HC Deb 12 July 1956 vol 556 cc603-6
The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Major Gwilym Lloyd-George)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I should like to make a short statement.

As I informed the House in reply to Questions on 5th July, the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have been exploring the possibility of legislation on police pay. We have now completed our consideration of this matter and I am glad to be able to inform the House that Her Majesty's Government have decided to introduce as soon as practicable legislation which will enable effect to be given to alterations in police pay as from such date as may be agreed in negotiation or as, in default of agreement, may be recommended by the arbitrators.

Her Majesty's Government will consider, in consultation with the police authorities, on whom one-half of the cost would fall, whether it would be possible to include in such legislation a provision making it possible to give effect to the award of last December from 8th September, 1955, as recommended by the arbitration.

Mr. Younger

While welcoming the decision of the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland to introduce legislation with regard to future settlements, and commenting only that there has been a great deal of delay and this might have been done much sooner, might I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to be kind enough to be a little more precise about the second part of his statement, relating to the award of last December?

It is not a fact that the police authorities, to whom he has referred, and who would have to bear some of the burden, have always expressed themselves as willing to bear the burden if only the technical and legal difficulties could be removed? Is it not also a fact that, if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had been a little quicker in introducing the legislation, no question of retrospection need have arisen? It is not only because of delay in Whitehall that any difficulties arise. Cannot the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give a firm undertaking that the second matter will be dealt with in the legislation?

Major Lloyd-George

I deplore politics being brought into a matter of this kind. I am bound to point out to the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) that the fault in the legislation was detected in 1948, and that he and his colleagues could have put it right immediately had they so wished. We are now going to do something which they never at any time indicated that they would do. Having said that, I leave the point, because it is not worth discussing.

As to the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, the position, as I understand, is that the authorities, who, after all, pay the police, have indicated so far only that they were not in a position, as indeed they were not, to give effect to the arbitration award. That is one of the things that I propose to discuss with them.

Mr. Callaghan

While thanking the Home Secretary for the first part of his statement, might I ask him to elucidate the second part—

Mr. Pickthorn

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the sensitivity of hon. Gentlemen opposite yesterday about the diverse capacities of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Helens (Sir H. Shawcross), may we be informed in which of his capacities the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) is now purporting to speak?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member was about to ask a question in the capacity that he happened to catch my eye.

Mr. Callaghan

Is it not the case that hon. Gentlemen declare their interest in making speeches, Sir, but not in asking questions? Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman elaborate the second part of his answer? Does he mean that the Government are willing to accept the award of the arbitrators subject to their finding legal means of implementing it?

Major Lloyd-George

We have accepted the first point. The people who pay the police are the police authorities, and it is not in my power to commit them. That is why I deliberately said that I would consider the matter in consultation with the police authorities.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. John Hall.

Miss Herbison

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The statement made by the Home Secretary applies to Scotland as well as England and Wales. Surely an hon. Member for Scotland who has taken an interest in the matter should have the right to ask a supplementary question.

Mr. Speaker

We have just had a supplementary question from the Opposition benches. It is now the turn of the other side of the House.

Mr. John Hall

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that the members of the police forces affected, and certainly all hon. Members who were signatories to the all-party Motion, accept his statement with great appreciation, in no carping spirit but with a feeling of thankfulness?

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Home Secretary aware that he is the authority for the Metropolis, and that, therefore, in respect of the Metropolitan Police he does not have to consult anyone else, but can introduce the back pay for them as soon as he likes to do so?

Major Lloyd-George

The hon. and gallant Member will appreciate that that is quite impossible.

Miss Herbison

In view of his reply to a Question on this matter which I asked on Tuesday, may I ask the Home Secretary when these consultations between himself and the Secretary of State for Scotland took place, and whether there was any decision, or any knowledge of the suggestion which has been made today by him, that in these consultations consideration would be given to the decision made in arbitration in December?

Major Lloyd-George

My right hon. Friend and I—he being responsible for Scotland, and I for England and Wales—have, of course, discussed this matter. I am not quite sure that I follow what the hon. Lady had in mind, but we have been in close consultation the whole time.

Mr. Doughty

May I ask my right hon. and gallant Friend two questions. First, what would be the cost of implementing the award of last December? Secondly, will he bring in legislation as soon as possible, as I am sure that all hon. Members on this side desire the award to be implemented at the earliest opportunity?

Major Lloyd-George

The cost is just short of £2 million, half of which is borne by the Exchequer and half by the police authorities. As I have said, I will bring in legislation as soon as possible.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. There is to be legislation.

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