HC Deb 24 November 1960 vol 630 cc1299-301
28. Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Report on pay by the Royal Commission on the Police has yet been received; and whether he will make a statement.

33. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will implement the recommendations of the Interim Report of the Royal Commission on the Police in respect of pay and service conditions.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Yes, Sir. The Report has been received and is available in the Vote Office. I should like to take this opportunity of thanking Sir Henry Willink and his colleagues for the expeditious way in which they have dealt with this aspect of their terms of reference.

The Government attach great importance to early action being taken on this Report, and it is being referred to the Police Council for Great Britain with a request that it will consider it as soon as possible.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I am sure that my right hon. Friend is well aware of the great public anxiety about the shortage of police. Can he give an assurance that whatever finance may be needed to secure adequate and good quality police forces will be treated as a first charge on our financial resources?

Mr. Butler

I think that the House is well aware of the urgency with which I regard the matter of improving the conditions of the police forces. It would, however, be wrong for me to make any further statement before the Police Council for Great Britain, upon which the authorities are represented, has had a chance of considering the Report. Then, I think, we can consider it together on the official side, and we shall have a joint view on the matter.

Mr. Lipton

Will the Home Secretary bear in mind that the recommendations to bring police pay into line with modern conditions as set out in the Report are the very least that can be done to improve police pay? It would be very much better to increase the police forces and thus reduce the crime wave. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has to enter into consultations, but will he at lease give an undertaking that the increase will be—

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

Too long.

Mr. Lipton

However boring the subject may be to the hon. and gallant Member, it is not—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Too much badinage delays Questions. I hope hon. Members will restrain themselves.

Mr. Lipton

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider this possibility, namely, that, whatever decision is arrived at, the increase should be back-dated if not to January when the Commission was set up at least to today when the Report came out?

Mr. Butler

I really must not prejudge the matter, because we are accustomed in this country to solve our wages problems by negotiation. This is a very powerful Report with very definite recommendations, and the sooner it is considered the better.

Mr. Gordon Walker

I associate myself with the right hon. Gentleman's thanks to Sir Henry Willink and his colleagues for the excellent Report which they have produced. Will the right hon. Gentleman take it that we on this side of the House will very strongly support their general recommendations which, roughly speaking, mean £1,000 a year for a constable from now on? Does the Home Secretary recognise that, in effect, the Commission says that there has been undue delay in raising the standards of police pay and that has been one reason for our shortage of police? Would he agree that the main deterrent is, of course, to have enough police to make the chance of the criminal being caught very high indeed, and will he for his part take as prompt action as he can? Further, will he keep an open mind about having an element of retrospection, since the awards will have been long delayed?

Mr. Butler

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his general support, and I note his thanks to the Commission. The fact that the police are now 13,000 short of strength, and 6,000 short of strength in the Metropolis, speaks for itself, and the sooner the situation can be righted and crime dealt with as it should be by a strong police force, the better.