HC Deb 12 March 1964 vol 691 cc676-81

(1) If the chief constable of a police force which ceases to exist in consequence of an order under Part I of this Act or Part II of the Local Government Act 1958 is not appointed chief constable or other member of the successor force as from the date of transfer, he shall on that date become a member of that force (or, if there is more than one successor force, of such of them as may be provided by or under the order) by virtue of this section.

(2) While a person is a member of a police force by virtue only of this section he shall hold the rank of assistant chief constable but shall be treated for the purposes of his pay, pension and other conditions of service as if he had continued to be chief constable of the force which ceased to exist, subject however to section 5(1) of this Act.

(3) A chief constable who becomes a member of a police force by virtue of this section shall, subject to regulations under Part II of this Act, cease to be a member thereof at the expiration of three months unless he has then accepted and taken up an appointment in that force.

(4) The provision to be made by regulations under section 60(2) of the Local Government Act 1958 (as extended by Schedule 8 to this Act) with respect to the chief constable of a police force who, after becoming a member of another police force by virtue of this section, ceases to be a member of that force without having accepted and taken up an appointment therein shall, if he was the chief constable of a police force at the commencement of this Act, be not less favourable than any provision by way of a pension that would have been payable to or in respect of him by virtue of the Police Pensions Act 1948 had the first-mentioned police force been combined with another force by an amalgamation scheme under the Police Act 1946 and he had neither been transferred to the combined force nor joined it within three months.

(5) Where the chief constable of a police force is engaged for a period of overseas service within the meaning of the Police (Overseas Service) Act 1945 or a period of central service within the meaning of section 43 of this Act, and before the end of that period that force ceases to exist as mentioned in subsection (1) of this section—

  1. (a) that subsection shall apply to him as if he were still the chief constable of that force, but with the substitution for references 677 to the date of transfer of references to the end of the said period; and
  2. (b) paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to this Act shall not apply to him.

(6) For the purposes of section 4(2) of this Act no account shall be taken of subsection (2) of this section.

(7) In this section "successor force", in relation to a police force which ceases to exist in consequence of any order, means a force to which members of that police force are transferred by virtue of the order; and "date of transfer" means the date as from which those members are so transferred.—[Mr. Brooke.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.57 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Henry Brooke)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

So far as I am aware this new Clause is non-controversial. I hope that it will be generally acceptable. It relates to the position of chief constables of forces which cease to exist as a result of amalgamation schemes or local government reorganisation. I should like the House to know that it implements proposals which have been agreed with representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Those of us who served on the Standing Committee will be aware that the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. O'Malley) raised certain questions about the exclusion of chief constables from the transfer provisions for amalgamation schemes. Hon. Members also will remember, that the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) raised a question about the compensation terms for displaced chief constables. This Clause deals with both of these matters and deals with them effectively and, as I hope, acceptably.

The first three subsections provide that where a force ceases to exist, and the chief constable is not appointed to a post in what I might call the successor force, he shall be a member of this force for a transitional period of three months. During that period he will hold the rank of assistant chief constable but continue to enjoy his former conditions of service as a chief constable. This transitional period will facilitate the task of the new chief constable in organising the successor force, and it will also give the displaced chief constable ample time to consider accepting a permanent appointment in the successor force.

Subsection (4) relates to the other matter, the compensation of displaced chief constables who are serving as such at the commencement of the Bill. In general, the Government think it right in principle that displaced chief constables should be subject to compensation terms similar to those applicable to senior displaced local government officers. However, it is necessary to recognise the special history of the compensation Provisions for chief constables displaced by amalgamation schemes made under the Police Act, 1946. These were originally contained in regulations made under the 1946 Act, but those provisions were repealed by the Police Pensions Act, 1948, and the substance of the arrangements was incorporated in the Police Pensions Regulations made thereunder.

It was thought right, in the passage of the Police Pensions Act through Parliament, to incorporate protective provisions which gave serving officers entrenched pension rights. These included the rights of a chief constable displaced by an amalgamation scheme under the 1946 Act to the pension provided in the Police Pensions Regulations.

In recognition of these entrenched rights, subsection (4) of the new Clause makes special provision with respect to the compensation of chief constables serving at the commencement of the Bill who tire displaced by amalgamation schemes under the Bill. The subsection also applies to such serving officers who are displaced by local government reorganisation, because it may be largely fortuitous whether police reorganisation is effected by an amalgamation scheme or as part of a general reorganisation of local government.

Subsection (4) provides that the provision to be made for the compensation of these serving officers is to be no less favourable than the existing provision for compensation by way of pension made under the Police Pensions Act, 1948, for chief constables displaced by amalgamation schemes under the 1946 Act. I submit this new Clause to the House in tie belief that it meets fully all the points which were raised in Standing Committee over this difficult matter.

Sir Frank Soskice (Newport)

The new Clause is long and complicated. I am right, I hope, in thinking—and I understood this from the Home Secretary's speech—that the Clause meets the various proposals and arguments which were advanced by the association representing the officers concerned. The Secretary of State nods, and I accept it from him at once.

That being so, speaking for myself, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for having introduced the Clause, which remedies what I think was clearly a rather unjust position as it was left by the original Bill in its unamended form. I feel sure that all the officers concerned will be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for having acceded to the considerations which were put before him in Committee.

Mr. David Renton (Huntingdonshire)

Like the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice), I was one of those who were a little concerned about the original provisions of the Bill. Also Like him, I am sure that it is the wish of those chief officers who are potentially concerned in the effect of this new Clause that thanks should be expressed to my right hon. Friend for the comprehensive and generous way in which he has dealt with the matter.

There is one point of detail on which I am a little perplexed. I have no doubt that there is an easy answer, and it would be appreciated if my right hon. Friend would give it. At the end of subsection (2) we find the words: subject however to Section 5(1) of this Act". When we turn to Clause 5(1) we find that the new police force is to be under the direction and control of the chief constable appointed under Section 4(2) … I do not quite see the purpose of the link between the provisions in the new Clause and that subsection. I have an uneasy feeling that there may be a qualification hidden in it, and if there is, and if it is an adverse qualification, then I think that we should be told about it.

Mr. Brian O'Malley (Rotherham)

The new Clause meets the doubts which were expressed in Committee about the position of chief constables who might find themselves in difficulty as a result of an amalgamation. I am particularly pleased to see that the Clause embodies the idea which was put forward in Standing Committee that chief constables are auto matically to be transferred at least temporarily to the combined authority which is created. I also take it that the implication of the Clause is that in most circumstances it is assumed that the chief constable will be offered some kind of appointment in the new police authority.

I should say, by the way, that I understand from sources outside the House that the chief constables are satisfied with the terms of the Clause. But I should like to ask about compensation. The Clause does not make it clear, to me at any rate, what kind of compensation we are talking about. In Standing Committee, the Under-Secretary of State said: If there were no possibility of a new appointment, there would be provision for retirement and payment of compensation, but I think that that would be a rare case."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D. 17th December, 1963; c. 202.] When the Home Secretary talks of compensation, is he talking in terms of pension rights, or pension rights plus a lump sum?

Secondly, assuming that under the Clause a redundant chief constable were offered an appointment with the police authority and rejected that appointment, would he still be entitled to receive compensation not only in terms of pension rights but also in terms of a lump sum if one is payable? What kind of lump sum, if any, would he be offered if he were not offered a post in the new police authority?

If a chief constable took up a new appointment with this new police authority, would he be in receipt of any compensation in respect of a reduction in earnings which he might suffer as a result of taking up his new appointment compared with his financial remuneration in his old appointment? When he retired, would he be likely to suffer a drop in the total pension which he would have received as a result of taking up the new appointment because his old appointment had disappeared?

Mr. Brooke

I am obliged to the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) for what he said in receiving the new Clause. I stated when I introduced it that it implements proposals which have been agreed with the Association of Chief Constables, and the House can, therefore, rest content that the chief constables themselves are happy about what we are doing here.

May I tell my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Mr. Renton) the reason for the reference in subsection (2) of the new Clause to Section 5(1) of the Act? It is to make it clear that, though the former chief constable will be serving in the rank of assistant chief constable in the new force, while retaining his rights of pay, pension and other conditions of service, that will not give him what a chief constable normally has—the direction and control of the force, because there can be only one person exercising that.

Perhaps I can make the position clear to the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. O'Malley) in this way. For a number of years there have been arrangements for compensation for displaced chief constables on amalgamation schemes. After all, amalgamation is not something which we are hearing about for the first time. I am excepting those chief constables who are in post at the time the Bill comes into force, but it seems desirable that in future chief constables—those who are not chief constables now, but who become chief constables and whose forces are then merged—should have compensation terms if they lose their posts, on the same lines as those which have now been laid down for local government officers.

But the purpose of the second part of the new Clause is to preserve for those who are now in post as chief constables and who may hereafter become displaced through amalgamation exactly the same compensation terms in every respect as they are now enjoying and as they would have received if they had been displaced by reason of an amalgamation scheme at any time in the last 10 years.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.