HC Deb 05 May 1920 vol 128 cc2079-80
99. Mr. J. JONES

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that ex-Inspector Nathan Bessent, who had served for 20 years in the police force with a clean sheet and an excellent character, was, on 9th August, 1919, certified at Hackney Union infirmary as of unsound mind and committed to Claybury Asylum, where he was detained till 29th January, 1920; that the fact of his mental illness was confirmed by the certificate now in possession of the lunacy board of control; that, his family being unprovided for, application for his pension was made within a fortnight of his committal on the ground that he had been ailing for a considerable time, a fact substantiated by the view of the doctor at Claybury in regard to his low state of health on arrival; is he aware that this man was pensionable if he had chosen to resign on account of illness at the end of his 20 years' service, but that his pension was refused on the ground that it was forfeited through his having participated in the strike occurring on 31st July, 1919; and will he take steps to have his right to a pension restored?


I am fully aware of the facts of this case. Ex-Inspector Dessent was the only officer above the rank of sergeant who took part in the strike, and his example influenced a considerable number of men. I am advised that his mental breakdown was the result of excitement incidental to his decision to take part in the strike, and to the effects of that decision upon himself and his family.

Both the late and the present Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis considered this case very carefully, and decided that the subsequent attack of insanity afforded no grounds for the cancellation of dismissal. I agree with their conclusion and I have, therefore, no power under the Police Acts to grant a pension. The ex-Inspector was not pensionable in the sense that he had any right to resign without a certificate of unfitness on medical grounds by the Chief Surgeon of the Metropolitan Police.


Will the right hon. Gentleman take this case into his special consideration, and give some kind of grant to this man in lieu of his pension?


This case has been very carefully considered.


Is it not possible that the state of this man's mind might account for his conduct?


I will consider it again.