HC Deb 19 March 1970 vol 798 cc757-81

10.55 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

I wish that more hon. Members were present to discuss the subject I wish to raise because it is of import both to the House and to the people generally. It is that of the hours, wages, working conditions, pension rights and deployment of the police. During my 25 years in this House, I believe that I have heard only about three debates, if that, which were concerned purely with the police forces. We have had several debates on crime and public order and related matters but few dealing with the police as such. Hence, I wish to deal just with that subject, bringing in the allied aspects of crime and crime prevention.

It is right that I should, even in a House so sparsely attended, declare my complete admiration, which is shared by all hon. Members, for the excellent work done by the police, both generally and in the Metropolitan area in particular. I know that I am only echoing what the people generally think. The police do excellent work in the most difficult circumstances. Most of my speech will, I hope, be constructive and helpful in its ideas and suggestions, and if I conclude with some criticism I emphasise that it is not of the police but of the administration and antediluvian attitude of the Home Office. My attack will be on the political machine and the administration which the police have to work under.

The Supplementary Estimate dealing with the police covers the recent pay increases awarded. Even with those increases, I believe that the police, in relation to others doing essential work of prime importance to the country, will be underpaid, just as they are underpaid now. Indeed, they are relatively poorly paid and, I repeat, certainly underpaid. They are certainly overworked and understaffed. They have the most awful conditions of hours, shift work and what I would loosely call accommodation. I do not mean their personal housing which, generally speaking, is pretty good. I am talking about the very old police stations. If hon. Members were occasionally to spend some time visiting some of them, as I have done in my constituency, they would be appalled at their filthiness because they have never been renovated or decorated and in many instances they are past decorating and should be replaced by new stations. Some have been rebuilt and some new stations have been provided, but not sufficient.

I note that there is to be a reduction in the building of new stations and other buildings. That is deplorable. It says that there is a hold-up in the erecting of new buildings. Why? Thousands of building trade workers are unemployed, as are many workers in ancillary industries. Money is not short. We have the money and the workers so why can there be any reason for saying that there should be a hold up in producing new accommodation?

Some of the work the police have to undertake is beneath their dignity and beneath their ability. The police forces generally are not being properly and adequately employed in the type of work they should be doing.

Their pension rights and pension scheme are not as good as they should be. The scheme is not as good as that for the Civil Service, and I do not see why it should not be altered to enable police to continue in the service if they so desire. We know that their system provides for a relatively short period of engagement and a relatively early pension at a relatively young age, and I shall put forward some ideas for improvement.

The police shortage is mainly due to inadequate salaries. A large sum is provided in the Estimate for a police recruiting campaign, but I am convinced there would be no need to spend money on it if the police were to get improved salaries and conditions of service which would encourage people to go into the police forces.

The police are being wrongly deployed. In some instances they are doing unnecessary work, unnecessary, that is, in the sense that their skills and abilities are not needed to do it. The police are, or should be, a force of highly-skilled men with a high standard of mental and physical ability and fitness, and most of them are big and able chaps. My suggestion is that we build up a very skilled force, with very high salaries, and quick turnover so that there is a chance of rapid promotion, and that this very skilled and well-paid force should concentrate upon crime detection and crime prevention, and be used in an attempt to stop the serious—the very serious—crime wave in this country, the crimes including the physical assaults we read of daily, almost hourly, and the robberies we read of daily. If we were to have a highly-skilled force of men of top-rate physique, who could include, for instance, ex-Army people, it could get on with the most serious job, which is crime prevention, and arrest this terrific growth in crime.

Then I should like to see a secondary force, which, for want of a name, I would call the police reinforcement, or police administrative enforcement, force. It would consist of two types of policeman. There would be men not necessarily of the same degree of either the physical fitness or above average mental ability of the men in the first force; they would be just the ordinary type of person. The force could also consist of retired men who had retired at 45 or 50. Many a man who compulsorily retires at that age says, "I do not really want to retire, because I feel too young to do so, but I have to retire," and then he looks around to find some other job, and many of them go to some private security firm and some get more money than they got as policemen.

I shall have some more to say on that in a moment. I cannot see why men of that age, who are not, some of them, capable or physically fit enough for the hard slog of the more skilled type of crime prevention, could not form the nucleus of this secondary force which could deal with the—certainly important, but not so important—job of enforcement of the law for road traffic, for example.

They could deal with traffic offences and with enforcing the road rules and regulations. It is not generally known that there are about 2,500 rules and regulations affecting vehicles on the roads, and the majority of them the police are supposed to enforce, but the police cannot, because they have not the time, they have not the men. They have not a chance of enforcing even, I would say, 1 per cent. or 2 per cent. of the regulations about such things as roadworthiness of vehicles, lights on vehicles, brakes, and a host of other things. It is a police job to enforce the regulations, but, first, they have not the time, and second, quite frankly, they do not like doing this type of work. They say "This is not the sort of job we want to do", and I agree with them. Why should young, fit, able men have to spend their time sticking tickets on car windscreens because motorists have parked for a couple of minutes too long in a yellow band area? The police do not like the job and they should not have to do it.

I suggest the establishment of a secondary force comprised of, among others, retired policemen. Women could be included, along with youngsters coming out of universities and colleges. It could, for them, be a sort of police cadet force, preparing them for joining the regular police.

It is a crying shame, on entering a police station, to see several able-bodied policemen sitting at desks writing in books and filling in forms. This work could be done by girls, leaving policemen to get on with the work for which they are best suited. A police administrative force, so to speak, could relieve policemen of much of this paper work.

Many policemen, on retirement, join private security firms. These men are still fit, able and not really old. As we believe in competition, what about establishing a police security force, in competition with private security forces—I believe that there are four such firms, all of which are doing nicely and making lots of money, often aided and supported by the police—which could be hired by private industry to, for example, guard money being taken to and from banks? This may seem a revolutionary suggestion, but we have competition between State and private enterprises in other spheres.

The present situation concerning police discipline is chaotic and unfair to policemen. Any person can make an allegation against a policeman and policemen can be, and often are, suspended from duty without pay.

Mr. Antony Buck (Colchester) indicated dissent.

Mr. Lewis

That situation has pertained for many years. Perhaps the rule has been altered. Do I see the Minister shaking his head in dissent, too?

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Elystan Morgan)

I was not shaking my head. I will try to deal with this matter later.

Mr. Lewis

I was about to say that this is wrong. I am not against a policeman being suspended—this might be necessary on occasions—but there is an old maxim in the legal profession, which my hon. Friend will know, that a man is innocent until he is proven guilty. If a policeman is suspended he loses one-third of his pay. I suggest that he should not lose any pay whilst on suspension. If a charge is made, and whilst investigations take place, it is fair that a man should be suspended; but it is wrong to stop one-third of his pay during his suspension.

If a policeman is found guilty of misdemeanour, the odds are 1,000 to one that he will be demoted, which is punishment, or, if he is tried before a court and found guilty, the sentence of the court will be carried out. But, as matters stand, he is already sentenced to a salary reduction of one-third before the case is investigated.

I do not believe that there is a sufficient and fair system of investigating allegations against policemen. The police investigate their own colleagues. That is not good for the police who are doing the job or for the man being investigated. Certainly the public suspect that the matter cannot be fair and above board if the police investigate it. I do not see why there should not be a special investigative tribunal or police appeals tribunal, completely free and independent, to which both the police and the public could have the right of appeal. This would be better for the police and for the public. It would give the police the opportunity that other workers have of going to some independent body to have a matter examined.

I do not think that there is anything against the police having trade union representation, which is the right of other workers. Recently, I read that one of the branches or district councils of the Police Federation has asked for an amendment of the Police Act which would give them the right to strike. I am sure that everyone immediately re- volts at the idea of the police striking, but I do not think that they would. However, the opportunity is a wonderful bargaining weapon. After all, the Home Office, or whoever may be the police employer, does not always do things properly.

Why should not the police have the opportunity of the full and complete trade union representation that other employees have? I do not see why that at least should not be given to them. I believe that the chances of their ever having to use it would be limited, because there would not then be dilatoriness on the part of the police authority in reaching a settlement.

There is such a situation at the airport. I will not go into the merits now, because it would not be right. However, I read that the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity left a dinner party and spent the night discussing the matter. Why? Because there was the threat of a stoppage. Without the threat of a stoppage it would probably take 12 to 18 months to settle.

This has happened with the police award. I do not know how many months they have had to wait before getting this rather belated and, I think, inadequate reward. I do not want to mention names, but some people have managed to get a 35 per cent. increase in salary in about 14 months, and the same sort of opportunity should be available to the police.

I often criticise the Home Office, but I pay tribute to it for the grand job that it has done in the provision of mechanical aids and equipment for the police. I was one of the first to raise the question of providing the police with personal intercom sets. These have been provided, but they are not as good as they could or should be, and further improvements should be made.

Does every policeman have a phone in his home? If he does, does the Home Office pay for it? I suggest that every policeman should be on the phone because, unfortunately, due to vandalism and other causes, one often has difficulty in contacting a police station. The Home Office should recompense policemen for the cost of having a phone at home.

There appears to be provision in the Supplementary Estimates for money to be spent on a Press publicity campaign to recruit people for the police force—[Interruption.]—The antics of my hon. Friend reminds me of the occasion when Mr. Gaitskell complained about an interruption, and Mr. Winston Churchill, as he then was, replied that he was looking for his ju-jubes. If my hon. Friend has lost a pound note, I shall help him to look for it, and if we cannot find it I shall give him one out of my own pocket.

I suggest that the police should be their own recruiting agents. They should operate on similar lines to the London Fire Brigade, which is the most marvellous force in the country. When the Fire Brigade wants recruits, it puts on a marvellous display which attracts people and kids from schools in the surounding districts. The police, too, should put on displays to draw attention to what they do. They should get the public, and particularly the children, interested in the various duties which they perform.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

They do.

Mr. Lewis

Yes, but they do not do enough. The police should give lectures at schools. Naturally, they would have to map out their lectures to suit the various age groups. They could, for instance, give lectures on traffic control. Lectures could be given to adults in schools, colleges and universities. There could be educational classes in universities at which the activities of the police could be explained to students and they could be told how they could join the police force.

In making criticisms, I emphasise that they are not made against police personnel but against the system. Too much time is wasted by the police on stupid activities. I recently saw three white Jaguar cars, three motor-cycle police and 10 officers in Palmers Green. The police were sticking labels on cars which had stayed a few minutes over the normal parking time at the road side. In that area parking is permitted from 9 to 5 and no obstruction was caused by the cars. It was a waste of time, effort and energy by all those policemen. A force of older men, or some of 16 or 18 years of age—too young for ordinary police duties—or women, could do that job.

Recently there was a case in which a midwife went into a chemist's shop to obtain an oxygen apparatus for a woman who was in labour. She was in the shop a few minutes and when she came out she found that her car had been towed away to a pound by the police. The policeman who took the car away could surely have realised that as the car had a nurse's badge on it and was outside a chemist's shop, it was likely that a nurse owned it and that she was in the shop. He could have gone in and asked that the car should be removed. That is not the sort of work on which a policeman should be engaged.

I also criticise the administration with reference to licence fees for cars. Hundreds of thousands of pounds are milked from the Revenue by those who deliberately avoid paying Road Fund licences. The force I have suggested could deal with this matter and the money they obtained could be used to help pay for some of the improvements in police forces that I have proposed.

I introduce a personal note. I ask the police to drop the practice of keeping black lists of Members of Parliament and others who they think might cause trouble and bother. I have it on very good authority, from two commanders, two deputy commanders and two chief superintendents of police, that there is a black list at Scotland Yard, and my name is on it. The police could do other things than that. I have the evidence to prove what I say.

Mr. Buck indicated dissent.

Mr. Lewis

If the hon. Gentleman has a word with me privately, I will give enough circumstantial evidence to prove what I say. I have it on the very highest authority. Sometimes Members of Parliament have to make criticisms, not necessarily of the police. My hon. Friend shakes his head, but we sometimes have to criticise the administration, and because of the way we have to frame Questions or make approaches within the rules of order, it looks as though we are criticising the police themselves. One should not then be put on the black list.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

There is no black list.

Mr. Lewis

My hon. Friend says that. I shall use another term. I may not be on the black list, but the police are very niggled at my efforts. Will my hon. Friend check that back? This was told to me by one of the highest authorities in Scotland Yard, and I was told that, because of that, they keep that kind of information at Scotland Yard.

Mr. Elystan Morgan indicated dissent.

Mr. Lewis

I have not time to go into the details now, but I am quite willing to do so. It is relevant to the question of the police and police efforts.

Mr. Buck

The hon. Gentleman has made an allegation of some seriousness. I have never heard of black lists, and I note that the Minister shakes his head and denies that there is such a thing. The hon. Gentleman ought to let us know, if he has any cogent evidence to support what he says.

Mr. Lewis

All right. About two years ago, I was with a commander and a deputy commander of police. One of them said—he called me by my Christian name—"Arthur, one day when you have time, come over to Scotland Yard and have a look at our 'black museum'". Is there such a term?

Mr. Elystan Morgan


Mr. Lewis

All right. I would not have known that if I had not been told.

Mr. Morgan

That is totally different.

Mr. Lewis

I replied that I would one day, and he said, "While you are there, you might ask to see the black list. You are on it". I laughed it off and thought no more about it. A little time later, I was told by a deputy commander of police the same sort of thing. Again, I thought nothing of it. One day, I had a phone call from a correspondent of The Times. He said, "Mr. Lewis, would you agree to meet us and give us a story? We are writing an article for The Times weekly supplement, and we have been in touch with Scotland Yard. They say you are on their black list. You are the one who could give us some information against the police". I replied, "Oh, no. I am not doing that. I am not against the police. I never have been against the police. Where did you get that from?". "Scotland Yard", he said, "Did not you once raise in the House questions about the deputy commissioner of police going along to apologise to Lady Churchill for a drug raid and not apolo- gising to your constituent?" I said, "Yes, I did. Where did you get that from?" "Scotland Yard", he said. I replied that I was entitled to make such criticisms, and he said, "They do not like it very much".

I took no notice. Then, on one occasion, I was coming to the House on a Friday in my car, at about 9 o'clock, to give me plenty of time for the 11 o'clock sitting. I pulled up at some traffic lights as they were about to change to red. I had time to go over, but I did not. I stopped hurriedly, and a Jaguar behind knocked into the back bumper of my car. I got out and went to have a look at the damage, and he moved over. When I got back, the lights had changed again and eventually he was going up the road. So, instead of taking my normal route up Caledonian Road, I went up Camden Road, chasing this chap.

I got caught in a radar trap. I said there were some extenuating circumstances, and the officer gave me the name of a chief superintendent to whom I could appeal. At the House, I reported this to the chief superintendent of police here. He said that since this was my first offence in 35 years, he did not think that there would be much further. But sure enough, they did prosecute, when the superintendent at the station concerned had the appeal. I had already complained at this station about police not having taken action about unlicensed cars outside this same station—Caledonian Road Police Station. The magistrate who heard that case said he was very surprised that it had gone ahead. Because of a technicality—I was not legally represented and wrongly pleaded guilty—I got an absolute discharge on a first offence.

But, about 12 months later, I pulled up outside a bank in central London, in Lordship Lane, Tottenham. I waited for three minutes on a yellow band. A disablement discharge certificate, with my name on it, was fixed to the car. When I came out, a policeman was writing out a ticket. I said, "I have not been here for more than five minutes." He said, "You make the laws, we enforce them. Oh, yes, you are Mr. Lewis—Mr. Arthur Lewis—that's right." He said "Three minutes" and wrote it down. Again I appealed, but again they went ahead.

I could quote a number of such instances. One could say that it is coincidence, but I have discussed this with a number of my police friends, both before the accident and afterwards. They have said, "We believe the police have got it in for you. You must be on their black list." I said, "It appears that way." I hope that the administration—this is not a question of individual policemen—will realise that hon. Members raising matters here do so as Members of Parliament and are not attacking the police.

My objective is a good police force. My only criticism has been this last one, and only then because the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) suggested that I go into details. I would disabuse anyone of the notion that I have ever criticised the police. I have criticised the administration at the Home Office, who are not up to date or doing their best to give the police the opportunity to perform as well as they can. This is the object of this debate.

11.40 p.m.

Mr. Antony Buck (Colchester)

The first task of any Government is the maintenance of law and order, and because the principal instrument in maintaining law and order is the police. I welcome any hon. Member raising issues involving the police.

I thus congratulate the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) on raising this issue and particularly on the tone and constructive character of his speech, possibly with the exception of the last part. I am sure that he will not in all seriousness wish to pursue allegations that there are black lists based on a few minor traffic infringements. I should not like to tell the House the number of parking offences that I have committed over the years, but I do not regard myself as having been victimised because of the number of penalties that I have had to pay for these offences.

The bulk of the hon. Member's speech was contained in the first part. Some of his ideas were fascinating and interesting and I am sure that we shall want a little time to consider what he said. I should like to put in a word of warning about the idea of, as it were, a two-tier police force. As I think the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, there are very great dangers in putting forward such a suggestion. Without wishing to offend my Italian friends, I can mention the situation which exists, or did exist in the past, in Italy where there are I think three types of police. It is said that if one is accused by the stradali—the traffic police—of a traffic offence, one should go to a member of the gendamerie or the carabinieri and seek advice. There is a competitive spirit—or at least, there was—among the types of police, which is not entirely healthy. I was not initially attracted by the hon. Gentleman's idea of a two-tier police force. However, one wishes to give all his ideas very close consideration.

It is right that the House should do everything in its power to support the police who have an increasingly difficult task. First, in this matter of the police and their morale, there is the pay issue. I commend the fact that the Government announced on 26th February an 8½ per cent. interim pay increase for all ranks up to chief inspector. Perhaps the Joint Under-Secretary can tell us what progress has been made with the negotiations for new rates of pay for the senior grades of police officer, for superintendents and chief superintendents. These senior officers are on duty for 24 hours of the day. They bear remarkable responsibilities, and their lives are full of strain. The sooner their claims are dealt with the better.

One understands that an overall two-year agreement is being negotiated and it is expected that it will run from next September for this two-year period. Perhaps we can be informed of the state of progress, and when it is likely that the terms of the long-term settlement will be known. I hope the Under-Secretary will assure us that the two-year agreement will reflect the crying need for incentives for men of ability and ambition. This need was ably analysed in The Times of 30th January this year by Mr. Norman Fowler, who is held in great respect by those of us who follow police matters. He pointed out that the present system is not designed to reward or attract the able and ambitious man—at least, not such men in sufficient numbers. I hope that in the new agreement this fact will be recognised and alterations made.

The by no means satisfactory pay structure is only one of the reasons why police morale is not as high as we should like it to be. The workload is perhaps to be regarded as the main one. The hours of work and the volume of work put on the police, partly because of increased duties that we have imposed in recent years are among the main reasons. Even more important, there is the considerable increase in crime. The latest figures for London show that offences against the person in 1969 were up by 22½ per cent. to a total of 6,800. Offences involving firearms went up by 47 per cent. to a total of 272. In Surrey the chief constable recently reported an overall crime increase last year of 14 per cent. and an increase in wounding offences of 55 per cent.

The increased work represented by these figures inevitably affects police morale. There is also a very great strain imposed by the demonstrations, of an increasingly violent nature, which have taken place over the last year. I fear that we can expect more in the coming 12 months. I do not want to turn this ino a highly conroversial debate, but bearing this background in mind I regard it as absolutely tragic that the Home Secretary should have imposed a ceiling on police recruitment in the past. This is no longer with us, but we lost a chance to get the police force up to strength.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has recently outlined some of the steps which should be taken to try to improve the situation in the police force. In his speech to Conservative lawyers he pointed out the great importance of avoiding the imposition of further administrative burdens on the police by legislation. He also pointed out the need to hasten the civilianisation of the police.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

I know that the hon. Gentleman is reiterating a point made by his right hon. Friend, but does he say that unnecessary legislation has been passed by this House, increasing the burden on the police? If so, will he specify which Acts he has in mind?

Mr. Buck

A large number of burdens have been put on the police force. I cannot specify further at the moment, but they have been plenty of examples given tonight. I see it in the courts all the time. 'Take the new tyre regulations, for instance. The hon. Member for West Ham, North quoted 2,000 regulations relating to vehicle use. I am not utterly convinced and I speak personally here, that it is right to have the police so closely involved with these. What we are looking to is the future. We must avoid imposing further burdens on the police by further administrative action, continue with the civilianisation and see that they do not have to carry out so many routine duties in magistrates' and other courts. Today one often sees in court several police officers on duty even though the case does not involve violence.

We need more experts to help the police, such as accountants to help the Fraud Squad in its tremendously difficult task. I think that I am right in saying that there is not a single accountant on its staff. It calls in accountants to help in individual investigations, but they are very badly needed on its staff. Scientists are needed in greater number to deal with forensic problems. Some of us have been stressing for a considerable time that computers are badly needed. Increasing use is starting to be made of them.

My right hon. Friend also made a point of the need to create within the police force a career, educational and pay structure that reflects the great importance of the police.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Many ex-Servicemen with wonderful records could take over many of the administrative jobs in the police force if there were liaison between the Ministry of Defence and the police force.

Mr. Buck

There is certainly scope there. My constituency is a popular garrison town, to which quite a lot of ex-Servicemen tend to return to live. Some are absorbed in the garrison, some in local firms and some could be used in the police. It is interesting to find the hon. Gentleman in such broad agreement with the lines of policy laid down by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I hope that the Government will start embarking on some of the plans put forward by my right hon. Friend. They have only a very short time left, but if they start on this work we shall be able to finish the job and raise the morale of the police and stop the wastage. That is particularly important.

The points I have mentioned emanate in the main from my right hon. Friend. I also believe that the House should give more of a lead in these matters. We should devote much more time and attention to questions of crime, the maintenance of law and order and police matters. I have had this in mind for quite a time, and with the help of the able Library staff I have calculated that over the last full Parliamentary Session, 1968–69, there were only 14½ hours of parliamentary debate on the whole issue of law and order and police matters in particular. I do not vouch for the absolute accuracy of that figure, because it is difficult going through HANSARD in detail, but that is about the total. Compared with it, the number of hours devoted to Service matters in that period is very striking—42½ hours calculated by the same method.

We are somewhat handicapped in our attempts to give more time to the consideration of law and order and police matters because the relevant principal reports do not come before Parliament until well on into the summer. They are the Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, the Report of the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, the Report of the City Commissioner, and that massive document, the Criminal Statistics, relating to the preceding year. All these most important documents appear in June or July, and we do not debate them. A vast amount of work goes into their compilation—police work in the main, but also work by clerks of court.

I regard it as little short of an insult to the police that Parliament does not consider the matters they put before us. I ask for an assurance that the Under-Secretary will do everything in his power to ensure that this year the first three of the reports I have mentioned will be issued in time for us to have a full-scale debate on the conclusions to be drawn from them.

There is, lastly, the question of the "authorised" establishment of the force. When is it proposed that there should be a consideration of the appropriate establishment of police forces in various parts of the country taking into account the vast increase in crime which has taken place, the increasing burden placed upon the forces because of demonstrations, the increasing burden placed upon them by legislation, and because of population changes? It is some time since there was a reassessment of establishments.

This has been an interesting debate. We shall listen with great care to what the Minister says, because the whole issue of the police is rightly causing people very great concern. It is right that a message should go out from the House tonight that we are wholeheartedly behind the police in their increasingly difficult battle against the crime wave which is still besetting us and the increased difficulties confronting them because of the various factors which I have mentioned.

11.57 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Elystan Morgan)

This has been a brisk and interesting debate. I am deeply grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) for his solicitude concerning the pay, conditions of service and other matters relating to the police. I am deeply grateful to him also for the warm admiration he has expressed for the manner in which the police discharge their duties generally. As my hon. Friend said, he has from time to time in the past been a harsh critic of the police.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

I did not say that. I said that I had been a critic of the administration, not of the police. I have criticised the administration, which is vastly different.

Mr. Morgan

In my short time as a Minister I have had to reply to scores of rather critical Questions that my hon. Friend has tabled against the police. Be that as it may, there is joy in the portals of the Home Office at the repentance of my hon. Friend on this point. I am sorry but not altogether surprised that he has not included the Home Office within the ambit of his generosity.

My hon. Friend has had harsh words to say about the Home Office in relation to the question of pay and hours. He has raised a number of points concerning hours of duty, pay, conditions of service, and pensions, of police forces. On all these matters my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department is required to consult the Police Council for Great Britain before making and laying regulations. Regulations about pensions are additionally subject, as the House will know, to affirmative Resolutions by Parliament.

The Police Council is a statutory body set up under Section 45 of the Police Act, 1964. The Staff Side is composed of representatives of all ranks of the police forces of Great Britain. Before making regulations on matters not specifically allocated to the Police Council by the 1964 Act, my right hon. Friend is required to consult the Police Advisory Board, on which the police associations are represented. The most notable matters dealt with by the Police Advisory Board are discipline, promotion, training, manpower and general operational organisation.

I mention the Police Council and the Police Advisory Board because, between them, they cover the whole spectrum of police activity about which my right hon. Friend has power to make regulations. We hear a lot these days about the participation of workers in management. In the police service, it has existed under statute for many years.

To deal rather more specifically with the question of pay, which has been raised by both my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck), this is, as I have said, a matter which is the subject of negotiation in and review by the Police Council. The last major review made by an outside body was in 1960 by the Royal Commission on the Police, chaired by Sir Henry Willink. Its method of calculating its figures, sometimes called the Willink formula, was not endorsed by either side of the Police Council and, indeed, was not recommended by the Royal Commission as a permanent formula. Nevertheless, the rates of pay recommended were acceptable to both sides and to the Government. Since those rates were fixed, the Police Council has, by agreement, carried out a review of pay every two years.

My hon. Friend asked the reason for that delay. He will be aware that this is a biennial exercise and that the Police Council, in so reviewing pay, uses the index of weekly wages to ensure that movements in pay are comparable with those in outside industry. The interim award of 8½ per cent. of which we have heard was agreed by the Police Council and approved by the Home Secretary because movements of pay in outside employment since the last police pay review were pushing police pay increasingly out of line. This was having adverse effects upon the service. The normal two-year periodical review at 1st September, 1970, will still take place.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

What I tried to ask, although probably not sufficiently clearly, was why the police have to wait two years when Mr. Smith or Mr. Brown in other occupations do not have to wait two years. The civil servants do not. The Chairman of the Horserace Betting Levy Board does not. Members of Parliament have to wait, but almost everyone else can negotiate as and when he chooses. Why should the police find themselves getting out of line by waiting? Let us alter this.

Mr. Morgan

I do not want to go into all the detailed cases involving the friends—and, perhaps, those who are not always friends—of my hon. Friend in this connection, but this is a system which has lasted since 1960 and has broadly been accepted by both sides.

The current rates of basic pay give the youngest constable, on entry at 19 years of age, £900. The older entrant, at the age of 22 or more, gets £1,025. An officer with two years' service and beyond the age of 22 gets £1,150. With six years' service, that rises to £1,340. Rates in London, as the House will be aware, are weighted and are £50 higher. To all these figures there should be added the value of housing benefits which, in terms of taxable income, probably represent to the married man in a less expensive area at least a further £200 and in London two or three times that amount.

As part of the 1968 pay settlement, the Police Council agreed to a reduction of working hours from 42 to 40 per week, such reduction to operate from 1st April, this year. Police Regulation 18 prescribed the normal daily duty as eight hours plus any period for reporting at the start of duty, that is, usually about 10 minutes, but less the 45 minutes refreshment break stipulated in the regulation. Therefore, eight hours means eight hours gross, and a 40-hour week is a five-day week.

From 1st April, normal duty should allow, in addition to public holidays and annual leave, two rest days in each week, but a number of forces are not yet able to grant the full quota of rest days. The regulations provide for time off in lieu of rest days worked, and, if that is not possible, for overtime at the rate of time and a half. The Metropolitan Police regularly work three rest days in each period of four weeks, and of course they are paid for this. Regular overtime, as it has come to be called, therefore supplements pay by about 22½ per cent. on average. It is fair to say that overtime in other forces, in provincial forces, is generally substantially less.

Both my hon. Friend and the hon. Member said that there should be much greater civilianisation, that where it was possible for tasks now carried out by the police to be discharged by civilians, every possible effort should be made to bring that about. Since the end of 1963, the number of civilians, including traffic wardens, employed in the police service, has increased by 16,700.

Much could be said about pensions, but at this late hour I merely draw attention to the fact that the police pension regulations are made by the Secretary of State and are subject to the affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament. They are made after consultations conducted in Committee E of the Police Council for Great Britain on which all the service associations are fully represented, together with the local authorities and the Home Departments for England and Wales, and for Scotland.

This Committee has set up a working party, which is fully representative of all police interests, to examine police pension arrangements in the light of the Government's proposals for earnings-related pensions and to make recommendations. These recommendations will form the basis, therefore, of negotiations in Committee E.

Reviewing the police pension scheme is likely to be a somewhat complicated business, but the Home Department and the working party set up by local authority associations have put to the Staff Side as a basis for discussion their proposals for the main features of a revised pension scheme. A meeting of the Police Council's working party was held on 6th March, when preliminary consideration was given to these proposals.

My hon. Friend mentioned the money spent on recruiting. He suggested that, if salary scales were at that level they should be and conditions were improved, there would be no need to spend hundreds of thousands of £s on recruiting each year. Up to about 20 or 30 years ago, the very security which the police service offered, in circumstances where security did not exist in so many other occupations, was a positive encouragement to people to join. Changed conditions mean that there has been a levelling up in this connection and thus one of the most important attractions has disappeared. Likewise, the very substantial pensions in comparison with other occupations were also a substantial attraction. Looking into the future, that attraction will not be so dominant in comparison with other occupations.

On the other side of the coin, in an age which is given more and more to leisure, the fact that here we have a disciplined force with, inevitably, tied conditions, means that there is a minus factor which limits the attraction more than it may have done in years gone by. Therefore, the basic attractiveness of the police service as a service must be lower now than in previous years. It is against that background that we should look upon the question of general and local advertisement for recruits.

My hon. Friend referred, as he has done before, to the question of deployment. The dispersion of effort in terms of men and money between the prevention and detection of crime and, for example, the regulation of traffic is not amenable to a decision based upon available statistics. It is, moreover, a matter on which the man in the street often has strong views, but more often they are subjective views which may change suddenly as the impact of crime or, alternatively, traffic affects him personally. I am sure that my hon. Friend has found this to be so.

It is, nevertheless, for chief officers of police to decide how to deploy the manpower available to them and they have to do so in general terms of deciding the relative strengths of detective and traffic departments and in particular terms to deal with circumstances or emergencies. No one is in a better position to make this decision than the chief officer of police. He depends upon his experience; he is in a position to look upon the whole scene as a totality and, of course, to a considerable extent, he relies on a professional police interpretation of statistics, which in themselves of course do not provide a decision.

My hon. Friend dealt with setting up a police security force which could, from time to time, be hired to private industry for the protection of bullion in transit. Without dealing with the general merit of such a suggestion, while we have 92,000 police officers in England and Wales, and are below establishment, as the hon. Member for Colchester has pointed out, and with the priorities which have to be enforced in this situation, I am sure my hon. Friend will agree that this is not the time to set up such a force, to be hired out and therefore taken out of the general ambit of the duties which fall to the police force as a whole.

My hon. Friend also mentioned police discipline. He raised the question of suspension without pay, but no police officer is suspended without pay. He receives a suspense allowance of two-thirds of his pay.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

I apologise. I was on the principle of no stoppages.

Mr. Morgan

I appreciate that. The Police Council is considering whether this system should now be amended, but chief officers do not, in any event, lightly suspend their men.

The second point my hon. Friend raised on discipline was whether or not complaints against the police should be investigated by the police themselves. As he is probably already aware, my right hon. Friend has set up a working party to consider whether the system of investigating complaints should be changed, and organisations outside the police are being contacted in this connection. This is a difficult question. On the one hand, there is the general principle of jurisprudence that no man shall be the judge in his own suit, and, on the other, the undeniable fact that it is most difficult for a disciplined force to have an outside body investigating these procedures but not having the expertise or authority to investigate, and above all, the danger that if such an outside body is called on to carry out such an investigation, it will inevitably lead to an undermining of the hierarchy of discipline in that force.

An important point was raised by my hon. Friend about trade union representation. There is a necessity for a fairly strict code of discipline governing the conduct of every policeman on duty and there are also, in police regulations, restrictions on the private life of the police who may not for instance, engage in politics. Some hon. Members may regard that as an advantage. A police officer's place of residence must be approved by his chief constable and he and his immediate family may run a private business only with the chief constable's approval. This is not discipline for its own sake. The aim is to preserve the police officer's absolute impartiality.

There is one other type of restriction: it relates to membership of a trade union. Section 47 of the Police Act, 1964, makes it impossible for a police officer to join a trade union, and nor may the Police Federation be associated with an outside body, as is provided by Section 44 of the Act. Section 53 provides that anyone causing disaffection among the members of the police force or inducing them to withhold their services is guilty of an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment. As my hon. Friend said, there have recently been suggestions that police officers should have the right to withdraw labour. I do not believe that any substantial number of police officers hold this view. We believe that most police officers readily accept this particular restriction, and I am sure that they will continue to do so.

Then there were a number of minor matters which I should prefer to deal with by way of correspondence, if I may, for I appreciate that there is a number of debates to follow this one, but I would like to refer to the whole ragbag of grievances which were raised by my hon. Friend towards the end of his speech. Some of these, the parking ticket cases, dealt with specific occasions. I sent a message to my hon. Friend—yesterday, I think it was—asking him for further and better particulars of any specific matters which would be raised, but I did not get any information, and the House will readily understand that, therefore, I cannot deal with these cases, which are two or three out of very many thousand which the Home Office gets in the course of a year. Indeed, some of them may not have been the subject of specific communication with the Home Office.

Then at the very end of his speech my hon. Friend, on a personal note, maintained that there was a sinister black list kept by the police of people who had made nuisances of themselves, or had in some way embarrassed the police forces. This has been the subject of correspondence between my hon. Friend and the Home Office, the subject of Parliamentary Questions, and, indeed, of oral conversation between my hon. Friend and myself. I reiterate here what I have told him on so many occasions, that no such list at all is kept. As to whether the police may regard him with awe, or whether they may feel niggled or embarrassed in any way, I simply cannot say, but I do give him this most solemn assurance, as far as my information goes—and, indeed, I speak from the certainty of conviction in this matter—that there is no such list, and that his name is not singled out for special attention in any way at all. I doubt very much whether my hon. Friend will feel completely relieved even by such an assurance. All I can do is to quote a German philosopher at the end of the last century who said, the greatest enemy of truth is not falsehood, but conviction. I am afraid that hardly anything I can say can shake my hon. Friend's conviction in the matter.

A number of points were raised by the hon. Member for Colchester. I am afraid that I cannot deal with more than two or three of the main ones at this late hour. He raised the question of a rise for superintendent grades. I can tell him that a rise of 8½ per cent. has been agreed between the police and the Secretary of State and that regulations to implement this change will be brought before the House soon.

Mr. Buck

Am I right in thinking that this is the first time this has been announced? I have not seen or heard it before. Or have I not done enough research?

Mr. Morgan

I am not aware that it has been announced before this. I have not taken part in any such announcement myself.

With regard to final settlement, of course the interim pay award in no way affects the settlement which should have taken place on 1st September of this year. All I can say is that it will take place as soon as humanly possible.

Then the hon. Gentleman mentioned once again the ceiling which was imposed a few years ago upon police recruitment and the "tragic", indeed "disastrous", effect which this had had. May I, with all the partisan meanness I can command, once again quote to him the recruiting figures which were average for the years his party was in office? A net increase of some 1,300 police officers per annum, compared with a net increase for the last five years of some 2,000 police officers per annum. That is eloquent testimony of the improved performance of Labour over the Conservatives in this connection.

Mr. Buck

It is easier to get recruits when there is a high degree of unemployment.

Mr. Morgan

The general conditions relating to recruitment have been more difficult in the last six years than during the 13 years of Tory rule.

The hon. Member for Colchester then referred to the speech made last Monday evening by his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. The part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which was devoted to the question of fighting crime could easily have been a Home Office brief, for all the proposals and ideas in it have constantly been referred to and have been espoused for a long time by Home Office Ministers. For example, on the question of hastening the civilianisation of the police in office and clerical work, traffic control and other spheres, I have told the House that the Government have been responsible for an increase in this respect of 16,700 civilians.

Then we come to the question of giving the police more expert civilian assistance and creating within the force a career, educational and pay structure truly reflecting the policeman's vital and unique rôle in the protection of a modern society. That comment of the right hon. Gentleman was almost like the French gentleman who one day had the shattering revelation that he had been talking prose. I am sure that the truth relating to these matters will come home in an equally spectacular way to the Leader of the Opposition.

We have been exhorted by hon. Gentlemen opposite to make the police force more efficient. I cannot resist, even at this late hour quoting some facts. Under Labour, the resources of manpower, vehicles and communications available to the police have increased enormously. At the end of 1963 there were fewer than 80,000 police officers on the strength. Today there are more than 92,000. At the end of 1963, 17,300 civilians were employed on police work. The figure today is about double that, about 34,000, which represents a total increase in police manpower of 29 per cent. During the same period, the number of vehicles increased from 10,700 to 18,000, an increase of 70 per cent., and the number of pocket radios increased from 500 to 21,000.

The hon. Member for Colchester lamented the fact that during this Session of Parliament only 14½ hours had been devoted to this question—

Mr. Buck

I referred to the last full Session of Parliament.

Mr. Morgan

He said that only 14½ hours had been dedicated to discussing questions of law and order and, if I understood him correctly, to discussing matters relating to the police.

Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)

Why did not the Opposition use a Supply day for such a debate?

Mr. Morgan

My hon. Friend has anticipated my next words. I do not recollect the Opposition requesting one Supply day, or any part of one, for a debate on this important subject.

The question of law and order is a matter of paramount importance. However, I trust that the hon. Member for Colchester will convey to the Leader of the Opposition the feeling of hon. Members in all parts of the House that it should never be flung into the cockpit of politics. It is not a political issue. We are prepared, with great pride, to defend the record of the Government in relation to combating crime. I am certain that no proper indictment can be laid against the Government of any failing or dilatoriness in that connection.