HC Deb 18 March 1959 vol 602 cc415-6

3.46 p.m.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the provisions of the Schedule to the Police Act, 1919, with respect to the dates of elections of Branch Boards and of annual meetings of Branch Boards and Central Conferences of the Police Federation. As the House knows, I have been consultant to the Police Federation since 1955. The Federation has asked me to introduce this simple Bill, which seeks to amend the Schedule to the Police Act, 1919, which lays down in detail the dates on which the Federation may hold its annual meeting of its branch boards and conferences. It was laid down in paragraph 5 of the First Schedule to that Act that elections shall take place annually in October, and the annual meetings of all boards not later than 7th November, the actual date being prescribed, and, in paragraph 9, that the central conferences of the police should be held annually in November.

This has been somewhat difficult, as has been acknowledged by the Home Office. In fact, on this particular occasion this year, I understand that it would be almost impossible to get the accommodation necessary to enable the conference to be held. I therefore consulted the Home Secretary, and I am sure that I may be allowed to say that he gave his blessing to the proposal that we should try to amend the Act. I am very grateful to him for giving his blessing to the proposal and to his officials for their assistance in settling the principles of the matter.

The principle will now be that, instead of a fixed date, the Home Secretary himself should have the power to fix the date of the meetings, whether they be of the branch boards or the conference itself, after consulting with the three central committees. In other words, it will still be in the hands of the Home Secretary, but he will consult the Police Federation before using the power to fix the dates of the meetings. It will be more satisfactory than laying it down in the Police Act itself.

The House may be suspicious of this unusual conjunction between the Government Front Bench and myself in this case, so perhaps I may be allowed to add that the draft Bill has been seen by a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House, some of whom have experience of the Home Office and others with experience in other Departments, and that there is a most distinguished galaxy of hon. Members who are willing to join in sponsoring the Bill if the House gives permission for it to be introduced.

If that was so, may I add that it would not be introduced as a gesture, but that we should ask for the co-operation of hon. Members on both sides of the House in having a chance to examine the Bill by allowing it to go forward if the House agreed with the principles it contains. This is a single-Clause Bill, and I think that when hon. Members have had an opportunity of looking at it they will feel that it is an unobjectionable Bill and one which will enable the Police Federation to hold its conferences at a more reasonable time. This would give it much-needed relief.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Callaghan, Mr. Ede, Mr. Deedes, Sir H. Lucas-Tooth, Mr. Frederick Lee, Mr. David Jones, Mr. Ronald Bell, Mr. Charles Pannell, Mr. R. Dudley Williams, Mr. Randall, Mr. John Hall, and Mr. Frederic Harris.