HC Deb 17 April 1975 vol 890 cc637-8
1. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consideration he has given to improving rates of pay of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Roland Moyle)

The rates of pay in the Royal Ulster Constabulary are substantially the same as for all police forces in Great Britain, and are negotiated at the Police Council for the United Kingdom.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Is the Minister aware that for all ranks except that of chief inspector the rates of pay of the Royal Ulster Constabulary are below those of the police in the rest of the United Kingdom? Is he also aware, however, that the reason why the pay is higher is that the RUC does so much rest-day working?

Mr. Moyle

I respectfully disagree with the hon. Gentleman. The salaries negotiated in the Police Council for the United Kingdom are for the whole of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Neave

While I realise that the announced withdrawal of 500 troops may be a routine troop movement, is it not the case that it is necessary to increase recruitment to the RUC if the Army is liable to be phased out at a later date? Will the Minister give an assurance about this and say what progress is being made in recruiting Roman Catholics to the RUC?

Mr. Moyle

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that as the troop levels are reduced the RUC will have to be built up. Recruitment is going well. Since September the force has increased by 137 recruits. They are totally new people. That figure takes account of wastage. We should like to see more RUC members recruited from the Catholic community. We do not keep records of whether RUC members come from the Catholic community or the Protestant community. We appreciate the difficulties which Catholics face.

Mr. Russell Kerr

Is it not impractical that in a situation such as we now find in Northern Ireland these records should not be kept?

Mr. Moyle

We have always taken the view that we should not keep records of this sort. It would be entirely practicable if we wanted to do so, but we have never done so.

Mr. Powell

Will the Government bear in mind that it is the earnings which matter to the men? Following a period in which, owing to the extreme shortage of members of the RUC, there has been a great deal of overtime, overtime has become an established part of earnings, and this must be taken into account as a fact in considering future improvements of the scales.

Mr. Moyle

There is no doubt that the RUC has worked substantial overtime during the period of the emergency. If there were an end to the emergency, that aspect of the matter could be reviewed and would be borne in mind.