HC Deb 15 December 1948 vol 459 cc1329-34

Motion made, and Question proposed. That the Draft Police Pensions (No. 2) Regulations, 1948, a copy of which was presented on 3rd December, be approved."—[Mr. Younger.]

Mr. Grimston (Westbury)

May we have some explanation from the Under-Secretary of State?

10.4 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Younger)

These Draft Police Pensions (No. 2) Regulations, 1948, are made to supplement and amend the full code of regulations made under the Police Pensions Act, 1948, which came into operation on 5th July, 1948. Since that code has been in operation, certain small points have arisen which require further action. Many of them relate only to slight ambiguities of drafting, but some of them involve the failure of the original regulations fully to carry out what was at the time the intention of the regulations.

I would emphasise that these Amendments do not in any way attempt to anticipate any recommendation of the Oaksey Committee. They are very small-scale affairs. They have been discussed with the Police Council, as they were bound to be under Section 1 of the Act, and, in general, they have the unanimous agreement of the Council. I do not think the House would wish me to go through them in great detail; there are 21 of them. Some of the draft Regulations are in several parts and make several minor amendments, but, in general, it can be said that practically all of them—I rather think all of them—are for the benefit of the men in the police forces or their widows, or the children of deceased policemen and police pensioners. I think that is true of practically all the draft regulations which are of substance and are not merely drafting. If there is any particular question hon. Members wish to address to me about any regulation I will do my best to answer it, but I do not think there are any questions of very great consequence. The regulations have all been agreed with the Police Council and perhaps it would be better if I did not attempt to go right through them now.

10.6 p.m.

Mr. Grimston (Westbury)

I have no intention of delaying the House very long on this matter because these regulations, on the whole, appear to have the effect of tidying and improving. One general comment I want to make is that it is rather odd that so many pages of amendments have to be introduced so shortly after the original regulations were introduced.

There are two questions I want to ask on them. The first relates to Regulations 4 and 8. Regulation 4 deals with widows' awards—that is the widow of the auxiliary policeman. The existing regulations require a recipient to choose between two awards. The question I want to ask is, why is the alteration confined to the widow of the auxiliary policeman who, alone, is enabled to claim on two of them, whereas, so far as I can make out, the position is left so that the widow of the regular policeman has to make a choice?

The other point is in connection with Regulation 8, which deals with allowances payable to children. So far as I can gather, as the regulation is drafted, it does not apply to adopted children and it will be remembered that they have been brought into the Royal Warrant. I should be obliged if the Under-Secretary would clear up those two points.

10.8 p.m.

Mr. Younger

If I may have the leave of the House I will answer those questions. Taking the latter question first, adopted children are covered, as are also certain other categories of stepchildren and illegitimate children who were also not covered by the 1921 Act. Regulations 4 and 9 are intended to provide for the return of pension contributions to the widow of a member of the first police reserve who dies when called up for service. As the regulations stand at the moment, under Regulation 32 she would be debarred from receiving that repayment of contributions, because normally she would be in receipt of an ordinary pension in respect of her husband's previous regular police service. As I understand it, that is the point which these two draft Regulations 4 and 9, taken together, are intended to cover. I am not sure whether that answers the questions of the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston). As I understand it that is the purpose of these two regulations.

Mr. Grimston

I am afraid I do not quite follow. The Under-Secretary says this deals with returned contributions whereas in the explanatory note on page 5 it says that: Regulation 4 provides for an award to the widow of an auxiliary policeman who dies otherwise than as a result of an injury received in the execution of his duty. The wording is "award" and not "returned contribution." I do not follow the Under-Secretary. I am reading from the explanatory note to the draft regulations which have been issued by the Home Office.

Mr. Younger

I think that, at any rate for this purpose, the word "award" covers returned contributions. I think that is the intention.

10.10 p.m.

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham)

I want to say that I do not share the surprise of the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston) that Amendments were necessary. The original Order, the Police Pensions Regulations, 1948, was a very marked advance. It was introduced very soon after the Police Pensions Bill. It incorporated a number of concessions which were made by the Home Secretary to the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth (Major Bruce) and myself in the Debate on the Third Reading and the Committee stages of the Bill, and this was a very welcome improvement. These concessions were exceedingly complicated. Most of these amendments are purely clarifying and provide minor improvements which have been found necessary, but there is one point on which I am not clear, and I should be grateful if the Under-Secretary could clear my mind on this.

The amendment in Regulation 5 of the draft regulations which we are now considering and a similar amendment later on relating to orphans' pensions provides that two pensions shall not be paid in the same case. It excludes the widow from receiving benefit when she is receiving benefit under the National Insurance Act or the Old Age Pensions Act, and so on. It also excludes her from benefit in respect of any naval or military grant during the currency of such payment and in respect of any payment under the Personal Injuries (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1939. I am referring to Regulation 5 of the new regulations amending Regulation 18 of the old regulations. It states in another form what was incorporated there. There are similar provisions amending Part III of the third schedule of the original regulations.

The only question I want to put is this. It seems to me that there may be cases where benefits payable under the Naval, Military or Air Force Fund or benefits payable under the Personal Injuries (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1939, might be less than a widow would be entitled to, if she elected to come under this regulation. If that be so, has the widow the right to elect to have the higher sum? It seems clear to me that not in every case is she entitled to 26s. a week which is the minimum which a widow would get, and certainly not entitled to 7s. 6d. or 12s. 6d. a week which she would get under the family allowances regulations.

10.13 p.m.

Mr. Younger

With the leave of the House, I will say a word on the first of my hon. Friend's points. His second point was delivered at such a speed and contained so many complications that it is too much for me. I will try to let my hon. Friend have an answer to that point at rather more leisure. I am afraid that I really cannot cope with that here and now.

As regards the first point, the purpose is to remedy a small defect. This applies not only to Regulation 5 but also to 3 (1). The purpose is to remedy a small defect whereby police authorities would have been debarred from granting a pension or an increase of pension solely because the widow is receiving a grant in respect of the death of some person other than her husband. It might be someone receiving an amount in respect of a son. It was never intended that because a widow was receiving a grant in respect of somebody other than her husband, she should be debarred from the pension or the increase. It was only intended to apply where she was receiving a pension in respect of a deceased husband. The purpose of this draft regulation is to remedy that situation.

10.15 p.m.

Motion made, and Question proposed That the Draft Police Pensions (Scotland) (Amendment) Regulations, made by the Secretary of State for Scotland under the Police Pensions Act, 1948, a copy of which Regulations was presented on 3rd December be approved."—[Mr. T. Fraser.]

Commander Galbraith (Glasgow Pollok)

I should like to know whether the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has anything to say other than that which we have already heard in respect of the English Draft Regulations

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser)

The Scottish regulations bring about exactly the same changes as the English regulations. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department has already said, the regulations merely clarify the position in many cases and bring in one or two people who were not brought in by the earlier regulations. There are certain categories of children who have already been referred to. I do not think I should say anything further in amplification of what has already been said. I might just add that in accordance with the provisions of the Act, these regulations have been considered by the Scottish Police Council and unanimously accepted by the Council.