HC Deb 03 February 1949 vol 460 cc1828-31
40. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now state when he expects to receive the report of the Oaksey Committee on police pay and conditions; and if, in view of the considerable time that has passed since this Committee was set up to investigate matters then considered urgent, and of the continuing need for police recruitment, he will consider awarding an interim increase of pay.

Mr. Ede

As regards the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to a Question by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) on 20th January. As regards the second part, it must not be overlooked that the local authorities outside the Metropolitan Police District employ the police and pay half their cost. It would not be proper for me to award an increase in pay in anticipation of the recommendations of the Oaksey Committee.

Mr. Driberg

Bearing in mind that the Committee will certainly not recommend reductions in pay, is there any reason why my right hon. Friend could not allow this slight incentive to recruiting. especially in the Metropolitan Area?

Mr. Ede

It must not be forgotten that the rate of recruiting now is higher than it was in pre-war days. Our difficulty is to overtake the lag which occurred during the six years when recruiting was suspended and, in my opinion, it would be quite wrong for me, without consulting them, to impose on local authorities new rates of pay for the police when this Committee are to report shortly.

Earl Winterton

In view of the Debate which I initiated about a year ago, in which there was universal support from all sides of the House for the suggestion that there should be increased police pay, and the fact that the right hon. Gentleman then agreed, as I understood, that the low rates of pay, compared with other professions, was one of the causes of the lack of recruitment, does he now tell us that that is not one of the causes?

Mr. Ede

No, Sir, I do not say anything of the sort, but I do not think an increase of pay alone is going to alter the rate of recruiting I am certain that a number of other conditions in the force are as much a hindrance to the obtaining of recruits as the rate of pay.

Mr. John Lewis

Although an increase in pay alone may not result in a rapid increase in the Police Force throughout the country, will he bear in mind that if he does not increase the pay, there will not be an increase in the force?

Mr. W. J. Brown

If the right hon. Gentleman cannot award an interim increase in pay, cannot he take steps to expedite the production of the Report of the Oaksey Committee, which has now been sitting for nine months?

Mr. Ede

As I told the House last Thursday, or the Thursday before, I have had an interview with the Chairman of the Committee and he is fully seized of the importance of making an early report.

Mrs. Braddock

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, owing to the fact that there is a 5 per cent. reduction for pension and, since 5th July last, a deduction of 4s. 7d. for National Insurance payments, a recruit's wages are often reduced to £4 10s., and this is having an effect on recruiting for the force?

Mr. Ede

I am aware of those factors, but those are things which affect the ordinary citizen of the country.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the lack of adequate housing accommodation is a very important matter in this connection?

Mr. Driberg

While fully accepting all that my right hon. Friend says about other conditions being more important than pay alone, may I ask if he will bear in mind that a small increase in pay is one of the things which he could grant without having an elaborate inquiry into conditions generally?

Mr. Ede

No, the employment of police forces outside the Metropolitan police district is the responsibility of local authorities and they have to pay them.

Mr. Mellish

Is my right hon. Friend aware that newspapers have reported that police officers about to retire are to have their service extended and can he say whether he agrees with the Oaksey Report on that?

Mr. Ede

No, I have not seen the Oaksey Report. I have seen the Chairman about the date when it will be available, but I do not know the recommendations and neither do those who write for the newspapers.

Mr. Awbery

Will my right hon. Friend consider appointing a committee which will report in a shorter time than nine months?

Mr. Ede

No. If I dissolved that Committee and set up another committee, I should be delaying a permanent solution.

Mr. Julius Silverman

Will my right hon. Friend say whether the terms of reference of the Committee allow them to recommend that any increase should be retrospective?

Mr. Scollan

As it has been suggested that the policeman receives £4 10s. net, is it not a fact that they also receive a rent allowance, a food allowance and a clothing allowance, and are there not many workers today who receive only £4 10s. without any of those allowances?