HC Deb 11 December 1974 vol 883 cc485-7
1. Miss Harvie Anderson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received a request from the Joint Central Committee of the Scottish Police Federation for an increase in pay and improved conditions; and what action he proposes to take.

2. Mr. Corrie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress is being made in improving police pay; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Harry Ewing)

No approach has been made to my right hon. Friend by the Scottish Police Federation. Police pay and conditions are matters in the first instance for the Police Council for the United Kingdom, and the last settlement took effect at 1st September 1974. The council has since set up a working party, on which my right hon. Friend's Department is represented, to review the structure of police pay. The working party hopes to report by the spring of 1975.

Miss Harvie Anderson

When the working party reports, will the hon. Gentleman remember that police pay in real terms has fallen considerably below a level which can be regarded as acceptable? Does he agree that it is only by working a great amount of overtime that the police are getting a level of remuneration that matches their commitments? In view of the important security aspects now added to their work, and in view of the excellence of their work generally, will the hon. Gentleman bear this well in mind with a view to urgent action being taken?

Mr. Ewing

The right hon. Lady will appreciate that we, for our part, appreciate the efforts made by police throughout Scotland, sometimes in very difficult circumstances, and we recognise the problems that are faced from time to time by them. The matters to which the right hon. Lady referred are matters for the working party at this stage and it would be wise for the House to await the outcome of the working party's report.

Mr. Dempsey

Will my hon. Friend draw the attention of his representatives on the working party to the fact that were not long hours of overtime worked there would be a serious shortage of police in Scotland? As we get only what we pay for, will he ask his representatives to represent strongly that our police officers, who do an excellent job despite most difficult circumstances, should receive an adequate increase for the service they render to the community?

Mr. Ewing

It is most important that we do not pre-empt the work of the working party. No doubt the views that my hon. Friend has expressed will have been taken note of and the working party will be giving consideration to the views that are expressed.

Mr. Corrie

Is the Minister aware that many younger police officers are contemplating taking industrial action because they are so disillusioned with their present pay and conditions? Can something be done urgently about this? I appreciate the answer the Minister just gave, but is he aware that the miners are now asking for a greater pay rise than the average constable on the beat receives in pay at present?

Mr. Ewing

Such supplementary questions do nothing to help the situation in Scotland. When the recent pay award was implemented at 1st September this year, the increases ranged from about 16 per cent. to 23 per cent., with the greatest increases going to those at the bottom of the scale, namely, the younger police constables to whom the hon. Gentleman referred. It does not do any good to refer in terms such as the hon. Gentleman used to the prospect of industrial action.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware that since September there has been an explosion of many industrial wage rates in Scotland. I hope that this will be taken into account by the Minister. He will be aware that the Home Secretary announced a review of the establishments of police forces in England and Wales. Does his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State hope to undertake a review of establishments in Scotland as well?

Mr. Ewing

We noted with interest what the Home Secretary said in Monday's debate. The Scottish Office is presently considering what was said in that debate before reaching any conclusions. I shall not comment on the hon. Gentleman's remark about an explosion in wage rates. We should leave the question of police pay with the review body which has been set up to deal with the matter.

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