those bodies whom they serve, and the conditions of the police up to the present have been deplorable in the extreme. The pay which has been given to them in many cases has been less than that of the lowest grade of civilian labour engaged in their respective districts, and every endeavour which they have made by reasonable efforts and by application to the proper sources to get their grievances and difficulties remedied has been met very largely by a blank refusal. I had the opportunity of sitting as the member of a watch committee for a num- 829 ber of years past and in reference to the applications from members of our police force for an increase in the remuneration due to them, not merely because of the increased difficulties of life accruing from the increased prices, but also because originally the terms of their service were never adequate or satisfactory, I have been in the unfortunate position, when appealing to a sub-committee, of not being able to get one member to second a motion of mine to give them any rise in their wages. The police throughout the country have been in that position for some years past, and then, recognising the impossibility of getting justice done to them by working through the channels that have been recognised up to that moment, they came to the conclusion that the only way they could hope to obtain anything like justice would be for them to do, as all other sections of the working classes of this country have done, band themselves into an organisation and give organised expresion to their desires as distinct from expressing them as individuals.
The men have been driven into this position, and while it is perfectly true that they do perform duties of a most important character it is remarkable that their loyalty is now to be challenged in the way indicated in this Bill. Seeing that during the past few years, living and working in the conditions in which they have been compelled to live and work, they have displayed an amount of loyalty to the State and to the bodies they serve which is remarkable in the extreme. In the exciting times which we have had there has been only one outburst on the part of the police which happened here in London, and the action of the Government in meeting that contingency by conceding a substantial increase of pay was in itself the justification of that excitement Following upon the patient effort which they had made for so long to obtain something like justice. The police have come to the stage of having confidence in this organisation, and I would suggest to the Government that they are making a very big mistake indeed when they seek to repress it by Act of Parliament. That is the point in this Bill that some of us on the Labour benches feel to be of the most vital importance to working-class life in the country, and as one that, from the point of view of tactics, is about the worst possible line that the Government could take. If they want to 830 see the police force carried on in a spirit of confidence as between themselves and those to whom they are responsible, let them win that confidence by just conditions and by the machinery that is necessary for their purpose. I am certain that the observations of the, hon. Member for Silver town (Mr. J. Jones) have been right in every particular. These men have no desire to do anything which would be a contravention of the obligations imposed upon them as police officers. Just conditions are all they want; and the resentment that will follow an Act of this description will very largely arise from the fact that, before you have given them, at least, an opportunity of putting into operation anything that will give them an outlet in the way of expression or a means of obtaining for themselves that which they desire, you are going by an Act of Parliament to take away from them the only machinery and organisation that have been of any value to them in the past four years. The putting into an Act of Parliament of a prohibition Clause that men shall not be allowed to join a trade union is a procedure that we cannot possibly support. Where is it going to end, once this kind of thing commences?
Whether hon. Members on the other side of the House realise it or not, there is not the slightest doubt about it that the development of State employment must continue in the future. The needs of the country will demand it. That will mean a larger and larger body of workmen coming under the jurisdiction of this House, and if you are going to prohibit police officers from belonging to their Union, what guarantee have we that you are not going to extend the prohibition later on to other branches of industry? This is much too dangerous a procedure for us to pass it by without entering a most emphatic protest against it. The fact that the police through all these trying times, in receipt of wages that have been entirely inadequate to meet their domestic obligation, have been loyal and have not, except in one instance, taken a course of action which called for an act of repression, is an indication that the Government's present line of policy is wrong, that they ought rather to proceed with a policy which will win the confidence of the men—a confidence based on the fact that full opportunity is given to the men to represent their views and ideas, and that the conditions of service 831 will harmonise with the responsibilities of the men concerned. If you give them that, the wisdom of the men and the loyalty they have shown up till now will toe sufficient guarantee to the Home Office and to the Government that they need not fear what will arise in the police force in future. We welcome this Bill in so far as it recognises the necessity of establishing better conditions for the police force, but I ask the Government to hesitate before they place in an Act of Parliament a Clause which will make the men subject to dismissal from their employment if they attempt to join any body prohibited under the Act. That is an infringement of the liberty of the subject, which is too far-reaching in its effect for us to pass it without the most emphatic protest.
Although there are very few hon. Members present, I think that the speeches made from the Labour benches must have indicated to the Government already that, although it may easily get the Second Reading of this Bill this afternoon, yet there are the germs of very strong and growing opposition to the principles in the first Clauses of the Bill. In my opinion that opposition will grow, and that before this Bill becomes law the Government will be made aware of the very serious gravity of the issue they have raised. It appears to me regrettable that into what is otherwise an extremely admirable Bill there should have been brought this contentious matter, and at this particular moment, apparently without much necessity. We have been told by the Home Secretary that the recommendations contained in these first Clauses do not come in any kind of way from the Committee who have been sitting to inquire into the conditions of the police force, and that the Committee are proceeding to inquire into matters which have some relation to these first Clauses—recruiting, training, promotion, and discipline. I would like to join in the appeal to the Government that they should consider whether they cannot drop these first Clauses, until at least they have had the second Report of the Committee. Everything that has been said to-day points to the fact that we all recognise generally that very material improvements are needed in the conditions of the police force. Those we get in the Bill, and because of them we welcome parts of the 832 Bill. While that is so, we are faced by the fact that these first Clauses, particularly Clauses 2 and 3, do raise a very serious issue. From some points of view, and by many outside this House, this Bill will be described as a Bill for the suppression of the Police Union. We ought to realise that here. There can be no doubt that the intention is that when this Bill is passed steps will be taken under it to put an end to the present Police Union.
Let us ask ourselves how that union has come into existence. Admittedly it has arisen out of the conditions which have pertained in the police force for many years past. If there was any justification for its existence it lies in the fact that the Committee appointed to inquire into those grievances have made the very substantial recommendations embodied in this Bill. We are asked now to pass a measure which will give power to break up this union. That is a very serious thing to be asked to do, particularly having regard to the fact that this union has already received some recognition from the Government. When a situation arose in August, 1918, in which we were faced with a police strike and one actually did take place, the men were met by the Prime Minister who gave an assurance that a material improvement would be effected, and that, ended the strike. He also gave an assurance that their claims for representation would be met, and this assurance undoubtedly gave very considerable strength and position and influence to the union then existing. Since that time I am informed it has been stated that no objection could be taken to any officer or man becoming a member of the union—and on the strength of that some men, and doubtless some cautious men who might not have joined before, did so. The effect of that policy has been to give recognition and status to the union. After all that has been done, and after the work for which that union has been brought into existence has been largely accomplished, and when we have had a Report from the Committee which has sustained the case made by the union, we are faced with a Bill asking for powers which, if granted, would enable the authorities to put down and suppress that union. That seems to me to be a very grave thing to do, and looking at the matter impartially and from a detached point of view there does not seem to be any real necessity for it.
The fear that appears to be at the back of this idea is that there is going to be 833 some combination between the police force and the workers of the country, so that on some contingent occasion, if the State came into conflict with some section of the workers that there would be on the part not only of the workmen but of the police a withdrawal of their services. We have heard sufficient from these benches to-day to show that there is no desire on the part of the workmen of this country to enter into any relationship of that kind with the police. They recognise quite clearly that the police do stand in a category by themselves, and that it would be entirely inconsistent after taking the oath of loyalty to join in any obligation with any other section of the people which would mean to be the breaking of that oath. That is recognised and has been clearly and explicitely stated from these benches. That being so, there ought to be no difficulty on the part of the Government to frame some subsequent measure in such a way that the danger they dread will be safeguarded against, without raising, as they do raise in this Bill, this issue upon which Members on my right and others of us must join. It has been well said by an hon. Member on this side that the real reliance upon the police force will be based upon their treatment. The parts of the Bill which deal with the material conditions of the police are, I think, going to make such an improvement in their conditions as will remove very largely all these grounds upon which the union has been able to create and maintain its influence. In this Bill there is a proposal to set up an organisation inside the police which, as the Seconder of the Motion said, is, so far as it goes, quite democratic in its character. When the Government are prepared to go so far and to allow an organisation of that kind to be set up then it would appear, as has been expressed from these benches, that the only point of difference that exists is the difference as to the point of initiation and whether the organisation is to be initiated from the top or from the men themselves. From that point of view the Government might very well drop this first Clause and avoid raising at this particular time, when industrial material matters and matters dealing with labour are in a state of such extraordinary gravity, this particular issue.
I am quite sure that the Government have no desire to enter into a conflict upon any theoretical grounds, and that what they want is a contented and loyal police 834 force. I suggest that the best way to get a force of that kind is to withdraw these Clauses. Otherwise what is going to happen? You have a tremendous improvement in the conditions of the police, and, unquestionably, it cannot be controverted that they never would have got that improvement but for the action of the union which came into existence. At the particular moment when the force realises that and when they have these substantial advantages granted to them, and when they realise the influence which brought them about, they are asked to break the instrument that has proved so effective and to be disloyal to this body that has been created. Policemen are men and are amongst the best types of men, and one of the best characteristics of any man is loyalty to other men or other agencies which have stood by him. I cannot see how the objects which the Government have in view of getting contentment and peace and rest amongst the police force are going to be brought about by a measure which directly in its conception is going to put the members in this terrific position. They arc asked to choose between their loyalty to a body which has done so much for them and the material benefits conferred by this Bill. I submit that that is a strain to which they ought not to be subjected. In my opinion, the real object and intention of this Bill and the real desire and purpose can be achieved without the first Clauses. I want to take very strong exception indeed to Clause 3 of the Bill, which is going to make any person, for certain reasons, subject to imprisonment with hard labour for a period of two years. Why is this Clause introduced? Obviously, it is brought into the Bill to give powers which do not at present exist, and is clearly directed against conditions which have arisen during the last two or three years. What we may expect to find, I suppose, if this Bill is passed with these powers, is that steps will be taken against some of the men and officials of the present union if they attempt to carry on that union. That is the situation that is going to arise, and we may find ourselves, a month after its passage, faced with a number of prosecutions against the men who have taken the most leading part in the formation of the union. What kind of effect is that going to have in the country and on the present industrial situation? All the material benefits will be forgotten 835 by the workers, and the only thing present to their minds will be that the Government, in an Act of Parliament, have got authority under which they can put down a trade union. How damaging and fatal the effect of that may be it is hardly possible to realise. I would suggest, in view of all the circumstances of the time and in view of the fact that the Committee has not yet finally reported, and that what is immediate and urgent are the material conditions, and that the Government should be content with that portion of the Bill, that they should give us some sort of assurance that they are prepared to reconsider in the Committee stage these earlier Clauses, and, if they cannot withdraw them altogether, at all events that they will remodel them in some way so as to assure the people of this country, and particularly the great Labour movement, that what is being attempted to be done here is not to cut right across the principles which form the whole reason for their existence.
§ Mr. A. SHORT
I rise to support the very strong claims which have been put forward from these benches, calling upon the Government to withdraw these penal Clauses to which we have shown our objection. It seems to me that these Clauses, and the attitude of mind which has brought them into being, with the subsequent idea of a federation of the police, to be formed with due regard to the interests of the officials of the State and the mind of the State official, is a product of the war mind. I see here the worst elements of Prussianism, and a determination not to extend the principles of democracy, not to give to the people of this country greater liberty and freedom, but a desire and an intention to limit the freedom and liberty of the subject. I am aware that these Clauses, with the Schedule, are put forward in a very plausible way, but behind them all is the hand of autocracy, the desire to compel men and women to do what other people desire them to do so. I regard the Clauses as a gratuitous insult to the men concerned, and also to the people of this country, and I venture to say that if they are proceeded with, if this Bill in its present form is placed upon the Statute Book, it is going to be exploited by every person in this country who desires revolution and who desires some peculiar state of 836 society which is foreign to the constitutional idea that is now uppermost in the minds of our people. It is the wrong way of attempting to solve the difficulties of the problem confronting the Government and the country. I venture to suggest that it is worthy of the days of the Inquisition, that it is a limitation of the right of the individual, and that with this limitation there is no corresponding advantage to the State.
For the life of me, I cannot understand the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman, who said they were not proceeding upon theoretical grounds. but that they had had experience and practical demonstration of the futility of an organisation of the police existing outside of the force. Itself. I would venture to ask, When did the right hon. Gentleman desire this union to be effective? When, indeed, did he desire that it should be a success, and has not every obstacle and every difficulty been placed in the way by the Department concerned, and every means and every subterfuge adopted to make this union ineffective? But, despite the opposition of the Department itself, despite the attitude of mind of the chief of police, this union has been a success, and as a result of its efforts, and the organisation of the police force through this union, it has compelled the State to recognise the grievances and redress the wrongs of the men concerned. Is it suggested for a moment that by the passing of an Act of this character, which will make it illegal for a member of the force to be-long to any organisation outside the one to be set up by this Bill, you are going to turn men from their present attitude of mind? Is it suggested that you are going to make these men, strong men, men of individuality, men who have opinions, men who know what they desire—is it suggested that you are going thus to make them human sponges in the hands of officials? I say that you are not going to do that. All you will do if you pass this Bill in its present form will be, as in the past, to drive these men to adopt subterranean methods, to enter underground passages to achieve the aims and objects which they have been deliberately attempting to achieve by the legitimate use of a weapon which is a recognised weapon of our social system.
We regard this once again as the thin end of the wedge. We know there is in this country a growing opinion in favour of State ownership and of State control, 837 thereby bringing larger and larger numbers of the citizens of this country under the State umbrella, and we see in this a deliberate attempt to undermine the liberty and the freedom of individuals when they are working for the State. We regard this Bill as contrary to public policy. We say it is not the right way of dealing with the problem, and we are amused at the attempts of the Government to set up a federation under the auspices of officialism and expect that this federation is going to be a useful instrument in the hands of these men. If you want to secure harmonious relations in this force, if you want to be able to put all the trust in the force that you have hitherto placed in them, you will not do it by force, or by coercion, or by the limitation of the right of the individual; you will only do it by recognising his legitimate claim to secure the settlement of the problems which confront him and to provide himself, as a result of the free interchange of opinion, the means whereby he can express his desires and redress his wrongs. I therefore submit that this Bill is contrary to democratic thought. It is foreign to the spirit of the time in which we live, and so far as we are concerned we will offer it—and I am convinced the same will occur in the country—our strongest opposition inside this House and use every legitimate effort to frustrate the intentions of the Government as incorporated in this Bill.
Mr. TYSON WILSON
I fully recognise that when a man joins the police force he undertakes certain obligations, but it seems to me that the proposals in the Bill with regard to organisation are somewhat premature, and I suggest that Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 ought undoubtedly to be amended, because it does not say that the men shall not be associated with any trade union, but with any association. Surely you are not going to prohibit the Federation from even becoming associated, say, with a body such as the Lifeboat Association, or anything like that. It says:The Police Federation and every branch thereof shall be entirely independent of and unassociated with any body or person outside the police service.You can put whatever construction you like upon that, but the men will put the construction that they cannot be associated with any body or association outside the police force. I do say that is extremely badly worded. I also suggest that the Schedule ought to be withdrawn and 838 that the police themselves should be asked to submit to the Home Office, or to the proper authority, for them to examine, the constitution of their organisation, and if there is anything which cuts across the obligations they have entered into, then it should be pointed out, and they should be asked to amend the constitution. I say that if you want contentment in the police forces, it is necessary that they should be taken more into confidence and their views ascertained and acted upon. Therefore, I suggest to the Government that they should withdraw the Bill, and introduce another Bill without the Clause dealing with the organisation, and then introduce a second Bill, after having a conference with the people directly affected. Then the second Bill might be made acceptable not only to the police forces but to the whole organised labour throughout the country.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Major Baird)
I am afraid it is quite impossible for the Government to adopt either of the courses suggested by my hon. Friend. It would be impossible to delay giving legislative effect to the proposals for improving the pay of the men, and nobody would be more averse to that course than hon. and right hon. Members opposite. May I at the same time remove two misconceptions which I am afraid prevail? One is that the proposal of the Government for the creation of a Police Federation is in any sense of the word or any thought even an attack on trade unions. It is nothing of the kind. I think my right hon. Friend opposite was not present when my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made his speech. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary most distinctly stated that these proposals do represent the results of conference and discussions with the men themselves. One further point may I make? Every attempt has been made to work with the existing Police Union. The system was given nine months' trial. It failed. It failed, not, as the hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to indicate, because any obstacles were put in the way. On the contrary, every attempt was made, certainly on the side of the authorities at the Home Office, to give that union its chance of proving whether it would work or would not work. It did not work. The 839 attempt failed. It is impossible to allow the present conditions to continue, and the provision in the Bill represents a real attempt to afford to the men some machineryFor 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, other than questions of discipline and promotion affecting individuals.Those are questions which they, as citizens, ought to have the opportunity of bringing to the notice of the authorities. But, as was recognised by the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) you cannot maintain that there is an affinity between police work and industrial conditions. When a man goes into the police force he must necessarily forfeit a certain amount of the liberty which he enjoys as an ordinary citizen. He assumes distinct responsibilities towards the community, and we have endeavoured to recognise those responsibilities by greatly improving the conditions under which he serves. I hope the House will now feel disposed to give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ Mr. CLYNES
In view of what has just been said, I would like to offer a few observations before the House settles its course on this Second Reading. I think that the consultations which have taken place with the men or their representatives have not been sufficiently revealed to the House, and that we have not had adduced to us what, I think, is required, and that is proof that these deputations which my right hon. Friend has met from time to time have been the accredited representatives of any general body of men in the force.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I can tell my right hon. Friend this. A very considerable number of them were members of the Police Union. They chose themselves. I had nothing to do with the choosing of them.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I accept the assurance, but I spoke with some recollection of repeated statements which have been made public in the Press to the effect that deputations of this sort have not been in any way authorised by the general body of men to speak on their behalf. It has just been submitted that a trial has been given to the Police Union. I suggest that that union itself is so new, and, in a way, to inexperienced, that it cannot be said 840 yet that a real trial has been given to so unique and so new an organisation. This Police Union has so far lived in a time when the temper on both sides has been very much strained, and when it has been almost impossible for amicable relations to be developed or to be established. The Police Union undoubtedly can have its source traced to those days when the men, exasperated by delays, were provoked to take this most extraordinary step—as it is commonly agreed it is in their case—to get through a trade union what they could not get otherwise. A policeman is a human being with a wife and family. He experiences all the ordinary domestic distresses inseparable from the life of a man who has only slender earnings after all. Binding that he suffered, and acutely, as did everyone else, from the ascending prices, and from the great increase in the cost of living, he naturally expected some more generous treatment than he received. Failing to get by appeal and by memorial what others were securing by trade-union pressure, at length the policeman felt under an obligation to himself and his family to avail himself of the same sort of methods as made the applications of others successful. The policeman also saw the effect, no doubt, of the great growth of the trade union ideal in our country in the last two years, during which time trade union membership has been about doubled in the country. Actors, authors, musicians, journalists, and persons formerly who regarded it as a taint to touch anything labelled with the name of trade union have joined trade unions—school mistresses and head teachers, and other persons of extreme respectability have in the course of the last few years fearlessly labelled themselves with the trade union label.
The extraordinary aspect of this Bill is this, that the right hon. Gentleman has told the House that he is giving to the policemen under some other name all that they could possibly get by a trade union. His words, as I took them down, were: "This Bill would do for them all that an industrial trade union would do." It would appear, then, that there is no difference in the objects sought, and that the Home Office is equally anxious, with the policemen themselves, to give them the full advantage of associated effort. If, then, there is really no difference in point of substance in the object to be sought it is really a pity that ways and means have not been found to achieve it under conditions 841 of greater satisfaction to the body of men themselves, and in a manner that would have been productive of a far better temper. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that you cannot, in these days, kill the trade union ideal by law.
§ Mr. CLYNES
Well, at least it is clear you are going to kill trade unionism in name if not the ideal. Perhaps the police man, after all, is not so subtle as to see the nice distinction, and he will believe that trade unionism in substance is being denied even though offered to him in some other name or by some other title. It is a pity this Bill is being pressed upon us at a time when the Committee has not completed its labour, and when the House has not had adequate time to consider the bearings of the recommendations already made in the Report which has reached us. I understand the right hon. Gentleman is quite agreeable to making at once those financial concessions of which he spoke this afternoon. It seems to me—
§ Mr. SHORTT
May I explain the position so that there shall be no misunderstanding? What I said was that I am prepared, by beginning to pay at once, to run the risk of what will happen if this Bill does not pass. If it does not pass, then we shall have at once to find some way of repaying what we have paid. That is all I meant.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I should not like to be a party in any way to withholding these substantial concessions—
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I am glad to hear it. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to know how much I welcomed that part of his speech which indicated the very substantial financial improvements which are to be made in the conditions of the men in the forces. I should only like finally to say that I think in the case of a body of men like the police it is advisable that there should be some distinction—it might be slight, but it is a distinction which can be made acceptable—but certainly some distinction, as between the policeman and the ordinary industrial worker. The 842 ordinary industrial worker has totally different material to handle from the material to be handled by the police, who deal with human material, with men and women. He at any rate has to work on material and to discharge his duties under conditions which, I quite admit, are not applicable to the whole body of industrial employés. So that, while I should like to give the policeman the same opportunities and the same assistance which all workers are entitled to get through associated effort, there ought to be in this case, I agree, some arrangement tending to make discipline perfectly secure, but in no sense to undermine that consciousness or sense of duty which the policeman should always have, no matter what Government be may be acting for, or what Department of State ho may be serving. My view of that point is this, that you can always be assured of keeping a greater degree of discipline when men feel that they are being justly treated than if they feel they arc being unjustly treated. Seeing that we are in such agreement with the object to be sought, I think, on the whole, it is inadvisable at this stage to press this Bill in its present form. If the Government cannot see their way to do what we desire, I can only suggest that in the Committee we may he able to come nearer together, and see if we cannot meet what are the reasonable demands of this great and very important force, and what at the same time are the just demands of the State.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I trust that the Home Secretary will not either delay or withdraw this Bill. It is absolutely necessary if the recommendations of the Committee are to be carried out that the financial provisions should be now passed. These financial provisions are not only necessary to enable the Home Secretary to carry out the recommendations of the Committee, but also to adjust the financial relations between local authorities and the central fund. As the Home Secretary pointed out, we in that Committee were not concerned with this question of trade unionism. We offered no opinion in regard to it, but we did feel—and I am quite sure I speak the views of every member as embodied in the Report—that a representative body of the police was necessary. We did not recommend the form exactly, but there is 843 nothing in the Bill which is inconsistent with the proposals made. I believe the Home Secretary will agree to that.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
My hon. Friend has not quite followed my observations. I wag saying there was nothing inconsistent with our recommendations. We did not go the length of giving any opinion as to the powers of the Police Union, but all that is in our recommendations upon Section 8 are consistent with what has been proposed in the Bill. May I point out, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that he admits that certain special Regulations are necessary? I am not speaking now as a member of the Committee, but as a Member of the House of Commons. My right hon. Friend opposite admits that there must be something in the position of the police rather different from that of other employés: a Regulation that in any representative body or any union, call it by what name you may, there should be certain special provisions made for discipline. Their employment, he said, was peculiar. I would ask him to consider if there is not another point of far more importance than that which differentiates this police employment from any other. It is that in this case a policeman—there is no question of the military system—acts as the representative of the ordinary citizen! I would ask the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to what I consider is one of the most important and crucial sentences in the Report of the Committee. They say:We consider that it is important to bear in mind that the constable even in the execution of his duty for the preservation of peace acts not as the agent of the Government exercising powers derived from them, but as a citizen representing the rest of the community.The position of the policeman is quite different from that of any other Government employés in any other sphere of life, because he is pledged to come under discipline. The present scheme of the Bill, I am certain, expresses the opinion of the vast number of the force; in fact, I should not be surprised to find that the majority of them are in favour of the body which is being constituted under this Bill.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.