HC Deb 06 November 1946 vol 428 cc1393-8
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)

Meetings of the Police Council for England and Wales were held at the Home Office on 25th October, 1946, and 5th November, 1946, at which the following improved scales of pay for police were unanimously recommended to me:

Constables (Men): 105s. a week rising to 140s. a week, including long service increments.

Constables (Women): 94s. a week rising to 125s. a week, including long service increments.

In the case of both men and women these scales represent an increase of 15s. a week at the minimum and 17s. a week at the maximum.

Sergeants (Men): 150s. a week rising to 165s. a week.

Sergeants (Women): 135s. a week rising to 148s. a week.

In the case of both men and women the sergeants' scales represent an increase of 22s. a week throughout the scales.

The Police Council also recommended the following improvements in conditions of service:

(a) the reimbursement of income tax paid on rent allowances;

(b) the payment of an allowance of 25s. a week to any married man in a police force who is living apart from his family because he cannot find suitable accommodation within a reasonable distance of his place of duty;

(c) improved rates of lodging, subsistence and refreshment allowances.

The revised scales of pay for the ranks of constable and sergeant, and the other improvements in conditions mentioned above, were adopted freely by all interests represented on the Police Council as a satisfactory settlement of the claim submitted by the Police Federation, on the understanding that the scales of pay now recommended would remain in force until 1st January, 1950, and that, before that date, there would be an inquiry by an independent committee into the whole question of pay and conditions of service of the police.

I have accepted all the recommendations of the Police Council, together with certain other recommendations for improving the conditions of service, and propose to make police regulations today to give effect to them. The improvements in pay which have been agreed will come into effect as from today. Discussions on the subject of the pay of the higher ranks of the police service are taking place with the representatives of the police authorities and of the ranks concerned.

I have also accepted a recommendation of the Police Council that a Committee of the Council should be set up at once to review local rules or conditions of service which may unduly restrict the liberty of members of the police service and their families.

Mr. W. J. Brown

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his statement, which I feel will be welcomed in all parts of the House, may I ask him whether, in order to avoid this situation cropping up again, in which we are confronted with a great shortage of police and then have to take emergency action to relieve that situation, he does not feel that the time has come when he should lift the ban on trade unionism in the police service, and let them have their proper organisation for negotiating these things from day to day?

Mr. Ede

What I have announced is not in any way an emergency action. It has arisen on the normal submission by the police force of an application for increased pay, and it has been considered by the Police Council and agreement reached, so that all sides of the Police Council made a unanimous recommendation. With regard to the last part of the supplementary question, that is a matter which would be within the terms of reference of the committee of the Police Council, which I have agreed to set up.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Can the right hon Gentleman say whether the question of police pensions will be within the terms of reference?

Mr. Ede

I should not have thought so. It is to deal with conditions of service of serving policemen.

Mr. H. Hynd

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether these, or similar rates, will be extended to prison staffs?

Mr. Ede

No, there is separate negotiating machinery for prison staffs. They have a trade union. These rates should not be confused with those of the prison staffs.

Sir Ralph Glyn

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether these new rates and conditions are applicable to all constabularies throughout the country?

Mr. Ede

To all constabularies in England and Wales, including the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police. I understand that the Secretary of State for Scotland is to make a statement with regard to Scotland.

Mr. Gallacher

Will the right hon. Gentleman recommend to the Government similar conditions of work and pay for the miners of this country to encourage the production of more coal?

Mr. Ede

That is another question.

Mr. Stubbs

Can the Home Secretary say if the question of overtime will come up; and is he aware that the question of pensions is one of the important things affecting the police and is partly responsible for the difficulty in recruiting?

Mr. Ede

I do not think that that is so. I have had very considerable experience in addressing members of another public service, and it is quite a mistake to think that a person joining a service at a young age has very much interest in the superannuation prospects at the end.

Sir Henry Morris-Jones

Can the right hon Gentleman say whether consideration is being given to the housing of members of the police forces in view of the present housing position in this country?

Mr. Ede

I have made representations to the police authorities about this matter, and I mentioned it to the meeting of the Police Council yesterday. Among the concessions made is one which will ease the position of men who, at present, owing to the difficulties of the housing situation, have to maintain two homes.

Mr. Georǵe Thomas

Would the Minister say whether consideration has been given to the question of the higher cost of living in the London area, and the appeal of the lower ranks for similar consideration to that given to teachers and civil servants?

Mr. Ede

That was not mentioned to me by the Police Council yesterday, or by representatives of the Federation who were present.

Wing-Commander Roland Robinson

Will the Home Secretary follow up his announcement with a vigorous recruiting campaign to bring in the younger men and thus increase the police forces all over the country to full strength so that they can deal with the present crime wave?

Mr. Ede

I am hopeful that these concessions will have an effect on recruiting, but I am quite certain that the conditions of service in the Force as well as the rates of pay have an effect on recruiting and that is why I have asked this Committee to consider conditions too.

Winǵ-Commander Millinǵgton

May I revert to the question of pensions and ask the Home Secretary to cast his mind back to his reply to an earlier supplementary question? While it is true that men joining a service do not cast their minds forward to retiring, is it not a fact that one of the great problems of the police force and of maintaining its strength is that men are resigning after some years of service, because their pension prospects are so bad?

Mr. Ede

The increase of the maximum salary for the ranks mentioned today will have a very considerable influence on the rates of pension, and in any consideration of the financial cost of these proposals I have had to bear in mind the tremendous effect it will have on the pension payment that will accrue as a result.

Colonel Wheatley

Can the Home Secretary say whether the increased rates of pay will affect widows' pensions?

Mr. Ede

No; that is a matter which was submitted to the police a few years ago, when they were offered an improved rate of pensions for widows if they would agree to a slight increase in the rate of deductions. They declined that, and I do not think myself that it will be possible to improve the rate of widows' pensions so long as the deductions from pay remain as they are.

Mr. Austin

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether consideration has been given or is contemplated in regard to promotion prospects in the police force?

Mr. Ede

Promotion prospects come under conditions, and one of the effects of increasing the difference between constable and sergeant is that it may be possible to insert between those ranks a rank similar to that of corporal in the Army. That would certainly give some people an additional chance of promotion and might reduce the number of acting sergeants who do sergeant's duty but receive only constable's pay.

Mr. Stubbs

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that a pension of £75 for the widow of a chief constable and £35 for the widow of an ordinary policeman is adequate?

Mr. Ede

No, I do not, but I have already dealt with the difficulty that would arise on the question of the widows' pension, and I do not feel inclined to alter the answer which I gave in that respect.

Mrs. Ayrton Gould

In view of the new rates of pay, would it not be advisable to put forward again the suggestion that it would be a good thing if the widows' pensions were raised; and might not the men now be prepared to pay more for this purpose?

Mr. Ede

I think the representatives of the police on the Police Council know very well the attitude which the Home Office has consistently adopted on this point, and if they like to raise the matter in the way indicated by the hon. Lady, I shall be very glad to receive their representations.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)

It may be to the convenience of the House if, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I explain the position in Scotland with regard to the questions of police pay with which the Home Secretary has just dealt for England and Wales.

I have had discussions with the Scottish Police Council about police pay and con- ditions of service. There was unanimity on the question of a refund of Income Tax on police rent allowances, the payment of an allowance of 25s. per week to married police officers who have to live apart from their family because of shortage of housing accommodation, and on improved rates of lodging subsistence and refreshment allowances. There was also complete agreement that a substantial increase in police pay was called for; and increases of the same order as have been recommended by the English Council were accepted by all sections of the Scottish Council as an interim settlement—the Police Federation reserving their right to press further claims for additional increases which they consider justified. After careful consideration of all the circumstances, I propose to make regulations incorporating the improved conditions upon which agreement was reached, and fixing new scales of pay at the same rates as those which will apply in England and Wales. As regards the pay of the higher ranks, I am having discussions with the representatives of the police authorities and the ranks concerned.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Are these increases to hold good until 1950 as in England, or is this reservation on the part of the Police Council to apply?

Mr. Westwood

These rates are to apply until 1950, in accordance with the statement made by the Home Secretary. Before that time, a committee of inquiry will be set up, as promised by the Home Secretary, to deal with the conditions of service and pay.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

On the question of pensions, can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that what the Home Secretary said will be applicable to Scotland?

Mr. Westwood

Yes, the Government always speak with a united voice.