Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £198,956, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1923, for the Salaries; and Expenses of the Office of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices." —[NOTE: £170,000 has been voted on account.]
§ Mrs. WINTRINGHAM
I beg to move "That Item A.1 (Salaries, Wages, and Allouances) be reduced by £100, in respect of the salary of the Secretary of State.'
This occasion provides us with an opportunity of bringing up once more the question of the maintenance of the Women Police Patrol. There, is a determination in the country among all classes that these policewomen must be retained, if possible. The churches, the various organisations, the medical societies all feel that it would be very much to the detriment of the public if they were disbanded. I should like to deal with the Home Secretary's statement that the work these women patrols do is welfare work, and not police work. Then there is the result that has already been felt in this short time by the reduction of this force. The Home Secretary repeatedly said that this economy must be effected because of the Geddes Report. In previous Debates two points stand out—first of all, the Home Secretary's assertion that the work they do is welfare work and not police work, and, secondly, that economy would be secured if they were all disbanded. The Geddes Report said that the work they do should not be charged to the police fund, because it is welfare work. Their information was very scanty, and very inadequate; in fact, they depended almost entirely on the Home 2338 Secretary for their information and guidance. This afternoon we hope to convince the Home Secretary that the work is police work, and not altogether welfare work. The official instructions which the women police have when they are engaged in the force, are that they are to deal with women and children who, are ill, injured, destitute, homeless, victims of assault or in danger of drifting: to an immoral life. These may be welfare subjects, but it is very evident that-very important training is necessary for this work to be done properly. The Home Secretary, on the 10th May, said that the money taken from the Police Fund is devoted, strictly speaking, to the protection of property, life and limb. I hold that the duty of protecting the lives of women in the various ways that I have mentioned are indeed police work. The Home Secretary must admit that his suggestion that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church and other organisations can carry on this work as adequately as the women police, does not answer the purpose.
Even if these questions are to be considered as welfare work, the official instructions go further than that. They say that the women patrols may be employed in detecting offences in the white slave traffic and other offences under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and in disorderly houses, and they have done a very great deal of good work in connection with alien cafés, particularly where there are Chinese and black men. The women police have regularly visited these places, with the result that white girls have been much less in evidence; in fact, in one café the notice was put up, "No white girls admitted." Then they can enter betting and gambling houses, visit licensed premises, visit night clubs attended by both sexes, carry out the Vagrancy Acts in the matter of fortune-telling, detect pickpockets, and assist in criminal investigations, in which they have done good work in the past, with regard to the drug cocaine. They can go where no man has any access, and recently they have secured six people who had been carrying on traffic in cocaine, which traffic, as the Committee knows, is generally carried on underground, and, in this particular case, in a place where a man had no access, and which otherwise could not have been 2339 revealed. The League of Nations is at present grappling with this great curse, and, I think, in itself it is a justification for the existence of the women patrols that they should help the League of Nations to try to stamp out this traffic. The League of Nations needs the help of all Governments, and it is necessary that our Government should maintain these women police, if for nothing else.
Another duty in which these women may be employed is in taking statements in cases of alleged criminal assaults on women and children. This is not welfare work, but highly-skilled police work. At first seven women and eight sergeants were specially appointed for this work, but they were far too few. The number is to be reduced from 15 to four, which means that each person who takes these statements will have charge of 40 police stations. It is very evident that the work cannot be done in an accurate or a proper manner, because sometimes there is a rush of work and sometimes there is very little work. The question of taking these statements is a very delicate matter, which certainly ought to be done by a woman, and not by a man. The details are often obscure. A child is very impressionable, and questioning has to be done in a very careful and delicate manner. The women patrols have, up to the present, worked in very close contact with the London County Council. When a case of this kind has been brought up, they have taken up the case as after-care work, and they have passed it on to the organisations. The child has been visited at home; its parents have been talked to, and, if possible, a holiday home has been provided for the child. Another thing that women police patrols may do is to assist in conveying women and children to and from hospitals, workhouses, and police stations. They may remove the women to remand homes, the children to reformatory schools, and the inebriates to inebriate homes. Another thing that they do is to help watch in hospital the patients who have attempted suicide.
Surely these 11 points are not merely welfare work. Some of them are distinctly bordering on the lines of criminal offences, and, if they are criminal offences, surely they can be put under the head of police work. A woman in ordinary clothes has no authority in the street, 2340 and it is a very difficult thing for her to speak, or try to correct, any misdemeanour in the street if she is not wearing uniform. It is rather an interesting point that nearly all the women patrols who have been dismissed have got employment in London in the big shops, because they are so excellent, and so capable in the matter of detective work. The result of the reduction of this force in these two months has been very serious. The open spaces and parks have been made considerably worse. Children going to and from school are very ill-protected, and there have been very serious happenings. The people living in the district of one park which these women patrolled have made application, and have secured volunteers to take duty in the park, because the conditions there were so much worse after the women patrols were removed. I have before me figures comparing the month of April, 1921, when the patrol was in full force, and the month of April, 1922, when some of the police had been disbanded, In April, 1921, there were 312 cautions for indecency; in April, 1922, there were only 108. In April, 1921, 1,961 girls were cautioned for loitering, and in April, 1922, only 1,066. For soliciting, there were 328 cautions in April last year, as against only 31 this year. For riotous behaviour, there were 538 in April last year and only 301 in April this year.
There were in April, 1921, 583 cautions for loitering in cafés, and in April this year there were only 133. That is, in one month in 1921 there were 3,813 cautions against 1,667 in April this year. All that goes to show that the women patrols did a tremendous amount of work in April last year which was not done in April this year because they were disbanded. The Home Secretary urges the economy which will he effected if this reduction in the women police be made. I do not think that the value of the work performed by the women police can he measured in pounds, shillings and pence. It is much better to get hold of potential criminals young rather than when they have become habitual criminals. The hon. Member for Erdington (Sir A. Steel-Maitland), in an excellent speech, referred to the cost of prosecuting and maintaining prisoners. We have it on very good authority that one patient suffering from venereal disease costs the 2341 nation £80 a year, and that 33⅓ per cent. of the illnesses in our hospitals are caused by that disease. Therefore, there is a tremendous cost to the hospitals. One conviction for soliciting costs between £30 and £40, and, if only the women patrols had the power of arrest, a great deal of economy would certainly be effected. The women patrols might quite easily have that power of arrest, act as both gaolers and matrons, and travel with prisoners. They might thus relieve the male force and allow them to take other duties in other parts of the Metropolis. The conclusion to be drawn from these statements is that the official duties of the women patrols are not welfare work but police work. The Geddes Committee did not have sufficient evidence before them, and the conclusion of that Committee is in direct conflict with the conclusion of the Home Office Committee on the employment of women on police duties. That Committee reported that there was urgent need for the establishment of these women patrols. Moreover, the preventive work lessens expenditure. It. is not to be measured by pounds, shillings and pence. It cannot be counted in cash, but it is of vital importance to the State as making for the health and morality of the nation.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
I beg to support the Amendment.
I am quite free to confess that the subject which has been brought under discussion is one to which I have only very recently given anything like serious attention. I am afraid that there are a good many Members who are in the same position that I was in until recently, but I believe that if they will study, for-example, the minutes of evidence given before the Committee presided over by my hon. and gallant Friend the present Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir J. Baird) in 1921, they will see that this matter really deserves the serious attention of this Committee. I understand that the reduction or abolition of this body of police is a contribution by the right hon. Gentleman to the great national economy campaign, and that it is a sign of his reverence for the Geddes axe. The first thing to notice is exactly how much we shall gain by the policy which he has adopted. I believe that the total amount of saving which the nation can make by the 2342 abolition of this body of police is somewhere about £20,000. Therefore, from the point of view of economy alone, let us recognise at the outset that it is a very trifling matter. I am not by any means attempting to urge that in these days even the most trifling reduction is not worth making if it can be made without any real sacrifice of national efficiency; but I am prepared to maintain, and I think the Committee will take the same view, that this particular policy, even from the point of view of pounds, shillings, and pence, will not be economy at all, but, as my hon. Friend has shown, will result in increased expenditure, perhaps not directly, but certainly indirectly, and that, apart altogether from the strictly economical point of view, the policy is a very reactionary one and is certainly a retrograde step from the point of view of efficient administration in the area of the police.
I would like just to read one particular passage from the evidence given before the Committee to which I have referred, because, as a. general statement, it is very valuable. I am reading from the evidence of Sergeant Johnson, who was authorised to speak on behalf of the Joint Central Committee of the Police Federation of England and Wales. He said that in their opinion the employment of women in the performance of police duties, within limits, would be of assistance to the regular police, and would also be in the public interest. Then he goes on to give a very considerable list of police functions which, speaking as an experienced police officer, he thought could be efficiently performed by women police. That is a very valuable contribution to the controversy, if it be a controversy, as to whether these duties can be and ought to be performed by women. Perhaps of equal importance—some may think of more importance—is the evidence of Sir Nevil Macready, who distinctly stated that in his opinion the women police, instead of being abolished as now proposed, should have much greater authority, and should, as my hon. Friend advocated, have the power of arrest, which, of course, they have not had hitherto. There is one mistake which is very commonly made with regard to these duties performed by women police. A great many people—I do not know whether inside this House, but certainly outside it—when they hear the sort of 2343 work that the women police have done and might be asked to do, say, "That is all very well, but that is work that ought to be done by social workers, religious workers, philanthropic workers, and so on; it is not work that ought to be done by the police." My hon. Friend has very satisfactorily shown that that really is a very great mistake. A great many of these duties can be much more efficiently performed by people who have definite authority. The mere fact that they wear uniform does give these women a prestige and an authority to act in very many cases. First of all, it enables them to take action that they could not take without it, and, perhaps still more important, it confers upon them a prestige which is recognised by the quasi criminal class, or at all events that class which by opportune action may be prevented from falling into the criminal class.
There is another very natural prejudice, and one with which I have often sympathised. It is the prejudice which perhaps many hon. Members feel that so far as possible we should keep women uncontaminated from contact with the under-world of crime or with that part of society which is always on the brink of crime, and especially a very unpleasant class of crime, and that it is repugnant to our ideas that the administration of the law in these respects should not be kept out of the hands of women. At the same time, if you are convinced that women are prepared to undertake this work without any moral loss to themselves, that they have the courage and determination to take up the work, and that they can do it in some respects very much better than men, then I think that prejudice ought to he regarded as obsolete. The War did in many respects sweep away a great many prejudices with regard to the work that women could or ought to do. We ought to recognise that the time has come when we should be willing to accept the services of women for the proper administration of the police law in the metropolis.
There is one duty which it appears to me women not only do better than men but can alone undertake. We have heard a great deal recently of the great menace to society from the traffic in cocaine. There have been most heartrending cases brought out in the Press, and those of us who have given any attention 2344 to it must have wondered if it be possible to cope with the matter at all. The ease with which this deadly drug can be transferred from one person to another, the terrible lure which it seems to have for certain people, and the disastrous effects that it has, make it a subject extremely difficult to deal with, and yet it is one with which everybody must feel there is an imperative necessity to deal if possible. Some of us heard some information within the precincts of this House yesterday from very experienced women on this point. We were told, and I have not the slightest doubt that it is true, that part of the cocaine traffic is carried on in places like public lavatories where it is the easiest possible thing for one of these women who spread the sale of cocaine to meet some other woman and pass a small packet to her. Of course these are places into which a male constable cannot go and into which we should not give him power to go. There must be many other places, perhaps not so entirely closed to men, such as waiting rooms where it is the habit for women to congregate and where it is not the habit of men to go and where we do not want men to go. That is just an aspect of police work where it seems to me that we can and ought at present to make use of the services of women, and, if we refuse to do so for the sake of some trifling economy or any other reason, we shall lose an opportunity which may not recur of dealing with this very dangerous development in modern society.
Then there is a duty to which. I think, my hon. Friend opposite has already referred, the duty of the interrogation of small children when accusations are made against men of criminal assault. That is a matter about which there was a good deal of evidence given by very experienced administrators before this Committee, and in which witness after witness said there were cases where it was almost imperatively necessary to have women to do the work; cases where small girls have to be interrogated in the most intimate manner, and cross examined, and where it was necessary in the administration of justice to make sure that false accusations were not made, and that accusations were fully substantiated. In eases of this sort, it is absolutely necessary that the most minute circumstances in connection with the charge brought against a man must be 2345 given by the only witness capable of giving it, and, therefore, the little child must be cross-examined in order to know what evidence she is prepared to give. That sort of preliminary investigation ought not to be undertaken, in the case of a child of tender years, by a male constable, but, by a duly-authorised and qualified woman police-officer. I should have thought that was perfectly obvious. Sir Nevil Macready, in his evidence, tells us of terrible things—if they are true—and we must take it on his statement. For example, he says that especially in the East End of London there are a terrible number of cases of incest; cases of fathers violating daughters of eight or nine years of age. It is very necessary that women should be employed to soothe these children and to ascertain from them, without destroying their moral sense, exactly what has happened. I really should have thought this sort of case had only got to be mentioned in the House of Commons, substantiated as it is by the responsible evidence given before this Committee, to persuade the House that even if the economy suggested were much larger than it is, it would not sanction any such economy being made at such a price. I believe that before the right hon. Gentleman determined upon this reduction there were only seven women officers employed on this particular sort of work, which requires a very careful training and is most expert work. These have been reduced to four. I believe that, if the right hon. Gentleman had come to this House and explained to the House the sort of work these women are doing, he would have had the ready sanction of the Committee, not to reduce the number from seven to four, but to increase the number from seven to a very much larger number, which, according to Sir Nevil Macready, are really necessary in order to carry out the work effectively.
There is another aspect to which some of the experienced ladies who addressed us yesterday referred. The point certainly had not occurred to me before. I think it deserves the very careful consideration of the Committee. The country has heard a great deal recently about the ravages caused by venereal disease. These ladies, who have themselves been engaged in this police work, assured the Members who were present 2346 of this: that when prostitutes were arrested by women police that in a very large number of cases those who were diseased would communicate to the women police the fact that they were diseased, as they have done in many cases, ask for assistance, inquire where there is a clinic to which they can go, and what steps they can take in order to get medical treatment. It is quite certain that if these women were arrested, either for disorderly conduct or for any other reason by a male constable, that they would simply go to prison or the police court, as the case might be, and they would not make the disclosure to the male officer as they would to the woman police officer. No one, I think, who has at all followed the medical discussion which has been going on on this matter, and realises the vital necessity of the earliest possible treatment for these terrible diseases, can fail to see the tremendous advantage derived from that fact alone. If by the employment of these police women you get a number of these unfortunate contaminated women to submit to medical treatment earlier than they would have done, it is all to the good, and perhaps otherwise would not have done at all. It is quite obvious that this is not work that can be undertaken by any voluntary organisation. It is only when a woman is actually taken, that is arrested by one in authority, that it can be done. She need not even necessarily be arrested, because there are many cases where women are walking about the streets, where a woman police officer can go and give salutary advice, and so effective work is done. The officers can make the excuse of telling these people to "move on," and get into conversation with them, and render assistance and advice such as would be impossible for a man to do, and, indeed, be very objectionable for a man to attempt to do.
We were told—and I have no doubt it is true—that these women police have found by experience not only that they can do the work, but that in very many cases, by keeping their eyes open as they go about, they can, by tactful intervention at the right moment, be the means of preventing some young girl from embarking upon a career of vice. It may be said—and I daresay there are people here will say it—that this is not police work. They may say it is preventive or rescue work, and, therefore, it should 2347 not be done by the police. That is not a true objection. I should like to call the attention of the Committee to a very striking statement made by Mr. Simpson, an Assistant Secretary at the Home Office, in his evidence before this Committee. He was asked for a definition of the functions of a constable. He gave what I should certainly be ready to accept as the true functions of a police-constable in a civilised country like ours. It is this:His essential function is to help other people to lead a quiet, orderly, and peaceful life.That is not an old-fashioned view of the duties of the police force. I daresay the old-fashioned view of the policeman was that his sole function was to arrest the criminal, take him handcuffed off to the police court, and see that he was properly punished. This other is the modern, and, I think, a very humane view of what the constable ought to do to help other people to lead a quiet, orderly, and peaceful life. If this be true surely it does become an essential part of the constable's duty—if he or she can do it—to step in at the right moment when they see a young girl walking the streets and just about to embark upon a career of vice—she has not done so yet—and so prevent her. Will anybody say that any such function as that does not come within the duty of the constable? It is because the woman constable can do that, whereas the man constable could not, and ought not to do it, that I feel very strongly we ought not to part with this very valuable adjunct of police administration.
Young men, I say, ought not to do it. I think we ought to have some regard in this matter for the male side of the picture. Anyone who knows anything about the Metropolitan police knows there are a very large number of splendid young fellows, quite young men, who have been enlisted in that force. A good many of them come from country districts, and they have had very little experience of metropolitan life before. We should hesitate to put any duties of this kind in the way of these young men that we can avoid—of mixing them up with these young girls in the streets and requiring them either to arrest them, still less to enter into conversation with them to find out their circumstances. In my opinion 2348 good might be done by authorised women who are accustomed to work of that sort. It is obvious that it is very objectionable indeed that that sort of work should be, wherever it can be avoided, committed into the hands of young men.
A few moments ago I was referring to the regulations that have been made about venereal disease. At the meeting we had yesterday we had the advantage of not merely listening to some of the women who have had experience, but there was a medical man present who has had an immense amount of experience with regard to this question of venereal disease; I refer to Dr. Campbell Maclure. He told us—I have heard the same thing from other sources—that the greatest dissemination of this disease came, not from what is called the common prostitute, but from the elms which he designated as the "casual sinner." He told us that from some points of view the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds might be saved to this country in the year, and that we could largely reduce venereal disease and its direct and indirect consequences. I think he said something like 30 per cent. or 40 per cent. of the various diseases which are treated in our hospitals could be traced directly—I think he said—to the incidence of venereal disease, and, therefore, anything which would largely reduce it—apart altogether from other aspects of it—which, God knows, are serious enough—would be well worth doing from the point of view of national economy alone. He declared that something like 50 per cent. of the venereal disease prevalent in London could be prevented if these casual sinners could be increasingly got at by the women police in a way they have been doing on a small scale in the past.
If that is really true—and I think we are bound to take it as being at all events probably true—for there is no evidence on the other side—if this really is the case, surely we ought to hesitate before we allow the Home Office at this time of day, for the sake of a small economy to do this. We all recognise the necessity for economy and sympathise with this branch of the administration. We all admit this has been really an experiment. It has been done on a small scale hitherto. But it is an experiment, so far as it has gone, which has 2349 justified itself ten times over. I do say, having made that experiment, it really would be absolutely deplorable if, for the sake of a couple of thousand pounds, we were to throw the whole thing back, and throw away all the good that has been done, and the vista of infinitely greater good that lies before us, if a larger and increasingly larger number of these special women can be trained for this work. But naturally they must be carefully selected and will have to be carefully trained. It will take some time. It cannot be done in a moment. If now, even for a year or two, this thing is closed down in the interests of economy, it will make it a much longer job to get a really large body of highly qualified and trained women, and it would delay the whole thing. I think that from that point of view also that the Committee should hesitate before they sanction this proposal. First of all, I urge upon the Home Secretary that he should reconsider his decision in this matter because we all know how difficult it is if he refuses to accept an Amendment of this sort to force him to do so against his will. We may go into the Division Lobby, and have a large or a small minority, but we know that if the right hon. Gentleman chooses he can defeat us. I appeal to him first that he should not put us to the necessity of going into the Division Lobby against him, but if he is adamant on that point I hope as many hon. Members as possible will show their disapproval of the deplorable policy involved in the right hon. Gentleman's refusal, and will go into the Lobby in support of this Amendment.
§ Sir JAMES REMNANT
The Mover and Supporter of this Amendment have gone very closely into the details of the question which deals with the retention of the women police. Therefore I do not propose to follow them in great detail on this particular aspect of the economy which has been introduced in the police force. My hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill) called it the deplorable policy of the Home Office in making an economy in connection with a branch of the Service which is doing and has done very good and effective work. I am afraid that the administration of the police generally has been unfortunate in the hands of the Home Office. I do not especially refer to the present Chief Secretary, but for the last few years the policy adopted by the Home Office has not tended to give any confi- 2350 dente to the men, and without confidence you cannot expect efficiency or economy. We had enough trouble in 1918 and 1919 to make us hesitate before we take any drastic action against the best interests of the police force itself. The least one can say in reference to the present suggestion is that we hope, if it is to be carried out and the economies suggested are to be effected, it will only be of s, purely temporary nature and only for the year.
What has happened? We are now faced with drastic retrenchment in every branch of the police forces of the country. The Home Office could not carry out these economies themselves, and a wonderful Committee, the Geddes Committee, was appointed to deal with a subject which ought to have been dealt with by the Department itself, without reference to any outside body. One would imagine that no recommendations to secure economy whatever had been previously made in connection with the police force. I wish to point out, however, that in 1919 the Desborough Committee, of which I was a member, put forward a large number of recommendations which are now made by this wonderful Geddes Committee, and none of them have been carried out by the Home Office. In the past, public Departments have paid little or scant attention to the recommendations made by Committees appointed by this House, after looking carefully and thoroughly into these matters. If you are only going to act after investigations by some outside body, you might as well do away with your system of appointing Committees. If the recommendations which had previously been made to the Home Office had been carried out, there would have been no necessity whatever for doing away with the women police, or making other economies in the police force itself.
In the Desborough Report we recommended the Home Office to keep the police for police duties, and not to employ them on civilian work. That in itself would, I think, have been a great economy in the police force. Another recommendation was that we should merge the smaller forces in the larger forces, but nothing has been clone in that direction. We recommended that when a chief constable dies or retires, either in England or Scotland, the Home Office should suggest that that branch should be merged into the county force. I would like to give one or two instances. 2351 In my own county of Berkshire, we have three separate police forces—three chief constables and three different sets of offices—all of whose work could be perfectly well done by the county police force. If you look through the list of police forces in this country, you would find that many anomalies exist. I know one force consisting of nine men, of whom one is the chief constable, one an inspector, and one a sergeant, leaving the remainder to constitute the constables of that force.
In some of these lists I find that in five police forces the total number is 50 men, five being chief constables, with five senior officers to superintend. This kind of thing is had for the men, it is wasteful and extravagant, and I believe that if the Home Office had chosen to take a fairly strong step, by insisting upon these smaller forces being merged into a larger one, a very large saving of money would have followed. In this matter the Home Office practically did nothing until they were driven into a corner, and then they used an outside Committee as a cloak to impose drastic reductions and economies. The Home Secretary may reply that he has no power in this matter, but that is hardly correct. This House provides half the money for the pay of the police forces of the country, and, therefore, we have a right to insist on necessary reforms. I do not believe that if this matter were brought before the House hon. Members would hesitate to support the Home Secretary in action of that sort. I appeal to the Home Secretary to consider the carrying out of the recommendations which have already been submitted to him, if they be at all possible.
It is very difficult to fix the amount likely to be saved by any of these suggested economies, but I believe that a large amount would have been saved had the recommendations already made been put into force. I think the way in which the police forces of the country have been treated is hardly worthy of the Government. The Home Secretary may say that the approval of the police was given to the reductions through the Joint Central Committee, but I would ask whether the right hon. Gentleman really thinks it fair to the Committee to throw the whole responsibility on them. I do not think that is 2352 treating the police in the way in which they ought to be treated. Knowing the policeman as we all do—with his education, his keenness and loyalty—I am sure he would be the last man in the world, if called upon to join in any general plan of economy, to have held out. But in the present case, without asking him, or carrying out recommendations which have been put forward, he has suddenly been called on, through the Joint Central Committee, to shoulder the enormous economies which are now proposed.
What do the Government intend to do? They resort at once to the simple method of reducing the wages of the members of the force. The pay of the police force was settled definitely in 1919, and the question of their pensions was also settled. An agreement was arrived at on all sides by which we were able to bury the discontent of the past, and to carry on upon new terms acceptable to all sides. Now wages are to be reduced. It is idle to say they are not, because greater reductions are being made in regard to pensions than were ever contemplated, and if you increase the contributions to these pensions, I think I am right in saying that their wages are being reduced.
During the War what happened? Some of these men, who were due for retirement, were kept on for several years, after they had given notice to retire, until the end of the War. During that time, although they had given notice to retire, and, therefore, their contributions towards their pensions were due to cease, they were compelled to continue paying towards the Pension Fund. Their period for pensions had, therefore, arrived, and they should not have been penalised any more. When they claimed a refund of this money, it was refused on the ground that it was fixed, and that by staying on in the force they were enjoying the pay of the force. If in one case they are obliged to pay; in the other case the Government should also be obliged to maintain the agreement to contribute only 2½ per cent. towards it.
How has the Home Office dealt with the question of the rent allowance? They do not look into the various cases, and see whether it is a hardship or not. They simply take a flat rate of 3s. 6d. off every man's rent allowance. Apparently forgetting that the allowances are vastly different in different parts 2353 of England. Whereas at Cambridge a constable gets 4s. as rent allowance, at Swansea he receives as much as 17s. 6d., and yet the Government propose, by adopting a flat rate, to take 3s. 6d. off the 4s. in the same way as 3s. 6d. is taken off the 17s. 6d. I fail to understand the justice of that. It looks to me like panic legislation. It looks like making a clean sweep, and doing a thing whether it be right or wrong, regardless of the fact that in some cases it hits men very hardly, and in other cases only slightly. There are men who were in the force before the War the rents of whose houses have not been very largely increased during or since the War, and these men are in a vastly better position than those who have joined since the War, or have been married, and who have to pay now as much as 25s. a week as rent. I do not understand the action of the Home Office in this matter. Are they going to be led by the Geddes Committee? That Committee recommended the abolition of standard wages. I hope the Home Office will never agree to that. If there was one thing the Desborough Commission was against, it was the idea of varying rates of pay in different parts of the country. I would like to call particular attention to what the Commission said on this question of standardising police pay:Such differences as do exist between town and country work, are not merely differences between separate forces, but exist to practically as great a degree between individual members of one and the same force. For example, a Metropolitan policeman may have to do duty in the East End or in one of the outlying parts of the Metropolitan Police District, and his work in the latter would differ in no respect from that of a constable in one of the adjoining counties of Essex, Hefts, Surrey, or Kent; or again in certain counties, for example, Lancashire, Staffordshire, and Worcestershire, populous county boroughs, such as Bury, West Bromwich, Smethwick, and Dudley, as well as the rural and sparsely populated parts of the country, are policed by the County force so that a constable may be serving at one time in one of these areas and at another in a remote country village.The Home Secretary, I am told, is not going to accept this particular recommendation. I hope he will hesitate a long time before he attempts to follow the Geddes Committee in its Report, for I am sure it will do more damage to the force, and create more discontent than practically anything else.
I wish to call attention to one other matter in reference to economy, and it 2354 is one which, in my opinion, involves a very large amount of money. I want the Home Office to stop, as far as possible, the employment of police constables on work other than police work. I believe that on the Police Commissioner's staff a large number of men are so employed, and that this matter is now being taken into consideration. According to what the Home Secretary says, a large number of policemen are doing work which could be equally well done by ordinary civilians. There is another point into which I would like the right hon. Gentleman to look. I want him to see that the police force and police stations are suitably equipped with telephones throughout the country. There is one notable instance of a county where there is no telephonic connection between the head office and the various police stations in the county, and that must entail an enormous expense in the administration of the force.
I support the Amendment which has been moved to reduce the Vote by £100, as a. protest against the right hon. Gentleman's failure to carry out recommendations for economies which have already been made to the Home Office. If those recommendations had been carried out, in my view this reduction, or rather abolition, of the women police would have been quite unnecessary. If after these recommendations had been carried out it had been found necessary to make further economies, I believe the men themselves, and the women as well, had they been consulted, would gladly have joined, by working longer hours, or accepting reduced pay, in helping the country through its period of financial stress.
May I put one other point to the Home Secretary' Quite recently, for reasons which are best known to himself, the safeguarding and custody of the Houses of Parliament has been taken away—or it will be taken away in a day or two from the regular police, and handed over to men unskilled in this work. Are the night watchers to whom are going to be entrusted these Houses, with all the valuable records and public and private property, to be taken on at the same rates of pay as the regular police, or is economy going to be effected by putting unskilled men on to this work at reduced rates of pay? There are plenty of police who can do this work. It is very important work to safeguard 2355 these Houses and the Government property therein contained. May I ask whether these men to whom the Houses of Parliament are being entrusted at night are to be employed at a reduced wage? I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give me a satisfactory answer on that point. It is not an easy matter to look after this House or after the Members of it. One has noticed when coming down to the House on many occasions that hon. Members who are not quite so active as others have had great difficulty of getting across the road. One of the privileges of hon. Members of the House is to be allowed fair and reasonable means of getting down to the House without being stopped. The present trouble is not the fault of the old men who know the Members, and know when to hold up the traffic. If new men are put on this duty, how can they be expected to be acquainted with Members in the same way? I think it is a very risky experiment which is going to be tried. I am told that these night watchers will be ex-Service men. I am very glad that work should be found for men who have done their duty in fighting the battles of their country, and I hope, at any rate, that one of the qualifications for appointment will be that the men did go out to fight for their country. But it is a very doubtful experiment to put men on to work which requires a great amount of experience and knowledge, and it would be very bad if one of the reasons for putting them on was that they could be employed at a reduced wage. If that is to he accepted as a good reason, where is the experiment to stop? We shall have competition from the same quarters for men to take the posts of policemen in various other parts of the country. I know there is considerable anxiety about this matter, and I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to give a satisfactory answer.
As regards the women police, in my humble opinion they have done very good work. Its excellence has already been admitted by the Home Secretary. True he says it is not police work, but if it be not police work, why were the women appointed? The answer may be that they were appointed as an experiment. The work has been a great success and, therefore, the only reason for doing away with this force must be that we 2356 cannot afford it. I say we could afford it if the Home Office had only carried out the recommendations made for economy in other directions. I do not believe it is necessary to do away with the women police. They have justified their appointment, and I hope the Home Secretary, by the reply he is to give presently, will not make it necessary for us to press this reduction to a Division.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The case for the retention of the women police has been made very convincingly, indeed, by the hon. Member for Louth (Mrs. Wintringham), who moved the reduction of the Vote, and very convincingly seconded by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill). We have also had a speech from the hon. Member for Holborn (Sir J. Remnant), who was a Member of a. Committee which inquired into the police generally, showing the extent of the economies that could be made in other directions, and urging, therefore, this pitiful little economy, if it be an economy at all, which we deny, need not be made. As these cases have been put to us so convincingly, I should like to confine myself for a few minutes to the consideration of two questions which the Home Secretary recently answered. The first was with reference to the reduction and not the disbandment of the women police patrol. The Home Secretary has stated that he does not intend to disband but only to reduce the patrol. I wonder what a statement like that, made in ordinary English, means to the ordinary citizen. Does it mean a reduction to the extent, say, of one-half of the strength of the force; a considerable reduction perhaps but something far removed from abolition? I think that is what the ordinary person would understand from the right hon. Gentleman's words. The Home Secretary tells us that his intention is that three women patrols should be retained for the purpose of taking statements from women and girls. Fortunately, he has not committed himself to saying that there are to be only three. A reduction of the force to a half-dozen or even a dozen is not a reduction in the ordinary sense as the term would be understood by reasonable men and women, and I think I am justified in saying that those acquainted with the work which the women patrols have done would infinitely 2357 sooner have a straightforward statement that they are going to be disbanded rather than have that intention camouflaged in the terms of a "reduction" only. I should like to ask the Home Secretary whether, as a matter of fact, these three patrols have really been appointed. Three months have elapsed since this matter was brought under the notice of the House of Commons, and yet we do not know even now to what extent the reduction, if it is to be only a reduction, is going to take place. Surely there has been time enough, in those three months, for the Home Secretary to make up his mind about the policy, and, late as it is, at least we hope we may have it this afternoon. The second question which the Home Secretary answered was in regard to an inquiry. The answer was in these words:I am not aware that there is ally necessity for further inquiry at the present time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 28th June, 1922; col. 2064, Vol. 155.]I am sure I may state with confidence, on behalf of all those who have asked for an inquiry—on behalf of the many out-side the House of Commons and of the very large number of Members of the House who have signed the petition asking for an inquiry—that all we want by an inquiry is to get at the truth of the case. The Home Secretary makes statements on one side: all the information that we have been able to obtain is on the other side; and what we want to get at is no more and no less than the truth and, the actual facts. We none of us want to oppose an economy, if it really be an economy and if it be upon a service on which an economy is justifiable in any sense at all. All that we want is the truth, and I think our demand for an inquiry, at least, is absolutely unanswerable on the merits of the case. Let me give just one or two proofs of what I mean. On the various occasions on which this subject has been discussed, either in the House or in Committee, we have been told by the Home Secretary that male constables are always told off to be near by for the protection of the women police patrols. We have been told that more than once. It is very difficult. Indeed—I say it without offence—to elicit the facts from the Home Secretary by question and answer in the House, but at least this was one of the points on which we could test the 2358 accuracy of the facts from our own personal experience. The Home Secretary told us that on all occasions male constables were told off to safeguard the women police patrols when they were out on their work.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Shortt)
Have you the words?
§ Mr. SHORTT
I cannot recollect the exact words, either, but I do not think they were quite to that effect.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
Certainly that was the impression that the right hon. Gentleman made on the House.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I will produce the actual words of the Home Secretary, and I am quite certain that they will bear out the inference that male constables have to be within reach of them.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I took occasion to try and put that personally to the test. Of course, if anyone were to go about the streets of, say, Mayfair or one of the more populous parts of the City, quite obviously there would he a male constable within hearing of a cry or the sound of a police whistle from any woman patrol, but he would equally be within reach of another male constable. But if you go to a place like Balham, or Clapham Common, or Putney Heath, it is different. I spent the whole of one morning out on and near Putney Heath shadowing one of the women patrols, to see whether the male constables really were within reach for their protection. They were not within hearing of a whistle call or a cry all the time I was out there shadowing them, and there was no foundation whatever for any inference of the kind. That was my own personal experience, and I have witnesses who can also attest the facts. It bears out exactly what we have heard, namely, that they are able to go out by themselves, and. have gone out by themselves, and have done their duty without the necessity for any male constable being there for their protection.
§ Mr. FINNEY
Would it not be true to say that even male constables whistle to one another when they want assistance?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The next statement, in regard to which, again, I think I am not misrepresenting the Home Secretary, is that their work was rescue work or welfare work. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman says that there is no need for an inquiry with regard to that. One is rather curious as to what views prevail within the Home Office itself on this matter. I have taken particular care not to get in touch with anyone inside the Home Office, because, obviously, it would not be the right thing to do, but I have had a letter given to me which an outside body, the Reformatory and Refuge Union, wrote to the Home Office, asking whether there were any disbanded policewomen to whom they could offer work. They received this answer from Scotland Yard:I am directed by the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis to inform you that, although the work of outdoor rescue workers is very different from that for which the Metropolitan policewomen patrols are trained, he will be happy to circulate particulars of the posts among the patrols.We were told that the work of the Metropolitan policewomen patrols was outdoor rescue work, and from the Home office, in their own letter, there is a direct denial of that statement. Again, I wrote to my own city, of which I represent one of the divisions, and I received this reply:We do not think here that the women police will be abolished.This is from the Chief Constable.A strong case has been made out for their retention. Their work is not philanthropic; they are an adjunct of the ordinary police, and they can deal with cases that the ordinary constable is unable to reach.That, at any rate, is the opinion of the Chief Constable of one of our greatest English cities, and we are told by the Home Secretary that this is merely rescue work and welfare work. We do consider, in the light of such statements as those which are made to us, that there is a strong case for an inquiry into these matters. Next, we have asked the Home Secretary whether he will let us see the Police Instructions. I do not believe that any important part of the work that the women patrols have been doing cannot be found as part of the Police Instructions to the ordinary police. 2360 We have been told that constables attend for their protection, and I find from personal experience that that is not the case. The Home Secretary thinks there is no need for an inquiry. We are told by him that it is welfare work and rescue work, but, whenever we try to test it, we find, as far as we can make out, that it is not the case, and I wonder whether the Home Secretary still thinks there is no need for an inquiry. Again, the power of arrest has not been given to the women patrols in the Metropolis, and yet, in Section 36 of the Report of the Committee on Women Police, in which the Under-Secretary of State took part and which he signed, it is recommended that they shall be given the power of arrest. The Under-Secretary of State is in favour of it, and the Home Secretary does not give it to them after the Under-Secretary's inquiry. No one wants to seethe the goat in the kid's milk, but at the same time there is every reason why these women should be enabled to do their work properly. The last point, on which again, I suppose, there is no need for inquiry, is that of finance. I wonder whether the Home Secretary can say "No" to the fact that a decision was taken that the male police force should be kept at 30 below its strength because of the work the women patrols were doing, as a matter of economy. I wonder whether he has an answer to the economies that have been suggested by the hon. Member for Hol-born (Sir J. Remnant). I do not want to labour these points, because they have been made before. We know that the right hon. Gentleman is in favour of the retention of the mounted police; but how many horses are there for the mounted police? More than there were before the War.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MA1TLAND
Then perhaps we may ask the Home Secretary if he will give us a return of the precise numbers that there are, and for what purposes. I once had an opportunity of going into the details of the expenditure on the women police. I do not want to weary the Committee by going into them a second time, but there are 2361 expenses that will be involved for the women substitutes that will have to be employed for much of the work that the women police are doing at the present time. They will have to be employed for questioning young persons and for escorting female prisoners; and if there is an impending suicide, whom it is part of the police duties to watch, are substitutes going to be employed, or is that police duty of watching an intending suicide going to be allowed to go undone? With regard to the escorting of female prisoners, I assert, without fear of contradiction, that if the right hon. Gentleman would only allow a woman patrol to escort a woman prisoner, in those cases that are safe, without having two persons to do it, namely, a male constable and a woman, with double fares, double expenses, double payments for time, and all the rest of it, he could save, on that, one-quarter of the whole sum spent every year on the women police.
Those are a few of the direct economies by which the annual expenditure upon the police could be reduced. Let me now refer to the other case that was mentioned by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill), namely, the expenditure upon venereal disease. It is an. extraordinarily unpleasant topic to deal with, but in the case of such a topic the more openly it is dealt with the better. The loss that is caused to this country in a year by venereal disease is almost beyond calculation. There were nearly 9,000 fresh cases of syphilis last year; and there were over 11,000 cases of gonorrhoea treated last year. Let me ask the Committee to realise, I will not say the suffering, because I am dealing for the moment purely with the side of economy, but the amount of loss of productive energy to this country which is caused by these fresh cases that have been treated last year. Consider the expense at the clinics and lock hospitals, and the difference in expense between treating those cases early and treating them late. If they are treated early, they cost something between, £2 10s. and £4 10s., but if they are treated late they cost £160 a case, and there were nearly 20,000 of these fresh cases last year. I would ask any Member of the Committee to consider whether that fraction which can be and is prevented by the women patrols getting the poor women of the 2362 streets who are diseased to submit to early treatment, is not worth, in mere cash, in pounds, shillings and pence, the whole of the money expended upon them. That is the case, put as briefly as I can, in regard to venereal disease, and, if anyone replies that it is a case in which there is no need for inquiry, all I can say is that I do not think Gallio or the unjust judge would ever think of returning a different answer.
I have dealt with the economics of the subject, but might I impress this upon the Home Secretary, that the attitude of the Government in dealing with a question like this determines, in the minds of a great many of us, whether it is sincere or not in all its professions with regard to social reform and the social betterment of people in this country? It is an easy thing, or, at any rate, it is an attractive thing for the Government to bring on, I would almost say stagey or theatrical measures or reforms. Those measures may mean many votes, and may occupy headlines in the papers, and great speeches may be made about them; but the real sincerity of the Government can be tested by the way in which it deals in ordinary administration from day to day with these matters which do not occupy so much attention in the daily Press. I wonder whether the Home Secretary himself fully realises the amount of suffering—I have dealt with the economic side—that is caused, for example, by cases of venereal disease which are perfectly preventable and which need never occur. If he does not realise it fully, at least there are others who do. I got word this morning, written to me by a, complete stranger, because, I suppose, they had heard I have an interest in the subject, of a meeting held yesterday at Wandsworth, called by the Mayor of Wandsworth and the Mayor of Lambeth, in order by public collection to get a sufficient sum of money to enable them to keep their women patrols if the Home Office decided to disband them. I knew nothing of that movement whatever until I was told of it late last night and was sent the notice this morning. There, at least, is some proof that some responsible London authorities are alive to the subject in a way the Home Secretary is not. Later this morning I was rung up to say that in 2363 Battersea they were having street-to-street collections in order to get some money to ascertain the state of the case as to whether they should try also to raise money to keep their patrols. I do not think the Home Secretary will take the line that it will save public funds if you get private citizens to do what is clearly a public duty. If he were to take that line, it would be just as logical to say that those for whom police protection was urgently needed ought not to rely on the Home Office to do it, but ought to pay themselves for protection. So I am sure he would not take that line. But I urge upon him to realise, by cases such as these, which came quite fortuitously to my notice, how urgently the subject is considered by those who have the responsibility for London in their hands. Some lines that appeal to me more than any other were those which I expect nearly every Member of the Committee heard, and that is the ordinary hymn which is sung nearly every Hospital Sunday, beginningThou to whom the sick and dying Ever came nor came in vain; Still with healing word replying To their wearied cry of pain.When I think of the thousands who are saved from quite preventable disease, taking the most awful and most ghastly forms, and when I think of the poor women who are rescued in greater numbers by these patrols than are saved in any other way and prevented from going on to the streets, I wonder, if the Home Secretary has really got imagination, what would be his state of mind afterwards if he successfully forced their disbandment, or will he glory in the work he has done?
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
The subject of the reduction of the women police has been dealt with so eloquently and interestingly by the hon. Lady who commenced the discussion, and by others, that I do not feel justified in detaining the Committee more than two or three minutes, but as I feel very strongly on this subject, I hope I may be allowed to associate myself heartily with those who protest against the action of the Home Secretary. I think the decision to reduce the women police is unfortunate to the last degree, and there is nothing less surprising than the intense indignation 2364 which has arisen among the women electors and the community generally. The women police during the short time they have been operating have proved conclusively that they have been the sure shield and defence against all those vicious and malignant influences which war against the spirit, the mind and the body of their most defenceless sisters. They: have proved that there is no task too dangerous to be tackled by their courage and their devotion. The hon. Lady proved that they have practically put an end to the practice of white girls going down to those haunts frequented by the riff-raff of the docks, where they make a beginning of their descent into the abyss, and that they have prevented many hundreds of children from being outraged and abused. They have warned many thousands of women against the dangers of the streets and have prevented many hundreds of girls from turning into practised prostitutes. They have been the means of helping many thousands of girls who otherwise would never have been helped. The Home Secretary, if he has his way, may possibly save us £20,000 a year, but what will be the debits on the other side? What shall we have to face? More girls will go wrong, more little children will be outraged and tampered with by designing scoundrels, more girls will fall a prey to the coloured riff-raff of our docks and more and more will syphilis ravish our people. Those will be our losses. Is it really contended for a moment that the value of our mounted policemen can be compared, in terms of helpfulness and utility, with these women police? No one in this Committee values or admires more than I do the smartness and the efficiency of our mounted police. I should like to offer the right hon. Gentleman my congratulations on being such a very good judge of a horse. I wish when I was a young man I had had hunters half as good as the horses which the policemen ride, but I cannot say that they would not be better employed in galloping over the pastures of Leicestershire than parading up and down Birdcage Walk.
But there are other spheres in which the administration of the Home Office has been equally harmful, detrimental and neglectful, and where the extravagance of the Government has been visited on the most weak and defence- 2365 less of our community. What is the only safeguard against abuse and neglect of the Factory Acts but the efficiency and the number of the inspectors? The needs have greatly increased since the War, but I find the inspectorate has been cut down to such a degree that there are 17 fewer factory inspectors operating now than there were before the War. You have a staff of 197 factory inspectors responsible for 282,000 factories—1,500 each—and is it surprising that accidents have increased and that, in the words of the chief factory inspector, as the inspectorate goes down the cost is counted in terms of arms, legs and lives? This is the result of the cutting down of the factory inspectorate, which has been and is being measured in arms, legs and lives. Take again the dangerous trades. The Home Secretary has cut down his inspectorate from five to three. The Home Office rule is that every factory engaged in a dangerous trade should be visited once in three months, but, owing to the cutting down of the inspectorate, it is quite impossible to inspect those factories more than once a year. The result is that one of the district inspectors says he is employed entirely in attending inquests rather than inspecting factories. I wish to register my emphatic protest against the cowardly manner in which the Home Secretary has yielded the interests of the women and children to a reactionary stunt. To him that bath shall be given is the watchword of the Government. We have peerages for profiteers and honours for fraudulent trustees and tax dodgers and traders with the enemy. At the same time the interests of the women and children are neglected, and I, for one, was never more thankful than I am at the present moment that I am sitting on this side of the House and not on the other.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
The question of women police has been so ably put from all sections of the Committee that it needs no words of mine, but really we thought the question of the women police was settled long before it came to the House. The Home Secretary appointed an impartial Committee, composed of Members of both Houses, to look into the subject, and they made such a case for the women police that all people interested in the subject thought it was 2366 settled once for all. Then came the Anti-waste party, with their wasteful cry for economy in the wrong direction. Then came the Geddes Committee, and to the absolute horror of all, certainly of all women, interested in social hygiene and moral questions, we saw that the London patrol women were going to be disbanded. We pressed the Home Secretary to know what evidence the Geddes Committee had, and as far as we can make out the only evidence they had was from the Home Secretary himself. I cannot help feeling that if only the Home Secretary had given the Geddes Committee his own Committee's report, even those hardheaded business men of real ability—a great deal more ability than some that criticised them—would have seen, from the financial point of view, that we could not afford to disband the women police. I do not want to join in the hue and cry against the Home Secretary. I deplore the attacks which have been made on him lately. I think all just-minded people must have hated them. All of us who are interested in real things hate these stunt attacks. I beg the Home Secretary to consider how difficult he makes it for his supporters—the supporters of the Government—when he makes a tactical blunder like this. He knows he has made a blunder, and all the Government knows he has made a blunder. But I believe the Home Secretary is a big enough man to say, "I have made a blunder. I will rise before the House and say, 'forgive me and let us start again.'" I am backing the Home Secretary. I think he can do it. I should like him to remember, first of all, that he is up against not only the opinion of most people in this House, but the whole moral opinion of the women of this country. It really comes to that. This is not a personal quarrel with the Home Secretary. It is a great moral issue. He knows perfectly well that if he disbands these London patrols it is going to have a bad effect throughout the country. It is going to give a handle to the reactionary local authorities, who are only too glad to get women out of anything. He knows that he is only putting a weapon into their hands. Much as we deplore it, there is a section of the community who hate the very sight of women. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes, in public affairs—they love them the other way too much—and, really, the reason is because 2367 we are new brooms and we are determined to sweep clean. We will not be put off by much of that with which the men have been put off. When things are wrong in a town we mean to go to the bottom of it. That is what the women police have done. They have gone to the bottom of things, and for some corn-inanities they have seen too much. I have a great respect for the police force in this country, and you will find that the more intelligent of the men police will tell you that when it comes to social and moral questions, to the cleaning up and down, the women are a great help.
I will not try to appeal to the sympathy of the Committee, because I know that all right-thinking people, certainly the fathers of girls, must be with us. The women police may not affect the children of Members of the House of Commons, but they do affect the children of thousands in this country, who are the most unprotected in the whole community. The Home Secretary said that he is not going to disband the women police, but that he is going to reduce them. Be honest. You know perfectly well that that is camouflage. You must know that what you are going to do is that you are going to appoint four women to look after the whole of London. You are going to get them to deal with cases of criminal assault, and you say that these women will he there to deal with these cases. They cannot do it. You have 160 police stations in London. How can four women do this work? It means that when these cases come in, unless the woman is there the cases will have to be questioned by a man. I feel certain that that is the last thing that the Members of this House of Commons want. They do not want children to be subject to be questioned by men. It is a terrible thing, and it has been proved by all the women who are dealing with these cases that it really has a psychological effect on the mind of the child, long afterwards. No matter what the Home Secretary tells us, if he thinks he is going to fool us by saying that he is going to have all these cases dealt with by women, I reply that the women cannot do it. The women to whom the work is offered will not accept it.
The Home Secretary thinks that there has been a little disloyalty about this. Does he realise how tremendously women care about it? One woman in the police 2368 force said to me: "I am a poor woman. I have not, a penny of my own, but rather than accept it at a high salary I would go out as a protest." It must be pretty bad if a woman who has to make her own living feels so strongly about this matter that she would refuse to accept a position from the Home Secretary, knowing that it is simply eye-wash. I appeal to the Home Secretary, and beg him not to go against the whole organised opinion of the women of the country. What is the use of our having votes unless we can vote to simulate and interest men on questions of this kind? The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill) said, quite rightly, that he had looked into the case lately, and, having looked into it and brought a just, fair and very able mind to bear upon it, he made a most powerful speech on the subject. The hon. Member for the Erdington Division of Birmingham (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) also made a powerful speech. I beg the Home Secretary not to think that this is just. an agitation by a few fanatical women. It is nothing of the kind. He is hitting the conscience of the whole organised and unorganised women voters of the country.
I do not want to threaten, but I do want to appeal to him to be a man. Be a man. Say you have made a mistake. We all make mistakes every day of our lives. Say you have made a mistake. Do make it possible for your followers, people like myself, who are ready to defend you when you are right and hate to attack you when you are wrong, to feel confidence in you. Give us a chance, and do not create chaos among women by disbanding this force in London, and letting down the whole moral tone. That is where the women's strength lies. We are out for fighting these moral issues. Men can put up a financial case far better than we can. They can put up many other cases better than we can, but when it comes to a question of children and women, and when it comes to that tragic question of prostitution, we feel that the women of the country have quite a different vision from the men. We also feel that it is unfair to ask young men police to take on these cases. It would not be fair to our own sons to put them in that position. Get more women police, and put the whole question of prostitution in their hands. Give them the powers 2369 of arrest, and show that you are not a reactionary, but an up-to-date Liberal, ready to do what is right.
§ Mr. SHORTT
Although I know there is a considerable number of other points that will be raised on this Vote, probably it will meet with the approval of the Committee if I deal with this particular aspect, before the others are reached. The Debate has been very interesting, and the case for the retention of the full number of women police has been put not, only with great ability but with great fairness and great moderation. There is very little that has been said with which anyone, who knows anything of the subject., could possibly quarrel. We may differ about the description of things, or the names applied to them, but, so far as the arguments have gone, I do not think there is very much difference between any of us. We have had enumerated by several speakers the various duties which are better carried out, by women than by men, and with the single exception of that one duty, which takes a woman out upon patrol, namely, that of looking after young girls and preventing, as far as possible, their fall into lives of sin, every one of the duties that they perform will continue to be performed by women. Hon. Members have spoken as if, when this force is disbanded, the statements by women and children in incest cases or in indecency cases will be taken by men. They were not taken by men before the women police were put into uniform, and they will continue to be taken by women, and by trained women as far as possible. That, again, is a duty where, so far as the Commissioner can secure it, women take off their uniforms when they go to perform it. They go in mufti.
Take another case which was put with considerable strength, the cocaine practice, the dangerous drugs traffic. It is said that it is in ladies' lavatories that the exchange traffic takes place. Is it supposed that women who are sent to detect the traffic in cocaine in places where women are alone, without the presence of men, would go wearing their uniform Of course, they would go in plain clothes, and they will continue to go in plain clothes. Many women are going to-day. Women employed by our Criminal Investigation Department, who have nothing to do with the women's patrol at all, are 2370 doing that work to-day and every day. I could mention many other duties, such as searching, escorts, and other duties, which have always, been done by women, and will continue to be done by women. None of these are matters in which a uniformed patrol force is in the least necessary. The case of the would-be suicide was mentioned. These have always been watched by women. There is always a woman available for the purpose of attending to the wants of a woman prisoner, or sitting beside a woman prisoner in cases where it is necessary. These things have been done 'by women and always will be done by women. Of course that will involve expense. The £20,000 which it is estimated will be saved by this reduction in the women police force is the balance after making allowance, as far as it is possible to estimate it, for the whole of that description of expenditure.
May I remind the Committee of the position in which I found myself when I had to discuss and consider how to get our economies in the police force. I would remind the Committee of the Circular which was sent out to the various Departments by the Treasury—You are therefore asked to consider the expenditure of your Department with a view to eliminating all services, without exception, which are not absolutely and directly necessary.Those are very strong words. They could not be put stronger. It was the decision of all of us in the Cabinet that we must, as far as it was humanly possible, work to the Geddes Report. I was, therefore, faced with this position, that I had only a limited amount of money to spend upon the police force this year. I had to get, somehow or other, immediate economies which would be felt in this Budget and in the Estimates which I had to put before Parliament this year. At the same time, I had to maintain the efficiency of the police force. I had reduced to the utmost margin of safety the strength of the London police force. One knows that the police force of this country is our first line of defence. It is absolutely vital that one should not reduce the work of the police, which is the maintenance of public safety, the safeguarding of life, limb, and property, beyond a certain figure. One must keep sufficient men to protect the people of the Metropolis. I 2371 looked round to find out what possible economy I could make before touching the women police at all. I explored every possible direction in which it was possible to make economies before I came to the women police.
I would like to bear testimony in this connection to the loyal way in which the police themselves have assisted me in this matter. I had meetings with their representatives. I put the whole financial position before them, and we had an analysis. They recommended to me the reductions which I have made. Those reductions which are not in the Geddes Committee Report, but which produce the same amount of money, are the result of suggestions made to me by the men themselves through their central representative body. They have been most loyal and patriotic in the whole matter, but we have reduced them to the utmost limit. I have persistently refused to touch their pensionable pay, but their pockets have been touched, and they have willingly come forward and agreed to their pockets being touched. I have reduced the men force to the utmost limit. We had got out of the men all the financial economies and sacrifices that I could properly ask them to make, and there remained this sum to be made up.
What was I to do? I had to turn to these women police. I had to ask, "Am I justified, in face of this Geddes Committee Report, in keeping the whole of these women on the police fund?" and I came to the conclusion that I was not. I came to that conclusion having had careful calculations made, and having taken into consideration that some of the work which they do must still be done by women. I think that that meant a saving of something like £20,000, and I felt it my duty to do. it. I knew perfectly well that there would be strong objection to that. I confess that I did it with the greatest possible personal regret. T supported the creation of the women police: I set up the Committee myself, and no one admires more the work which they have done, their proper work, and the way in which they have done it more than I do. With regard to such questions as the taking of statements and the other work which had been done before, I am not going to say that they do it any better than the women who were previously employed, or do it any 2372 better than the women whom we shall employ. But for the work which they have done in the streets, patrolling among the girls and the young people whom they try to save, I yield to no one in my admiration. That really was their main object. It was work of that kind which requires a uniformed force. Practically none of the rest of the work which they do requires a uniformed force. It is work which results in rescue which is their main work, and the main object of having a uniformed force, and the main reason why one is only too anxious, when finances allow, that there should be once more that uniformed force.
I knew there would be a considerable amount of objection to what was being done, and it was suggested to me, and I at once agreed, that in order' to secure that there should be a new force created, when money would allow, a nucleus of this force should be left. I agreed to that, and set to work to consult the Commissioner in order to carry out that suggestion. One thing certainly is, that if you are going to have a nucleus, which is going to be of the slightest value for the reforming of the force, in getting together an efficient body again, you must have a nucleus consisting chiefly of the higher officer, and if we had kept a number of the higher officers who are trained and experienced, the Commissioner assured me that, well within three months from any given date, he would undertake to have 150 trained women patrolling the streets. So that the nucleus, so long as it consisted of the skilled officers, the senior people, would have been of the greatest possible value.
Of course, the best way to do that was to try to arrange that all the services which would still be performed by women would be performed by this nucleus. We approached a lady who was high in the service. The reason she gave to us for refusing the post was not that which was given to us to-day. She may have had both reasons, I do not know. All we knew was that there was some influence behind her—where it came from we did not know—which prevented her from giving us any assistance whatever in the formation of this nucleus. The hon. Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) has herself said she supposed and thought that there was disloyalty in this matter. Candidly, I do think so. Take the position. We have sketched out a division 2373 of London into areas for the purpose of taking the statements of women and children in indecency cases. We have, quite outside of the police force and women patrols, women employed to-day on that work, and the Commissioner and I agreed that in three of those districts to offer to three of the women patrols that they were to continue in their present position, with the same pensionable rights and all the rest of it—in fact, that their present services should be continued, but that their special work was to be that of taking these statements. Yesterday morning it was all settled. Yesterday morning they had agreed to do that.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
I am very sorry to interrupt, but there is a mistake about that. The women really had not agreed, because they said they would have to go and think it over. There was no undue influence. They had never agreed.
§ Mr. SHORTT
Apparently the hon. Member for Plymouth is better informed of what goes on confidentially in Scotland Yard than I am.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I repeat that it was absolutely settled yesterday morning, and I have with me a statement which was made to the Commissioner, showing how two of them came to change their mind. They were approached, and they were told that they must refuse until after to-day's Debate, because to consent to help me to form the nucleus would injure those of their colleagues who were not being retained.
§ Mr. SHORTT
Yes:Mrs. Stanley told myself, Inspector Dixon, and Sergeant Butcher that if we accepted the positions the Commissioner had offered, the Secretary of State would he in a position to say that a nucleus had been left in the force, and that this Debate, to take place in the House of Commons on the 29th, would fall through and disbandment would go on to a finish. I am unable to give the exact words, because they have been said in effect on so many occasions by Mrs. Stanley"—2374 Mrs. Stanley, I may remind the Committee, is the head of the force—The last time she mentioned this was yesterday morning.This was taken to-day.
§ Mr. SHORTT
Yes.She told us to play for time. I am sure and confident that Inspector Dixon wanted the post and I believe that Sergeant Butcher would also like to get it, but we were told we should be disloyal to our other colleagues it we accepted the positions at the present time. Mrs. Stanley first told me about this appointment on Saturday the 24th June. She told mo that it was connected with the taking of statements. She said she would like us to have the posts and knew we would do our duty and our best, but we were not to accept until the Debate was over. Miss Morris was in and out of the room when this was going on. Mrs. Stanley said, of course, that we were grown women, and could please ourselves but I knew what the position would be if I accepted it. When the interview took place yesterday morning we formulated certain questions regarding matters affecting our pay and pensions and these appeared on discussion to be satisfactorily cleared up. I certainly understood I was to get one of the positions.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I was honestly trying to carry out my promise to form a nucleus. I am willing now to carry it out and to leave a sufficient body to make this nucleus. I will tell the Committee exactly what I had in my mind to propose. I wanted the chief officers, and I wanted the total number of officers of the force to be 20. I thought that that was a fair and reasonable offer to make, as a nucleus upon which a new force could be immediately built up any moment that there was financial power to do so.
§ Mr. SHORTT
That would be arranged. They could be on a sufficient number of occasions in uniform to let it be known that they were a uniformed force. What I wished to guard against was that it could be said in future that the force had been done away with altogether. I 2375 wanted anyone in future to be able to say, "the force was never done away with, and all we want you to do now, when finances permit, is to increase it." do think that I have made a perfectly fair offer. I have done my best to secure what was the spirit of the intention and the spirit of my promise—namely, that every facility should be put in the way of restoring the force when the finances would allow. That offer is still open, and I ask the Committee to re-collect my position. I must save this money somehow. I have reduced the force to the utmost margin. I cannot ask the men to make greater sacrifices than they have made.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I am still anxious that this offer should be accepted, and I will do anything to secure all that anyone can reasonably ask.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I am sure that the Committee will regret, as I regret, that a certain amount of influence has been brought to bear upon the women police which I think should not have been brought to bear, and I regret, also, that it does not seem that the Home Secretary is going to meet the wishes of those who have spoken in the Debate. I hope that whatever may be the issue of this Debate that the nucleus will be preserved, and I think that these ladies will be well advised to accept the offer and to continue the existence of the force even in so skeleton, and, as I think, so disadvantageous a form. The Home Secretary had to answer. Apart from the incident to which ho has referred, he would have found it exceedingly difficult to answer the very remarkable series of speeches made on the subject. I have seldom listened to speeches which were more cogent, better documented and which appealed less to sentiment, as far as that sentiment was not closely related to a practical objective. What the Home Secretary said in his reply was an admission of the case. He did not, attempt to answer the case. On the ground of expense and the saving to the community the Committee will be justified in seeing that this most important service is carried on.
2376 6.0 P.M.
Let us get down to the point. What is the cost? It is estimated at between £20,000 and £30,000 per annum. I do not think I am far out when I say that making a reduction for standing charges and for expenses, which must be incurred in any event, the total cost will not exceed £15,000 a year. The saving to be effected, therefore, will be round about £15,000. What is to be the position as it is left by the Home Secretary? As was demonstrated by the very remarkable statement of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill), supplemented by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Erdington (Sir A. Steel-Maitland), you are going to lose far more by this so-called saving than if you maintained the force. On the direct side, of course, you might make a saving. But are you going to take the short view or the long view'? Is your economy to be on salaries or on the elevation of morals? On which are you to save? If you save on salaries you will save about £15,000. But you will lose on your hospitals and your prisons, and in the cost of the social wreckage which you are now saving by this force. It is a question of social salvage, and that is admitted. Why is the Home Secretary dealing with it on these lines? He gave us his answer. It is the recommendation of the Geddes Committee. He admits the ease for the force. But the Geddes Committee was set up. It went round and made its very capable, but very hasty, investigations. Whom did the members of that Committee see? They had the advantage of hearing the Home Secretary and the Commissioner of Police. What was the attitude of the Geddes Committee? It was, "We must save money anyhow." That may be an excellent idea. But they had no time to inquire into the salvage and the great preventive work of which we have heard to-day. How could they?
As to the recommendations of the Geddes Committee, we know that there are many of them which have not been carried out. The Home Secretary was under no moral obligation to implement every recommendation of the Geddes Committee. That is shown by what has happened in other Departments. But his case was, "I was asked by the Geddes Committee and the Government to make what saving I could. I cut down the police in many very important directions, 2377 and I thought that, perhaps, we could save £20,000 a year by cutting this women's force down to zero." On the grounds submitted to the Committee this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman's case failed. I regret very much that I shall have to go into the Lobby against him. T would much rather not do so. If the Home Secretary bad gone further and had said that he was prepared to maintain something more than a nucleus and to make this force a fighting unit in the great battle against social devastation and degradation in this metropolis, there would be no division to-day. Cannot he do that now? I say on my personal responsibility that if he would maintain this Women's Police Force at 30, or round about that figure, we could save the Force effectively. From that he could build upwards. Better to have anything rather than this mere skeleton.
§ Mr. SHORTT
If it is not numbers that you are bothering about, what is it? I may be able to meet my right hon. Friend. As I understand it, these people will do these duties which the police women are doing now. They are curtailed in their numbers, but if there is a particular necessity for a women's patrol amongst girls in any particular place, up to the 20 they will be available for that work, just as they are at present. Women are not always on the same beat. We may hear that they are required here or there, and they are sent. The only difference in future will be the numbers.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Do I understand the Home Secretary to say that the force will not be reduced? Is he prepared to consider the question of the force not being cut down to the nucleus of four or five?
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
That is uniformed patrols. For this year, if they were brought up to 30 or 50, as the case might be—[HON. MEMBERS:" No, no!"]—There is no catch-penny business about it. Cannot the Home Secretary meet some Members of this House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Stand firm!"]—If hon. Members who have not heard the Debate at all on a 2378 social issue of the most vital importance, now rush in with their interjections—
§ Sir COURTENAY WARNER
On a point of Order. Is it right that the right hon. Member should accuse Members who have been sitting here for a long time, of not listening to the Debate? Is it not only out of order, but very improper?
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. James Hope)
The right hon. Gentleman made a rhetorical observation which is not out of order.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I leave it to the Committee. If my right hon. Friend will arrange for a further discussion of this question, I certainly Will riot go into the Lobby against him.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
I am sure the Home Secretary will understand what I mean when I say that, as regards the statement which he read to us, we must reserve our judgment until we have heard both sides of the case. One thing is quite clear. When this House or any legislative assembly comes to concern itself with matters of administrative detail, there is always a danger of undue influence, and that is why I sincerely hope we shall not bargain with the Home Secretary across the Floor of the House as between 20 or 30 or 40. That is his responsibility, and we vote for or against him according as we think he carries it out. The reason why I shall vote against the Home Secretary in this Division is that, bad as interference by a legislative assembly may be in matters of administrative detail, it cannot possibly be avoided if administration is made a matter of successive Committees and Commissions and if the head of a Department, instead of taking upon himself the responsibility of administering his service, follows to-day the advice of one Committee and to-morrow that of another, as the Home Secretary has done in this case. The right hon. Gentleman appointed a Departmental Committee. That Committee has reported and he carried out its Report. The moment the Geddes Committee came along he immediately went in the opposite direction. That, is the kind of wibble-wobble administration we are always having from one or other of the Members of the Cabinet. On the whole, I appreciate the 2379 Home Secretary's attitude to-day on this question, which is a, very difficult one, but I do feel so strongly on this subject of spasmodic administration, that looking on the whole record of the right hon. Gentleman's administration of the women police, I shall be compelled to go into the Lobby against him.
§ Brigadier-General COCKERILL
While agreeing in the main with the Noble Lord who has just spoken, on the subject of administration, I would remind the Committee we are now dealing with this narrow question of the women police, and I wish to understand clearly the exact nature of the proposal which the Home Secretary offers. I understand he offers definitely 20 women police who on suitable occasions will be in uniform and will be employed as heretofore on police duties, visible and patrolling in the streets, so that everyone may know that the women police force remains in existence. [Mr. SHORTT assented.] There is no question as to the need for this force. It has been stated with force and cogency from all sides of the Committee and with the Committee's permission will quote from a letter written by one who has great experience of police questions, namely, the President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, who at least knows what he is talking about. On this question of women police, he said:The policewoman of the future will he a most potent agent for crime prevention and will do more in one day in that respect than the modern police department in a large city does in a year to-day.What the Home Secretary has said as to the pressing reasons for not maintaining the women police at the present strength is obviously very forcible. We cannot resist it, but I am sure many other hon. Members are like myself most anxious to see this force visible in our streets, and since that is promised, I shall not vote against the Government.
§ Mr. NAYLOR
The fact that this is the first opportunity any Labour Member has had of speaking on the question under discussion will, I hope, be accepted by the Committee as a sufficient excuse for my intervention. The statement of the Home Secretary is extremely disappointing. For the first time, I think, he has acknowledged that it is on the grounds of economy that the women police patrols 2380 are to be reduced and that if it had not been for the wish previously expressed in the House, they would have been disbanded altogether. It is quite unnecessary to go into reasons in favour of the retention of the force; the Government this afternoon has proved there is every reason for their retention and even for their increase. I am not satisfied with promises as to the number of the force. The proper number is the number required to cope with the evils with which this force is called upon to deal. There is no use in talking of a matter of 20 women police for the greatest city in the world. We could put 20 policewomen into each of the districts of London and give them work which would keep them busy from one week end to another.
I think it is astounding that in the Debate which has just taken place not one single voice has been raised in support of the Home Secretary's proposals. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of economy in connection with his Department. The final responsibility is not with the Home Secretary but with the Cabinet, which has the control of the expenditure of every Department, and the Home Secretary must have consulted the Cabinet before coming to this important decision. Talk of economy! If "my lady" in a hot-el in London loses her jewellery, there is no question of economy. Half a dozen detectives are at once put on the track of the robbers, and a search is made all over the country and in different parts of the world in order that the property of "my lady" may be recovered. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members opposite agree with me there. I want them to agree with me, because we are living under certain recognised laws, and those laws must be obeyed and property must be respected. But is material wealth the only property of the nation? There are other forms of wealth than money and valuables, and it is those other forms of wealth which require protection at the hands of the women police. I deprecate the suggestion made that this work is not necessary to any greater extent than is represented by the efforts of about 20 women. As no hon. Member has risen to give reasons for objecting to the full maintenance of the force, I presume hon. Members favour it, and I sincerely trust they will have the courage of their convictions and vote accordingly.
§ Sir C. WARNER
I do not think it fair that this Debate should conclude without any hon. Member having spoken in support of the Home Secretary. Many of us on this side of the House thoroughly support him. We must put aside all question of the enormous good which this police force might do, because that is not a fair position to take up. At the present moment we have to give up a great many things which might prove to be an enormous saving to the country in the future. It is quite true that if we can stop crime, it will be a saving to the country in future. Was not exactly the same thing said when there was a proposal to reduce the Army and Navy? Was it not said then, all round, that to do so was a false economy and that the keeping up of a larger Army and Navy would save the country so much in the future. [HON. MEMEBER: "Who said it?"] Bead the OFFICIAL REPORT and you will find that hundreds of people have said it. Was there a single demand made by Labour, in the interests of the health of the people, or for the regulation of work, or for the prevention of injustice and refused on the ground of economy, that would not have saved money in the future? Every one of these proposed reforms have been turned down, not because we do not know that in the future they would effect a saving, but because we know that to-day we cannot afford them. I have pledged myself before my constituents to two things. One is that I shall vote against increased expenditure, and the other is that I shall not vote for a reduction of taxation until the finances of the country are in a better condition.
The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) said the Home Secretary was to blame for having taken the advice of one Committee, and then reversed his decision on the advice of another. The Home Secretary took the advice of a Departmental Committee which recommended the plan—which is acknowledged by himself to have been and is stated by everybody who is objecting to his conduct, to have been, a good plan—of raising a woman police force. The day came when the country was in financial difficulties. The right hon. Gentleman had to make reductions in his Department, much less than other Department, but still, he had to make some 2382 substantial reductions. Was he to do so by risking the peace of this city or the country as a whole That would have been the meaning of it had the economy been made in connection with the men police. He took the only thing that was not an absolute necessity of the moment, and I say the women police force was not an absolute necessity. Every hon. Member who thinks clearly and carefully over the matter will realise that, for the moment, it was not an absolute necessity. The second Committee was a Committee appointed to find out where reductions could be made in the national expenditure. We know the country must have reductions in expenditure, and must go even further than it has already gone in that direction. It is true that some of the suggestions of the Geddes Committee have not been adopted. Some of them have been found impossible, but not a single Department has turned down the whole of the recommendations and declined to reduce at all. The Home Secretary did what was done in other Departments. He turned down some of the recommendations of the Geddes Committee, but he had to find other means of making economies, and that is the position of every Department. We cannot possibly reduce the expenditure of the country by discussing questions as to why we are not spending as much on this thing or on that as formerly. Our position is that we should tell the Departments that they must reduce. If, when every slight reduction is made, we are to declare that it is an infringement of some principle, we shall bring the country to ruin, and I cannot understand why we should refuse economics, even when to carry out these economies we have to cut off something which, though its abolition appears to us a hardship, is not of absolute necessity.
§ Major GLYN
I want to be quite clear what the Division is to be about. I understood from the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) that he did not intend to go into the Lobby for the Amendment if the Home Secretary would agree to maintain an adequate nucleus of this force and would see to it that the members of that force showed themselves in public, so that the country knew that that force was in existence and in uniform. Also it was clearly understood that at the first opportunity the Home Secretary intends to expand that force. 2383 During the Debate it was rather obvious that some of the duties performed by women in the service of the police were quite clearly understood as being necessarily the duties of the women police patrols. The Criminal Investigation Department have women detectives, and in regard to the cocaine traffic they have to employ detectives, but obviously not uniformed women police patrols. Therefore, I am anxious to know what is the approximate figure that the hon. Member for Louth (Mrs. Wintringham) thinks it is right to be put down as the nucleus for maintaining the women police force. I am absolutely in favour of them. I know well what good work they have done, and it seems to me that there must be soma figure that can be arrived at at which to maintain that nucleus and give us the assurance that the force will be extended as soon as financial conditions allow.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The hon. and gallant Member for Clackmannan and Eastern (Major Glyn) has asked a perfectly legitimate question, and I am afraid I am not in a position to answer it. I doubt very much whether it can be answered by any private Member of this House. The hon. Member for Lich-field (Sir C. Warner) said, "We desire economy, but we shall never get economy if we say that every economy proposed infringes some principle." I am thoroughly agreed with that argument, and if this were a question merely of maintaining a principle, so far as I am concerned, I should not vote for the reduction; but I look at it rather differently. The Home Secretary has now, I think, in a most fair speech, if he will allow me to say so put the issue very clearly before us. He says quite definitely that there are some of the police duties of the women which can be dealt with otherwise, but he admits that there is one which only uniformed women can deal with properly, and that is what I will call, broadly, the protection of the women and the children in this city, and he said most strongly—and was very glad to hear him say it, because it confirms what other and less well informed persons have said—that he thought they had done most admirable work of that kind, and that it was work which only uniformed women could do. Those are the facts, and surely that is 2384 very important work. We have had many statements, with which I entirely agree, to the effect that it would he very wrong to reduce the male police force of this city so low as not to provide properly for the protection of life and property. I do not think any Member of the House, however vehement an economist, would think it right to reduce the male police force of this city so as to endanger not only the life, but the property of the citizens. I agree most fully, but are we really going to say that that is true and that we will stick to it, but that we think it quite legitimate to economise in a force which is protecting the women and children of the city? Is that really a reasonable position to take up? If it can be shown that we are maintaining too many women for this purpose, that they are useless, or that they are not really required for the purpose, then I agree they should be cut down.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I hear the hon. Member say, "They are not absolutely necessary," but what does he mean by "necessary"? If they are performing this duty, which surely is as important as any duty which a police force can perform, and if they are necessary for that duty, surely they are absolutely necessary. I can only go by what the Home Secretary tells us. He says they are doing most admirable work that can only be dole by uniformed women, and if that be so, and be recognises that they are doing this work, I confess I feel it impossible to vote for any proposition which will cut down that force below what is necessary for what seems to me to be just as essential work as any other work done by the police in affording protection for life and property, protection against fire, and the numerous other duties which the police perform. Therefore, as far as I am personally concerned, although I do not want to press the Government unduly in this matter—I am anxious to get a result—yet I could not bring myself to vote for any proposal unless the Home Secretary officially assures me that he is quite satisfied that these duties, which he says are so necessary and are so usefully performed by these women, will not in any way suffer from the reduction of their numbers.
§ Mrs. WINTRINGHAM
It has been suggested in the Debate that the pruning recommended by the Geddes Committee should be carried out. In the case of the police force, we had 111 women patrols, and to-day there are 56. I do not think there is any economy proposed in the Geddes Report which has resulted in a service being cut down by one half, and that is the ease with the women police to-day. The hon. and gallant Member for Clackmannan and Eastern (Major Glyn)
§ asked what number of women police patrols I would accept. I do not think one could possibly reduce the number below what it is to-day, namely, 56, unless the Home Secretary would guarantee that if that number were reduced they should have the power of arrest
§ Question put, "That Item A be reduced by £100."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 83; Noes, 174.2387
|Division No. 192.]||AYES.||[6.40 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Hayday, Arthur||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Banton, George||Hogge, James Myles||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertiliery)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Remnant, Sir James|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Rendell, Athelstan|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barrand, A. R.||Irving, Dan||Samuel, A. M. (surrey, Farnham)|
|Been, Capt. Sir I H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Simm, M. T.|
|Been, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Lawson, John James||Swan, J. E.|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Thomson, T. (Middlesbroug h, West)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Briant, Frank||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Mailalieu, Frederick William||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Malone, C. L. (Leyton. E.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham. S.)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Cairns, John||Martin, A. E.||Wignall, James|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Morrison, H ugh||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Mosley, Oswald||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Finney, Samuel||Myers, Thomas||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Foot, Isaac||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Nield, Sir Herbert||Mrs. Wintringham and Mr. Ronald|
|Hallas, Eldred||O'Connor, Thomas P.||McNeill.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Daiziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Dean, Commander P. T.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Edgar, Clifford B.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hun. F. S.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Evans, Ernest||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Falcon, Captain Michael||Johnstone, Joseph|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Falls, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Fell, Sir Arthur||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)|
|Beckett, Hon. Sir Gervase||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H, (Devizes)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Beliairs, Commander Canyon W.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Kidd, James|
|Bigland, Alfred||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Gilbert, James Daniel||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Glyn, Major Ralph||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Goff, Sir R. Park||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Lorden, John William|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Gregory, Holman||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Grenfell Edward Charles||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)|
|Casey, T. W.||Gretton, Colonel John||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Gritten, W. G. Howard||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||McMicking, Major Gilbert|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Macnaghten, Sir Malcolm|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hall, Captain Sir Douglas Bernard||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Llv'p'1,W.D'by)||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Harmeworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome|
|Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wallace, J.|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Murchison, C. K.||Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.||Ward, Col. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Neal, Arthur||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Newton, Sir Percy Wilson||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)||Warner, Sir T. Courteray T.|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Sprat, Colonel Sir Alexander||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Stanton, Charles Butt||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersneld)||Steel, Major S. Strang||; Winterton, Earl|
|Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Stewart, Gershom||Wise, Frederick|
|Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Parker, James||Sturrock, J. Leng||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Sugden, W. H.||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Pearce, Sir William||Sutherland, Sir William||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx)||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Plnkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Thomas-Stanford; Charles||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Thomson, F. C, (Aberdeen, South)||Younger, Sir George|
|Purchase, H. G.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Raehurn, Sir William H.||Tickler, Thomas George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Townley, Maximilian G||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Reid, D. D.||Tryon, Major George Clement||McCurdy.|
|Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Colonel GRETTON
The matter to which I desire to call attention is connected with the Debate in this House in which questions were asked in connection with the assassination of Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson. I am in a position of great difficulty, because, clearly, when we discuss instructions given to the police we are on very dangerous ground, face to face as we are at the present time with a dangerous conspiracy against order and against life in this country. The other day the Home Secretary, in the speech he made, dealt with one particular piece of information which was given in a particular form on a particular occasion, and he said that this particular information was treated as of no value. I would like to call attention to what occurred in regard to the Intelligence Department of Scotland Yard. I am not going to give anything away which would be of any use to anybody. When Sir Basil Thomson was Assistant Commissioner in charge of the Intelligence Department he had direct access to Ministers to make his reports to the Cabinet, but when Sir Basil Thomson was dismissed—I am not going into that, but I still think most strongly that he was very badly used, and that a great public servant received treatment which was abominable and shameful—the Intelligence Department was put into other hands, and the Chief of the Intelligence Department no longer had access to Ministers. I believe that is so now. The reports filter through several hands before they reach the Home Secretary, and through him to other Ministers in the Cabinet. Obviously, here and now on the 2388 Floor of the House I cannot disclose the exact source of my information, but I am informed quite definitely that more than one warning has been received by the Intelligence Department.