HC Deb 20 July 1972 vol 841 cc934-83


4.35 p.m.

Sir David Renton (Huntingdonshire)

I beg to move Amendment No. 899, in page 128, line 37, leave out Clause 191.

Mr. Speaker

With this Amendment it will be convenient for the House to discuss Amendment No. 254, in page 129, line 34, after 'counties', insert 'or parts thereof'.

Sir D. Renton

The Amendment seeks to leave out Clause 191. That is the Clause, and the only Clause, which deals exclusively with police authorities and police forces. The Amendment stands in the names of myself and three of my right hon. Friends, all four of us having served at some time in the Home Office and being, therefore, by experience, naturally friendly towards the police and anxious to see that legislation which passes through Parliament affecting the police is effective and as good as it should be.

My purpose is to persuade the Government to declare their policy and intentions regarding the effect of the reorganisation of local government upon the police. As I shall show, this reorganisation will have considerable results, some of which have caused anxiety, not only to the Police Federation but also to hon. Members on both sides of the House and to people outside, including members of some police authorities.

Unfortunately, as it stands, the Clause is such a monumental piece of legislation by reference that it is not altogether easy, even if one does not run out of a supply of wet towels for the head, to explain its full meaning. Perhaps it would help if I tried to make this clear. Our thinking in this matter has to start with the Police Act, 1964, a Measure which received the broad support of both sides of the House at the time. That Act provides that the police forces of this country shall become county or county borough police forces, that police authorities shall be committees of county councils or, as then provided, of county borough councils, and that on each police committee one-third of the members should be magistrates and two-thirds should be members of the local authority concerned.

A rather strange position has been reached in that only a minority of police forces in England—I shall speak only of England in this respect; hon. Members who have an interest in Wales will no doubt pursue that—are as of now county or county borough forces, and county borough forces will go. The majority of police forces, and, therefore, of police authorities, in England are what are called combined forces and combined authorities.

The result of the Bill—I do not disagree with it—will be that as soon as the new counties, whether they be metropolitan counties or non-metropolitan counties, have been established, police forces will become co-terminous in area with those counties and the police committees of those counties will become the police authorities.

It has been pointed out very properly by the Police Federation that this will involve changes for at any rate a proportion of members of police forces affected. They are changes which it is suggested may affect their efficiency as well as their morale, will cause family upheaval, problems in regard to the education of the children of police officers and their wives, and may also sometimes affect promotion prospects.

It was with this in mind that the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes) moved his short, simple but ingenious and far-reaching Amendment in Standing Committee. There was an interesting debate confined to that one matter of police areas. The debate ended in a tie and the Amendment was defeated only by the Chairman's casting vote. That same Amendment has been selected for discussion with my Amendment today.

I make it clear that if I had been a member of the Standing Committee I would have voted against that Amendment, because, subject to an over-riding matter to which I shall come later, the Government's policy, so far as I have been able to ascertain it, is so far right.

Meanwhile, however, I return to the anxieties expressed by the hon. Member for Widnes and other hon. Members in Standing Committee, anxieties which we must all respect, about the upheaval in the lives of police officers and their families which yet another change in many cases will bring about. Many of the changes will take place in forces which have already been the subject of amalgamation in recent years. My hon. Friend the previous Minister of State, Home Office acknowledged in Standing Committee that there might be such upheavals. He said this: We are particularly concerned with the police officer who may be on the periphery of the area which is being changed. This is a matter which we are discussing at this moment with the Police Federation. I attach very great importance to this. I am trying to obtain a satisfactory solution for the police officer who finds himself in this position. I think particularly of the police officer who may have served a number of years and who may be thinking of the time when he comes to retire and the last five years which he may have to serve."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D; 6th March, 1972, c. 2298.] Following on that undertaking, the question which I put to my hon. and learned Friend the present Minister of State, Home Office is: what has been the outcome of those discussions? I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will be able to make a statement which will reassure those police officers and their families who may be affected, because in making changes by legislation we should always be anxious to ensure that there is not personal hardship, if it can be avoided, in a public service. The House has a particular duty to observe that principle whenever we are thinking about the future of the police.

4.45 p.m.

I come now to the matter which causes me very great concern. It is a matter in which I fully agree with the Police Federation. I refer to the financial effect of combining the provisions of the Police Act, 1964, with the provisions of the Bill. My hon. and learned Friend will doubtless correct me if my attempt to describe the position is wrong. We reach the strange paradox that combined police authorities, which form the majority of police authorities in England at present, have financial autonomy; they have their own separate budgets, which need only be approved by the Home Office, which provides a grant of 50 per cent. No local authority can say to a combined police authority "You must not spend this" or "We will not let you spend that". On the contrary, combined police authorities can precept upon their constituent councils.

Under the Police Act, 1964, in relation to what are strictly county police forces, or for the time being county borough police forces, there is no such financial autonomy. There is not even, strictly speaking, separate budgeting. When the police authority, being a committee of the county council, has made its estimates, those estimates can be altered, or cut down by either the finance committee of the county council or by the county council itself.

That in itself is unsatisfactory. It is even more unsatisfactory when it is compared with the autonomy of combined police authorities, which are the majority at present.

I greatly hope that, in view of the tremendous importance of ensuring that we have efficient police forces, those who serve on police authorities, be they representatives of the local authority or be they magistrates, can feel with confidence that nobody—except the Home Office, which has always had this right, because it makes a 50 per cent, grant—shall tinker with their estimates.

Some rational examples could be given. It might be said "We cannot afford more police vehicles this time because, if we do, we shall have to cut out that swimming pool which is intended for the public at such-and-such a place. We cannot provide the money, nor make the necessary compulsory purchase order, for the land for building a new police headquarters, because such money as we are prepared to allocate for the purchase of land is needed for other purposes", which the authority might think more important, but I say that there is hardly a more important purpose that is conceivable than the purchase of land for a new police headquarters which the police authority and the Home Office consider necessary.

Therefore, we need to preserve the financial autonomy of police authorities even when they are to become committees of local authorities under the Bill.

In conclusion, I quote what I consider to be the very apt words which are included in a long letter on this matter which was sent to me by the Secretary of the Joint Branch Board of the Police Federation which covers the Mid-Anglia Constabulary, which includes my constituency. It said: We suggest that law and order and the maintenance of an efficient police service should be the joint responsibility of those directly concerned, namely the Home Office and the Police Authority as laid down in the Police Act, 1964 at Sections 4 and 28, and should not be subject to the approval of a third authority.

The secret is that Sections 4 and 28 refer to the financial provisions under combined authorities. Let us have the best of both worlds! By all means let us have local police forces reorganised on the same geographical basis as the reorganisation of local authorities, but let us ensure that the police committees of the councils which will be the police authorities have the financial autonomy which the police authorities of combined authorities have always had and as, in the days before 1964, the standing joint committees, which used to work very well, also had.

It is fair to point out to those who are interested in the history of the matter that the watch committees did not have the same financial autonomy. It seems that when we had trouble with the police it was generally when the police authority was a watch committee, but there was not nearly so much trouble when the police authority was a standing joint committee. Let us learn from this lesson of history!

Mr. Gordon Oakes (Widnes)

I wish to speak with particular reference to Amendment No. 254, in my name and the names of hon. Members on both sides of the House, in page 129, line 34, after 'counties', insert 'or parts thereof'. Unless the Amendment is accepted by the Government I shall ask for a separate vote.

I appreciate what the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) has said, and the concern which he and no fewer than three other right hon. Members opposite, all of whom have intimate, detailed knowledge of the workings of the Home Office and the police force, have expressed at the effect that the Bill will have on police organisation. Their Amendment seeks to delete the Clause from the Bill. It is, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman would agree, an exploratory Amendment. If it were voted upon and carried, it would leave the police in limbo. My Amendment attempts to be constructive. It would allow the Government to maintain the status quo in certain instances. There may be faults with the wording, it may be over-simplified, but if the House accepts the principle I should have no objection to another place or the parliamentary draftsman suggesting better wording.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has made clear the difference between police authorities and the functioning of the police and other local government services. On page 128, under the heading "Miscellaneous functions", we see the Clause is headed "Police". At first sight, that is rather a derogatory way to describe the rôle of one of the most important services to the citizens of this country. But the Government are not attempting to be derogatory, and I do not charge them with that. In a sense they are correct to use the description "Miscellaneous functions".

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has clearly pointed out that the police are no longer wholly or strictly speaking a local government service. Police services are administered almost entirely either by a combined police authority on which there are two-thirds county councillors and one-third magistrates, or, in the biggest police force, London, by a service which is outside local government altogether. The police are not a wholly local government service in the sense that many of the other services which we have been discussing clearly are.

What are the effects of the Bill on our police forces? The Government are insisting on a rigid conformity of police areas being coterminous with the new county boundaries. My Amendment will give the Government an opportunity to introduce a little flexibility in the interests of the police forces and of efficient policing.

Many forces will be grievously affected by the effects of the Bill. The hon. Member for Tyne mouth (Dame Irene Ward), who stayed up late last night and is here again today, is concerned about the effect that the Bill will have on the Northumberland and Durham police forces. The Yorkshire police forces will be severely affected. The Somerset and Avon and the present Bristol forces are seriously affected. The West Midlands police force will virtually go out of existence. Most of all, from my point of view as a Lancashire Member and Lancastrian, what I consider to be the finest police force in the world, the Lancashire police force, which pioneered pocket radios, panda cars and the beat system and has given so many good constructive ideas on efficient policing not only to this country but to the world, will be divided six ways by the effects of the Bill. There will be a tiny rump of a Lancashire police force which has been a proud and efficient force.

Only five years ago, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, there was a major upheaval which the police endured and the Police Federation accepted, and the police authorities got together to make it work, largely because of the policy of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins), the then Home Secretary, and by a lot of co-operation in the areas concerned. In the debate on 9th February, 1967, my right hon. Friend was answering points which were made purely on what would happen when the local government reorganisation was introduced. My right hon. Friend, explaining why he had at that time prior to the report, carried on with the amalgamation of the police forces, said: Had one done nothing, one would have been confronted with a strong demand to go much further and perhaps to take the police away from local government altogether—a result which I would have deplored. I think it right to proceed as quickly as one can with the existing powers. When we get the Report"— that is the local government report— we shall look at the matter again and see whether the areas it recommends broadly speaking accord with police areas of about the number we are suggesting. But I am sure that we do not want to go back to a larger number of police authorities than the 40 or so which will result from my proposals."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1967; Vol. 740, c. 1947.] From that it is quite clear that my right hon. Friend and the House at that time did not expect that when those proposals came before the House a second major upheaval in many of the authorities would take place. That will be the effect on the police forces which I have mentioned.

The Police Federation, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, is seriously concerned about the effect of these proposals. This is the view not only of the forces affected, but of the Federation generally and the joint branch boards even in areas which are not directly affected, because it is most concerned, and rightly so, with the policing of the whole of the country. It is concerned about the effects upon the police, for they could be most serious.

5.0 p.m.

There is a rule—I believe it is Rule 23—which permits a police officer in a force which is to be transferred to stand on his rights and to insist that he is not moved miles away from the area of the force which be joined. It has worked with some limited success, but it has not always worked, because although a man might stand on his rights in a particular area it might mean that he takes that much longer to become a sergeant or an inspector. His promotion prospects are certainly affected by his action, and that is wrong. When a man joins a police force he knows the force he wants to join and he joins it for the geographical area it covers or because he likes that type of police work. It is wrong that a man who chooses the Somerset constabulary because he wants to be a good, efficient, rural policeman should suddenly find himself transferred and patrolling Bristol docks as a result of the Bill. That is the sort of thing that could happen.

We are as a House concerned with the effects of this major reorganisation on the policing of this country. It is a proper matter for concern because there could be serious effects on crime in an area as a result of the upheaval that a second reorganisation could create. The forces have been brought together and have created their own expertise. They have created the task forces and regional crime squads and they know the crime patterns of their individual areas. They have built up their expertise from long experience, they know where the criminals are likely to be found, and the pattern of crime that is likely to emerge in the near future. The war on crime is the serious concern of every hon. Member. It is wrong to break up that expertise and to separate it out among a number of forces. The police work not merely by records and mechanical aids but by human beings doing an extremely good job in the service of the country and using their memories and experience in deciding what is likely to happen. Those individuals will be scattered to the winds as a result of the reorganisation under the Bill.

My Amendment has a simple objective. It would allow the Government to maintain the status quo in a service which is not administered purely as a local government service. I am seeking to give the Government flexibility to allow existing police authorities and police areas, at least for the time being, to remain intact. It is possible for that to happen and for representatives of the new counties to be appointed to existing police authorities. Many forces could therefore remain intact with an enormous benefit and boost to their morale and, more important, it would be of enormous importance and benefit to the public who rely so much upon efficient policing.

I am speaking to the Amendment from the Opposition Front Bench, as a Front Bench spokesman, but I must make clear that it is not an official Opposition Amendment. One hon. Member from the Government benches has his name to it. Many hon. Members voted for the Amendment in Committee when the Division resulted in a tie of 19 votes to 19. I urge hon. Members from all sides who are concerned with the efficient policing of their areas to support the Amendment in the Lobby regardless of which party they belong to. In no way am I moving the Amendment in a party political sense. In this House, thank God, we have always treated the police service as a non-party political matter.

Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)

Both the speeches so far show what a totally non-partisan subject the police forces are. I add my general support to those speeches. It is an error generally to mix up police reorganisation at this stage with local government reorganisation. The report on regional government has yet to be produced. I expect that it will be published some time in the autumn and it may give rise to quite different attitudes. Certainly the Police Federation is in favour of the idea of a regional police force. I do not want to debate that aspect now but it shows that there are issues yet to be decided.

There has already been a major reorganisation of many police forces over the last five or six years and the Amendment spoken to by the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes) seems eminently reasonable. His drafting may not be precise but it gives the Government time to make the correct proposal in the House of Lords and to suggest that there should be a stay of execution on reorganisation. Staffordshire is not affected very much but there is a strong feeling among police officers there that there should be a stay of execution.

In Lancashire, however, and in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne mouth (Dame Irene Ward), there is strong and violent feeling about the matter. This is especially so in Lancashire where there will be a destruction of one of the best police forces in the country. Perhaps it will not be destroyed, but the reorganisation is bound to have an effect upon promotion, housing and all other problems which face the police. In some areas police recruiting is very good. In my part of the country it is excellent. But recruiting is a very delicate matter and in London it is still way behind target.

It is a dangerous precedent that the power of expenditure should be totally in political hands. I hope that the serious advice given to my right hon. and hon. Friends from both sides of the House is pursued and that the matter is re-examined in the House of Lords so that when the Bill returns to the Commons it will have been amended to give the police forces and the Home Office a far freer hand, rather than being tied by the folly of the Bill.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

There are many hon. and right hon. Members who wish to speak in the debate and I shall not speak at great length. My point of view is well known to hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House. As the House is aware, I have the honour to work with the Police Federation as its parliamentary adviser and as successor to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). I think it will be generally agreed that Amendment No. 254 was introduced admirably, as well as very powerfully, by my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes). I congratulate him on the care with which he prepared his submission. He was eminently right to argue that the Amendment is concerned with flexibility. This has been the nub of his case in Standing Committee and on the Floor of the House. It will be recalled that my hon. Friend was most unfortunate not to carry his Amendment in Standing Committee. There was then an equality of votes. The Chairman of the Standing Committee was the hon. Member for South end, East (Sir S. McAdden). In keeping with tradition, the hon. Member for South end, East gave his casting vote against my hon. Friend's Amendment. The House will, however, have noted that the hon. Member for South end, East is now a firm supporter of the Amendment, in fellowship with hon. Members on both sides of the House. If I may say so, there did not appear to be an equality of voices in the Standing Committee. It seemed to me that there were more voices for the Amendment than against. It was, therefore, all the more unfortunate that the Amendment was lost because there was a mere equality of votes. We won the argument and lost the vote.

It is to the great credit of the Police Federation that its case in support of Amendment No. 254 has been argued mainly on grounds of operational efficiency. It is equally to its credit that it has argued its case with one voice. There has been no example of any police force opting out because it is not immediately or directly affected. Men and women in every force, whether they are affected or not, have taken the Federation's view that the matter is one of principle and of national importance.

As we all know, important issues of welfare and morale, as well as other issues, are at stake in this debate. Not the least of these other issues is the deep sense of loyalty shown by police officers to the communities which they now serve.

Another important issue is the lack of meaningful consultation with the Police Federation before the Government made up their minds. This is part of the reason why we heard talk of a bloody-minded police force if the Bill went through unamended. But I must emphasise that operational efficiency has been the Federation's principal concern in all its submissions on the Bill.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins), when he was Home Secretary, sharply reduced the number of police forces in this country. He had the full-hearted support of the Police Federation in so doing. This was because my right hon. Friend argued his case on grounds of operational efficiency. In the public interest he was, therefore, entitled to the support he received from the Federation.

If my right hon. Friend's recent reorganisation was based on operational efficiency, that is not the purpose of the current proposals. Indeed, highly efficient police forces are to be crudely broken up. It would deceive the House if I did not emphasise that this part of the Bill is a source of very deep concern to the Police Federation. The Federation's leaders have never sought to conceal their concern. The Minister of State will readily accept that the Federation's representatives in discussions at the Home Office have emphasised again and again their very deep misgivings on the proposed further reorganisation. The Federation's leaders knew full well that they would have been acting unrepresentatively of their membership if they had tried to conceal their anxieties.

5.15 p.m.

At the recent Eastbourne conference of the Police Federation, Inspector Reg Gale, the much respected national chairman of the Federation, said: We are quite clear regarding the views of our membership from reactions around the country, from a special consultation less than a month ago, and from a debate at this conference. All but two branch boards were represented at the special consultation on reorganisation held at Scotland Yard on 27th April of this year. Inspector Gale went on to say: …it seems that the Government will persist in its attitude to tie the police service operationally to local government areas which have certainly not been defined in the context of police operational efficiency and which, indeed, seem in some instances to work directly against that end. That is a very serious statement to have come from a highly distinguished representative of the police officers of this country.

Why force these changes through at this time, while the Crowther Commission is continuing its studies? What is our position if the Crowther Commission agrees with the Police Federation? Are we then to be subjected to yet a third upheaval?

May I quote some words which are very relevant to this debate? It has been said that it is important for efficiency and good industrial relations that employees should feel that…their views are sought on existing practices and on proposed changes that will affect them. These are not my words. They are not the words of any of my right hon. or hon. Friends. They are not the words of the Police Federation. They come from the Government's own consultative document entitled Code of Industrial Relations Practice. It is wholly wrong that there was no meaningful consultation with the Police Federation before the Government made up their minds to go through with the proposals in this Bill.

There is no need whatever for party animus on this Amendment. I rejoice that hon. Members on both sides of the House have shown the same degree of concern to protect what is efficient and good in the police organisations of today. What hurts the police helps the criminal. For this Amendment to be defeated would hurt police efficiency. If anyone is in any doubt, let him ask the policemen and policewomen of this country. Why on earth should we even contemplate a step that can result in the breaking up of efficient police forces?

In recently enacting my Bill, which is now the Police Act, 1972, the House has acknowledged both the Federation's maturity and the high sense of responsibility of its leadership. The Minister of State is a reasonable man. I urge him to cast his brief aside and to accept Amendment No. 254. If he does so, he will earn the respect of hon. Members on both sides of the House, as well as of police officers throughout the country. There are those on both sides of the House who will thank him warmly if he responds constructively to the plea we are making in this debate. I appeal to all hon. Members to support Amendment No. 254. This is one Amendment that I trust will be decided on the merits of the speeches we have heard in this debate. I ask no more on behalf of the Police Federation.

The House itself is sovereign in this matter. Let us exercise our sovereignty in the public interest and in support of a very find fellowship of men and women who work in the public service of this country.

Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)

I am glad to have had the opportunity to hear the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) in moving the Amendment and the speech of the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes) because, although in the police world, if I may call it that, I have held only the position of magistrate on the Newcastle bench, I have always supported and admired the service rendered by our police force. Having had one reorganisation in Northumberland and Durham, the police in my part of the country, when it was suggested that there should be another reorganisation, were very much opposed to it, and rightly so, in my view.

The position is rather difficult for me because, although I am delighted to have so many Secretaries of State as Members of Parliament in my area, as an ordinary back bencher I am not much helped as a result. In my part of the country we have my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, we have my right hon. and learned Friend who is "Mr. Europe", and we have one of the Under-Secretaries of State for Defence in the person of my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Lord Lambton). Also, I have in my area a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party. In Middlesbrough we have a new Member of Parliament, my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Sutcliffe), who, I am sure, will be a very live and good Member. But the House will realise that in matters of this kind, a bit of knowledge and experience can be very helpful.

I was, therefore, in some difficulty. None of the key people representing the Government in my area, whatever they might say in the Cabinet, was able to talk to me about it. Although they are always awfully nice, I am devoted to them, and, on the whole, they let me say what I want, I could not turn to any of my right hon. and hon. Friends in my area when I wanted to represent the strong views of the Northumberland and Durham police.

However, I thought that matter out and, still having some friends—happily, even after all the years I have been in the House, I still have some friends in the North of England—I got in touch with my lord lieutenant. I said to him "You are a friend of mine. What can I do to help the police?", and he said he would put me in touch with the chairman of the police committee of Northumberland. Again, I was in some difficulty because I represent the county borough of Tynemouth in the House. We had always had an excellent chief constable, but in the original reorganisation he was swept away. So there I was. I got in touch with the chairman of the police committee of Northumberland. I shall not say what he thought, or what that committee thought, of the second reorganisation of our police service proposed by the then Home Secretary.

After a good deal of thought, I decided to ask my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), then Home Secretary, if I could come and talk to him. As always, he was most helpful, most delightful, and we had a very good time together. We had the maps and papers out. I explained that I had every intention to stand up for my police in the Northern area, who did not approve of the new reorganisation.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet assured me, very charmingly, that he would consider everything that I had said, but, he said, "I must have a little time to talk to the local people." Fair enough. Unfortunately, all Secretaries of State, however competent and helpful they are, seem to take a lot of time. My right hon. Friend did not tell me whether the issue which he would be discussing with the local people would relate to this Local Government Bill or would be the matter on which I had made strong representations, that is, the proposed reorganisation of our police force.

Then, unfortunately—very unfortunately, I think—my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet departed from the scene before he had been able to let me know the result of his conversations. However, I wish to put on record how much I appreciate the fact that he wrote to me on 18th July. I do not move in Home Office circles—fortunately for the Home Office, I am sure—and I was very pleased to receive this letter, and I know that our police forces in the North of England will greatly appreciate that at a time of great stress of circumstances my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet wrote to me on this issue.

It is a complicated matter. My right hon. Friend said: As you know, the question as I see it is whether the new counties of Northumberland and Tyneside alone should be combined for police purposes, or whether there should be a combination of the three counties, Northumberland, Tyneside and Durham. Bearing in mind your strong objections…". Here, I must point out that I was not really talking about the Local Government Bill. This was the complication. I was talking about the proposed reorganisation of the police. However, my right hon. Friend went on: Bearing in mind your strong objections to the latter solution, I should be prepared to accept the former"— that was my position— if the local authorities agree. But at present both the Durham and the Northumberland Police Authorities have told me that they wish the existing police areas to be preserved"— which seems to fit in with what the hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) said, as adviser to the Police Federation— and that they hope the Bill will be amended to enable this to be done. Until this amendment has been dealt with, it does not seem right to put to the authorities proposals which would be relevant only if their attempt to have the Bill amended is unsuccessful. The House will see how complicated this matter is for me. I was not involved with the Local Government Bill because I always understood from my right hon. Friend who had been dealing with the Bill that he was not concerned with the police authorities.

I was in a difficult position when I received that letter dated 18th July from my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet. I was not arguing with him about the Local Government Bill. But he had in the meantime arranged to have the situation looked at. This is what he said: Mark Carlisle recently met the Chairman and Clerk of the Durham Police Authority, and tomorrow he is seeing a deputation from Northumberland. The proceedings are taking longer than I would have wished because of an amendment to the Local Government Bill. I understand—and here I speak off the cuff—that the Durham police force is relatively happy with the proposals. In the original reorganisation, to which everyone in the police service in the North objected, the Durham police force was to be included, but that excellent force believes that it will be able to operate quite satisfactorily under the Bill's proposals.

5.30 p.m.

When the Northumberland police force was reorganised, Tynemouth lost its chief constable. Tynemouth has always had an excellent police force and the relations between the public and the police have always been perfect. But Tynemouth is now to become the centre of metropolitan area No. 2, No. 1 being Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I am pleased to be able to say that these two are to have equal status.

I believe that I know what the wishes of the Northumberland police are. and they are certainly not to have what was originally proposed. The Northumberland police want to continue to operate in the same general area. I think that this is what my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet suggested in his letter.

I understand that the Durham police have not made representations, but we do not want to have the Northumberland, Tyneside and Durham forces amalgamated. I have available to me all sorts of grapevines which I do not disclose to Ministers. I have my secrets as they have theirs, and if I cannot see Cabinet papers I do not let them know what I have been told. But I know that the police force in Northumberland does not want the three counties to be combined for police purposes.

I am the only Member able to speak freely on this matter, because Secretaries of State and deputy chairmen of the Conservative Party are not free to speak their minds quite so openly. I have to speak alone in urging that in Northumberland the police want the old county to remain, with the metropolitan area which my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet called Tyneside county, which is very exciting, and the other metropolitan area, so that we have a total area which is easily controllable.

Our chief constable for Northumberland was "the tops", and we were proud of him. We want what the police want. I should not be able to suppot any proposals with which the police disagreed. My stand in this matter is that the police should have the No. 1 priority, and I regard it as most unfortunate that I was unable to reach final agreement with my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet before he left office. The Minister of State, however, met the deputation from Northumberland. I have not seen any of its members since, and the Minister of State has not let me know what he was told, but I have a pretty shrewd idea, knowing the views of the chairman of the police committee about the reorganisation.

In my part of the world people are outspoken, which must be annoying for many people, but we believe that it is far better to state one's feelings clearly. I hope that the Government will not try to force on the police an organisation that the police themselves do not want. I do not know anything about police organisation in the rest of the country, but in my part of the world we have always had a high regard for the police, and on this occasion I am the only voice able to speak up for the police in my area. I hope that the Minister of State will be able to tell me that he is able to accept what I originally suggested to my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet, who was a helpful person in discussions of such matters.

I do not often vote against the Government, but I will do it in a good cause, and I regard this as a matter of great importance. There are sufficient people of standing in the area—councillors, magistrates and so on—who want the police to be content with any proposed reorganisation, and if I have to vote against the Government, I will do so. But now that they have heard my views and have met a deputation, I hope that they will be able to change their minds, and I believe that people ought to change their minds on subjects that matter. I support what the police want, and what the police want will get my vote.

Mr. Michael Cocks (Bristol, South)

The House always admires the independent spirit of the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward). We are always pleased to welcome the Patronage Secretary to our debates, but I hope that he will not slink round among back bench Members opposite and put the muscle on hon. Members who are not so independent minded as the hon. Lady.

In Committee the Minister of State said about the amalgamation of Somerset with Avon: I do not think that that is likely to be a controversial amalgamation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D. 6th March. 1972; c. 2295.] I wish that the Minister had had the opportunity of speaking to some of the policemen in Bristol and of finding out whether it was contentious and of examining some of the correspondence which I have had on this subject. I assure him that, while the Bristol police are unfailingly courteous to everybody, they would have made it plain to him that there are very strong feelings about this matter.

The projected reorganisation in Bristol stems from the butchering of the proud city of Bristol which is to take place as a result of the Bill. It is a further example of a highly efficient service in Bristol being threatened by reorganisation. I must say a few words for the Bristol police because they cannot speak for themselves. We owe it to them to make sure that their view is heard. Their position is summed up in a letter written to me by a constituent who said: The main reason for any person preferring a City to a County Police Force is that one is enabled to set up home in a house and area of one's own choice, knowing that wherever one's duty is, it is possible to live in the same house. There have been many similar representations deploring the possible upheaval of families, with resulting expense.

The effect on morale will be very serious if this reorganisation takes place. If men who want to dedicate their lives to public service are prepared to move around, they can join the Armed Forces. But if a man is prepared to do a stint in the police force, his wishes should be respected.

There has been a substantial local campaign in this matter, led by Alderman Bert Wilcox, a highly respected figure and a former Lord Mayor of Bristol. He made the point that officers who had chosen to work in Bristol might well find themselves posted outside the city if the reorganisation took place. He says: And if they don't want to go it could well affect their promotion prospects". That point has been made by several speakers. I hope that we shall not get the platitudinous claptrap from the Minister that this will not take place, because we all know that people who stand up for their rights and say, "I do not wish to move", often find that they are discriminated against. It is felt that independent officers will be penalised and, not to put too fine a point on it, that those who are prepared to do a bit of creeping and to shift around will get promotion in preference. The Bristol Federation is not happy about this matter. The Chairman of the Bristol Federation said that the proposed merger was viewed "with disquiet".

I appeal to the Minister to give way on the Amendment, which was so ably moved not only today but in Committee, first, on the ground of efficiency, because we have a highly efficient police force in Bristol which understands the problems of an urban area which are quite different from those of the surrounding counties; and, secondly, on the ground of humanity and understanding for people who make many sacrifices by going into this branch of public service.

Should my colleagues on the benches opposite who represent Bristol constituencies join me in the Lobby, I would be more than delighted. They did not support the city of Bristol over the question of the Avon reorganisation. On this occasion I ask them to keep the Bristol police in Bristol and to vote with their feet for the Bristol police.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)

I agree with the hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) and others who have said that we should approach this debate without political animus. I find it easier to do that because I recall that the arguments which he and others who have been arguing the same case as himself have used today resemble the arguments which my colleagues and I used against the proposed creation of the present Lancashire police force in 1967 and 1968.

We said that the police forces with which we were concerned did not want amalgamation. We said that efficiency would suffer. We said, as the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes) has said, that we should not break up the expertise of forces which know their area. We said that there should not be any rigid conformity about the new arrangement. We said that the effect on morale would be bad. We pressed on the then Government precisely the suggestion which the hon. Member for Widnes has pressed today, but it was turned down. I commend to hon. Members the speech of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins), then Home Secretary, on 9th February, 1967, and the reasons which he gave for turning it down. Because of the time, I will not read the relevant passage.

Now hon. Members who are pressing the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Widnes are saying that the police forces which were created as a result of amalgamation a few years ago are very efficient. Their morale does not seem to have suffered. Expertise docs not seem to have been lost. Just as we were wrong in our dire predictions of disaster in those days, I believe that hon. Members who are predicting disaster now may well be wrong, too.

Mr. Oakes

The difference is this. Then we were amalgamating smaller forces into a greater and more efficient whole. Now we are splitting the force in Lanacashire into six parts.

Mr. Blaker

Whether "greater" means more efficient is very much in dispute.

Many of my constituents have had doubts about whether the local government proposals for Lancashire in the Bill are right. But, assuming that we shall have the new Lancashire as embodied in the Bill, I have no doubt that the right solution for the Lancashire police is that they should conform geographically with the new county. I make no criticism of the present chief constable, who is a personal friend of mine—at least so far. I represent part of the town which was the home town of the late Superintendent Gerald Richardson, who represented the finest traditions of the Lancashire police force. I still believe that the old Blackpool police force was even more efficient than the present Lancashire police force. Certainly its crime detection rate was higher. At any rate, it has loyally accepted the changes which were brought about in 1968.

In those days one argument which we pressed on the Labour Government was that the proposed merger of the police forces in Lancashire was premature because there was sitting a Royal Commission on Local Government which would soon report, and we should await the report. The Labour Government turned down that argument, so it is not now open to hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that a further reorganisation would be catastrophic. If that is their view now, they should not have made those reorganisations at that time.

Mr. Denis Howell

(Birmingham, Small Heath): The difference between then and now is that the 1966 reorganisation which was carried out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) had the full support of the Police Federation and its complete co-operation in implementing it, whereas now the Police Federation is totally opposed to a second reorganisation so soon after the first. That is an entirely different situation.

Mr. Blaker

I take it that the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that the police would fail to co-operate in whatever decision this House in its wisdom might take. My own experience at that time was limited to the Blackpool force, and I do not believe that the then move was very popular in Blackpool.

If the plans to make police forces coterminous with the new counties go through, as I believe in general they should, there may be difficulties for individual members of the police forces. As a former member of a public service, I am the last person to belittle the difficulties of officers of the police force and their families, but I have no doubt that arrangements will be made to ensure that the disturbances are as few as possible, and I await with interest what my hon. Friend may have to say about that.

The alternative for Lancashire is to continue with the existing force. That proposal is difficult to support. After local government reform the force, in addition to Lancasire, would have to cover parts of four other counties—Cumbria, Cheshire, the new Manchester metropolitan area and the new Meseryside metropolitan area. That is a bizarre prospect to contemplate. One of the main objects of local government reform is precisely to avoid the continuation of joint bodies which we have had to create piecemeal in the past. According to all the advice I have been able to obtain, joint bodies are less satisfactory in terms of financial and democratic control than would be a new county which would have direct responsibility for its force.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) suggest that we should preserve the financial autonomy of the police authorities and that it is unsatisfactory for the police authority to be responsible to the county. That is a questionable argument. It is tenable only if we say that the police function is different in kind from every other local government function, and I do not think we can go as far as that. I accept that the police function is one of the most important, but the argument involves saying that we have to say that the local authorities we are creating should have control only of the unimportant functions and not of the important ones. Is that why we are re-organising local government? I do not think it is. Local government reorganisation is an uncomfortable process, but one benefit from it is the creaton of authorities which will contain people of sufficient calibre to accept responsibility for financial matters which affect the police as well as other services.

To conclude, the size of the police force of the proposed Lancashire county will certainly be adequate; it will be one of the larger police forces. Our object is to make local government more effective and to create a lasting system. We are not creating a system which will last for a year or two; we are thinking in terms of decades. It would be ridiculous not to make the new Lancashire county responsible for its own force.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Itchen)

The weakness in the argument of the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) is that he starts from the wrong end. In discussing the future reorganisation of the police we should start by asking what is the most efficient police unit, not how the police unit fits into the reorganisation of local government. I have a fairly open mind on this matter, and I shall be interested to hear the Minister prove to us that the new organisation proposed under the Bill will produce a more efficient police force than we have at present. I suspect that this may not be so.

There have been two major reorganisations in a short time. In some places county borough police forces have been amalgamated with the county and then part of the county has been transferred to another county. A man may serve in three different police forces within a period of five years, and this can have an unsettling effect on him.

I am not convinced that the 1967 reorganisation, which I supported much against the wishes of many of my city councillors, has produced a more efficient police force. I am not sure that the replacement of the policeman on the beat by the Panda car has necessarily led to an increase in crime detection. The regionalisation procedures may have helped in the reduction and detection of major crime, but I do not think that the amount of petty theft and housebreaking has decreased or is likely to decrease now that the policeman on the beat has been replaced. Many of us regret the virtual passing of the policeman on his beat. That may be the price we have to pay for increased technology, but I am not sure that it is worth it.

Will the Minister tell us how this second reorganisation will increase police efficiency? I hope that he will not tell us that it is administratively tidy and fits in nicely with the duties of counties; that is irrelevant. The real question is whether it will increase the efficiency of the police. I shall be pleased to support him if he can convince me that it will.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Fergus Montgomery (Brierley Hill)

I wish to refer to the problems of the West Midlands. I feel that since the West Midlands experienced local government reorganisation only in 1966, it is wrong that the area should be disturbed again so soon. This matter has caused great misgivings in the area, and there is particularly strong feeling about the proposals in the Bill to amalgamate the police force of the West Midlands with the police forces of Birmingham and Coventry.

This proposal would mean that the police force there would cover a population of 2,700,000 people, in an area stretching from Wolverhampton to Coventry. It would involve a police force of some 6,000 men. I cannot understand why the Government are going ahead with this policy since it is a complete contradiction of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Police in 1962, which advocated that we should have police forces of between 1,000 and 4,000 serving populations of between 500,000 and 2 million.

At the time of the local government changes in the West Midlands in the 1960s Lord Brooke, the then Home Secretary, said that the Government had looked very carefully at the prospect of merging the West Midlands police force with the forces of Birmingham and Coventry and did not feel that this would make for greater efficiency. The Government then turned down this suggestion. I am curious to know why the present Government have had a change of heart. By creating enormous police forces, we shall be in danger of creating a national police force—a prospect to which I am totally opposed. I do not believe that bigger necessarily means better.

In the new enlarged police force envisaged for the West Midlands metropolitan area there will be a great danger of remoteness between senior officers and the men on the beat. It is essential that the chief constable should attempt to get to know as many of his men as possible. In a very large and densely populated area visits by a chief constable to his subdivisions can surely be only fleeting. This is bound to affect the morale of the police. They will feel that their senior officer is too remote and that they will have no opportunity of getting to know him better and of him getting to know them better.

I was not very impressed by the arguments put forward in Committee by the former Minister of State, the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Sir Richard Sharpies). He then said: One proposal which is made is that in the new West Midlands area one should have two police forces, one for each of its main part. We have considered this suggestion very carefully, both on the grounds of police efficiency and with regard to the principle of the relationship between the local authority, which should be at county level, and the police force which serves it. On both grounds we have come to the definite conclusion that the new West Midland force should not be divided in that way."—(OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 6th March, 1972; c. 2298.] There is surely no point in making such a statement unless it can be proved that it will be better for the area. It is no good saying that the merger is in the interests of efficiency unless facts and figures are given to prove it. It is a complete change of attitude from that adopted by the then Home Secretary, Lord Brooke.

I know that many other hon. Members wish to take part in this debate and I wish to say only this to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle), whom I have known for a long time—indeed we have been great friends over the years. I am completely opposed to the merger of the West Midlands police force with the Birmingham and Coventry forces. It is a move which has been strongly opposed by the West Midlands Police Authority. The hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes) was right to say that this Amendment offers an opportunity to take a more effective line on police authorities. Therefore, I have to say, with great regret, to my hon. and learned Friend that if in his reply he says that the merger is to go ahead, I shall vote against my party tonight.

Mr. Arthur Davidson (Accrington)

In these debates which involve discussion of Home Office circles, as the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) would say, hon. Members whatever their viewpoint come to one conclusion; namely, that the best way to combat crime is to increase the efficiency of the police. This has nothing to do with increasing the power of the police, but everybody would agree that an efficient police force is essential if we are to combat crime effectively.

Here we have a situation in which the Lancashire police force, which is one of the finest and certainly one of the most efficient forces in the world, will now be split—for no other reason than that of administrative tidiness. I feel very strongly about the Lancashire police force because my constituency was chosen to be the pioneer in the beat system. Everybody knows that Lancashire origin- ally agreed to the reorganisation proposed by the then Home Secretary because people felt that efficiency would grow from it, and indeed this has happened. Therefore, the reason they are now opposed to the organisation being mucked about once again is that they know it will not increase efficiency but will be to its detriment.

The Amendment does not ask for anything fantastic. It gives the Government breathing space to allow those forces which have been proved to be efficient to remain in being. It in no way takes away the democratic accountability which the police still want to retain. I do not accept the case put forward by the police just because it happens to come from the Police Federation; indeed, there are many proposals from the Federation which I have spoken against in the past. However, I think that the Federation's case on this matter is quite correct, and has been made out. Therefore, I feel that the Minister of State, who is always referred to as a reasonable man, will show his reasonableness on this occasion. This is a non-party point and I hope he will accept the Amendment.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

I was horrified to learn the full impact of the proposals in the Bill on police forces throughout the country. I was even more horrified at the effect it would have on Lancashire. I was born and brought up in Lancashire and have always taken the keenest interest in the police force. I know that my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State also knows the force well, and I very much hope that on this occasion he will throw away his brief and listen to our arguments.

The hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) said that this debate was mainly about flexibility. I would say that it is not a debate which deals primarily with the question of flexibility, but with the morale, efficiency and career structure of the police force.

When the country faces highly mobile, high speed criminals, the last thing we want to do is to limit the range of operation of our police forces. I believe that now that we have just reached a stage at which the previous reorganisation of our local authority services is beginning to work smoothly, it would be a complete disaster to undo these achievements and to divide our police forces into six parts. I earnestly ask my hon. and learned Friend to reconsider his decision, perhaps for the nation generally, but generally for Lancashire.

Mr. Denis Howell

This has been a fascinating debate on a matter of great concern for the safety of the public and the efficient policing of the country. It has been a debate showing a greater degree of intimate knowledge of the police and their problems than many people suspected that Members of Parliament had. What is more, it has demonstrated the very great concern of hon. Members with those problems.

I hope that the Minister of State has noted that during the entire debate only two hon. Members have been found who support the Government proposal. The geographical spread has been as equally convincing as the political spread in this House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes) made it clear that he was not introducing his Amendment on behalf of the Opposition since it was an all-party Amendment. My hon. Friend was right to make that clear. I must now make it clear that the Opposition embrace the arguments and the principles contained in this all-party Amendment, and we hope that the Minister of State will indicate his willingness to accept it.

What has happened today typifies the impossible premise on which the whole of this Bill has been constructed. We saw it last night when the Government were defeated on an Amendment dealing with refuse disposal. I suspect that we may see it again shortly when we deal with libraries. The Government had the good sense to withdraw their proposals on toxic wastes. But wherever one looks at the powers and functions of local government and examines what is to happen under this Bill, to an increasing number of hon. Members the Government's proposals appear to be a nonsense since they completely undermine the purposes of the Bill. In this day and age local government functions, powers and geographical units cannot be divided up into a two-tier system in the way that the Government propose without producing a nonsense at the end of the day. This is another case where the unitary principle or all-purpose authority is seen to be possibly the most sensible solution.

Those of us who have had anything to do with local government, as I have—indeed, I was a member of a watch committee for a number of years—knowthat the first principle that has to be determined when deciding the future of the police force is the degree of democratic accountability that the force is to have; in other words, should it be based on some form of police authority which is democratically constructed. If the answer to that is in the affirmative which, as far as I can see, is the view of the majority of hon. Members on both sides of the House, the question then is whether the geographical unit of local government in the area in which the police operate forms a convenient sort of authority on which to base the police force itself.

The truth is that neither the present arrangements under which the police operate nor those proposed by the Government are satisfactory. In both cases the local government reorganisation does not produce boundaries of the kind which can produce the size and scope of the police force that is required. I thought that the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) put his finger on the point which I wish to make when he said that a much more sensible long-term solution might be to have a regional police force based on regional government considerations. However, that option is not open to us. This was a point that I made against the Bill on Second Reading. I said that it was quite illogical to be producing a Bill for the reform of local government at a time when the Crowther Committee was sitting and was likely to report shortly that our local government and national public services should be based on regional units since that was the only size that made any sense in modern condtions.

6.15 p.m.

That is one of the most pertinent criticisms that can be made of the present proposals. We regret that that option is not open to us. It is the Government's wish to push ahead with this Bill even though they know that the whole question of regional government will have to be considered. What is more, it increases the suspicions of policemen, who are sensible and intelligent people. We had a reorganisation in 1966. We are now proposing a change. But what happens if in a year or so Crowther says that the whole organisation ought to be changed again since the only system that makes sense is to base the police force on a regional conurbation? We do not know whether the Crowther Committee will say that, but there is evidence to suggest that it will. Regional crime squads have been an important development in attempting to arrest the increase in the amount of crime. It does not take a great deal of foresight to suggest that Crowther will say that as regional crime squads have proved to be a necessity, the same argument should apply to the whole police force. However, that is not for us today, although it is a factor in our thinking in trying to decide what to do about these Amendments.

In my view that fact strengthens materially the argument for leaving matters as they are where they have been changed already and where another change may come shortly. It strengthens the eloquent argument of the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), what the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Montgomery) has just suggested, and the point of view put forward so authoritatively by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris), speaking, as he told us, on behalf of the Police Federation.

The feelings of the police force are understandable. Policemen are human beings. They have families, homes and locations. We should be very loth to add to their housing difficulties and other problems. They are in a disciplined force. If they are obliged to join up to another force making it double or treble the size, they have to work where they are directed in the new area. They will have taken up duty and moved into houses in one part of their present police authority area. They will have placed their children in schools. All that will be disturbed, as might their promotion prospects, if they are obliged to work in another part of the authority area.

I turn to the West Midlands, which I know best. With no disrespect to the arguments that we have heard from Lan- cashire, Yorkshire, Somerset and Northumberland, which are equally strong, the West Midlands highlights the dilemma facing us all about how we can co-ordinate local government boundaries to accord with the task facing the police.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. R. C. Mitchell) put the debate in a nutshell when he said that at the end of the day all that mattered was whether the Government's proposals would work. We all know that the answer to that depends very much on where one thinks the watershed of crime is within a conurbation and whether the police force is equipped to deal with it.

The West Midlands conurbation is widespread. It is much larger than any of the present police authorities, and it will be the same after the Bill has become law and the West Midlands Metropolitan Area has been established. It is a remarkably banana-shaped area, starting at Coventry and embracing Birmingham and some of the Black Country and including Wolverhampton in the south. It is a long, narrow geographical area in the middle of a wide conurbation, so the new area will not embrace the whole conurbation which has to be policed.

The matter was dealt with in Committee on 6th March. I was not present, because I was recovering from an attack of 'flu, but I read the debate with interest. The matter was put rather forcefully by the then Minister of State, who said: All the professional advice which we have is that for efficient policing, a conurbation should be treated as one. We are not treating the West Midlands conurbation as one, and if we do not do that now we shall no do so when the boundary changes are carried through.

The hon. Member for Cannock (Mr. Cormack) interrupted the Minister of State and, I thought, put his finger on the problem when he said: But that is the very point; this is not a conurbation of that sort. It is all very well to have theories and to say that a conurbation ought to be treated in a particular way, but this is different sort of conurbation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 6th March, 1972; c. 2301.] It is not to be equated with London. The hon. Gentleman was right.

We have heard a lot today about the great vote in Committee on that occasion, when it was 19-all. I am sorry that when the vote was taken the hon. Member for Cannock did not find himself able to support the Amendment. It was a matter of great regret that he was not able to support in the Lobby the views which he had expressed in the debate. I notice that he is in a little trouble over that, and I shall not add to his difficulties. I have here a cutting from the Express & Star of 18th July which shows that on this matter feelings in the hon. Gentleman's part of the world are very strong.

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman intends to take part in the debate. I am sorry that he did not have an opportunity to speak before I did. The hon. Gentleman explained that he was "acutely embarrassed", but he had abstained because he was a Parliamentary Private Secretary. That is a new constitutional point which I had not previously appreciated, and I hope that tonight the hon. Gentleman will join the rest of us in the Lobby if we do not get the right answer from the Minister. I trust that he will not feel inhibited about voting against the Government because he is a PPS. This is one of those rare occasions on which we have to stand up and be counted.

I hope that the Minister will accept the reasonable compromise embodied in Amendment No. 254 and will not rely upon the argument on which his predecessor relied in Committee. If the police force and police authorities are to have this reorganisation thrust upon them against their better judgment and against their wishes, the Minister should tell us what will happen if Crowther reports and suggests further changes. I want the Minister to ensure a degree of prominence for the future of the police force.

I doubt whether the Minister can give us an assurance that whatever Crowther says this degree of permanence will remain. That is why he should meet the logic of the situation and leave things as they are until we can take further stock of the position so that when we next make a move in respect of the police force we can give it the degree of permanence which it has a right to expect.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) felt it necessary to say some of the things that he said, and I should like to emphasise that I did what I considered to be right bearing in mind all the circumstances, and bearing in mind, too, that the Amendment in question would not necessarily have achieved the West Midlands' objective that I had in mind. I had that in writing from the then Minister of State.

Mr. Blaker

In the previous Parliament seven Labour Parliamentary Private Secretaries were sacked for voting against their Government.

Mr. Cormack

I thank my hon. Friend for that brief and helpful intervention.

I accept to a large degree, as did my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) in his eloquent introductory speech, the logic of placing local government and police boundaries together but there are certain other considerations which the Minister should take into account.

I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will say something about the financial provisions mentioned by my right lion, and learned Friend. These are important, and I consider the financial autonomy of police authorities to be of fundamental importance. I trust that the Minister will consider, too, whether it would be possible to have a stay of execution at least until Crowther has reported. If that cannot be done, I should like an assurance that there will be no further mergers, amalgamations or changes consequent upon Crowther for at least 10 years, because this is something which the police should not be asked to face again.

I ask the Minister to have further and special talks with the West Midlands police representatives similar to those which he apparently has had during the last few days with people from the North East. The police in the West Midlands have real problems about which they feel deeply, and they should have a further chance to explore them with the Minister.

My especial and over-riding concern is and always has been, with the individual police officer, because a police force is only as strong as the morale of its individual officers, and when they feel that their security, their career prospects, their promotion and such matters are in jeopardy they necessarily feel frustrated and in great difficulty.

I hope that when the Minister replies to the debate he will tell us that the door is not shut and that before the Bill reaches another place further consideration will be given to the vital points that have been raised.

I have a tremendous admiration for the police forces of this country, and I am confident that whatever the outcome of our deliberations today it will rise to the occasion. Those who have predicted disaster or unfortunate repercussions among the officers of the force have been less than fair to them. Their case has been argued persuasively and eloquently, as it should be, but when the die is finally cast, whether this goes through as it is, or whether it goes through with certain alterations, I am confident that the police force will remain a force of which we can all be proud.

Having said that, I again ask the Minister to consider carefully the points which I have tried briefly to make.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. Martin McLaren (Bristol, North-West)

I shall be brief because we have much to do. As a Member for a constituency in one of the larger cities I am concerned with the position of the police in borough forces which may become amalgamated with the surrounding countryside.

Like the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) I have received many letters on this subject from individual police officers. They point out what is common to all borough police men—that they always bargain to complete their whole service within the boundaries of their boroughs. That was the basis on which they joined when they were first recruited. Many of them now in their thirties are buying their houses. They have children at school and do not want to move those children. Their wives have made their friends and formed their associations in clubs and societies.

There are two kinds of people in life. There are the home birds and the nomads, just as there is a distinction in the public service between the Home Civil Service and the Diplomatic Service. The borough police count among the home birds.

It is worth remembering that there is no power to make them serve outside their area while the forces are constituted as they are at present. Even on an amalgamation, they have the security afforded by Regulation 23 of the Police Regulations, 1971, which provides than on an amalgamation a police officer will not be required to carry out duties so far away that he would be obliged to move his home.

I have made inquiries of different sources about the likely effects of amalgamations on moves of home. As I understand it, the difficulty arises with what might be described as a rather small pocket where only a few officers are employed, and if they are amalgamated with a wider territory it may be necessary to ask some of them in the future to move. But in a large city, such as Bristol, with a force of nearly 1,000 men, I hope that I am right in not expecting that there would be any trouble or any compulsory moves. After all, there would still be a requirement of the public service to employ the same number of people in that or in any other city.

I ask my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State for an assurance that, following the enactment of the Bill, there is no intention to diminish or whittle away the protection afforded by Regulation 23 so as to oblige members of police forces to move their homes. In the Clause there is nothing compulsory about any amalgamations. The power to make amalgamation schemes is completely discretionary and permissive. The Clause states: An amalgamation scheme may be approved or made under this Act. There is no compulsion on the passing of the Bill to do anything. I hope that there will be a pause for reflection.

As has been said, it may turn out that regional forces on a wider basis will be the plan for the future. For instance, in my part of the world it may not be the best plan to have a separate force for the new county of Avon, and some police officers suggest that it would be better to have one for Gloucester shire, Avon and Somerset combined. Those are questions which should be and, I know, will be discussed with representatives of the Police Federation. We should take it slowly and carefully and try as best we can to bring the good will and sympathy of individual police officers with us in what eventually is planned to be done.

Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

One of the advantages of being almost the last speaker in a lengthy debate of this kind is that one has a very good idea of what most hon. Members want. On this occasion I shall be brief. The views of the majority of speakers accord with my wishes. I join with most hon. Members on both sides of the House in urging my hon. and learned Friend to support the change recommended in Amendment No. 254. One of the disadvantages of being almost the last speaker, however, is that all the arguments have been made previously, and probably far more efficiently and effectively than I can make them.

Mr. Cormack


Mr. Farr

We shall have to wait and see.

Possibly the House may be interested in a fresh angle on which I can put my case briefly. In Leicestershire we have a very good police force, the Leicestershire and Rutland Constabulary. It has urged me to support Amendment No. 254 and to urge it upon the Minister for this reason. Leicestershire and Rutland Constabulary is not affected greatly, if at all, by the proposals in the present upheaval. But its experience in recent years, between 1966 and 1969, has convinced it that a further upheaval of this nature in other county constabularies would have a further disastrous effect upon efficiency. Perhaps "disastrous" is too strong a term to use, and I do not wish to exaggerate. But there is not a shadow of doubt in the minds of the Leicestershire and Rutland Constabulary, or in my mind, that the violent upheavals the Constabulary suffered between 1966 and 1969 affected its efficiency.

For instance, efficiency is affected where arrangements are transferred from one authority to another near its boundary involving special installations of high risk and great importance, such as prisons and responsibility for security in borstals and certain high-risk establishments of that nature. There was a loss of efficiency, too, because one of the effects of the 1966–69 upheaval was a fallback in recruitment, which led in some areas to the numbers of the police force being below par and to a hesitancy on the part of members of the public to join the police. If a force is below establishment, that leads to a lack of efficiency.

Finally, there is the human angle which has been touched upon during the debate, concerning policemen who live in the fringe areas, married men who, perhaps, have put in 20 years service with their force. They are caused a great deal of anxiety and worry, as are their families. With that sort of concern being experienced in any police force, a certain degree of loss of efficiency occurs.

I strongly urge my hon. and learned Fiend to think again and correctly to assess the views expressed today. I urge him, at the very least, to wait until Crowther reports and preferably to wait another decade so that the police forces have time to settle down within their only recently established boundaries before they have another shaking up.

Mr. John Hannam (Exeter)

Like the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. R. C. Mitchell), I am somewhat undecided on this matter, even after this interesting debate. I have for long felt that, if we are to contain the growth of crime in the provinces and the regions, we must take steps once again to create the coverage given by the man on the beat—the policeman known and respected locally and feared by many of the criminals and vandals who cause so much trouble in society.

If we are to give the police the confidence in their own future and the security of tenure that they need, we must not plunge them into a new series of amalgamations and reorganisations. Some amalgamations have already taken place. In my region, Devon merged with Exeter; then Devon and Exeter merged with Plymouth and Cornwall. The members of the Devon and Cornwall Force, who have experienced the complete upheaval involved in an amalgamation—with new working systems, new promotion structures, new systems of education for their children, and so on—do not wish to see members of forces in other areas subjected to the same difficulties.

If such changes are necessary, our unsurpassable police force should be protected by Regulation 23 of the Police Regulations, 1971, which affords protection to officers who are statutorily transferred to another force. I am not convinced that the police structure should be further altered at present. I would rather see recruitment continue to increase and the man on the beat returned to parishes and communities.

I await with great interest the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State which I hope will help me to decide on this issue.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Mark Carlisle)

The debate began with a speech by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) on the Amendment aimed to delete Clause 191, an Amendment which my right hon. and learned Friend said was of a probing nature. From then onwards the debate has turned on the Amendment propounded by the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes) on the narrower point of the effect of the changes in the boundaries of the police forces as a result of local government reorganisation.

My right hon. and learned Friend, my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), and my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Mr. Cormack) referred to the question of the financial effects of the Bill when enacted. It is true that, as a result of previous amalgamations and of county boroughs having been merged into county forces, most forces are combined forces under the 1964 Act and, therefore, have a police authority with precepting powers. This has come about only as a result of those amalgamations. In the past, in most cases the police authority was a committee of the county or county borough authority.

Sir D. Renton

For the record my hon. and learned Friend must get this right. The standing joint committees which covered all the county forces were not committees of local authorities; they were entirely independent local authorities.

Mr. Carlisle

The standing joint committees were independent police authorities, but the watch committees were committees of local authorities.

I concede at once that in areas which are not to be amalgamated the police authority will be co-terminous with one paying authority, namely, the county for that area. There is no evidence to justify the fear expressed by my right hon. and learned Friend that the result will be that the police authority will be less generous to the police because it will have a more direct responsibility for justifying its expenditure to the council. Just as my right hon. and learned Friend argued the point from the question of expenditure, there are others who equally argue that it is less democratic to have a police authority that is a body corporate, because its expenditure is not controlled by an elected body. As my right hon. and learned Friend said, one-third of the membership of that authority will be magistrates and the other two-thirds will be representatives of the local authority. Therefore, their concern about the expenditure of the ratepayers' money, on the one hand, to be balanced against their responsibility and their interest in the police on the other, is likely to be very similar whether it be a combined authority or a single authority.

6.45 p.m.

If a police authority which is a committee of a council chose to carry a policy of economy to the point that it was affecting the efficiency of the policing of the area, the Home Secretary has responsibilities to ensure that policing is carried out effectively in the area and can take steps such as threatening the refusal of grant. If there were evidence of the type of abuse that my right hon. and learned Friend fears, I should be willing to look at the point. I say again that my overall belief, and that of the Home Office generally, is that those who serve on police authorities are proud of their force and have considerable interest in ensuring that their areas are properly policed.

I, in common with all other right hon. and hon. Members now present, have listened to the whole of the debate on the Amendment propounded by the hon. Member for Widnes. I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) that it has been an interesting and fascinating debate. I have complete sympathy with those who are concerned both in the House and as individual members of police forces who see the force to which they at present belong being broken up and merged with another force. I understand fully the feeling of those officers in existing forces who have a justifiable pride in their present forces and who do not wish them to be altered. This is an understandable and extremely commendable feeling.

It is a matter of pride to the police force that this concern has been expressed not only by those who are directly involved in any changes that occur but also by other members of the force, who although themselves remaining within the force see their force changing in size. As my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) pointed out, this is a feeling that goes so far that those in other forces are concerned that the esprit de corps of other forces may be affected by alterations.

I particularly appreciate the feelings of individual officers in that area of any force which is to be directly affected by the movement of a boundary. I accept that in the short term any change in boundaries is to a degree disruptive and unsettling, whether it is a new senior officer in charge of the area, whether it is different rules and conditions and variations between different forces, or whether it is the very breach of existing loyalties and pride in one's own force. It is worse still, or it may seem more unsettling, for those who went through a similar experience as recently as five or six years ago.

The House must get this matter into perspective. First, for much of the country there is no change in existing boundaries. The boundaries of the vast majority of existing forces, whether they be single county forces or an amalgamation of county forces, will remain the same or nearly the same. The policeman in Devon and Cornwall will still be a member of an identical constabulary of Devon and Cornwall after 1st April, 1974. The policemen in the Thames Valley police force will still be members of the same force. The same position will apply in many parts of the country.

However, where the change does come—and that is the point upon which the hon. Member for Widnes and other hon. Members have concentrated—is in those areas which will be new metropolitan counties. If the Government's view is accepted by the House, new metropolitan police forces will be created. Parts of Lancashire and Cheshire, which the hon. Member for Widnes knows and which I know so well, will become part of Merseyside or Greater Manchester. Areas in the Midlands will become part of the West Midlands, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) said, parts of Durham and Northumberland will come into the new county of Tyneside.

I can only repeat that I appreciate the feelings of the many people who have recently been through a previous amalgamation. The point has been made forcibly that many of them moved from a borough force into a county force and that they did not want to do so. As my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) pointed out, many of them argued strongly against it at the time. They did not welcome the change but to their credit they have settled down in their new forces. They have shown that adaptability of which the police are entitled to be proud, and they now have a pride in the new forces.

There is another side to the picture. If it is agreed, as I believe it is by most hon. Members on both sides of the House, that the police service is to remain a locally based service with connections with local authorities, which I believe to be right and welcome, it is surely logically necessary that the boundaries of police areas should be co-terminous with those of the new counties. We are creating under the Bill police forces based on those counties. To do otherwise would be for the House to say, "Yes, reform local government. We go along with the geographical areas of the new counties and the districts, but for the police service we propose to retain ad hoc boundaries which have no relationship to the new boundaries."

If the House were to retain boundaries which have no relationship to the new boundaries of local government which we are drawing on the map, it must inevitably weaken, if not in the end destroy, the link which exists between the police service and local government, which both sides of the House and the majority of hon. Members support, as did the majority of the Royal Commission on the police.

I take up the point made by the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. R. C. Mitchell) and my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. John Hannam). If the concept of a metropolitan county makes sense for local government purposes, then surely the idea of policing the conurbations and the metropolitan areas also makes sense in terms of police efficiency. If it be the right concept for other services it must surely be so for the police.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

The only trouble with that is that the Government have refused to give us metropolitan county status, which we wanted.

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman, as ever, has an individualistic point of view on any matter. However, I was going to say that in this debate most people have been arguing that they did not want to go into the metropolitan areas. I should also remind the House that the tie-up between the new local government boundaries and the police authorities has the support of local government organisations, such as the County Council Association and the AMC.

For example, I take the area referred to by the Hon. Member for Widnes which is one which I know well, the Greater Manchester area. It cannot be right that we should have a greater Greater Manchester County Council, which is the right size and the right authority for other services, but then argue that large parts of it should be policed from areas not under Manchester but under the existing counties of Lancashire and Cheshire. Referring to my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth, it is easy to say that the existing police authorities do not wish to have a disturbance of the policing of their area. I confirm that that is what they have said to me. However on setting up the new Tyneside County Council, including Tynemouth, one would have to say to the new authority—

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

The hon. and learned Gentleman repeatedly refers to Tyneside.

Mr. Carlisle

I apologise. One would have to say to the new authority, "The Tyne and Wear County Council, unlike the other councils, shall not be a police authority. Although the police is to be a top-tier function, we are excluding that function from your county council." Whatever the authorities may say, I suspect the authority of the new county council would be disturbed if it found that position had occurred.

Dame Irene Ward

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman say on what grounds he made that statement? He may think so, but they would not tell him that.

Mr. Carlisle

What I said to the hon. Lady she asked me to say. The Northumberland and Durham authorities came to me and argued that there should be no Tyneside police authority and that the present situation should be preserved.

Mr. Willey

Tyne and Wear.

Mr. Carlisle

I am only making the point that when the Tyne and Wear authority exists, I am not sure that it would necessarily go along with the view that it alone of all county councils should not have the police function which belongs to other counties.

Dame Irene Ward

We are very independent.

Mr. Carlisle

If we reorganise local government for a generation, then surely the House must weigh the short-term disruption for some members of the police force against the long-term advantage of tying up the police boundaries with those of realistic local government boundaries. It is an advantage in the metropolitan areas that we should have separate police forces.

Regarding police efficiency, on the expert advice available to the Home Office, none of the new county boundaries is unworkable as police boundaries, there is no operational need for a procedure which splits off a part of a county, and no reason why the policing of any new counties should be split between two forces.

7.0 p.m.

Before turning to the Police Federation's approach to this matter, I should like to comment on the Midlands Area. The purpose of Amendment No. 254 is said to be to allow for the continuation of the status quo where that cannot be achieved by amalgamating part of the new county to the existing county. I should point out to my hon. Friends the Members for Brierley Hill (Mr. Montgomery) and Cannock that the passing or otherwise of the Amendment would in no way achieve what they are asking for that area. It would meet the point raised by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath because he suggests that we expand it still further. If I understand the argument aright, my hon. Friends are arguing for the retention of the West Midlands force. That would require a wholly different type of Amendment to the Police Act as it would involve the power to divide counties rather than to provide for amalgamations.

I apologise if I have taken a long time, but it has been a lengthy debate.

Mr. Denis Howell

The hon. and learned Gentleman need not apologise. He is giving a fascinating reply as succinctly as he can. Before he sits down, will he deal with the Crowther Report and the regional police force point?

Mr. Carlisle

I was coming to that. My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), the then Home Secretary, took a clear decision, supported by the whole Government, that the police should remain a local authority service. It follows that we believe that those boundaries should be coterminous with the new county councils which are to be formed. The basis of our argument is that to do otherwise would weaken the relationship which now exists. My right hon. Friend made it clear that we could not accept the Federation's argument for a regional police force. While we can never bind future Governments on matters of policy, the decision that it should be a county service within the boundaries of either one or of amalgamated counties is a clear decision to which we propose to adhere.

Mr. Howell

That is a remarkable statement. The Minister is now saying that the Government will adhere to this proposal whatever the merits of the proposals in the Crowther Report.

Mr. Carlisle

My right hon. Friend made it clear that he could not accept the argument for a regional police force and that we were retaining the police as a local authority function. We cannot bind future Governments, but the decision has been taken on the basis of the Bill.

I turn now to what I call the human problems—the effect on individual policemen and women in areas which are due to be transferred and their concern over the disruption of their housing, schooling for their children, and matters of that nature.

The Home Office would welcome urgent talks with the Police Federation on this matter. The Home Secretary saw the Police Federation twice. The Federation understandably took the view that it was opposed at that stage to the principle of making boundaries coterminous, wished to advance that argument, and therefore wanted to await the final outcome of it before pursuing the effect on the individual officer.

The Government's approach to those talks would be that everything possible must and will be done to avoid and minimise hardship and inconvenience to individual officers. There are various aspects to this problem. There is, for instance, Regulation 23. There are different practices between different forces. There is the matter of the means by which men are to be allocated from their existing forces to the new forces. All these are matters for negotiation and discussion with the various representative organisations. I repeat, we want to discuss those matters urgently with the Police Federation. It is important that individual officers should know as soon as possible where they stand. Certainly we need to reach decisions in principle within a matter of months.

The fact that those discussions have not, for understandable reasons, taken place makes it impossible for me to make a final statement. However, it is clear that where an existing force is to be split, the wishes of individual officers must be ascertained when deciding which new force they will join. It will not be possible in every case to give everybody a free choice as of right, but in general, through discussion with the Police Federation, I expect that a high proportion of the officers in those areas affected will wish to stay in the areas in which they now serve. In the majority of cases, I do not expect any difficulty in meeting individual wishes.

Mr. Alfred Morris

The Police Federation will consider carefully what the Minister of State has said. However, what the Federation is anxiously awaiting is the outcome of this debate. Its most urgent concern is that the Amendment should be carried.

Mr. Carlisle

I have conceded that the Police Federation has understandably taken that view.

I should point out to my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. McLaren) and to the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) that Regulation 23, as it now stands, would protect the interests of those in the position with which they are concerned.

Another matter about which we want to talk to the Federation concerns giving to the county man security similar to that afforded the borough man by Regulation 23. If a man's force area is changed by reason of a local government boundary change or a local government reorganisation, he gains no protection.

We understand that the Police Federation would like the principle behind Regulation 23, of the man from the borough force not being moved from his borough without his consent, to be extended so that no member of any police force could, without his consent, be assigned to duties which made it necessary for him to move his home outside the area of his original force. This is an issue which we would like to discuss in detail. The Federation would certainly find the Home Office sympathetic to the personal problems of its members.

The hon. Member for Bristol, South must realise that the argument he advanced conflicts with the view expressed by other hon. Members that policemen now in the bigger forces do not want them to be reduced again because of the effect on promotional opportunities.

Any reorganisation of boundaries inevitably creates problems. However, there is a principle involved here, of retaining the police as a clearly definable local service with its boundaries coterminous with the new counties. In the belief that that is a necessary and desirable aim which will achieve efficiency as well, I invite the House to reject Amendment No. 254

Sir D. Renton

As the mover of Amendment No. 889, on which the debate was primarily based, may I briefly exercise my right of reply?

My hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State has made out an impressive case for saying that the police areas in future should be co-terminous with the large new county areas. To that extent, he has argued in favour of democracy and can rightly claim to have done so. But I feel in this matter that we can carry democracy a little too far and I was disappointed by his reply with regard to financial control. I hope that between now and the passage of the Bill though another place he will reconsider the matter.

Every speech made on both Amendments has shown a proper concern for the interests of the police. I very much hope that we shall avoid a Division on either of the Amendments because I think that it would perhaps serve the interests of the local authorities and of the police and leave the position more open. I had not expected such a long debate, but had I done so I would still have put the Amendment down, as I am sure my right hon. Friends associated with me would have done. I want Clause 191, and therefore I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 1116, in page 129, line 2, at end insert: '(2A) In subsection (3) of section 8 of the said Act of 1964 (audit of accounts of police authorities) for the words from "and the accounts" to the end of the subsection there shall be substituted the words "shall be treated for the purposes of Part VIII of the Local Government Act 1972 as though it were included among the accounts of the council of that country, and the accounts of every combined police authority shall be audited in such manner as may be prescribed by the amalgamation scheme, and for that purpose an amalgamation scheme may apply, in relation to the accounts of the combined police authority, all or any of the provisions of the said Part VIII relating to accounts and audit, subject to such adaptations and modifications as may be prescribed by the amalgamation scheme." '.—[Mr. Carlisle.]

Amendment proposed: No. 254, in page 129, line 34, after 'counties', insert 'or parts thereof'.—[Mr. Oakes.]

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 141, Noes 168.

Division No. 305. AYES 7.14 p.m.
Allen, Scholefield Grant, George (Morpeth) Padley, Walter
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Paget, R. T.
Atkinson, Norman Hamling, William Palmer, Arthur
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Barnes, Michael Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Pavitt, Laurie
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Heffer, Eric S. Pentland, Norman
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Prescott, John
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton Huckfield, Leslie Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Price, William (Rugby)
Booth, Albert Hughes, Roy (Newport) Probert, Arthur
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Hunter, Adam Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Janner, Greville Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Bradley, Tom John, Brynmor Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Roper, John
Buchan, Norman Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Rose, Paul B.
Cant, R. B. Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Carmichael, Neil Kaufman, Gerald Rowlands, Ted
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Kelley, Richard Sandelson, Neville
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Kinnock, Neil Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Lamond, James Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Cohen, Stanley Lawson, George Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Coleman, Donald Lestor, Miss Joan Small, William
Concannon, J. D. Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Spearing, Nigel
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Spriggs, Leslie
Crawshaw, Richard Mabon, Dr. J.Dickson Stallard, A. W.
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony McBride, Neil Steel, David
Davidson, Arthur McCartney, Hugh Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Mackenzie, Gregor Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Mackie, John Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Deakins, Eric Mackintosh, John P. Taverne, Dick
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)
Dormand, J. D. McNamara, J. Kevin Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Duffy, A. E. P. Marquand, David Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Dunnett, Jack Marshall, Dr. Edmund Torney, Tom
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mayhew, Christopher Wainwright, Edwin
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Miller, Dr. M. S. Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Ellis, Tom Molloy, William Ward, Dame Irene
English, Michael Montgomery, Fergus Wellbeloved, James
Evans, Fred Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) White, James (Glasgow, Follok)
Ewing, Harry Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Whitehead, Phillip
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Murray, Ronald King Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Foot, Michael Oakes, Gordon Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Forrester, John O'Halloran, Michael Winterton, Nicholas
Fraser, John (Norwood) O'Malley, Brian Woof, Robert
Gilbert, Dr. John Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Golding, John Oram, Bert TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gourlay, Harry Orme, Stanley Mr. Joseph Harper and Mr. Ernest Armstrong.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Chichester-Clark, R. Glyn, Dr. Alan
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Goodhew, Victor
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Gower, Raymond
Astor, John Clegg, Walter Green, Alan
Atkins, Humphrey Cockeram, Eric Gummer, Selwyn
Batsford, Brian Cooper, A. E. Hall, John (Wycombe)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Benyon, W. Critchley, Julian Havers, Michael
Berry, Hn. Anthony Crouch, David Hawkins, Paul
Biggs-Davison, John d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen.James Higgins, Terence L.
Blaker, Peter Dean, Paul Hiley, Joseph
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)
Boscawen, Robert Dixon, Piers Hill, James (Southampton, Test)
Bossom, Sir Clive Dykes, Hugh Holt, Miss Mary
Braine, Bernard Eden, Sir John Hordern, Peter
Bray, Ronald Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hornby, Richard
Brinton, Sir Tatton Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Emery, Peter Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Bryan, Paul Eyre, Reginald Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Hunt, John
Buck, Antony Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Hutchison, Michael Clark
Bullus, Sir Eric Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Fortescue, Tim James, David
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn) Fox, Marcus Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Carlisle, Mark Fry, Peter Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Gibson-Watt, David Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Chapman, Sydney Gilmour, Ian(Norfolk,C) Jopling, Michael
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Murton, Oscar Skeet, T. H. H.
Kershaw, Anthony Neave, Airey Speed, Keith
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Spence, John
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Normanton, Tom Stanbrook, Ivor
Kinsey, J. R. Nott, John Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Kirk, Peter Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Stokes, John
Knight, Mrs. Jill Page, Graham (Crosby) Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Knox, David Page, John (Harrow, W.) Sutcliffe, John
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Peel, John Tapsell, Peter
Le Marchant, Spencer Pink, R. Bonner Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Longden, Gilbert Price, David (Eastleigh) Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Luce, R. N. Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Tebbit, Norman
McMaster, Stanley Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Quennell, Miss J. M. Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Tilney, John
Maddan, Martin Redmond, Robert Trew, Peter
Madel, David Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Turton, Rt. Kn. Sir Robin
Mather, Carol Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Meyer, Sir Anthony Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Vickers, Dame Joan
Mills, Peter (Torrington.) Ridsdale, Julian Waddington, David
Miscampbell, Norman Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.) Walters, Dennis
Moate, Roger Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Weatherill, Bernard
Molyneaux, James Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Money, Ernle Scott, Nicholas Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Monks, Mrs. Connie Scott-Hopkins, James Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Sharples, Sir Richard
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Morrison, Charles Sinclair, Sir George Mr. Hamish Gray and Mr. John Stradling Thomas.

Question accordingly negatived.

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