§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I beg to move to leave out the Clause.
I would preface my remarks in favour of the deletion of this Clause by observing that I have followed the proceedings on this Measure from the very beginning. I was a member of the Standing Committee which went through it Clause by Clause, and line by line, and, however important hon. Members may have considered Clause 3, in my view the changes proposed in Clause 4 are by far the most serious in the Bill. At the same time the Bill without this Clause would be complete, and consequently hon. Members need not have any qualms of conscience that they are destroying the Measure if they vote for the deletion of the Clause. Opposition to the Clause is deep; it runs through all political parties in the House, 1228 and there is a great deal of resentment against it in the ranks of the Metropolitan Police Force itself. In fact the most powerful and effective speech delivered against this Clause in Committee came from a Conservative Member whom I would congratulate heartily on the way in which he marshalled his arguments. I refer to the hon. and gallant Member for the Ardwick Division of Manchester (Captain Fuller). He, however, made but little impression on the Home Secretary, and I am not sure that I shall succeed where he failed. In connection with Clause 3 hon. Members paid various compliments to the Home Secretary. I will add another. He is the Minister above all others in the Government who can say the nastiest things in the nicest way.
This Clause is going to alter the whole character of the Metropolitan Police Force. There are in that force approximately 22,000 men and, in this Clause, the 1229 right hon. Gentleman asks for power to appoint 500 men per annum for the next 10 years. Under that arrangement at the end of the 10 years he will have in the force 5,000 men on a 10 years' service basis. Somebody in Committee upstairs referred to them as "shorties," and I do not know whether they will receive the nickname of "Gilmour's Shorties." At any rate, we are opposed to this new method of recruiting. One of the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman in favour of short service recruitment was this: "There are 8,000 men at present in the Metropolitan Police Force who have not the remotest chance of promotion. Therefore, I am going to establish a force of 5,000 on the basis of 10 years' service to give the 8,000 a better chance." But is it not true that in every occupation and profession there is a given number who will never have a chance of promotion, however long they live? What about hon. Gentlemen supporting the Government, for instance. There are in this House about 500 Conservative Members. Not 80 of them have the remotest chance of promotion, however long they may sit in Parliament. I can see some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on those benches opposite now, who have tried hard to secure promotion and have failed —and they have put in more than 10 years' service in this House. Not only have they failed to secure promotion, but they have had to take back seats and the front seats have been given to others instead.
We are informed that at the end of the 10-year period these men will be paid a gratuity and their connection with the Metropolitan Police Force will then be terminated. I want the House to note that proposal because it is very important. Although statements have been made to that effect by the representatives of the Government, they have also been contradicted, and we are not clear even now as to the actual position in this respect. Under this Clause the law will stipulate that the maximum period of service for these men is not to exceed 10 years, but we have had hints from the right hon. Gentleman and his colleague that it would be possible in spite of this Clause, for some of these 10 years' service men to find their way into the Police College, and to become later members of the permanent force. That is the first point which requires to be cleared 1230 up. If it is possible under this arrangement for any number of these men to gravitate into the permanent force, then what is the difference between the 10 years' service man and the regular member of the force, and what is the difference between the proposed system and the present system of a two-year probationary period?
The right hon. Gentleman knows that there is at present a probationary period of two years in all the police forces of the country. He also knows, I am sure, that when a young man is told at the end of the two years that he will never make a policeman, that he is neither mentally nor physically fit for the Police Force, there is always resentment in the mind of that young man against the police system. When it is a young man's ambition to become a policeman he resents being thrown out of the Police Force even if it is for the very genuine reasons I have indicated. I shall mention later what I think will be the attitude of mind of these 5,000 men in the future. We are told that a board is to be set up in order to find jobs for these men when they leave the force. We are told they are to be found jobs as caretakers and commissionaires. If the right hon. Gentleman is in the Government—as I hope (he may not be—in 10 years time, when the first batch of 500 men recruited under this Clause are about to be dismissed, he will probably find that they will have organised themselves into an association. They will presumably call themselves the "Discharged Policemen's Association." They will canvass and lobby, and I venture to say that the Government which is then in power will not dare to dismiss then. Public opinion will be too strong. I say that not for any party motive but because I think it is a serious situation to confront any Government. In that case a Labour Government would have to meet that awkward situation created by a Tory Government, and I do not want to see a Labour Government placed in that position.
There is something else to be said against this Clause. The Government think they are going to strengthen the Metropolitan Police Force by this 10 years' service arrangement. We heard an argument from the right hon. Gentleman upstairs on this subject which was 1231 most extraordinary. I ought to mention incidentally that he then delivered one of the most eloquent speeches I have ever heard from him and he did so without losing his temper. The argument in favour of the Clause is that these 5,000 will be virile young men, physically fit, and that they will strengthen the Metropolitan Police Force. There is a feeling, not only on this side of the House, not only in London, but in the provinces too, among men who take an interest in police work, that to reduce this period of service to 10 years will demoralise instead of strengthening it. As was said on the last Clause, the whole of this Bill, and this Clause in particular, are designed on the pattern of a fighting service, with a short period of service as for the common soldier—seven, 10 or 12 years— but for the officer a Sandhurst training, and probably an appointment until he is too old to move about in his Army clothes.
The right hon. Gentleman cannot get away from the fact that, whatever he may have said on this Bill, does not disclose the intention of those who have moved him to bring it before Parliament. We have been told very clearly that the intention is that these 5,000 men on 10 years' service shall do police work on the streets, and this is what will happen: These men in the main will be drawn from the working class, because special jobs are to be created for the university men, who will become officers. The officers will sit at the station, at the telephone, but the ordinary working man who will join the Police Force will do the rough and tumble work on the streets. That is the intention, and although the right hon. Gentleman has never said so, it is as clear as daylight, not only to Members of this party, but to Members of his own party as well.
When we were dealing with this point upstairs the right hon. Gentleman gave us the only argument that he has ever given in favour of this proposition, and I will ask the House to judge for itself the weight of an argument like this in favour of recruiting men on a 10 years' service: "From my point of view at the Home Office, one of the greatest essentials is to have somebody at Scotland Yard who can give me information, at short notice and in proper detail, of the actual state of crime and the methods 1232 and results of dealing with it. Under the existing system I do not get that and cannot get the full particulars that I desire." Let me ask, in all seriousness, is there anything in Clause 4 that can help the right hon. Gentleman, by recruiting men for 10 years at the most, in securing this vast information from Scotland Yard? Nothing at all. As a matter of fact, he has destroyed his own argument, because he has said that it is the intention that these men should do work on the streets, on point duty, and all the rest of it, and consequently that argument for providing information from Scotland Yard to the Home Office and from the Home Office to Parliament will avail us little.
There must be a reason deeper than all that for introducing this Clause. Does the Metropolitan Police Force lack discipline? Is it corrupt? Is it inefficient? Is undetected crime on the increase? I said, when we dealt with this Bill on Second Reading, that the measurement of the efficiency of a Police Force ought to be found in the answer to the question, "Is crime increasing or decreasing?" But I was told that that was not a good test, and that what we ought to know was whether there was an increase in undetected crime, because the figures of the Commissioner are clear, that detected crime is decreasing in the Metropolis almost in the same ratio as the population of the Metropolis is increasing. Therefore, I think we are entitled to ask, Is undetected crime on the increase? The introduction of this block of 5,000 men on a 10 years' service will not avail the right hon. Gentleman one bit with regard to efficiency, or corruption, or discipline, or the treatment of undetected crime.
If the right hon. Gentleman has found, as I think he may have, that the Metropolitan Police Force is not up the standard at which he thinks it ought to be, his first duty should be to get an inquiry into the condition of the force instead of allowing a gentleman, however honourable and efficient he may be—I refer to the Commissioner who has only spent at the most about 2½ years as a policeman—to determine for this great city what shall be done with the force. We ought to know what is wrong with the Metropolitan Police Force, because if the force is all that we are told it is, the finest Police Force in Europe, why all this 1233 change, why recruit men for the first time in a century on a 10 years' basis? There must be something wrong somewhere, because I cannot see these changes being brought about were it not for the fact that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Metropolitan Police Force.
I do not want to make an attack upon the Commissioner of Police, but I think I am entitled to say this: I have here a copy of the King's Regulations of the Royal Air Force, in which he served with distinction, and I am certain that he regards every force over which he has control as falling into the same category of discipline as he has been accustomed to in the Air Force and the Army; and the whole of our trouble is that fact. If we had a civilian, a policeman, who had spent all his time in the Police Force at the head of the London force, instead of having a gentleman from the Army and the Air Force, we should never have heard of this Clause, and I am a little astonished that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary should have been stampeded into this business at all. If I may say so without flattery, a gentleman from Scotland ought to have had more sense than to accept such a proposal. If I may, without being too harsh, let me just indicate to the House the type of mind and the idea of discipline that you get in the Fighting Services. This is from the King's Regulations of the Royal Air Force, to show how the minds of the gallant gentlemen work:A Commanding Officer will, by advice and kindly intervention, endeavour to promote a good understanding and to prevent disputes. He will discountenance any disposition in his officers to gamble or to indulge in extravagant expenditure.And this is the best of all:He will check any tendency among his officers to practical jokes.That is the world they live in, and the biggest practical joke that has ever been perpetrated upon Parliament is this Clause 4. The right hon. Gentleman says to himself, I must have a stream of men coming into the force, and passing out, with no opportunity of promotion to the higher grades. He complains, on the one hand, that there are 8,000 men in the present force without any opportunity of promotion, and in order to give an effective answer to that state of affairs, he recruits 5,000 men in 10 years and makes 1234 it certain that they at any rate can never have a chance of promotion under any circumstances. This is one of the most illogical things I have ever come across, and the right hon. Gentleman and his friends behind him must not be offended if we are suspicious that what he is aiming at is that the officer class in the Metropolitan Police Force, and ultimately in the provincial police forces as well, shall come from the homes of the well-to-do families, and that the boys who do the rough and tumble work on the streets shall come from working class families. That is the intention of the right hon. Gentleman and of those who have been advising him about this Bill. There will, of course, in this connection be a miniature Sandhurst, a training college. When the right hon. Gentleman was talking about these 5,000 men, he said something about buildings, and I think we are entitled to ask whether it is not his intention and that of his advisers to give us in the end a soft of Police College on the lines of the Army College, and homes for policemen on the lines of Army barracks.
A great deal of criticism has been levelled against the Commissioner of Police, and I will offer any criticism that I have to make in the most gentlemanly terms that I can command. I say that the House of Commons would never have been troubled with this Bill at all, and particularly Clause 4, were it not for the fact that a military gentleman has come to manage the Metropolitan Police Force. I want, if I can, to destroy the notion that men who have done well in other walks of life are of necessity competent to manage almost any business in the land. I have been told on good authority that one of the gravest mistakes that the railway companies in this country ever made was to put power into the hands of great economists, who knew nothing at all about the railway service. A great economist brought on to the directorate of a railway company at £10,000 a year has never been able to do anything for the railway companies that could not have been done by a railwayman who had graduated up from the bottom to the top. There is, after all, a psychology, a culture that belongs to the job, and if you move a man from one big job to another, it does not follow that he will be a success.
1235 Could not the right hon. Gentleman have got practically all that he requires, if he does require young men in the Police Force, under the present probationary system? If he finds that a man joining the Police Force will not make an efficient policeman, he knows that he can dispense with his services in two years time. "Why should not that system be developed? Why should it not be enlarged over a longer period? In the end, that is what I think he will get. The right hon. Gentleman will know some of the other arguments employed against the 10 years' service men, one of which is this: Some writers to the newspapers have said that it is a very dangerous thing to allow a man to enter a police force, to know all the tricks of the trade, as it were, and then to throw him into civil life at the end of 10 years, because he will then employ all the tricks that he has learned for purposes other than those which are for the good of the community. The right hon. Gentleman would not accept a statement like that, but I want to draw his attention to one distinction. When a policeman is pensioned off in the ordinary way it is followed by the ordinary discipline, because he is still a policeman. When the short service men get their gratuity, however, there will be no means of bringing any discipline to bear upon them. The right hon. Gentleman ought to have regard to that important fact.
If the economic depression lasts until these men come out of their 10 years' service, no advisory board will be able to find them work. Where could it find work for men like this if they came out this year? I defy anybody to find them work when there are about 3,000,000 other people who cannot find jobs. When we say that to the right hon. Gentleman, he replies, "The system which we are now proposing works admirably in connection with the Air Force, and every young man coming out of that force from a short-term service can find a job in civilian life." He forgets, however, the fundamental difference that a young man who comes out of the Air Force is almost invariably a highly trained technician. When he comes out he finds in civilian life the extension of a civilian air force, and he is absorbed into that developing force. What have the 500 men who will come out of the short service Police 1236 Force every year to look forward to but jobs as caretakers and commissionaires? The Government of the day will not be faced so much with the problem of finding them work; when the first 500 are due to leave the force, they will be faced with a political agitation against their dismissal. Those who represent the provinces have no title to speak on this Bill in the same way as Members from London divisions, except that what will happen in the next few years in the Metropolis will, we are certain, happen in Manchester, Liverpool and other towns. The pattern of the Metropolitan Police Force is generally copied in the provinces. I appeal in real earnest to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his attitude towards this Clause, because I am certain that this experiment is not worth the expenditure.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Mr. STOURTON
It is with genuine regret that I find myself speaking in favour of the deletion of this Clause. I regret it because, apart from this Clause, I am a whole-hearted supporter of the Bill and, if I may say so without impertinence, I have the greatest admiration for the bold manner in which my right hon. Friend has tackled this thorny problem. I find myself at variance with him, however, when he stated on the Second Reading of the Bill:I am confident that men who do well in this short-service scheme will have no difficulty in finding suitable employment."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd May, 1933; col. 953, Vol. 278.]I venture to ask my Tight hon. Friend where he thinks the jobs are to be found for these hundreds of men as their short service term is completed? Anyone who has been in the fighting Services and has had experience in trying to find positions of trust for ex-non-commissioned officers such as are suitable for these men, knows the difficulty. To give weight to my argument I will tell the House what was said to me to-day when I was in touch with the Corps of Commissionaires. The authority in charge of this corps have informed me that undoubtedly these short service men will be in competition for jobs with their own men. The fact that there are thousands of men who desire to join the Corps of Commissionaires and are unable to do so shows that these short service men will have the greatest difficulty in finding suit- 1237 able employment on the termination of their service. I am informed that the Corps of Commissionaires is about 4,800 strong, and 91 per cent. are in full employment. The other 9 per cent. have to rely on temporary work of one to two days a week only. About 2,000 men, or 40 per cent. of the total strength of the corps, are on the waiting list. These figures are significant and pertinent to the point that I am making.
My right hon. Friend also said that the short service members of the Metropolitan Police will be inspired to put in their best work because, unless they do so, they will not be qualified to obtain a good character which will obtain them work when they leave. Judging this point from the lowest possible basis, that is, the material basis, I would ask my right hon. Friend which type of man is likely to be induced to give the best work— the men who makes the Police Force a profession, who has a pension to look forward to, and is liable to forfeit it if his work is unsatisfactory, or the short term service man who, even if he completes his 10 years of service satisfactorily and has a good character, has a very limited chance of finding employment? Obviously the individual who makes the force his profession. There is also the important consideration whether short or long term service is likely to produce the better type of candidate. Clearly the man who prefers to serve for a long period will be the better type of individual to recruit for the force. I have consulted a high police authority outside the Metropolitan Force, and he expressed agreement with the views which I have endeavoured to put before the House. Any advantage that may be gained by the creation of this force from the fact that it will save £500,000 a year is outweighed by the consideration that with with the system of short service the Metropolitan Police Force is likely to deteriorate. It will also become a great social menace for these hundreds of short term service men to have to go out in the world without a job after having worked hard and obtained a good character. With their knowledge of up-to-date police methods these men may become very dangerous gentlemen to deal with. For these reasons, I am very doubtful about this Clause.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
It is rather interesting that the two first speakers on this Amendment come from Lancashire, that is, from the provinces and not from London. We who oppose this Clause may look at it from a London point of view, but the two hon. Members who have spoken show that from the detached position of Lancashire there is some suspicion of the proposal in the Clause. It may be that provincial feeling is afraid that the same principle may be extended from London to the provinces. We had a long discussion on this principle in Committee and the same spirit was noticeable there. Conservative Member after Member got up and severely criticised the suggestion for a short service. It is true that it is based on a suggestion contained in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Police, but there is a shrewd suspicion outside that the proposal is not inspired by any desire to increase the efficiency of the force, but with the desire to bring about economy. The proposal will mean a considerable saving in expenditure on the superannuation fund. I have a suspicion that that is behind this proposal.
I cannot see that any case can be made for it from the point of view of increasing the efficiency of the force. When the right hon. Gentleman introduced the Bill he emphasised that with the great increase in the number of the force, with the changed conditions, with the rapidity of movement caused by motor cars, and so on, there was a case for reorganisation. For that reason many Members voted for the Bill on Second Reading, thinking that the right hon. Gentleman had made out his case. Nothing, however, can be said in favour of the two Clauses which we have been discussing on the ground that they will increase the efficiency of the force. The strength of any police force lies in the fact that men make it a life service, and that on their efficiency and honesty depends the earning of their pension. A policeman always has in front of him the fact that when he has completed his 25 years he has earned his pension, and that any lapse from integrity or anything that brings him into conflict with the authorities will lose him that important asset in life. Short service does away with all that incentive towards efficiency. It will be a temporary job in which a man cannot get promotion. He will start as a 1239 constable and remain as a constable. However capable, efficient and skilful he is at his job, however many people he apprehends, and however live a wire he may be, he can never hope to get beyond the rank of constable.
A quotation, which caused considerable stir at the time, was made of a number of points that the right hon. Gentleman made in the Committee stage, and I think that it is worth re-quoting. He is apparently inspired to support this proposal because he is not satisfied with the efficiency at the top. From the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman:one of the greatest essentials is to have somebody at Scotland Yard who can give me the information at short notice, and in proper detail, of the actual state of crime, and of the methods and results of dealing with it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee C,) 20th June, 1933; col. 68.]How is the right hon. Gentleman to be helped to get that information and advice from headquarters by introducing this short-service system. On the contrary, I think that this changing of the personnel every 10 years would be essentially a weakness. Every 10 years there will be new entrants, men who give to police work only a temporary phase of their life. I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will take the opportunity to explain the significance of the remark to which I have referred. He should say whether he slipped it in by accident, for want of a stronger argument, or if there was something sinister behind the suggestion that a long-service force does not give him that organisation which supplies him with information, and keeps him in contact with crime. Is there anything sinister in that remark? The public are rather startled by it and wonder what it implies.
The right hon. Gentleman has made a great point that these men, when they pass out, will be able to get employment. I have had in London a very large and extensive experience of the difficulty in placing men passed out from the Army. The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right when he says that already the kind of jobs for which these men are suitable— caretakers, office-minders and lift attendants—are already the subject of tremendous competition among ex-soldiers. Ex-soldiers of fine character, and with splendid Army papers, are in the labour market desiring jobs of that 1240 kind. The same applies almost as much to ex-naval men with regard to unskilled jobs requiring good character and experience of discipline. I would question whether all the good organisations of the Police Force will find employment for these men.
A little later, I am going to suggest that there should be some elasticity. I should not object so much to this short-service proposal if the Secretary of State could have some discretion to allow men of proved capacity and ability to go on in the force, and to become long-service policemen under ordinary conditions. As I read the Memorandum, I take it that, willy-nilly, however efficient and capable these short-service men are, when they have exhausted their 10 years, out they will have to go on to the labour market. If the Clause stands as it does at present, I think it will mean that a lot of these men, after 10 years in a responsible position, will be thrown out on the labour market unskilled and untrained, except for any jobs of a routine character, and will have a distinct grievance against the State. It may be said that no man is compelled to join the Police Force; that he will know the conditions of his service, and that he will have himself to blame. But, in the present conditions of the labour market, men must take what they can get. There is severe competition in the Employment Exchanges. To take a job for even 10 years will be a great temptation.
If the right hon. Gentleman wants to increase the efficiency of the force, I think he is starting at the wrong end. Of course nothing is beyond improvement, and, however good the reputation of the Metropolitan Police is, there is no doubt we can improve it. What he should do is to alter, or improve, the method of recruitment. The Commissioner of Police emphasises that very much in his report. He emphasises the absence of men who come from central and secondary schools, and the comparatively small percentage of men who have stayed at school until 16 or 17 years of age. Would not the right hon. Gentleman be wise, instead of introducing this new short-term recruitment, to improve the educational test and to give preferences to lads from central and secondary schools, and, if necessary, if he wants a younger force, to get them to join earlier in life? I 1241 think the average time for joining is round about 27 or 28. He should let them start at 21, when they are full of youth and enthusiasm. Even if they do stay 25 years they will still be comparatively young men when the come to the time for earning their pension. The right hon. Gentleman should follow that line of advance rather than this reactionary proposal.
Is there any other force in this country, in the Empire, or in Europe, recruited on these lines? Are not all Police Forces based on long-service terms? Is not the reason for a long-service term being applied because of the danger of turning out on the labour market men who find it difficult to get jobs, and who know the entire Secrets of the police? It seems to me a very shortsighted policy, to say the least, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will have to make a stronger case before the House will be justified in giving him this Clause.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Brigadier-General NATION
I have followed this Bill throughout all its stages, and at every stage there has been a discussion on this Clause which deals with short-service men. To my mind the subject divides itself into two parts— first, how is the service going to benefit by the short-service men; and, secondly, what inducement is there for the right type of young man to come into a career which lasts only for 10 years? Of course there is no doubt that 500 young men of the right stamp, in the flower of youth and full of energy and vigour, coming into a force must be of benefit to that force. If, however, we do not get the right type of man, the force must naturally deteriorate. If the men are not satisfied with the career open to them, we are more likely to get the down-and-out, and the man who cannot find any other kind of job—the man who is afraid of going into the fighting services, or who dislikes discipline, or the man who is on the borderline of crime. That type of man could well do infinite hurt to the magnificent force we already possess.
We know how difficult it is for the soldiers who have served their short term in the Army to get any kind of job afterwards. The man going into the Police Force will look at these soldiers, and will say to himself, "These men, at 1242 any rate, had an opportunity of working at some kind of trade before the end of their Army service; they went into a vocational training centre to learn some kind of trade. If I go in for this short-term police, 10 years beat duty, what shall I know at the end, and what am I going to get? What is open to me? "Such a man will hesitate. I have followed the Bill carefully through all its stages, and I listened very carefully to the Minister's speech on the last day the Committee sat. What he said then has changed my mind to a certain extent with regard to this Clause. I will quote his own words:If…there is any man in the short service who shows great aptitude, and who, on coming before the board for selection, can convince them that he is suitable for that particular line, he can be transferred to the college.The right hon. Gentleman said that the board he proposes to set up will be in close touch with great business houses and employers of labour of all kinds throughout the country. He added:a man will have an incentive to show a good record of service in his 10 years, and his chance of employment when he leaves will be in accordance with the terms of the report he receives when he leaves.Later the right hon. Gentleman said:It is, at any rate, sufficient to say that there is a reasonable hope that the board which we propose to set up will be able to find jobs for these men.These words should encourage the right type of man to come in. It is because of these words, because of my supreme confidence in the judgment of the Commissioner, and my belief that he is out solely to produce a better force than we have at the present time, that I have no difficulty in supporting the retention of this Clause. I am fortified in this decision by the Minister's words:I am conscious that this is a scheme which must be tested by experience. Of course if experience shows that it will break down, why, then, it will break down."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee C,) 20th June, 1933; cols. 69–71.]I take these words to mean that this is not a Bill for all time. If, in the course of time, it does not produce the right stamp of man it is hoped for, the scheme will be revised. For these reasons, I feel more confident in giving the Government my support for this Clause.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Mr. BANFIELD
I desire to support the Amendment. Up to the present moment I have not been convinced that any reasonable argument has been adduced for the recruitment of these men on a short-service system of 10 years. If there is in this Bill one Clause more than another which has caused a great deal of uneasiness and feeling it is this one. If there has been a certain amount of suspicion, it is in relation to Clause 4. The first argument put up by the right hon. Gentleman on this point was that unless we had a number of young men recruited on a short-service system some 7,000 or 8,000 men in the force would be left with no possible hope of promotion. I have never been able to understand that argument, because everyone must know that in a force of 20,000 men it is impossible for everyone to have promotion. There is just as much dignity in doing your job properly on the beat as in an office in Scotland Yard, and it is hardly fair to say to men who day after day are doing properly the job that lies to hand: "You are not much use; you must be replaced because up to now you have not got promotion."
Another argument which I have heard is that there has been no material alteration in the constitution of the force for the last 100 years. In my opinion, the constitution devised 100 years ago has stood the test of time remarkably well. It is true that 100 years ago the force did not attract educated men, but, in spite of all we have heard about the necessity for further education in the Police Force, I think the police as a body are better educated now than at any time in their history. Conditions of recruitment in the last few years have, as a matter of fact, tended to attract decent, well-educated men, of a class anxious to improve their education after they have joined. Then we are told it is necessary to have this short-service system in order to bring youth into the force, the suggestion being, I presume, that when a man gets to about 45 he is dead and done for and ought to be decently buried. Looking round this House I cannot understand that argument. If there is an occupation in which it can be shown that it is not youth that matters so much as the ex- 1244 perience gained by long years of training it is the Police Force.
I altogether disagree with the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Brigadier-General Nation) in his suggestion that the short-service system may attract a certain undesirable class of men. I see no reason at all, particularly in present economic circumstances, why it should not prove attractive to men. Men want work, and, even if they were told they would get the "sack" in five years' time, they would very likely say: "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." But we are looking at the question from the point of view of what is best for the force and for the community, and what we can best do to make this force, of which we are already so proud, even more efficient and more valuable than it is; and I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he has yet to convince this side of the House, and I think a great many of his own supporters also, that the best way is the introduction of this short-term system. The hon. and gallant Member for East Hull had to admit that he had been impressed by what the Home Secretary had said and had rather changed his mind. That is a tribute to the very nice way in which the Home Secretary can handle awkward subjects, and I must congratulate him on his recent convert. I think, however, that the Home Secretary will agree that although he did suggest that any man who showed exceptional ability might be transferred to the police college he did not go farther than the word "might." He did make it quite clear that at the end of 10 years these men would be dispensed with; at any rate, he did not hold out any very great hope of any of them being retained.
Then we come to the point, which I think troubles the minds of many people, of what is to be done with the men at the end of 10 years. If they were recruited at the age of 21 or 23 they would come out of the service at 31 or 33 years of age. They will be men who have not had a training to fit them for ordinary commercial life. The hon. and gallant Member for East Hull spoke of what happens when men are discharged from the Army. I have some personal experience of that matter. Men who are due for discharge from the Army are given six or seven months' vocational training, as it is called, chiefly in the direction of 1245 being taught how to cobble boots and shoes, and that sort of thing, but from the point of view of fitting them to compete in the labour market the whole business is more or less of a failure. In my opinion, people are just as sympathetic towards the discharged soldier as they are likely to be towards the discharged policeman, but, after all, one cannot make jobs. These men will be turned out of the Police Force when they are in the prime of life. During their 10 years they will in all probability have got married and may have two or three children. They will find themselves in the prime of life with no prospects of a job.
The right hon. Gentleman and his friends (may—they hope they may—be able to find them jobs as commissionaires. They talk fairly glibly of the interest which the big commercial houses will take in these men. I have had a great deal of experience of trying to find men jobs in my own trade, being in touch with the big employers in my own industry, but even I, with the position I hold, and the certain amount of power I have, find extreme difficulty in getting firms to take men. When it comes down to "brass tacks," the placing of men in jobs in big industrial houses depends almost entirely on whether the man is likely to be a paying proposition to them, in other words, whether his experience is worth the money they will have to pay him. We all know the experiences of the men who served during the War. I was present at a parade of the British Legion yesterday, and saw these men, wearing their medals, and who had been through hell, who had not had a job for the last two or three years, not because people would not willingly have employed them, not because people are hard-hearted, but simply because, with the best will in the world, they cannot find jobs for them if there are no jobs. And that is going to be the position in which men will find themselves when they are discharged from the Police Force. It is a very grave responsibility indeed.
I do not want to join with those who declare that possibly these men, if they are unable to find jobs, will fall into crime. If it comes to that, we are all of us potential criminals in some shape or form. But I do say that possibly the temptation will be there. I think we can 1246 at least put it that there will be temptation. These men will have a knowledge of certain things which they learn in the course of their police duties, and there may be, and will be, I think, the temptation; but, still, the majority of men would I feel be strong enough—I hope they would—to resist it. However, the temptation would be there, and we still are left with the question, What is to be done with the men? Another point is that I cannot imagine that this system will operate very smoothly from the point of view of the working of the force itself. These short-service men will be working alongside men who have a different outlook altogether, who have been recruited for the full period of service, and can look forward to pensions. Suppose these 10-year men do the best they can, as I believe they will, suppose they put their heart and soul into the business, they will all the time have the feeling that they are doing precisely the same work as men beside them who are engaged for 25 years and have a, pension at the end of it, and surely, this feeling will, sooner or later, and I think sooner, create a good deal of bitterness and ultimately unrest. I am not at all sure that it may not prove to be true that, as has already been said, at the end of 10 years the public conscience will revolt against sending these men on to the streets and will declare that they ought to be kept on.
The right hon. Gentleman said in Committee: "Well, after all, if this thing fails we can abandon it. After all it is an experiment." Is it fair, is it humane, to experiment with the lives of our fellow creatures? Because it is an experiment with men's lives, and one which may end very disastrously for some of them, though at the moment they may be quite glad to see employment for 10 years ahead of them. Ten years is a long time, and a lot may happen. They may think that a miracle may occur, that a Labour Government may come into office, and they will say to themselves: "If a Labour Government come in they will see that we are not sacked and it will be all right, because the place the right hon. Gentleman now fills will know him no more. "But it is a serious matter, because we are playing with the lives of these men, and I think all hon. Members must feel concern over the spectacle of these men between 31 and 33 years of age being 1247 thrown on the scrap heap, because that is what it amounts to. It is no good trying to gloss it over by expressing satisfaction, as the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull seems to be satisfied, with the smooth words of the right hon. Gentleman. Someone talked about the right hon. Gentleman wanting backbone. He has got enough backbone. If there is one Member of the Government who will stick to a thing letter by letter and clause by clause it is the right hon. Gentleman. If I could get him on the side of goodness I should be very pleased indeed, because he is a real good fellow—provided he were on the right side.
I believe that a very reasonable case can be made out for dropping this Clause. It is not necessary to the Bill, and to drop it would not make any difference to the principle of the Bill. There is no reason why the probationary period should not cover the whole of the case put by the right hon. Gentleman. Surely, all of us are of that opinion. I have had enough experience of men being engaged for a job, and I have never defended a man being retained if he is found unsuitable. A man has to prove himself suitable for the job. It is possible under the present Administration so to adjust the probationary period that the right hon. Gentleman can get the right class of men. He could get his young people without submitting them to this short-service system.
If you bring a man into the Police Force at 21 years of age and he does 25 years' service, he is only 46 at the end of that period. A good many of us think that that is an age at which a man is rather too young to be pensioned off. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not like to have been pensioned off at that age. I suggest that there is no need for this Clause. To drop it would remove one of the greatest stumbling-blocks to the proper working of the Bill. I am positive that to make comparison between what happens in the Royal Air Force under a similar scheme is wrong. There is no proper analogy. So far as the Royal Air Force is concerned, there is good reason for the short-service system. There are jobs for the men when they come out, and they are better qualified, in all probability, for getting a job than in the case of the Police Force which is a blind-alley occupation. We have pro- 1248 tested over and over again against the injustice of blind-alley occupations for young people; yet here is the House of Commons about to perpetrate a blind-alley occupation upon a large scale, for comparatively young people at the age of 21 years. We are to take 10 years out of their lives and throw them on the scrap heap. We say "We shall probably be able to get you a job as a commissionaire or door-keeper." What a prospect for any decent, educated body of men. I am expressing my faith in the right hon. Gentleman when I say that I hope he will withdraw this Clause. In making this protest and putting up these arguments, we are actuated by motives quite as honest and sincere as those of the right hon. Gentleman. We want to make the Police Force one of which none of us need be ashamed. The difference of opinion is as to method, and we believe that the method chosen by the right hon. Gentleman is wrong. We make this protest and put on record our opinion in the hope that the day may come, even if the right hon. Gentleman gets this Clause, when we shall be able to reverse the position.
§ 7.34 p.m.
I propose to take rather a different line of country. I support whole-heartedly the proposals of the Government embodied in this Clause. To the hon. Gentleman for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) I should like to say that everybody believes that he spoke with the utmost sincerity and sympathy for the men who, he thinks, are to be put into a blind-alley occupation and then thrown on to the scrap heap. I do not agree with that point of vqiew, and I propose to refer to it later. I will say at once that we accept as sincere what was said by the hon. Member. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), who I am sorry is not in his place, in winding up in Committee for the Opposition in his good-humoured way, said that the Home Secretary would not get the Clause if it were not for the loyalty of the Conservative Members who were going to vote for it although they disliked it. I got up in order to dispute that fact. It was one o'clock, and the hon. Gentleman who was in the Chair very wisely and very firmly looked at the blotting pad in front of him and put the question. That was the correct thing to do. Otherwise, 1249 I should have told the hon. Member for Westhoughton that I entirely disagreed with him, and that I spoke as one who, when the Clause was originally introduced, was prepared to speak and vote against it, but, having had the advantage of a conversation with the Home Secretary and with the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, I had become genuinely converted.
If the hon. Gentleman listens to me he may hear something. I learned that this is an experiment which is jolly well worth trying, and that we shall be wise to try it. Like any other experiment, if it is not a success, it can be dropped at any moment. I can understand the Home Secretary being anxious to try the experiment because he has had a report from the Commissioner of Police, a most able and distinguished man, who is proud of his Police Force and anxious to make it as efficient and happy as possible. The Commissioner thinks that he can do this by engaging a number of short-service men and giving greater chances of promotion to a larger proportion of long-service men. That seems to me to be a very reasonable proposal, and it is extremely unwise of the House of Commons, with that in view, to say to the Home Secretary: "Oh, not so fast. We do not agree. You may have had this report, and, although not many of us are experts on this subject, we disagree with the opinion of a man who has been thinking over the matter and studying it for a long time, even though he regards it as of the greatest possible importance." That would be a rather unwise action.
I do not regard this new police work as a blind-alley occupation. The men are to come out of the force probably at the age of 31 or 32. They will be in the prime of life, and they will be alert mentally and bodily. They will have this great advantage, which no hon. Member so far has touched upon, that they will have a bit of capital behind them with which they can start in business or can purchase training. I do not think that there would be any difficulty in placing them in employment. A good many of them might find employment in the other Police Forces in the country where they would be valuable. Even on the fringes 1250 of the Police Force there must be many jobs for which they would be admirably fitted and which they could take without injustice to men serving in the force on a long-service engagement.
The hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Brigadier-General Nation) said he was rather afraid that we might get the down-and-outs. I do not think that we shall. There will be no necessity for the Commissioner to choose those people. because he will have his pick of plenty of young men who are not quite sure what they want to settle down to, and who may think that in the Metropolitan Police Force they will have good pay and, maybe, a little bit of adventure, till, in due course, they can make up their minds definitely what they want to do. The hon. Member for Westhoughton said he was afraid that a proportion of the short-service men would employ their knowledge to the detriment of the public. The short-service men will not thank him very warmly for the suggestion that they are going to work against the public. What information are they likely to have which they could employ if they went down in the world, or which they could sell to crooks? They will have no information which is not known to the most ordinary pickpockets, let alone to the aristocracy of the profession, the cat-burglars and the smash-and-grab raiders. There is nothing not known to those people already.
The Home Secretary has experience to draw upon. Everyone who has had anything to do with the Police Force—I have been a member of a Standing Joint Committee for 25 years—knows that not all the people who enter for long service qualify for their pension. A great many of them retire after a comparatively short service, for private reasons—perhaps an opening has come along—for reasons of health or even for disciplinary reasons. They may be required to leave. I am sure that the Home Secretary has on record facts as to the people who have left the Police Force, not only without pensions, but without gratuities, not having been in the, service long enough to earn them, and he must know whether they go down in the world and obtain unenviable notoriety by falling into the bad class. I do not believe that that is the case.
1251 I should have regarded it as a great defect in the Bill if it had been necessary to take literally the sentence in the White Paper which says:A short-service engagement will not be regarded as a stepping-stone to long service, and a constable once recruited on this basis will not be eligible for transfer to the other.If this were absolutely literally translated, I should have thought that the public interest would suffer, because there must be, and there will undoubtedly be, many short-service men who will make most admirable constables, sergeants and officers for the rest of their lives. To say that no man is ever to be able to transfer from short service to long service would be a great mistake. In Committee, the right hon. Gentleman reassured me when he said that the short-service man would be able, via the college, to transfer to long service if he were of sufficient merit and could satisfy the examiners of the wisdom of so doing. I will not refer to the Home Secretary's actual words, because I have already taken up too much of the time of the House. The only part of the Clause which I now dislike is that consisting of the last two lines in Sub-section (1). The words are difficult to follow. Even the learned Solicitor-General would agree that they are not simple to translate. That is a small matter which can be put right in another place. I see no reason to condemn the Bill because of that, and therefore I commend the Clause to the support of the House.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
This is the first time that I have intervened in the Debates on this Bill, but I have been reading carefully the report of the Commissioner, and I am not satisfied. There are several points to which I should like to draw the attention of the House. In Appendix II of the White Paper, the reason given for the change is that:There are about 8,000 constables, or nearly half the total number in this rank, who have lost all prospect of promotion, and have nothing to look forward to except their pensions. At the present time about 4,000 of these men have over 17 years' service, and before long, the average length of service of constables will be substantially greater than it is now.Further, it states that there might be a lack of keenness owing to these men 1252 having no chance of promotion, but it does not blame the constables for that. I should have thought that, if any change were required, a more definite statement would have been made as to lack of efficiency in the force, that the Home Secretary would have produced some grave causes for this change—for instance, that certain men were not doing their duty. I do not, however, find any such evidence. It is stated that certain things might happen unless younger and more virile men were brought in. Personally, I have hot noticed any lack of attention on the part of any police constable. Each one, whether he gets promotion or not, is prepared to carry on his duty, believing that the State will do the best that is possible for him. There is a pension for him at the end of his term, and he believes that, unless he does his duty, he may lose his pension rights, and accordingly he does all that he can in the service of the State.
If this Clause is carried, a period will come when a number of men will be discharged, and a promise is given that some of them will be found jobs. It is almost said that it will be the duty of the State to find them work. I put it to the House that we are getting rather too much of this kind of thing—that certain men who have done duty for the State, whether in the Army, the Navy or the police, are being given preference over others as regards employment. That is not the right way to approach the question. I do not think it is fair for the House of Commons to recruit a number of people and say to them that at the end of their term the State, although it cannot retain them in heir present employment, will take it upon itself to find them other work. In the first place, the men will look forward to that, and claim that they are entitled to it, and it is putting them in a favourable position as compared with the rest of the community. The question will be asked: "How is it that certain men can be given preference over others for jobs?" That is the impression that will be created in the mind of the community. The House will probably pass this Clause, and, in consequence of it, a number of men will be looking forward to that privilege from the State if they are not kept on. I think that that is entirely wrong. I think we should continue to recruit police constables as before, giving them the same chance of promotion as 1253 everyone else, so that they will do their duty in the belief that promotion will come to the best men. Until we get from the men in the force themselves some complaint that they are not being treated fairly, or, on the other hand, some complaint from those in charge that the Police Force is not efficient, we have no right to adopt the course which is now proposed. It will be creating a special position for a certain number of men.
I think I can see what is behind it all. Those who are in charge of the House of Commons at the present time feel that they are not able at the moment to find sufficient jobs for their own particular class. In the Army and the Navy there are certain jobs for which a certain class of people are fitted, but there are not enough of such jobs, and they are setting out to create such positions in the Police Force. For the ordinary man there is not the same opportunity; he is to be recruited for a short term of service; but others, belonging to a privileged class, will be able to go to colleges, and will, therefore, have a better chance of getting these favoured positions. Of the 16,000 men, 5,000 will be short-term men, leaving about 11,000 for these other positions. These positions will be occupied by the favoured class, who will have better opportunities than are available at the moment. We object strongly on that point. We say that the ordinary man, the short-term man, ought to be given the same opportunity as this favoured class.
I trust that the Home Secretary will not lightly carry this Clause forward. I do not know what he has told the hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest and Christchurch (Major Mills), but apparently some hon. Gentlemen belonging to the party opposite hold the same views on this matter as we do. Evidently, however, they have been talking to the Home Secretary, and he has been able to convince them as regards his point of view. I hope that to-night he will convince us in the same way. I hope he will be good enough to tell us exactly what he has told the hon. and gallant Member. I understand that in a private conversation he has been able to convince the hon. and gallant Member as to what he thinks ought to be done. I am not convinced yet. Speaking for ray party, I say that we want the best possible Police Force. We have, I 1254 believe, the best possible Police Force in the world. I believe that the Metropolitan Police Force is the ideal Police Force, and wherever you go you will hear it praised. Until it can be proved that the force is not doing its duty properly, the House of Commons has no right to alter it in this drastic way. I hope we shall fight this Clause until we get from the Home Secretary a fuller explanation than we have had up to the present, and, when we go into the Division Lobby, I hope that some of those who are usually our opponents will help us to defeat the Clause.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. LEWIS
In the report of the Commissioner of Police for last year, there occurs this very significant phrase:Everything depends on the type of man who joins the police.If that be, as I believe it is, a fair statement, and not an over-statement, it seems to me that we Members of the House of Commons, when we are asked to consider a set of regulations to govern the recruiting of the Police Force, should consider as of primary importance the question whether those regulations will enable us to secure the best type of man available for the job. Approaching the problem from that point of view, I think that, if an advertisement were put out stating that a man was wanted for a job which would be permanent and would carry a pension at the end, and if another advertisement were put out stating that a man was wanted for a temporary job for a certain number of years, at the end of which he would be given a gratuity, it is evident that in the first case we should, on the whole, get a better type of applicant than in the second. It seems to me to be self-evident that the prospect of permanent employment and a pension must, over a large number of men, tend to attract a better type than a prospect merely of temporary employment with a gratuity at the end.
Therefore, if I am right in assuming that this is, or should be, the primary consideration with Members of the House, it seems to me that we are bound to object to the Clause which is now before us. Personally I think that the proposal to recruit members of the Police Force for a term of 10 years certain is a mistake; and I would point out that when I say "10 years certain" I am really 1255 stating the case too favourably from the point of view of the Bill, because the Solicitor-General was at some pains in Committee to point out that the Government had so drafted this Clause that they might be able in future years, if it were considered wise to do so, to reduce for future entrants into the force the period of years from 10 to nine, or whatever seemed to be the best period. Therefore, when we speak of 10 years, we are really rather over-stating the possibilities of employment from the point of view of those to whom it is offered. I have been at considerable pains, as no doubt other Members of the House have, to try to ascertain what really is the big argument in favour of this short-term recruiting. I do not know whether I am stating the case unfairly from the point of view of the Government, but I have genuinely come to the conclusion that the real argument in support of this proposal is founded on the following statement in the report of the Commissioner for Police for last year:There are at the present time about 8,400 constables who are already beyond the promotion zone and have little incentive to effort during their remaining years of service except their own sense of duty.It has already been pointed out that that is a state of affairs in which the majority of people in most callings find themselves. Moreover, it would appear on the face of it that these 5,000 temporary police officers will be in the same position themselves, in that they will have, to take the words of the report:little incentive to effort during their remaining years of service except their own sense of duty.If we assume that the sense of duty is the same in both cases, then, in the case of the ordinary constable, there will be in addition the incentive of a pension, and in the case of the temporary officer the incentive of a gratuity. Of the two it seems to me that, judged by this standard, there will be slightly more incentive in the case of the permanent officer than in the case of the temporary man whom we are urged to put in his place, and, if I am right in assuming that that is the principal reason why this Clause has been inserted, it seems to me to be abundantly clear that there is no adequate justification for the proposal.
1256 Personally I feel that, for the reasons I have given, the proposal to introduce these short-service men is a mistake. I would go further. Supposing that I am wrong, supposing that my judgment is at fault, and that the proposal to bring in short-service men is a good one, even so it seems to me that there was no need to make the proposal so rigid in character. I cannot see why it should have been necessary to exclude, in the case of these men, all hope of transfer to the permanent part of the force. I listened, I must confess, with astonishment to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Brigadier-General Nation), who has consistently opposed this Clause in the earlier stages of the Bill. To-day he says that, having regard to what the Home Secretary said in Committee, he is now satisfied that we might agree to the Clause. I have read very carefully the Home Secretary's words which my hon. and gallant Friend referred to, and they do no more than hold out the very remote hope that in certain exceptional cases an opportunity may be given to these men at the end of their term of service, or before it, to go into the new Police College. I do not think it can be seriously urged that that prospect is anything like obvious or probable enough to affect the mind of a man who to-day is asked to join as one of these short-term constables. The Home Secretary also used these words:We do not desire to hold out to those men the possibility that they shall be transferred to the long-term service."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee C,) 20th June, 1933, col. 71.]That is very clear and very emphatic and it cuts away, as a thing apart from the rest of the Police Force, these short-service men, a fact which in itself I should have thought open to grave objection.
Then, to my mind, not only was it not necessary to exclude all hope of transfer to the permanent part of the force, but it also seems to me that it was not necessary completely to exclude these men from any share in or relationship with the Police Force after their term of temporary service is over. I should have thought it might at least be possible to make some provision for the building up of a police reserve, if we are to have these short-time men, and to give them a continued interest in the force, some system of registration and some small 1257 annual emolument, for which a good deal might be said, so that in times of emergency or difficulty they would he there to fall back upon. But there is nothing of that sort in the Bill. If, as I believe will be the case, these recruits on the whole prove to be a poorer lot than they might otherwise be, the effect upon the Police Force is bound to be bad. If, as the Home Secretary believes, they prove to be a good lot, he is unnecessarily preventing himself from using the best of that good lot to strengthen the permanent branch of the force afterwards.
This is no slight matter. It is proposed to recruit in this way something like a quarter of the whole force. It has been argued, I believe correctly, that some similar system works well in the Air Force, but I think that argument was disposed of by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) when he pointed out that the value of the training that they get in the Air Force puts them on an altogether different plane. While I sympathise very much with the Home Secretary in the effort that he is making to adapt to changing conditions what we all feel is the finest Police Force in the world, still I urge that this would have been a better Bill if Clause 4 had been less rigidly drafted and better still if the Clause had not been in it at all.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. MCGOVERN
I intend to cast my vote against this Clause, as I do against every other Clause in the Bill, for very different reasons from those which have been advanced from most parts of the House. The criticism of the Clause has largely been as to what is to happen to these men after their 10 years' service. I am not so much concerned about that as I am about the reasons why they are being recruited. When hon. Members say that the Home Secretary has been stampeded into acceptance of the Clause, I do not think that they are doing him justice. I do hot know a great deal concerning the Home Secretary personally, nor do I desire to do so. I have never spoken to him in my life. I have been on nodding terms coming off the Midnight Scot at Euston and in the corridors of the House. I have heard people say he has that special trait which many Scotsmen have that, once he takes up an idea, he refuses to go into any other avenue than that line. That is not 1258 in itself a bad thing. If a man has made up his mind by reason that a certain course must be pursued, if he steadfastly remains true and loyal to that point of view, he is to be admired and no one would condemn him for it. But, if a man adopts something and, after reason has been applied, refuses to change his mind, then he becomes, to use a gutter term, "pig-headed." In that respect he is to be condemned, and one has to be suspicious of his action. I heard the right hon. Gentleman on the public platform before I came into the House and I have seen him here, and I do not know exactly what particular part he fits into. I have heard people say he is the type of man who would enjoy, if he had the ability, putting you through an operation for appendicitis without giving chloroform and that he would smile all the time you were squirming in agony. I should not like to say that. Most people, when you come to deal with them personally, are very decent as individuals. It is when you get them as a class, and when you are interfering with their class interests, that difficulties begin to arise.
This is not an unnatural proposal as we find society to-day, I am going to analyse it from a purely class point of view. If I were in the position of the right hon. Gentleman and wanted to place all my cards on the table, I should be prepared to say that, with the development of society as we find it and the difficulties that are arising throughout the world, we see some years ahead a more difficult period arising, and we want to make preparations to deal with it. With the knowledge of what has taken place in other parts of the world, they are desirous of recruiting a number of temporary policemen, so that every year there shall flow from the force 500 men who can be appealed to at any given moment in any difficult situation that may arise. The hon. Member who has just spoken is the only one who has put his finger on the proper point. He condemned the Clause from the point of view that it did not establish a reserve force after these men have gone out of the service. But is he so simple as to imagine that there is no intention in time to come of establishing contact with them? You have 10 years to develop and establish it, and you may take it for certain that in less than 10 years there will be that connection, that desire to look after the social welfare of 1259 the men who move out of the force, taking a friendly class interest in their vocations in after years so that they can be used for the purposes which are behind the intention of the Bill, for the purpose, if you like, of keeping law and order and resisting the encroachments of an enraged working class as time goes on.
That is what I see in the Bill. I am not worried about what is going to happen to the men after 10 years, and I am not going to treat the Measure as the hon. Member for Westhoughton did when he said this was the greatest joke that had ever been before the House. I think it is one of the most serious things from a working class point of view that have been before the House. It is the development of a Fascist organisation which will be used against the common people in their struggle for power in future. When the right hon. Gentleman refuses to place his cards on the table, it is because he has that mental reservation which will not allow him to state the class purpose for which this army is to be used in the future. Therefore, I do not treat it as a joke, and I am not concerned about what is going to happen to the men after 10 years, because I believe ample provision will be made for them by those who recognise that they have to keep their contacts and their connections with the men on whom they are dependent to defend them. The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) said there was growing up in society a desire to safeguard, from an economic point of view, those in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Police Force, and probably the volunteer services. While it might be wrong from his point of view, it is absolutely right from the point of view of those who are defending the interests of the ruling classes in this country, because between them and the overthrow of the present order of society stand all these forces whom they would seek to get on their side by petty bribes of various kinds. Therefore, going along that line in reference to the Police Force is not a joke, or a thing into which the right hon. Gentleman has been stampeded. It is a logical and intelligent point of view on the part of those who are running the affairs of this country. They want a set of trained men. They want the best brains to be sent to the college. They 1260 want these people to be of their particular class interest and to be depended upon to give orders to a rank and file who will carry out the duties allotted to them in an intelligent manner.
The men are to be there for 10 years. The right hon. Gentleman says that they will go out after 10 years' service. If I belonged to the ruling classes, I should be seriously perturbed with that point of view, because the men who came in for a temporary period of 10 years would be marking the calendar and marking time. They would recognise that at the end of 10 years they would as young men of 30 or 32 years of age have to walk out of a permanent situation into a bitterly cold world to stand possibly in the Employment Exchanges and public assistance queues. But there would be a danger that during the 10 years, and especially during the latter period of the time, a man would be developing his contacts in order to safeguard the future. He would be getting into touch with the racecourse owners, the greyhound owners, the publicans, the clubs and the bookmakers, and in every possible way he would be developing his contacts in order to secure a situation after he had moved out of a State situation. There might grow up in this country a greater amount of corruption and graft in the Police Force than has been the case in any period in history. I am sure that if Mrs. Meyrick were alive she would have been delighted to employ a number of these men after they left the Police Force. Every person connected with semi-legal trading concerns would be delighted to employ them. We should have growing up in this country a force more corrupt and influenced by graft than anything outside America at the present moment if we were to believe that that was the intention of the Government towards those men after 10 years.
I do not want it to be inferred or suggested that I believe that the average policeman in this country is any more dishonest or criminal in his intentions than any Member of Parliament or other person outside. Many an honest heart beats below a coat of blue. I believe that if one were to say, "Here you are; a 10 years' situation," a man would reply, "Very good, that safeguards me for 10 years." A man may be taken on for an ordinary job for three weeks, or be told 1261 that it is a temporary job, but he always lives in the hope that it will turn into a permanent job and therefore gives decent and good service, because he wants to impress those whom he is serving with the idea that they should continue him in their service. That sort of thing gets the best out of a large section of mankind to-day. But in view of the undoubted knowledge that at the end of 10 years a man would have to go out of the Police Force there would be a tendency to make good by doing bad. That tendency would grow in this country. I do not believe that that is the intention of the Government, but that their intentions are behind the picture altogether.
An hon. and gallant Gentleman, who was opposed to the Clause, stated that he had seen the right hon. Gentleman privately and that he had convinced him of the necessity of the retention of the Clause. From my point of view, I could not be convinced that this Clause of the Bill is right, and I do not intend to support any part of it, no matter what assurances the right hon. Gentleman may give. If he has satisfied the doubts of certain hon. Members who were opposed to the Clause, he ought to give to the House the arguments and reasons which we were led to believe he gave to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. If the right hon. Gentleman could give his reasons privately, we expect him to tell us publicly. I admit, if you have people who are inclined to kick over the party traces, that the better method is to send for them and discuss matters privately and reason with them rather than attempt to apply the big stick, as political parties very often do. The inference is not that the right hon. Gentleman used the big stick, but that he applied reason and convinced the hon. and gallant Member that the Clause was good and was not the bad thing which he formerly thought it to be. I confess that I am not altogether in sympathy with the outlook which recommends Sandhurst to the officer and the dirty work for the rank and filer. I do not regard every person "who does the rank and file work as doing the dirty work. I regard many of the rank and filers as doing essential, honest and honourable work in any sphere of activity. Everybody cannot be a general. Many of those who are generals ought not to be generals, and many who are privates 1262 ought to be generals. This is a fact which we are all prepared to admit.
If it is intended to develop the temporary men on the basis suggested, and not intended to make provision for them later, I believe that you will have to look forward to corruption and graft of the kind I have mentioned taking place among men who know that they are to be turned out into a difficult world at the end of 10 years. I believe that this is a class Bill put forward on class lines, with the real reason not stated. During the declining period of capitalism, capitalism is taking steps in order to provide for the future, both against the encroachments of democracy and the desires of the working classes, who do not feel that they are going to get justice in this world within the ambit of the present system and are preparing to overthrow that system, either by constitutional or unconstitutional means. The right hon. Gentleman is the spokesman of the ruling class, and he comes to this House with this Bill and seeks to make provision for temporary men and to create the necessary reserves so that at a time of difficulty they may be brought in and used against the working classes, when the workers are seeking to bring about a really civilised and humane world. I look upon the whole of the Bill as a purely class instrument for the protection of the landlords, the protection of the bankers, the protection of the money changers and the protection of every section of people who are taking the blood out of the common people, protecting them and giving them security at the expense of the people. You are going to bribe them with jobs and promise them greater security than the working class, the unemployed, the poverty-stricken, in order that they may be on your side when the class conflict takes place, as it will undoubtedly take place, in order to remove the ruling class out of the seats of power and to put the working class in the seats of power.
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Perhaps I may be permitted to intervene at this stage. I am in some doubt as to the kind of character I represent, but I should like to say that if I have been fortunate enough in conversation to convert the hon. and gallant Member for New Forest and Christchurch (Major Mills) I should 1263 like to put before the House exactly the same arguments that I used in his case. I am aware, and everyone must recognise, that this is a new proposal in the constitution and administration of the Metropolitan Police. I am equally conscious of the fact that hon. Members on all sides of the House have looked at these proposals for short service with some doubt. What has moved the Government in this matter has been a review of the circum-stances in which they find the Metropolitan Police. This great force of some 20,000 men has carried on its duties, in spite of changing circumstances and in spite of modern methods, with very great ability, but it has failed in certain aspects of its work and because of that fact those who are responsible for the present and future administration of the force consider that the proposed changes are required.
Hon. Members may ask what are the grounds for these proposals. They are these, that there has been an increase of certain classes of crime in the Metropolis. As has been pointed out in the report, it is not so much in the major crimes such as murder, which receive very often a great measure of publicity in the Press, but in such crimes as housebreaking, smash and grab and that sort of offences that there has been an increase. While we have been fortunate in having, owing to the expansion of the Metropolitan Police Force during recent times, a considerable number of young men coming into the force, the fact remains that the indication for the future shows that the pendulum is likely to swing the other way. You have in the force a body of men of something like 8,000 strong who have reached a stage in which they have no further hope of promotion and, while I am not saying that they do not do then-best in the great majority of cases, they are reaching an age when, from the very fact of that age, they are not so capable and so agile in performing some of their duties.
Let me disabuse the minds of hon. Members who may think that by this proposal in bringing in by stages over a period of time something like 5,000 short service men, we are not going to have a great number of long service men in the force. The facts are quite to the contrary. I think I am right in saying that there will be something like 12,000 1264 men of long service in the force, some 5,000 of whom will have more than 10 years' service to their credit. When one looks at the duties which a large proportion of the force has to perform it is perfectly clear that their duty is confined to beat duty, patrol day by day week by week, with little hope of variation and with little chance of any kind of thing to create an interest. It is because we have a big proportion of men over a certain age who are carrying on mere patrol duty that we desire to make the change. What will be the effect upon the force? One of the greatest criticisms of the Metropolitan Force is the lack of the possibility of promotion for the man who is there making it his life service. If there is one thing which has caused us to adopt the short service system it is the fact that by doing so we can improve materially the possibilities of promotion for the long service members of the force. Clearly, it is to the advantage of those who remain on long service that their chances of promotion are going to be materially improved.
I have heard it said that we shall not get the right class of men, but there are hon. Members, like the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield), who think otherwise; but it will be tested by experience, and, as the House knows, we are not going to recruit men of ill-repute. Quite the contrary. In my judgment we shall get the men. They will come in knowing perfectly well the exact terms upon which they are recruited. Our present intention is to have them on a 10 years' service. They will, of course, serve a short term on probation, during which they will be tested, and as I have already said the Bill is so drafted that if you find after the first two or three years men of outstanding ability, who can convince the Selection Board that they are suited and can pass the necessary tests and examinations, which are not always oral, they will be eligible to go to the college. There is nothing to prevent it; and I am satisfied that if such men come in they can be so selected, and will be so selected.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I do not understand the right hon. Gentleman on this point. Clause 4 says:It shall be lawful for the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, with the approval of the Secretary of State, to appoint persons to serve as constables in the Metropolitan Police Force for a fixed period of service, not exceeding 10 years.1265 We cannot understand why the Bill says that, and why the right hon. Gentleman, in the speech he is now making, should lead us to believe that it is possible for the Commissioner of Police and the Secretary of State to pick and choose any of these men to serve for the longer period.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
The man when he is recruited will be informed of the terms of his recruitment, that is 10 years. But there is nothing in the Bill to prevent his selection, with the man's consent, not against his will, to be taken out before the Selection Board and go into the college. I am certain on that point.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Will he be told that when he is recruited, or simply told on recruitment that it is for a period of service not exceeding 10 years but that after he has proved himself worthy of being a policeman he will be eligible to go into the college and into the permanent force?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
The actual terms of his recruitment will be communicated to the individual. I have already said that it is not desired that these men, when they are recruited on the 10 years' service, should think that they can be transferred to the longer service. That is clear; and they must understand it and realise it. But, as I have said, there is nothing whatever to prevent a man who distinguishes himself or who, on the recommendation of a senior officer, comes to the notice of the Commissioner, or makes an application himself or is invited by the officer concerned to make an application, going before the Selection Board and then going to the college.
§ Mr. TINKER
The short term Clause, I take it, is for the purpose of getting a number of men who will be eligible for promotion. What number, or what proportion of the number, will be eligible? If there are 2,000 men there must be a number who will be eligible for the college?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Quite definitely the contract which the man enters into will be read to him; and it will not be broken 1266 except with his consent. Let me add that it will be a very small proportion of short-service men who could in any case be given this opportunity, very few indeed, because the whole policy of this change is to have a number of short service men available in the force—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
I must remind hon. Members that we are now in the House and not in Committee.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Let me repeat once again. The short service men will be recruited for 10 years. If at any time it is decided by the Commissioner or the Government that nine years shall be the period the man will know when he takes his office the exact terms upon which he is recruited. There can be no question of breaking the contract on the part of the authorities. The man will carry on for that period. It is of the essence of the scheme for the benefit of promotion in the permanent part of the force that we should not hold out hopes to the short-term men of being transferred to the longer service. The question then arises, what is going to be the outlook for these men on short service? It is an outlook of certain and sure employment at good remuneration for the period for which they engage. It is followed at an age when they can go into the competitive market with the possibility perhaps of being transferred to some other Police Force, or being found an opportunity of getting employment in the outer world by the Board. We will take care that the Board is constituted on a wide enough basis and so selected that it will be in touch with great enterprises throughout the country, acting on exactly the same basis as those bodies which act for other services. They will, in our judgment, be able to deal with this problem.
These men will go out at the end of their period with a gratuity which will amount roughly speaking to about £180. At any rate, it will be an incentive to good behaviour while they are in the force, for upon their record when they go out will depend the possibility and readiness with which those outside will give them employment. I have said before that our desire is that these men shall be given all the information on recruitment, 1267 and while they are in the service they will be given all the information which the institutions of the Police Force can place at their disposal. When they go they will have not only the immediate interest of the Government and the possibility of employment in some Government service, but every effort will be made to find employment for them outside. It is on those grounds that this proposal is made.
There is nothing to hide in this matter. In our judgment it is essential that we should have a larger proportion of young and active men, and that is of necessity the case when you are dealing with the kind of duties which fall to the modern policeman. I am conscious of the good effect of the long-service policemen moving in the areas which they know and dealing with the people whom they know. Only a proportion of the whole force will consist of this young section. It is, of course, true that there are men who go out of the force to-day after having served a short time. When I hear hon. Members suggest that these short-service men will be open to grave temptations and to dereliction of duty, and that when they leave the force they will get into touch with those who are contrary to discipline, I ask hon. Members who make these glib statements what has been the record of the men who, having served a short time in the force, have gone out into the world? I assert most definitely that the record has not been a bad one as regards conduct and character. There have been all sorts of things attributed to the Government, but this change has been made for the sole purpose of having a larger proportion of young and active men in the force to carry out duties which of necessity demand youth, energy and enterprise.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. LUNN
We have listened to an amazing speech from the Home Secretary. Such a mass of inconsistencies I have rarely heard in this House. I was a Member of the Standing Committee which dealt with the Bill. The proposal in this Clause was a very unpopular proposal on the Second Reading of the Bill, and it was more unpopular during the Committee stage. I think I am correct in saying that practically the whole of the Members of the House in every party 1268 were opposed to the proposal when we began our discussion in Committee. We were not then informed of the position that has been stated to-night. as to the possibilities of these 10 years men. As a result the Government came very near defeat in Committee. As a matter of fact the vote was 11 to eight for the important part of this Clause which states that the period of service shall be for a period not exceeding 10 years. We were told in Committee that the men were to be recruited for that particular period, and that there was to be no opportunity for them beyond the period of 10 years. There was to be no question of selection in the first 10 years. In Committee nothing whatever was said by the Home Secretary as to the opportunities that would be given to some of these men, in the matter of selection, during their period of service. It was made quite clear and definite that the Government were going to recruit a body of men absolutely different from those who have been recruited in the Metropolitan Police before.
There are something like 20,000 men in the force. It is by no means a force of aged pensioners. The average age is 34, as was stated by the Home Secretary in answer to a question the other day. I believe it is stated in the Commissioner's Report that not more than 3 per cent. of those 20,000 men were absent last year through ill-health or any physical defect. I wonder where you will find 20,000 men in any industry where the absentee percentage is so low? It is a remarkable record for the Metropolitan Police, its youthful-ness, its standard of health and its fitness to carry out its duties. The men to be recruited under this Clause are not to be given a full term of service; they are not to have an opportunity of serving 25 or 30 years for a pension. There is to be no guarantee of a pension. They are to have the opportunity, if they are satisfactory, of continuing for a period not exceeding 10 years.
Now the Home Secretary has stretched the Clause and the Bill. I ask the Solicitor-General to show clearly where it is provided in the Clause that these men can be selected for continuance in the permanent force so as to qualify for a pension. If that is the position, what is the reason for the 10 years at all? You are not likely to get the best of men. Much is said about incentive. There is no incentive here for men, if they know 1269 that they are to finish their police career at the end of 10 years. There is no certainty that any employer or any Government Department will find work for them at the end of 10 years. I am not one who would charge any man with dishonesty, or believe that he is certain to become a criminal. I have not the least doubt that the great majority of these young men, and practically the whole of them, will come from good homes, and will be as reliable as most of us. But there is the position, that there is no guarantee for these men. They will have opportunities of being on the streets. That is to be their work. They will go out of the force with the possibility of that happening to them which has happened to millions in other industries who have been put out of work for some time. There is the possibility of their becoming criminals. That is where we make the suggestion. Men in such circumstances have had every opportunity to learn how easy it is to be criminal, and if they are then prevented from earning their livelihood in a decent occupation there are temptations such as we think ought to be removed.
It has been said by the Home Secretary that there are 8,000 men in the Metropolitan Police Force who are not likely to gain promotion. What are the numbers out of the 20,000 who do secure promotion in a year? Have the whole of the other thousands an opportunity for promotion? If not, what is there in the argument regarding promotion? Why make so much of the point that there are 8,000 who are not eligible for promotion? While the average age is 34 I recognise that many of the men are considerably above 34, and I suppose it is possible to adduce the argument that they are not seeking promotion. But I think the Government have a very weak case in this matter. I am sure that they have been ill-advised by a man who knows nothing whatever about the Police Force but who is "running" the Home Secretary on this question, just as on the matter discussed on the previous Clause. From my point of view, and from the point of view of a great many Members of all parties, this proposal is a mistake. We know that there are hundreds of Members who will vote upon this and who have never heard the discussions on this Bill. We know that the Government will get this Clause when the Division is taken. But I venture to say that 1270 every one of those who have listened to or taken part in the discussions is satisfied that this is a proposal which should never have been brought before the House and should never be carried by the House. This is one of the things in connection with this Bill which is going to destroy efficiency and harmony and that confidence which most people have in this wonderful Police Force, a force which has been described as the best in the world.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. JANNER
As the representative of a London constituency, I oppose this Clause in spite of the reasons advanced by the Home Secretary in favour of the official view. I have only been able to find one of those reasons which could be accepted as a ground for making the proposed change, and even that reason, if argued properly, turns out to be a reason for not including this Clause in the Bill. The Home Secretary said, "We want 5,000 more young men in the force, to be recruited at the rate of 500 a year." What are these young men to do? They are to be put on patrol duty. They are to catch the "smash and grab" raider. No matter what beat he is on the young policeman is to rush out and catch the "smash and grab" raider and thus serve the purpose intended by the promoters of this Bill. That appears to me to be a very flimsy reason for proposing a change of this character. For my own part, I cannot understand why patrol duty should be regarded as being so very monotonous as some speakers would make it out to be. I believe that the average policeman on patrol duty is engaged on work which is not particularly monotonous in character. He has to be trained so that he may know how to tackle all manner of cases which are likely to arise in the course of that duty. The longer he is engaged upon it the more experienced and consequently the more useful he becomes. I do not think it can be held that the work of a policeman on patrol duty is any more monotonous than the work of the ordinary craftsman who is engaged in the same occupation day in and day out. No one suggests that the craftsman becomes any less efficient with experience. On the contrary, everybody knows that the more experience he gets the more efficient he becomes, and that argument applies with even more force to the case of the policeman on patrol duty.
1271 There are three sections of people who have to be considered when we are discussing this subject. First, there is the ordinary policeman who does not get promoted but who is as valuable an asset to the force as any man who does get promotion. He is the basis of the force. He is the substantial element upon which the whole regulation of law and order is based. The fact that he has not got promotion does not mean that he is in any way a worse man than the man who has got promotion. It frequently happens that a man on ordinary beat duty is more efficient than a man who has got promotion. It is not humanly possible to decide rightly in every case on those who are to be promoted. The stability of a force depends not so much on the men who receive promotion, as on the main body of the police who, in the case of the Metropolitan Force, have proved themselves particularly efficient. Then, there is the officer class. That class hitherto has had the opportunity of passing through the ranks, of getting to understand the duties which the rank-and-file perform and ultimately of reaching the higher positions in the force with the knowledge of the duties performed by every grade under them.
Then what of the public? Do not they look to the average policeman on beat duty as their protector? What benefit will be gained from their point of view by introducing 500 new men into the force every year? Experts say that a man has to pass through a probationary period of something like five years before he gets on the fringe of understanding the full duties of a policeman. It is said that nine years' experience are required before a policeman reaches his peak value in service to the community. Under this proposal, these men will be discharged from the force a year or two after reaching the peak of their usefulness according to that calculation. I respectfully suggest that it is not fair to the community, to the officers or to the members of the force that a proportion of the men should be taken away from police duties just at a time when they are likely to become most valuable.
It is not correct to assume that this proposal is going to stop here. I can well understand why so many provincial Members have spoken on this subject. 1272 It is obvious that this Clause is merely driving in the thin end of the wedge. There is no difference, in the main, between the service which the police have to render in London and the service which has to be rendered by the police ill other places. There are "smash and grab raids" elsewhere than in London, and the Metropolitan area in establishing this type of service will merely commence something which will ultimately be applied in the provinces also. At least I think that that is intended, and that is why this matter has received considerable attention throughout the length and breadth of the country and that is why this proposal is being opposed by many people who have had experience in connection with important police services.
Within my own knowledge, in Cardiff there is an excellent Police Force, controlled by a man who has himself had experience of a very wide nature in the force and has reached the position of Chief Constable after having had that experience and knowing his duties thoroughly. That man, whose word has been taken on grave occasions when questions of police control have been at issue, says that the importance of a police force consists in the knowledge that the force itself has of the community with which it is dealing and the knowledge which the community has of its police force. By that method he was able to prevent strikes and troubles when big labour issues were involved. The community responded to the understanding of the police towards them, and in consequence of that understanding matters were smoothed out. Would that have been possible if young men without experience had been brought in, who had not the knowledge of the locality and of the people with whom they had to deal? That would have acted to the detriment, not to the advantage, of the position.
Is it not right to say that if you take a man of 21 and put him into a force for 10 years, giving him no incentive other than a gratuity of £180, which he may very well spend before he gets another job, that man is not receiving fair treatment? Even against their own wishes young men may be compelled by the force of circumstances prevailing at the time to take on this job, but when they have been in it some years they are bound to realise the difficulties in which they have placed 1273 themselves, and that either they must spend some of their time in preparing themselves for the future—I do not, of course, mean that in the evil sense of the term—or they must do the best they can for the force and consequently find themselves, at the end of 10 years, incapable of doing anything other than some of those jobs which have been referred to. In my view that is not reasonable. The fact that there is no pension forthcoming at the end of their service is not an incentive to them, and the gratuity itself will not be a sufficient inducement to men of the right type to join the force, unless they are compelled to do so by force of circumstances, and if they are so compelled, it is not fair to them.
Am I to understand—this is a matter upon which I should like to be clear— that the new men who are coming in will receive the ordinary compensations which accrue under the Police Pensions Act, and will receive the same treatment in respect to injuries which they may sustain in the course of their duties? It is a matter of considerable importance to know exactly where we stand in this connection. I do not think we have been given a satisfactory reply to the numerous questions which have been raised, nor a satisfactory reason for accepting this Clause. I do not agree entirely with the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), who has brought into this scheme the possibility of the sinister motives which, unfortunately, he invariably sees in nearly every scheme that is brought forward. I am not prepared to accept those sinister motives in this matter. I hope and believe there are no such motives behind the Bill, but I think it is a misguided Bill, and that those who have promoted it have not realised the grave considerations which should have been regarded at the time when the various stipulations were put into the Bill.
I believe they have not realised, for example, that when you are dealing with 5,000 men and that you will have some 8,000 men doing similar jobs, but with the prospect of promotion and pensions, the 5,000 men who are with them are not going to feel comfortable in those surroundings, nor for that matter will the 8,000 men themselves feel comfortable. I think it would be wise if, in view of the considerable doubt which prevails throughout the country with regard to 1274 this Clause in particular, even at this eleventh hour the Clause were withdrawn and we were given the opportunity of discussing the remainder of the Bill at a later stage. I sincerely hope that the Home Secretary will realise that this is an important matter. It is not being regarded lightly, but with considerable gravity, by people not only in London, but outside as well, and the right hon. Gentleman would earn the gratitude of the majority of people in this country if he would withdraw this Clause.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. McENTEE
Personally, I view the police as coming from working-class families, and whether these men are in or out of the Police Force, it would not influence my desire to do that which I consider to be my best to aid them where any aid is needed. Therefore, in spite of the fact that the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) does not think it necessary to worry about the conditions of these short-service men, I am concerned about them, as well as about the long-service men, when they come out of the force. I am particularly concerned about the short-service men, because the long-service men have the opportunity—and in a great number of cases they avail themselves of it—of continuing their service sufficiently long to get a pension, and consequently they do not need the same consideration as the short-service men will need.
The short-service men are a new class, and we have as Members of Parliament, and particularly if we represent, as I do, the working-class, to give some consideration to the conditions that will prevail as a result of the institution of this special class in the Metropolitan Police Force. The short-service man, the, Home Secretary tells us, will be well looked after. He will not only be trained, but he will have opportunities for education and indeed extra opportunities for education that the average man has not got. In addition to that, when he leaves the service, the Home Secretary tells us, he will get a gratuity of £180. Therefore, the Home Secretary says, he is reasonably well provided for. I do not take that view. I remember what happened when the men came out of the services after the War. As chairman of a War Pensions Committee, and, as chairman of the Prince of Wales' Fund which pre- 1275 ceded the War Pensions Committee, I remember hundreds of cases of men who came out with gratuities, many of them larger than the gratuity promised in this new Police Force. It did not serve them very well. The conditions of their service while they were in the forces, and the fact that they were free from civilian and industrial life, unfitted them to enter into competition with those who had remained in industrial life during the War.
Men who will be taken away from association with industrial life for 10 years will be utterly unfitted for the competition that will no doubt exist then, as it does now, to obtain jobs. The £180 will be of little value to them. Some of them before they enter the Police Force will be insured for unemployment and they will lose their insurance rights on entering the force. When they come out they will have no unemployment pay, having lost the opportunity for qualifying for it, and they will have to commence all over again as if they were young boys entering industry. I suggest that in view of that loss alone, the £180 will be of little value to them. The Home Secretary does not think that there will be any temptation for these young men turned on to the industrial scrap heap, as many of them will be, in spite of all the promises that will be made to them. What of the promises that were made to the ex-service men during the War? The promise was made that when they came out of the Army they would enjoy a condition of things different from the conditions that existed before, and that there would be no more poverty and no more selling boot laces in the gutter. What value have those promises, made in the recruiting days, been to those men? If the young men going into the short-service Police Force think that the right hon. Gentleman's promise will be of any value to them after they have been in the force for 10 years they will have a very rude awakening.
The hon. and gallant Member for East Hull (Brigadier-General Nation) referred to the possibility of any of these young men using the information they get when in the Police Force after they come out for any criminal or other wrongful purpose, and he said that there is no information that they can get that would be of any use to them.
§ Brigadier-General NATION indicated dissent.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I took the hon. and gallant Gentleman's words down, and he said that they would have no information that they could use to their advantage after they left the force. I do not think that misinterprets the hon. and gallant Gentleman's words. If that be so, what is the meaning of the restrictions which are placed on a member of the Police Force after he leaves the force and obtains a pension? There are a number of reasons for which a pension can be taken away from a man. One of them is for making use of his former employment in the police in a discreditable or improper manner. Another is for supplying information which he gained in the course of his occupation as a policeman. If the Regulations lay that down, it is obvious that the information could be of value; and I suggest that if the pensioned policeman could use it to his advantage, it is possible that the gratuity policeman of the future would also be able to use it.
These short-service men are to be restricted when in the force in many ways in which the average policeman is not restricted. They are not to have federation rights. The Home Secretary said that the federation would function in the same way as in the past, but when he got irritated, as he did towards the end of the three speeches that he made in the Debate on Clause 3, he rather gave the game away, because he said that meetings would not be permitted except those that the chiefs of the police thought ought to be held. He made a special reference to the Albert Hall meeting, and said that such a meeting would not be permitted in future. I would like to remind him that I was there and "was one of the speakers. I was invited to be present by the police, and perhaps that may be a reason why the right hon. Gentleman does not want such meetings to be held again. I would remind him, however, that there was a Noble Lord of the Conservative party, a Member of the other House, who spoke on the same platform, besides two Conservative Members of this House. There were, too, a Liberal, and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). That meeting was sanctioned by the heads of the police, and, I pre- 1277 sume, by the right hon. Gentleman himself, because he took no steps to prevent it being held, and I do not know any reason why it should not have been held.
This training for a short period of 10 years will unfit these men for ordinary civilian life, and it will hamper the Police Force too. I am not one of those who are critical of the Police Force or who care little or nothing about what happens to the policeman after he leaves the force and returns to civil life. I have the greatest regard for the police because of my own personal association with the Metropolitan Force. I do not want that to be misunderstood. It is true that on one occasion I was under arrest, and, as I have told the House before, I was bound over to keep the peace which I had never broken. But I am not blaming the police at all for that. I want to offer my objection to this Measure because I consider it will disrupt the Police Force and harm it to such an extent that it will take years of sane administration and sane legislation —which this is not—to get the force back to the standard of proficiency and loyalty which it possessed up to the time when the present Commissioner took office. He knows nothing at all about the police. It is quite impossible for him to have had any experience to qualify him to use his judgment accurately, and the whole experience of the country since his appointment proves—
§ Mr. McENTEE
I am dealing with the Clause that is in the Bill as a result of the report made by the Commissioner of Police. Had the Commissioner the experience that would qualify him to manage the police in an efficient manner, we should not have had this Clause in the Bill at his request to-day. However, the Bill will go through. If the Government gave a free vote to the House, I do not believe it would go through, because there are many hon. Members who have had experience of the Metropolitan Police, and because of their knowledge of the fact, which they have expressed in this House and elsewhere on many occasions, that this force is second to none and probably superior to any other police force in the world, they would have hesitated to make such 1278 drastic changes on the recommendation of a man who, because of his lack of experience, is utterly unqualified to make such recommendations.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
On the last Clause we were discussing the status of the officers in this new Prussianised Police Force which the Home Secretary proposes to set up, but on this Clause we are discussing the position of some of the raw recruits who are to be commanded by swells from Balliol, Trinity and St. Stephen's Club. According to this Measure, a certain number of men, 5,000 strong, are to be recruited for not more than 10 years and, I understand from the Debates upstairs', even for a less period. Just when they are becoming efficient—because we have been assured that it takes 10 years to make an efficient police officer—they are to be thrown on to a hard and unfeeling world with the sum of £160, of which they have contributed £86 themselves-What kind of recruits will be got from this system of recruiting? I suggest that as they will have very little chance of promotion they will remain without ambition. The Government should give some reply on this question of promotion, because the statements made by the Home Secretary are extremely confusing. They were confusing in the Committee, and they have been confusing to-night. In the Committee he said there was nothing to prevent these men from going to the college. He added:We do not desire to hold out to these men the possibility that they shall be transferred to the long-term service."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee C,) 20th June, 1933, Col. 71.]That seems to be contradictory. It is the result of the Home Secretary not having drafted his own Measure, which came to him from another Department. He has said that there would be a chance that a certain man who comes in on the 10 years' service and shows himself of very great ability and efficiency may be asked to go to the college, but the White Paper says definitely not. The White Paper says:The method of recruitment and the scale of pay will be the same as for the men recruited on the ordinary terms, but a short-service engagement will not be regarded as a stepping-stone to long service, and a constable once recruited on this basis will not be eligible for transfer to the other.So the White Paper says definitely that these men will not be eligible for transfer. 1279 Unless the Government have changed their minds since the issue of the White Paper, that is the situation. But in any case, even from the Home Secretary's statement, there remains only a slender chance of any of these 5,000 men ever being recruited to the long service system. Therefore, when they are recruited they will be men of very little ambition. Moreover, as they will have to remain in that position throughout the 10 years, or such shorter term of service as the Government may determine, and as they will have to do merely the hard and rather monotonous work and obey the orders barked out to them by the Brown Shirts of the new staff college and then have to leave without pension, I fear they will be men with very little self respect—the kind of person that the old-fashioned military men rather preferred for cannon fodder, the sort of people who obey orders and ask no questions. So instead of the courteous, kindly and efficient officer that we know now, who is able, owing to his tactful conduct, to handle crowds far more efficiently than any retired air marshal or major-general is likely to do, we are to have this new and rather undesirable type, herded together in the police barracks which are referred to in the Commissioner's Report and as we know:Single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saintsthey will be ready to sally out whenever our English Hitlers decide to strike.
As Sir Wyndham Childs, a former Assistant Commissioner says:The new proposals utterly destroy the democratic ideals which exist and undoubtedly will engender class hatred of a serious nature.The Home Secretary gave as his only reason for the recruitment of this short service class that at present promotion in the service is too slow and stagnant, and that people are too old for getting the higher positions. That could be easily altered by administrative action. Promotion could easily be speeded up by a process of selection, instead of promotion on grounds of seniority. Take the system of promotion in the Navy. In the earlier grades, practically up to the position of captain, it is promotion by selection. Only when a man has become a captain does he rise by seniority to admiral. That system could be applied to the Police Force if the trouble is that 1280 promotion is too slow and men do not attain the higher ranks until they are too old.
As for the other excuse, that there are certain new forms of crime by the motor burglar and the smash-and-grab raider, I do not quite see how these short-service men are likely to deal with such crime more efficiently than do the present force. I should not object if the Home Secretary wanted to set up in addition to the present Police Force a new type of flying squad enlisted for the sole purpose of dealing with motor bandits and people using modern mechanical inventions for carrying out crime. The short-service system has been condemned by very high authority. Sir Charles Stead, late Inspector-General of Police in the Punjab, writing to the "Times" the other day, said:No professional officer of police could contemplate without dismay the prospect of commanding a short-service body of police in this or in any other country. I do not share Mr. Lessers fears that a short term service would, in these competitive days, react unfavourably on recruitment …but I see a far greater evil in the inevitable demoralisation it would spread in the ranks of serving men. To put it plainly, the constable earmarked for expulsion from the force at the end of 10 years with a mere gratuity would be grievously exposed to a hitherto unwarranted temptation to make hay while the sun was shining; if not for himself, at least on behalf of a family shrinking from the prospect of dependence on the dole or the guardians. Loss of zeal and incentive and much diminished esprit de corps are other accompaniments of a short-service police system on which I will not dilate.Following on that, Rear-Admiral Cameron, writing to the Times of 20th June, said:As a layman I feel certain that the public have far more confidence in the old policeman than in the young one, and if that confidence is once shaken I shudder to think how long it will take to restore it. Youth is not everything.I am sure that appeals to many Members of this House.Old heads cannot be put on young shoulders,as I am sure the Treasury Bench will agree,and since by law a constable's duty is essentially an individual one the introduction of such a large body of young policemen will, I think, lead to unnecessary and considerable friction with the public, resulting in a greater loss in effective police work, widespread publicity of any mistakes or 1281 indiscretions and a lowering of the prestige of the whole service.He goes on to say:I do not believe that the right type of man is likely to join for 10 years, for he will know beforehand that he will be on probation for two years and that when but 34 years old he will be discharged.…The prestige of the police has never been higher than at the present time, and the country can ill afford to tamper with it.…Its ultimate failure, as contemplated by experienced police officers, would have far-reaching and disastrous effects not only in London, but throughout the whole country.Those are statements by two distinguished authorities, and I do not think I need add to them except to say that this proposal of the Government goes clean against the statements made in that Bible of the National Government, the May Report. That report was all against the short-service system. It demanded that the right of voluntary retirement after 25 years of service should be withdrawn, and that retirement should not be permitted before 50 years of age. The May Report said that subject to the pension being secured after 30 years' service the police might reasonably be required to serve until the age of 60 in the country districts and 55 in the more populous areas. Another report, which perhaps is equally notorious, and which had a rather unfortunate effect on a certain leading Conservative back bencher, the Rentoul Committee, said:Serving men should be encouraged, when fit and suitable to continue in the service beyond the maximum pensionable age to 30 years before retiring with full pension.After those two reports, why should we have this short-service system merely because it is operated in the Royal Air Force? That is the only reason for it. I ask the Home Secretary to come off his aeroplane and to send his Commissioner back to his hangar.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ Mr. LOGAN
We are told by the Home Secretary that the immediate reason for bringing in this Bill is the increase in crime, particularly house breaking and smash-and-grab robberies. He is going to bring in a new force at the rate of 500 per annum and at the end of 10 years there will be a force of 5,000. In view of the smash-and-grab raids going on at the present time, I am wondering whether we shall be able to deal satis- 1282 factorily with that form of crime by recruiting at the rate of 500 per annum. With my knowledge of police work I am convinced that we should have to find another Police Force at the end of the 10 years. We should have to have Marathon runners to overtake the smash-and-grab raiders and they would have to do the 100 yards in 9⅗ seconds. Preferment is not to be offered to these short-service men. They are going into the force on a contract which there will be no breaking except with the consent of the men. I do not know how anyone engaged under the terms of such a contract is going to break it, especially when it is laid down in the Bill that it will be a special term of contract and the man will be a policeman for 10 years and 10 years only. There is nothing in the Bill to say that there is going to be any school or college which will give the man a better opportunity in life.
The Home Secretary must have had the Bill compiled by somebody else, because his knowledge of it does not seem to be very definite. He made the remarkable statement that at the end of 10 years jobs will be found for those men who have served their term in the Metropolitan Force. I take it they will be men of from 31 to 34 years of age, and those men, who will then be outcasts from the force, are to be thrown into the industrial market as competitors. I am not anxious to see men displaced from jobs simply because the outcasts of the London police are asking to be found employment. If they are good enough for jobs to be found for them I think they ought to be retained in the service. It would appear to me that the responsible job which will be offered at the end of this period will give an opportunity to eligible young men of good physique, able at a good sprint to run round corners, men of intelligence, all to be given great opportunities and, at the end of 10 years, to get out. There will be nothing at the end of it. They are to have the opportunity of parading the streets of London, with all its great wealth, and to have all the inner knowledge that is known only to the police. I am wondering what special staff of the Criminal Investigation Department are to watch the new recruits. I imagine that, with the opportunities that are to be given to these men, you will have a job to Catch them at the end of 10 years, if I 1283 know anything of human nature. You should have a psychologist instead of a Commissioner. You need somebody who knows the minds of men, and who would be able to give them security in their old age. There are already many derelicts among the young people in the industrial field. I am afraid that you are gambling with the future of these men.
There is the question of economy. You are starting these men upon a lower scale. There is to be no pension, and there will be a saving. I asked a question, to which I have not yet had an answer, in connection with the provinces. A provincial grant is made by the Treasury to the Police Forces of the country. If the Metropolitan Police Force are to be recruited upon a basis of 10 years' service, am I to understand that the Treasury will refuse to give grants for long service to the provinces? I know that the Home Secretary has no jurisdiction in regard to the Police Forces of the provinces, but the Treasury have the power of the purse in making those grants, and it may be, since the Government are financially mad in regard to economy, that the Treasury may suggest
§ —a suggestion from the great National Government will be as good as a wink to a blind horse—that the great authorities of the country should adopt short service with no pension for their Police Forces. Has there been no collaboration or interview with the members of watch committees as to how far this Measure may be extended to the provinces?
§ I am fully convinced that a man of 34, being thrown out on to the labour market, after 10 years' service in the Police Force or in any other walk of life, will find it very hard to get a job. It is a great gamble. I am only emphasising this point, just as other benighted Members on these benches have done, for the sake of making a statement, and of trying to impress the Minister. I know that it is of no use to ask him questions. If other hon. Members are not aware of it, I am. Security of employment should be given. I am hoping against hope that the Minister will withdraw this Clause.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'not' in line 5, stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 180; Noes, 62.1285
|Division No. 242.]||AYES.||[9.50 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds,w.)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Ersklne, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Liddall, Walter S.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Fox, Sir Gifford||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd.G'n)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mabane, William|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Glucksteln, Louis Halle||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Bllndell, James||Gower, Sir Robert||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Greene, William P. C.||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Bralthwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Grimston, R. V.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Magnay, Thomas|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Maltland, Adam|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hales, Harold K.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd, Hexham)||Hanbury, Cecil||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y)||Hanley, Dennis A.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Burnett, John George||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Merrlman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Cayzer, MaJ. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Monsell. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Horsbrugh, Florence||Moore. Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Morelng, Adrian C.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Morris-J ones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Morrison, William Shepherd|
|Copeland, Ida||Iveagh, Countess of||Munro, Patrick|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Murray-Phllipson, Hylton Ralph|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro)||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Nail, Sir Joseph|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald|
|Cross, R. H.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Ker, J. Campbell||Nunn, William|
|Drewe, Cedric||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Duckworth. George A. V.||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Dunglass, Lord||Kimball, Lawrence||Penny, Sir George|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Petherick, M.|
|Potter, John||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Procter, Major Henry Adam||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Train, John|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Held, William Allan (Derby)||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Remer, John R.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Somerset, Thomas||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur u.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Robinson, John Roland||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Speart, Brigadier-General Edward L,||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Spens, William Patrick||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Ruggles-Brlse, Colonel E. A.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tside)||Storey, Samuel||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Llverp'l)||Strauss, Edward A.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Salmon, Sir Isldore||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.-|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Tate, Mavis Constance||Mr. Womersley and Major George Davies.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Banfield, John William||Grundy, Thomas W.||Milner, Major James|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Bernays, Robert||Hamilton, Sir A. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Harris, Sir Percy||Price, Gabriel|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hirst, George Henry||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cape, Thomas||Holdsworth, Herbert||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Clarke, Frank||Janner, Barnett||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jenkins, Sir William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cove, William G.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Thorne, William James|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Edwards, Charles||Lawson, John James||White, Henry Graham|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Lewis, Oswald||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lunn, William||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||McEntee, Valentine L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||McGovern, John||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Grenfell. David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, to leave out the words "not exceeding," and to insert instead thereof the word "for."
This is a very simple Amendment, and the issue which it raises is very clear. The Bill says that the service is to be for a period "not exceeding ten years," while, on the other hand, the White Paper says:The Government have …decided that a portion of the force shall be recruited on short-service engagements for a period of 10 years.In the Committee we asked the Solicitor-General what the intention of the Government was. The Solicitor-General is always clear, as one would expect a lawyer to be; he always says what is in the mind of the Government, and what is in his own mind. He said that the Government wanted a free hand—that, if a man were recruited for 10 years, the period of service would be 10 years, and would not be liable to any alteration, but 1286 that supposing, for the sake of argument, it became desirable to shorten the period of service by one year to nine years, in that case, as the Solicitor-General said quite frankly, it would be possible within the meaning of the Clause, and it was intended that it should be possible, to change the policy for the future. We do not want the policy to be changed in the future without the permission of this House. We want the present intention of the Government to be adhered to, that is to say, we want them only to have the power to recruit for 10 years and not less. We do not want next year to see the term of service reduced to nine years, or, in two or three years, to seven, six, five or even three years. I suggest to the Government that it would be better for the country, and more acceptable to public opinion, that the present intention should be adhered to, and that the power given to the Government should be power to recruit for at least 10 years, or 10 years and not more, or 10 years and not less. 1287 I hope that the Government will make this slight concession at the eleventh hour, and will use the simpler word which I suggest, in preference to the two or three rather ambiguous words which are now in the Bill.
§ 10.2 p.m.
§ Mr. JANNER
I beg to second the Amendment.
My hon. Friend has made it clear that we desire, if we cannot get the Clause removed, to make a definite provision that the period of service shall be l0 years. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would consider it prudent at this stage to answer a question appertaining both to this and the previous Clause, namely: What is going to be the position in respect of pensions and kindred matters for the men who are going to be recruited under this system? It is rather important that we should know how far the Police Pensions Act, 1921, is going to apply before we come to a definite decision. I am sure the House would like to know that before voting on this Amendment. In the second place, I should like to know what is the period when the most claims are made in respect of injuries received by men serving in the force? Am I correct in saying that the peak years are about the fifth or sixth years of service; and, if that be so, would it not be in the interests of economy that men should be retained in the force for at least 10 years, in order that the amount which the Treasury would have to pay in respect of these claims might be minimised, or at any rate levelled out? We think that at least 10 years should be the period for which recruiting should take place.
§ 10.4 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Boyd Merriman)
I can answer first of all the question which the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Janner) has just put with regard to police pensions, and which is raised as a clear issue by the next Amendment. There is not the slightest doubt that the Police Pensions Act, 1921, will apply to these short-service men with the modifications provided in this Clause. May I tak one specific instance which was put in the preceding Debate? If a constable is injured and incapacitated for future service during the 10-years period, he will have the right to the 1288 gratuity which is already provided under the Police Pensions Act. On the other hand, if outside the scheme his services are prolonged to a period of 25 years, he would count his accrued service in the original period of recruitment for the pension that he would get at the end of the 25 years.
§ Mr. JANNER
One of the provisions of the 1921 Act is to the effect that, if a constable is injured in the course of his work, he is entitled to a pension. Is that going to apply?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
That is if he is injured having completed 10 years. He cannot have completed 10 years within the period of recruitment which is only for 10 years. It is the provision that says what is to happen to him within the 10 years which will apply to him, and that is a gratuity and not a pension. The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) was perfectly accurate in the way he put the position. The present policy of the Government is to recruit for 10 years. So far as I know, there is no immediate prospect of changing that policy, but we do not wish to be tied hand and foot in case unforeseen circumstances make it necessary to recruit for, say, nine years. After all, the House will keep complete control. If there were that change of policy, the matter could be raised at any time on the appropriate Vote and the House would be able to express its opinion.
§ 10.6 p.m.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
We are in a rather difficult position. We have heard speeches from almost the only Liberals in the House who have never been quota Ministers, but we have not heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), who is a great authority on this subject. I conclude from his absence that he considered that these Amendments were entirely futile and were not worth moving. So that we have another split in the Liberal party. I draw the attention of the House to that, and I hope we shall not be troubled with any more of these not very sensible Amendments.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 10.7 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 3, line 6, to leave out from the word "State" to the end of the Sub-section, 1289 and to insert instead thereof the words: "to the prolongation of the period of service in suitable cases, when such constables shall be entitled to full pension rights." This was the subject of some discussion on the question of the Clause standing part, and there was considerable confusion as to what will be the position of these men should it be thought desirable that they should stay on. It is clear that it is hoped that among these recruits on a 10 years' basis there will be a number who will show great capacity for their job, and in some cases very special ability. It was sought to find out whether it would be possible for them to continue on a long-service basis. The White Paper is very definite that they would not stay on. It says that a short-service engagement will not be regarded as a stepping-stone to long-service, and a constable once recruited on that basis will not be eligible for transfer to the other, that is the long-service basis. On the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman to-day has emphasised time after time that it would be impossible to retain those services.
I think I understand what was in his mind, and what he was not able to make clear to the hon. Member opposite. As I understand it, the only cases that will be retained for the longer period are those who have been able to pass into the Police College, either by examination or by the invitation of superior officers. The intention of the Secretary of State is that those men can go on after 10 years, but the ordinary constable who has not passed into the Police College within 10 years, however capable and efficient he may be, will have to be lost to the service. That is neither in the interests of the efficiency of the service nor in the interests of the (men themselves. If we are going to get the best out of them, there must always be some opportunity, in the case of special service or special good conduct or exceptional ability, that they should be transferred to the long period. I want to give the Home Secretary that power. I am not asking that every man should have the right. All I am suggesting is that, if the Home Secretary or his successors want to reward good service or good conduct, they should not be prevented by this Act of Parliament from transferring these short-service men to long-service conditions. That is a very reasonable and moderate proposal. 1290 It leaves the supreme power in the hands of the Home Secretary and it would remove some of the fears of hon. Members opposite if he accepted the Amendment.
§ 10.12 p.m.
§ Mr. JANNER
I beg to second the Amendment.
I do so in spite of the objections of the hon. Member opposite. We believe that, if it is the intention to give an opportunity to a man who is recruited under the short-service scheme to have his time extended, the Act itself should provide the opportunity. The question has been raised as to whether there was any possibility of that in view of the terms of the Bill, and we were told that by private arrangement it could be done. One might very easily remove the doubt by adding these words. I am not quite satisfied with the reply given to me with regard to the Police Pensions Act. A person who has less than 10 years' service is entitled to. a gratuity if he becomes incapacitated through no fault of his own, and a person who has a longer period of service will be entitled to a pension.
But there is one other class and I should like to have an explanation with regard to it. It says here that, if at any time he is incapacitated from the performance of his duty by infirmity of mind or body occasioned by an injury received in the execution of his duty without his own default, he shall be entitled on a medical certificate to retire and receive a special pension for life. That is irrespective of the length of service for which he has been engaged. I should like to know where is the provision whereby a man who is taken on a short-service basis is entitled to a pension at all. What is going to be the rate of that pension? Will it come under the ordinary provisions of the Act? Why should not the Government accept this Amendment, which makes the position clear which they have been telling us is already in existence? We are doubtful about it and all that we ask is that a man should know that he is not bound by watertight regulations to serve only for 10 years and then find his service definitely stopped and that the Act provides no opportunity for an extension of that service.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Janner) 1291 has rightly called attention to. that particular provision. When I replied on the last Amendment I stated accurately that it was intended to give all the pension rights which members of the existing Police Force have, and to extend them to the short-service constable. I am sorry to say that for the moment I overlooked the special pension which can be given to the man who is injured in the execution of his duty, whether within or without the 10 years. There is no need to lay down any new scale for that. The scale for that special pension is provided in the Schedule to the Police Pensions Act. All those rights will be preserved to those who are recruited on short term.
With regard to the substance of the Amendment, it is not really necessary, because, as far as the Bill is concerned, there is nothing to prevent the Secretary of State from recruiting men afresh after the end of their 10 years, any more than there is anything to prevent him, during the period of the 10 years, from allowing a man to go to the Police College and so enter into the long service. But I say explicitly that it is not contemplated that there will be a fresh recruitment at the end of the 10 years. As the Home Secretary has already explained, it is only in rare and exceptional cases that there will be any change from the recruitment for 10 years. Only in a very exceptional case can a man be taken into the Police College, and it is not contemplated that there will be any extension of the period of service, and for this very excellent reason. If once employers thought that the Police Force were taking on the best of the men who had served for 10 years, it would necessarily diminish the chance of the others getting employment in the labour market. Employers would think that they were being left with the second-grade men, and that the first-grade men were being kept on in the force.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."—[Sir J. Gilmour.]
§ 10.18 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:this House declines to proceed with a Bill to amend enactments relating to the 1292 Metropolitan Police until an exhaustive inquiry has been held into the whole administration of the force, including the system of promotion within the ranks and appointments from outside, the necessity for a greater measure of democratic control, and the alleged lack of contact between the Secretary of State and Scotland Yard.I think that this Amendment would probably be carried by an overwhelming majority if all Members of the House had been present throughout this Debate, because there are several remarkable features about the discussions on this Bill. We have had discussions in this House, and there has been considerable discussion in the Press, but we have had no expert who has expressed himself in terms of any approval whatever of the scheme except, of course, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) who gave half-hearted support, but who is not here to-night to back it up, and may have gone back to the fence. There is not a police authority in this or any other country who approves of the short service system. The Press is open, and retired officials love to write to the Press, and a good many have written against it, but the right hon. Gentleman has had absolutely no support. We have had no evidence taken upon these matters; all we have is the opinion of the Home Secretary. We value the opinion of the Home Secretary on many subjects, but he is a very short service man so far as the Home Office is concerned. He has been a short time there. He relies on the Commissioner, also of very high quality in quite a different field of work, who has also been in his present position a. very short time. He also brought in to advise him another military man, also of very short experience there, and the three of them produced this scheme.
There was no weight of authority for the proposal; we thought there might be some weight of argument, but I never knew such an extraordinary mass of inconsistencies as those put forward by the Home Secretary in support of these proposals. The basis of the whole thing is that there are not enough brains in the force and that the mass of policemen stagnate. The right hon. Gentleman has a most peculiar remedy. First of all, be makes a serious allegation against the force that there are 20,000 men the majority of whom cannot expect to be promoted. Where on earth are you going 1293 to find any force where everyone expects promotion? [An HON. MEMBER: "The Liberal party."] Not even all the Liberal party have been in the Government. Where are you going to get a force where everybody expects to attain the Field Marshal's baton? It is not done anywhere. Does every subaltern expect to become a General? Of course be does not. Therefore, that argument is entirely fallacious.
The right hon. Gentleman also says that it is very depressing that all these men are going to go on and never get any promotion. How are they going to remedy that? The first thing they do is to arrange to take in a lot of people who will take most of the best jobs. That is the way to encourage men in the force. Then, to make sure that there shall be a chance of promotion, they are going to form a special class of 5,000 men who under no conceivable circumstances can have any promotion. There has, however, been a sort of 10.30 repentance about that, and it is possible that one or two of those men may get promotion. We have the melancholy picture of the men who do the ordinary duties of tramping round and round and do extremely unexciting work, who have no chance of promotion. Therefore 5,000 new men are to be brought in.
The next inconsistent reason why the force is no good is because things are so exciting, and they have to bring in a lot of young men to deal with the clever criminals. No one over 30 is considered sufficiently capable to cope with the expert criminals. It is recognised that a university career is no good if you want to catch a Hatry; you must start in the City to do that. Then we had quite a different picture, showing that the policeman's lot is not a happy one in walking round the houses of East London without very much to do, while another picture was that of the policeman shinning up a pipe to catch a cat burglar.
Then there is the Police College. I am not saying that the Police College is not a good idea, but I think it should be rather a staff college than a Sandhurst. Apparently, we are to have this university to train super-sleuths. The Home Secretary had a distinguished career at the Ministry of Agriculture for a short time, where he learned the lesson of the absolute necessity of supply meeting de- 1294 mand, and he is going to make quite sure that if he has got his super-sleuths they shall be supplied with super-criminals to deal with. That is the reason for this short-term system. It is no good saying that it is wrong to allow people to be led into crime; there are very few uncorrupted police forces in the world. I say that on the highest authority. It is a great test of any administration to have a police force which is not corrupt. A policeman's lot disposes him to temptation, and hitherto we have kept this force at a very high level, partly by careful recruitment, partly by the general good standard throughout, and partly by the fact that it is a long service with a pension at the end of it. Now you are going to introduce men for a period of 10 years, and you choose to do it at a time when there is more unemployment in the world than ever before. Policemen can read the OFFICIAL REPORT, they can read on the authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we are to expect to have 2,000,000 men unemployed for at least 10 years, at the end of which they are to be thrown out of the force with no special expert knowledge except a good character and a police training.
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman knows that there are crowds of men walking the streets of London to-day with good characters and good reputations from the Army, who cannot find a job. There will be a grave temptation on these men when they leave the force, and when they are in the force, to make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, which is not at all unknown in police forces in other countries. Think of the temptation to a man brought into contact with what I call the higher flights of criminals, those who make a good deal of money at it, who knows that he is going to be thrown out of the force, if there is a chance to make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness before he goes out. It is a severe temptation to which to expose any body of men. Suppose that they resist it, and I believe that the vast majority of them will resist it, what is going to happen to them when, in the very streets where they used to be the man-on-the-beat, they take their place in the line of the unemployed, and have to go on a hopeless search for work, looking here and there? The danger is that some at all events of them will be tempted and will 1295 fall. This plan has been badly thought out. You are going to break up the esprit de corps of the Police Force by putting it on a class basis. What does it all amount to? It is said that you must have brains at the top. There are plenty of brains in the Police Force if you give them a chance to get to the top. You have never done that hitherto. Only one man has reached the second flight, no one has ever become Commissioner. Why should that be so, when in other services they do reach the top? May I give a parallel?
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman has read the Report of the Committee presided over by a predecessor of his at the Home Office, Lord Bridgeman, on the Post Office. The Post Office is a great organisation of service to the public, and like the Police Force they are brought into contact with the ordinary public. If the right hon. Gentleman has read that Report he will know that the point made there is that it is a mistake to establish a gulf between headquarters and the rank and file who are in touch with the general public. The precise thing which is now being advocated in the Police Force is being abandoned by the Post Office. In fact they say that what you want to do is to take the man and let him get out into the provinces and become thoroughly acquainted with the practical end of the work, and then by a process of selection bring him in to headquarters. Even at the present time people do rise to the highest flights because there is plenty of brains there if you have people to bring those brains to the front. Only two or three days ago on the wireless I heard a speech by our representative to the great international conference on wavelengths, and I know that the gentleman who was speaking had risen to a very high post and had started as a telegraph messenger boy. In the same way the late chief engineer started as a telegraph messenger boy. You say that the Police Force has not yet produced a Commissioner. I do not think the force has had a square deal. If you had had your Police College, well and good; you could have made your selection at the proper age.
I mistrust this scheme altogether. We have had different answers given to 1296 every kind of point. This temporary scheme, it is suggested, will make for economy. It will be not economy, but parsimony. You think you will save money on pensions, but if the men have eventually to draw unemployment benefit the State will pay all the same. No real reason has been given for the Bill except the private reason that it will satisfy some members of the Conservative party. The hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest (Major Mills) gave us one interesting reason. It is that we are to have an output of small capitalists. These short-service men at the end of 10 years will come out of the force with £180, and they are to develop into small Conservative capitalists. That suggestion indicates a greater range of fancy on the part of a private Member than any which the Home Secretary has given the House publicly, and that is saying a good deal.
I mistrust this scheme altogether. It is a scheme suggested by a man who has spent his whole life in a different milieu altogether from the Police Force. He has spent his time in two short-service organisations, the Army and the Air Force, and the Air Force is particularly short-service work, owing to its nature. The whole object of short service in the Army is to create a great reserve. But the Home Secretary says that he does not intend to create a reserve and does not intend to have these men called up. They are to be recruited, and when they have finished their term of service they can go. The other thing is that there is to be a gulf fixed between officers and men. It is an old-fashioned idea to think that you want to have that gulf. But the Home Secretary is trying to make a gulf between even the non-commissioned officers and the men. That is quite out of place. The right hon. Gentleman has drawn an entirely false analogy. The tradition of the other services has been built up on the basis of a mass of men acting under the orders of one, whereas in police work it is essential to have individual work by individual policemen.
Finally, the Home Secretary said, "This is only an experiment and we can call it off if it is not a success." A thing like the Metropolitan Police Force is a thing that it is very difficult to build up and extremely easy to spoil, because the essential requirement is not the physique of the men, it is not even the specialised branches at Scotland Yard, but 1297 is the character of the Police Force as a whole, the spirit of the force and the relationship of that force to the public The right hon. Gentleman is going to tamper with that rashly. He is in danger of creating a gulf within the force and a gulf between the public and the force. In this Amendment I suggest that before we try to tamper with something which has served us for a very long time, which may need amendment now but which certainly ought not to be altered rashly or without full consideration, there should be an open public inquiry so that we can find out what is really thought of this question by the people who know. I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman both inside and outside the House has had singularly little support from such people for these proposals.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ Sir P. HARRIS
In giving reasons why I cannot support the Bill I do not wish it to be understood that I am against all the proposals in the White Paper. I am prepared to accept the contention that in the changing conditions of our time there is need for any force of this kind to be modified, improved, and brought up-to-date. I have always felt as an educationist that in the selection of a force of this kind more preference should be given to young men whose parents have given them an opportunity of continuing their education at central and secondary schools. In the past too much consideration has been given to mere brawn. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the necessity for keeping pace with the cunning modern criminals, the cat burglar, the bag snatcher, and so forth. All those cases can be met by giving a preference to young men of good education. In the past the tendency was to go to the rural districts and to get strong young men. That is all very well for one side of the work of the Police Force for dealing with crowds and for work of that kind but under the new conditions you want to get the best men available, drawn as far as possible from those who have had the benefit of the newer educational facilities provided by the State. I am in favour of the new staff college which is proposed. Crime is becoming more a science and must be dealt with by scientific means and if the best use is to be made of the Police Force those who are to have charge of administration and 1298 discipline and who are to occupy responsible positions ought to have the opportunity at the right time of entering some kind of training college. That aspect of the proposals in the White Paper is not dealt with in this Bill.
This short Bill of four Clauses deals only with two matters of importance. The first Clause we accept without discussion, but the two last Clauses have been discussed at length. One of these is going to crab the Police Federation set up by the House of Commons in 1919, after prolonged inquiry, as a substitute for a police trade union. The second of these two Clauses proposes a short-service section of the force, which we regard as most undesirable. I believe that it will weaken the moral of the force and tend to swell the ranks of the unemployed. I am not satisfied that the proposed employment board will by any means meet the case in that respect.
I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that all the reforms that are required in the light of the experience of the last few years could be carried out without any of these Clauses being put on the Statute Book. I consider that this Bill is reactionary, and it is very significant that it is not to be applied to the provinces. -It is an unnecessary slur on the London police, because you are going to impose two conditions on them that are not to apply to any other part of the country. There is to be no restriction as to membership of the Police Federation in Manchester, Liverpool, or any other big centre, where, I suggest, the police are no better than they are here. They may not be worse, but they are no better, and I consider that the Metropolitan police vie with the police in any part of the country. Secondly, the short-term experiment is to be confined to London, and I say that the London police are quite as efficient and as well organised —and this is a compliment to the Home Office and the Commissioner—as the police in any other part of the country and that it is needless to make this unnecessary reflection on the organisation of the force. For these reasons, I propose to vote against the Bill.
§ 10.42 p.m.
§ Brigadier-General NATION
Little can be said that can affect the passage of this Bill now, but there are one or two 1299 points on which I should like some information from the Minister in his closing remarks. I would like to draw special attention to the position of the women police. Women in all walks of life are competing now with men, and in many walks they are doing almost if not quite as well as men. The Commissioner has referred to the women police in his report, but up to now not a word has been said about them either on the Third Reading—
§ Brigadier-General NATION
I will therefore leave that point. The second point is about the Police College. One of the reasons for the reorganisation of the police is said to be economy, and I would like to know whether economy has been studied in connection with the Police College and whether investigation has been made from other Government Departments as to redundant buildings. What is going to be paid for the purchase and upkeep of this college? We have little or no knowledge on this subject. Lastly, I know quite well that this Bill does not extend to the borough and county police, but I would like to know whether the Minister has any intention of introducing legislation which would extend—
§ Brigadier-General NATION
Reference has been made to the county police, Sir, and if the Minister has no intention of introducing legislation, I think some declaration should be made by him as to whether any pressure is to be brought to bear to extend this system beyond the Metropolitan Police. If the right hon. Gentleman could make some reference to this point in his closing remarks, it would give considerable satisfaction, not only to Members of the House, but to those outside as well.
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, I should like to add one or two remarks to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Lime-house (Mr. Attlee). We are moving this Amendment because of events that have happened at Scotland Yard within the 1300 last few days, namely, the suspension of one of the leading officers and so on. Again and again there have been investigations at the Yard, but there has never been a conclusion to them, and the public and this House have no knowledge of what these investigations have revealed and what sort of conditions have been brought to light. We feel that the basis of this Bill is altogether wrong and that those who framed it have not framed any sort of scheme for, so far as we know, dealing with what is the real evil. The real evil connected with the force, as far as we in the House know anything about it, concerns the people at the top, the people who, in the main, have occupied a high position and who cannot be put in the category of the persons who have been selected merely for their brawn. It is a matter of serious disquietude that it is in the section of the police in the West End of London, among what are supposed to be the most cultured and educated people, where, so far as we know—and we can only go by the information that dribbles out to us—really bad corruption is being proved to exist.
We feel that after the years of Lord Byng's attempt to clear up the business, and after the incidents that have happened recently, it is time the House of Commons appointed its own committee and that we had a thorough investigation, not so much into the question whether the constables on the beat are doing their job well, or whether they are able to handle crowds properly, but whether those in charge of the central administration are fitted for the work they are appointed to do. I am only one of a minority in the House in demanding this, but we ought to have an investigation into the question whether it is education that is at stake in this matter, whether it is true that what is wrong is due to lack of education. I deny that men trained at the universities are any more honest than the average British working-man. I do not believe that it is a question of education at all, and anyone who knows anything about their fellow men and women know that that is true. The votes of this House have proved that this Bill is not very acceptable to the majority, and, in the judgment of some of those best able to give an opinion on the subject, it will injure the Police Force. As there is that kind of doubt in the matter, the Govern- 1301 ment ought to hold it up pending an inquiry. There is no desperate hurry for this Measure. Nothing will be injured if it is held up until the autumn Session or until after Christmas.
In the meantime, we should have a committee to sit at Scotland Yard or here to overhaul the Police Force publicly. Let the public know exactly what is wrong. It may very well be that Lord Trenchard knows all about it. We were told that Lord Byng knew all about it, and that he had cleared it all up. We maintain that, on their own confession, the place is in a terrible muddle, and yet for all these years selected persons have been brought in to manage the business. The Home Secretary said that he has nobody there who can give him any proper information. That is his criticism —not of the rank and file, but of those who are at the top. Because that is so, we ask the Home Secretary to let his Bill be held up—it will not do any harm—and let us have this inquiry, in public and not in private, into the whole business.
§ 10.51 p.m.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I do not think that I need take up much of the time of the House. Of course, I realise the anxiety and interest of hon. Members in dealing with this problem. This Bill is based on information which was supplied to the Government and to this House as to certain defects which were ascertained and noted by the Commissioner of Police. That report was considered by the Government. It was most carefully investigated, and, as a result of that investigation, the Government presented a White Paper to this House which represents the findings of the Government, and on that White Paper this Bill is based. The responsibility for the White Paper and for the Bill is that of the Government, and I venture to say that when this question has developed in accordance with the provisions of this Bill it will be found that we have taken measures adequately to put right the main part of the trouble.
The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has said that, in his judgment, some of the greatest difficulties and some of the worst troubles are at the top. I am only concerned with this, that whether it be at the top or in the rank and file, anything which is contrary to the proper discipline and the proper carrying out of 1302 the work of the Metropolitan Police shall be dealt with. Let us be fair to all classes, and let me say at this stage that I trust all ranks of the Metropolitan Police Force will realise that I speak with honesty of purpose when I say that nothing which the Government are suggesting in this Bill or to which I, as the Minister responsible for it, may assent, is directed against the high tradition and the future well-being of this force. It is our desire, as I am sure it is that of the Government and of the Commissioner of Police, that all ranks of the Metropolitan Police Force, will realise unreservedly that the setting up of this college and the definite plans, into which I cannot go at this stage, but which I trust will be very shortly brought into operation, are directed for the sole purpose of doing away with the system which has entailed the necessity of repeatedly bringing in from the outside men who have not been connected with the service throughout their careers. If that is done, that kind of criticism can no longer be directed against the force, and it will be throwing the way open so that there shall be an opportunity for the humblest constable coming into the force to have—what he has never had until this time—the possibility of rising to the highest posts.
In the new Clauses which were put on the Paper, some hon. Gentlemen desired that these men should pass through each stage to each rank in succession, but that is not the way of getting the best service. That is not the way, in my judgment, to give opportunities to the man who is most fitted for the post to rise to the top. I trust the House will realise that this is a genuine effort to put this force on a sound basis. I am grateful to Members for the very kindly and friendly way in which they have dealt with me in the House and in Committee. Believe me, this Measure is brought forward with the best of intentions, with the sole honest purpose of giving a straight and fair deal to every man and officer in the Police Force, and I believe that in its working this scheme will be found to be very successful.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 210; Noes, 52.1305
|Division No. 243.]||AYES.||[10.56 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte. Lieut.-Colonel||Grimston, R. V.||Penny, Sir George|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds,W.)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Petherick, M.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Hales, Harold K.||Potter, John|
|Astbury. Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Hanbury, Cecil||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hanley, Dennis A.||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hartington, Marquess of||Ramsay, T. B. w. (Western Isles)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Remer, John R.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorke., Skipton)||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Rentoul Sir Gervals S.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Robinson. John Roland|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Howard, Tom Forrest||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Bralthwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Host Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Hunter Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Iveagh, Countess of||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Brown,Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.Newb'y)||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Burnett, John George||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Ker, J. Campbell||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Kimball, Lawrence||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Cayzer, Ma]. Sir H. R.(Prtsmth., S.)||Law, Sir Alfred||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-ln-F.)|
|Clarke, Frank||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Smith, R. W.(Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Lelghton, Major B. E. P.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Llddall, Walter S.||Somerset, Thomas|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Somerville. D. G. (Wlllesden, East)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Locker-Lampson.Rt. Hn. G. (Wd.Gr'n)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Copeland, Ida||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Mabane, William||Spans, William Patrick|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro)||MacAndrew, Lleut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Cross, R. H.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon: J. C. C.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Strickland. Captain W. F.|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||McKie, John Hamilton||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Drewe, Cedric||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Magnay, Thomas||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Maltland, Adam||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Dunglass, Lord||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Train, John|
|Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Elliston. Captain George Sampson||Martin, Thomas B.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Essenhigh. Reginald Clare||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Milne, Charles||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Moore. Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Moreing, Adrian C.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Herff'd)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Morris-Jones, Or. J. H. (Denbigh)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Glucksteln, Louis Halle||Morrison, William shephard||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Goff, Sir Park||Munro, Patrick||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Murray-Phillpson, Hylton Ralph||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Nail, Sir Joseph||Womersley, Walter James|
|Graves, Marjorle||Nall-Caln, Hon. Ronald||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Greene, William P. C.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Nunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Grigg, Sir Edward||Peake, Captain Osbert||Captain Austin Hudson and Mr. Blindell.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Curry, A. C.||Granted, David Rees (Glamorgan)|
|Banfield, John William||Daggar, George||Griffith. F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'.W.)|
|Batey, Joseph||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Edwards, Charles||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Buchanan, George||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Hall. George H. (Methyr Tydvll)|
|Cape, Thomas||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Harris, Sir Percy|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Hicks, Ernest George|
|Hirst, George Henry||McEntee, Valentine L.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||McGovern, John||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Janner, Barnett||McKeag, Willam||Thorne, William James|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|John. William||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Mliner. Major James||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Owen, Major Goronwy||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Lawson. John James||Parkinson, John Allen||Mr. D. Graham and Mr. G.|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Price, Gabriel||Macdonald.|
|Lunn, William||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
§ Bill read the Third time, and passed.