HC Deb 19 February 1959 vol 600 cc534-5
21. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will reconsider the rates of pension payable to the widows of police officers who die as the result of an attack.

Mr. R. A. Butler

We must all feel sympathy with the widows of policemen killed in the execution of their duty. Regulations were made in 1953 to provide improved pensions in certain cases and I think the formula contained in these regulations is a reasonable one.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentle man aware that two members of the Blackburn Police Force recently con ducted themselves with great gallantry in trying to apprehend an armed man who had run amok and was terrorising his family, that one of the policemen, Detective Inspector O'Donnell, died as a result of injuries received and the other, P.C. Covill, was fortunate to escape with his life, and that the people of Blackburn are proud of these men and the high standards of service which they observed in the course of duty? Will the right hon. Gentleman not—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Lady is going on too long for a supplementary question.

Mrs. Castle

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I should have thought that this House would be proud of these men and proud of an opportunity to place this on record, in view of the attacks which are made on the police forces from time to time. Would not the Home Secretary agree that if men are to go unarmed into danger, they must have the peace of mind of knowing that their families will be adequately compensated if they lose their lives as a result of doing their duty?

Mr. Butler

I am, of course, aware of the tragic case to which the hon. Lady refers and which occurred in Blackburn. I understand, however, that no award has yet been made by the watch committee. We should not, therefore, prejudice it by any statement made in this House. In regard to the 1953 Regulations in general, credit for which should go to the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), the rate then fixed for the pension was proportionate to the husband's pay and I should have thought that that was still a good basis However, in this case, I am sure that we should not say more except to express our sympathy.

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