HC Deb 25 June 1990 vol 175 cc111-55

10.1 pm

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

I beg to move, That the Police (Amendment) Regulations 1990 (S.I., 1990, No. 401), dated 1st March 1990, a copy of which was laid before this House on 9th March, be revoked.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

With this it will be convenient to discuss the next two motions on the Order Paper: That the Police (Scotland) (Amendment) Regulations 1990 (S.I., 1990, No. 469), dated 4th March 1990, a copy of which was laid before this House on 9th March, be revoked. That the Royal Ulster Constabulary (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 1990 (S.R.(N.I.), 1990, No. 82), dated 26th February 1990, a copy of which was laid before this House on 7th March, be revoked.

Mr. Hattersley

With the agreement of the House, I intend to concentrate almost all of my remarks specifically on our prayer concerning the Police (Amendment) Regulations 1990, as the new regulations affect England and Wales. Others of my right hon. and hon. Friends will, if they catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, refer to the two other sets of regulations covering police arrangements for Scotland and Northern Ireland. In any event, the principle that we are discussing tonight is the same in each of the sets of regulations, and hon. Members who share my view on the way that the principle of this affair has been dealt with will share my view about the unacceptability of each of the three sets of regulations and will wish to vote against them.

I shall deal principally with the position affecting England and Wales, and I shall begin by briefly setting out the background to the sorry story on which the House must pass judgment this afternoon. The story begins with a claim by the Police Federation—I should more properly say, the employee side of the joint negotiating machinery—for an increase in housing allowance. An increase was, in its view, made necessary by the replacement of rates by poll tax, which for most policemen, as is the case with most other members of society, resulted in a substantially higher payment. It is no secret that the Government then advised the employers' side of the joint negotiating machinery—that is, the police committees of England and Wales, meeting together from time to time in London—on how they should respond to the federation's claim.

The Government said that the poll tax was a personal and individual tax and, unlike the rates that it replaced, was not appropriate for reimbursement by employers to employees. The employers—I repeat, basically local authorities, themselves basically short of income—accepted the argument and made a counter-proposal. That was to replace rent allowance with a new housing allowance which would be simply based on a rent calculation containing no element which would compensate what had previously been reimbursement of rates charges. The reimbursement of rates charges was previously part of the rent arrangement and, until then, had been an integral part of the rent allowance.

The employers' proposal would have left most—perhaps all—police officers substantially worse off. Not surprisingly, it was rejected by the Police Federation, which put the claim to arbitration. As is the case with most arbitrations, it was a compromise between two positions. However, it is important to understand that the arbitrators accepted what for the sake of this evening's argument, I shall call "the underlying principle of the poll tax"—that it was regarded as a personal tax, not appropriate for reimbursement. I hope that we shall hear nothing more this evening about the police wishing, and demanding that they particularly, individually, and uniquely should have their poll tax reimbursed when nurses and others do not enjoy that privilege.

The arbitration award said specifically that it was the police officer's individual responsibility to pay what the Government insisted was an individual tax. In consequence, the arbitration award fell far short of the Police Federation's initial claim. However, it was based on the equitable principle that the arbitrators set out in paragraph 49 of the award, which stated: Except for our treatment of the Community Charge"— as some people call the poll tax— we emphasise that nothing that we have proposed is intended to leave the police officers, as viewed generally, either better or worse off than before". Many police officers would regard the phrase except for the incidence of the poll tax as a large exception, but except for the incidence of the poll tax", the arbitrators wished to leave police officers no worse off and no better off than before. To most reasonable people, I am sure that that would sound a reasonable answer.

On that basis, the employers—the local authorities—accepted the arbitration award. The employees—the Police Federation—also accepted the award, despite their strong reservations; they believed that, having asked for arbitration, it was their duty to accept what the arbitrators put to them. I have yet to meet a policeman who regards the award as reasonable, let alone generous, but the employees took the view that, having put the matter to arbitration, they had an obligation in honour to accept what the arbitrators proposed.

However, that was not the Government's view. The Government vetoed the arbitration, despite their professed support for the Edmund-Davies pay formula. As we all know, because this has been repeated in the House almost every year since the Edmund-Davies committee reported 12 years ago, Edmund-Davies explicitly stated that arbitration awards should be overturned only when such arbitrary action was justified on the grounds of the "utmost" or "grave" national emergency. Perhaps the Home Secretary will describe the "utmost" national emergency and the "grave" national emergency that justifies him overturning the arbitration award for the first time, or perhaps he will simply admit that he no longer honours and respects the Edmund-Davies proposal.

Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that, in the unlikely event of a Labour Government being returned, he, as a potential future Home Secretary, will promise now to honour the Edmund-Davies formula?

Mr. Hattersley

I fully accept that, without qualification. Indeed, I have seen the rather silly letter that the Home Secretary sent to Conservative Back Benchers which deals with exactly that point. I propose to come to that in a moment, but so that the hon. Gentleman should not be over-anxious in quoting the Home Secretary's misquotation of me, let me assure him that we would honour the Edmund-Davies formula. Indeed, we set up the Edmund-Davies committee. The Edmund-Davies pay formula is the result of a Labour initiative. I say a third time and I shall say again towards the end of my brief speech that we would certainly honour the Edmund-Davies proposals.

Will the Home Secretary tell us whether he regards the national emergency as so grave that it justifies vetoing the proposal, or is he simply saying that he no longer respects at least that part of the proposal? The veto of the award puts in their proper place all the Conservative platitudes about supporting the police. This is not a policy for cutting crime. Everything that was said about supporting the police was cheap party propaganda, to be abandoned and forgotten when it was convenient. I hope that, as a result of this, at least in future we shall be spared the pretence that the police forces are the property of the Conservative party. That myth was shattered when the Home Secretary visited Scarborough last month.

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

What will the right hon. Gentleman do?

Mr. Hattersley

I shall deal with that. One of the flattering things about the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence)—I use the word "learned" in inverted commas, as one properly should—is that he always intervenes on the assumption that I am soon to be Home Secretary. It is a wholly proper assumption for him to make, and I propose to respond in exactly those terms.

The scheme which the present Home Secretary proposed in place of arbitration has been twice amended since it was originally announced, and it now has four basic elements. Officers presently receiving rent allowance will receive it, but will have it frozen at present levels. New recruits will receive a new housing allowance based on the old rent allowance, but excluding the rate element; thus, it will be considerably smaller than it would have been. The smaller allowance for new recruits will be updated annually on the basis of the retail prices index. When the new recruits' allowance catches up with the level paid to officers already receiving allowance this year, those officers will begin to receive an additional increase calculated on the RPI.

What that means in hard terms can easily be described: it is a substantial immediate loss of earnings for this year's recruits. They will earn substantially less than they would have earned had the Home Secretary not vetoed their award. In Norfolk, they will lose £1,674 a year, in Greater Manchester £1,245, in Surrey £1,109 and in Warwickshire £811 a year.

Officers serving this year whose housing and rent allowance is to be frozen will certainly receive no less money next year than now, but their rent allowance may well be frozen for 10 years or more, until the reduced allowance now being paid to new recruits catches up with what they are presently receiving. Serving officers are to face a decline in the real level of their rent allowance, because the money level is to be frozen for 10 years or more.

That is our first reason for praying against the regulations tonight. The principle that arbitration should be upheld is dear to this side of the House, but related to the principle is the practice. All reasonable people will take exception to the proposition that an employer can arbitrarily tell his employees that over the next 10 years they are, in effect, to receive a reduction in the pay which they legitimately expected and which was granted to them according to their terms and conditions of service.

Mrs. Edwina Currie (Derbyshire, South)

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain to me how I can justify to my Derbyshire constituents that police officers receive £4,800 in rent allowance tax-free, which is over £90 a week, when many of my constituents do not even get that in total salary before tax?

Mr. Hattersley

The hon. Lady may not find the argument particularly attractive, but the way to justify it is to say that she believes in keeping her promises. This is an arrangement between the Government and the police, and until the Government want to negotiate another arrangement, it is dishonourable for them arbitrarily to abandon the existing one. The hon. Lady will find that her constituents are greatly more attracted to the idea of the Government keeping their promises than she believes, and she will find my case proven at the next general election.

Our second objection is that, as a result of the Home Secretary's action, many thousands of police officers will receive less than it was reasonable for them to expect and which was specified for them under the Edmund-Davies formula. When the Home Secretary speaks, he will doubtless say again that no serving officer will be worse off next year, and that is true. But the year after next, and for year after year subsequently, while the new recruits' rent allowance catches up with the level enjoyed by serving officers, those officers' real level of rent allowance will be cut.

Our third objection is the effect that it must have and will have on police morale, to a disastrous extent. There was never a time when a boost to the morale of the police force was more necessary than now. Policemen say openly and frankly that their morale has been damaged by the Government's privatisation of police services—by the use of private security services in areas that the police believe are proper only for them to deal with.

Police morale has been damaged also by a shortage of manpower, the facts of which are constantly obscured. Figures announced in one White Paper are repeated the following year as if they were new. No allowance is ever made for the reduction in police hours that comes from a reduction in overtime—although that reduction is often made to finance extra recruits. Most important of all, the number of new recruits is never compared with the extra duties now imposed on policemen.

Police officers are now required to perform tasks on the beat and in the station which would have been unthinkable before the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. In the judgment of chief officers and members of the Police Federation, the police are more overstretched today than in 1980. Add to that the fact that, according to all informed predictions, we are about to see an unprecedented rise in crime rates to record levels, and this is clearly a lunatic time to assault police morale, yet that is exactly what the Government are doing. The intriguing question is why they are doing it.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

Given the history of many Labour local authorities, from which the right hon. Gentleman might quite properly wish to dissociate himself, of doing all they can to undermine their local police services, is he saying that he is setting forth among his other commitments one to increase the size of the police force? If so, by how much does he wish to increase its size, and what will it cost?

Mr. Hattersley

Of course I am setting forth that commitment. There are vast amounts of money to be saved in the Home Secretary's budget in the area in which it is most profligately spent, in sending to prison men and women who should not be sent there and who could be punished outside prison in ways better for the community and much cheaper for the Exchequer.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Waddington)


Mr. Hattersley

The Home Secretary is about to intervene—I shall gladly give way—to say that he published a White Paper on punishment by sentencing in the community. When he does that, I shall welcome a sinner come late to repentance, because he is adopting a policy which the Opposition have been advocating for 10 years.

Mr. Waddington

The right hon. Gentleman does not lack cheek. He waits until we publish a White Paper which advises more punishment in the community, and he then gets to his feet and pretends that it is Labour policy, when, throughout the whole time that it was in office, Labour carried out entirely contrary policies. I have never heard such nonsense in all my life.

Mr. Hattersley

With respect, the Home Secretary is a little confused about the facts. As the police know, if he does not, we published a document on that issue three months before he did and—what is more important—we have been advocating that policy for 10 years longer than he has.

Before I deal with my next point, I wish to answer the matter raised by the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) about Labour local authorities. There was a time when we were accused of failing to support neighbourhood watch schemes. At present, Labour local authorities are virtually unanimous in their support of neighbourhood watch. I notice the chairman of Crime Concern nodding in his place on the Tory Back Benches. No doubt he will nod again, as he is nodding now, when I say that the problem with neighbourhood watch now—as he has identified—is that the Government are not providing enough money to enable it to be extended and improved.

I want to return to the subject of police morale, because all informed predictions suggest that we are about to see an unprecedented rise in the crime rate. It is impossible to imagine a worse moment to strike such a severe blow at poice morale. Once again, I ask why the Government choose to do so at this time.

A reason of sorts was given by the Home Secretary in a letter which he sent to Tory Back Benchers—I am not sure whether he sent it to all Back Benchers or to hand-picked Back Benchers—on 19 June.

Mr. Marlow

He did not send one to me.

Mr. Hattersley

Well, no one would choose the hon. Member.

The letter included the following sentence, saying that the Home Secretary

could not accept a recommendation which would have meant rent allowances continuing to rise at a rate which bore no relationship whatsoever to the actual cost of running a home. What the Home Secretary did not tell his colleagues, and what the letter did not say, was that the independent arbitrators, picked in part by the Home Secretary for their independence and wisdom, had made an exact and specific judgment on whether housing and rents allowance was rising at an unacceptable speed. They said:

We were given no compelling evidence that the level of rent allowance is out of control. The level is fixed by established criteria and, whilst it is not suggested that these should not, from time to time, be reviewed, those currently in use appear to confirm the logic of previous accepted criteria. No evidence that the rise was running out of control was given, which is the excuse provided by the Home Secretary, in the hope that a few more supine Back Benchers would go into his Lobby this evening. The Home Secretary knew, as he has always known, how weak his case for vetoing the award is. Indeed, I give him credit, as a blunt, practical man, that, had he been in charge when the award was veteod, it would have gone ahead. The poisoned chalice has been passed to him and, if I may scandalously mix my metaphors, he must defend it as best he can. That is why he made two extraordinary sets of wholly cosmetic adjustments to the original awards.

I shall take one example from each group. The first adjustments were made on 15 March—the day of the police national rally in Preston. It belatedly agreed to the re-evaluation of those rent allowances—about half the total—which were due for bi-annual review this year, but for which no review was to be allowed. As the meeting was taking place in Preston, the Home Secretary belatedly agreed to a re-evaluation being carried out, but only on the basis of the retail prices index, and not, as is usually the case, on housing costs. Thus, he left many thousands of police officers disadvantaged as compared with other officers.

Last week he made a series of adjustments, which were even more bizarre and wholly cosmetic. One was the announcement that, if one officer was married to another officer and one of them took unpaid maternity leave, the officer who remained at work would no longer receive only half rent allowance but would receive the whole rent allowance. Of course, the officer who remained at work would have qualified for the whole allowance anyway, since the other officer was no longer being paid by the police service, and did not qualify for any rent allowance. The Home Secretary should be driven into—[Interruption.]

Mr. Waddington

Opposition Members may think that these are funny matters, but all three of them arrived on my desk as a result of representations made by the Police Federation. Surely I am entitled to some credit for listening to their concerns and for trying to do something about them.

Mr. Hattersley

I make no secret of the fact that my party consults the Police Federation. The proposal was described to me at 3 o'clock this afternoon by the Police Federation as absurd. If, however, the Home Secretary wants to apply his fine and clear mind to the logic of promising to pay somebody something to which they are already entitled, we shall be delighted to hear his explanation.

No one who considers these matters can doubt that these cosmetic changes reflect the absurdity of the position in which the Home Secretary finds himself. Therefore, I want to suggest to him how he could get himself out of the mess—a mess so obvious, even to him, that the Government have run away from debating the subject for the last four months. The prayer should have been debated soon after the regulations were laid. It is a scandal—a legitimate scandal, in terms of the House of Commons' rules, but a scandal nevertheless—that we are debating the regulations months after they came into operation.

I have no doubt that the Home Secretary thinks that, by playing for time, he has sapped the resolve of some of his Back Benchers who at one time intended to vote against him this evening. As the night wears on, we shall see the sort of metal they are made of. The fact that the Home Secretary has—I repeat—run away from the debate for four months suggests that he at least is beginning to understand the problems that he faces. I hope that he has the grace to welcome some advice about how to get out of them.

First, the right hon. and learned Gentleman should honour the arbitration. That is the basic principle of good industrial relations—certainly for a Government who prefer compromise to consultation and for a Government who understand the special position of the police force, which is unable, quite rightly, to take sterner action in its own interests. Secondly, when the Home Secretary has honoured the arbitration, he should think about the long term. If he agrees, as I do, specifically and explicitly with the arbitrators who say that police pay contains too many anomalies and inconsistencies, he should set out to negotiate—I emphasise, negotiate—a new deal with the Police Federation.

In his letter to Tory Back Benchers, the Home Secretary was kind enough to quote part of my speech to the Police Federation conference. Working from the written text, he correctly quoted the following words: The time has come for a general re-examination of the structure of wages within your service. Then there was a line of dots in the Home Secretary's text. He then quoted me as saying: If the structure of police pay is to be changed, it must be changed by negotiation. That is my view and opinion. However, the Home Secretary then thought it right to put his own gloss on my view and opinion. He said:

Labour have not bound themselves to honour the Edmund-Davies formula. Some of the Home Secretary's Back Benchers fell for that sentence. Even on the evidence that the Home Secretary quoted, that is a strange proposition. Since the Labour party is committed to a negotiated settlement, the proposition assumes that the Police Federation would be prepared to negotiate away Edmund-Davies, which is unlikely. Moreover, there was an addition to my speech that the Home Secretary will be pleased to hear when I send him the tape recording of what I said. It was added because I was advised on the morning that I made the speech that Some malicious idiot might try to interpret your offer as something different from Edmund-Davies. I do not know to whom that referred, but I thought it right to insert the words

Of course, until the negotiations are completed, Edmund-Davies will be honoured. The truth of the matter is that Edmund-Davies is not being honoured now by the Government. Edmund-Davies is inherently a proposition on wages and conditions, and conditions relate to housing and rent allowance. The arbitrators said in their award that, if the Government interfered with the proposition on housing and rent allowance, they would be disturbing the pattern of the Edmund-Davies formula. The Government have certainly done that.

I repeat to the Home Secretary that it is bad not only for the individual police officers who will lose over the years but for the country because of the effect that it will have on police morale. Police morale will suffer not only because the officers will lose money but because the arbitrary, unthinking way in which it was done will convince them that the Government are prepared to sacrifice their interests for a comparatively small amount of money.

Many hon. Members will stand up for their interests tonight. Some of them will be Conservative Members and the police will be comforted by that, but I believe that they will be more comforted to know that, sooner or later, they will get the pay award that they deserve.

10.30 pm
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Waddington)

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparbrook (Mr. Hattersley) has constructed his case on an entirely false basis, as will become clear to him after the first few minutes of my speech.

First, I remind the House that we are debating three separate sets of amending regulations relating to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively. The arrangements for payment of rent or housing allowance have long been due for an overhaul. Rent allowance was intended to place officers who live in their own homes on a broadly equal footing with those who live in a police house or quarters, but there has long ceased to be a credible relationship between the two.

Much has been made by the right hon. Gentleman of the decision to set aside certain conclusions of the police arbitration tribunal. There were, however, very strong, grounds for doing that, as I shall explain—[Interruption.] If the right hon. Gentleman and other Opposition Members will listen, they will learn something which they obviously do not yet know.

In any case I must make it clear that the tribunal is there to enable the two sides of the police negotiating board to arrive at recommendations when negotiations break down. These recommendations are then put to me and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. But tribunal recommendations are not binding on the Secretaries of State, as is absolutely clear from the Police Negotiating Act 1980. If the right hon. Gentleman would do me the courtesy in future of reading the legislation before he makes his speech, he would know that is the case.

Mr. Hattersley

I am not suggesting for a moment that the Home Secretary behaved illegally. Had he behaved illegally, we should have pursued him in a different fashion. I am suggesting that he behaved wrongly. That is the case that he has to answer rather than some spurious suggestion as to whether he behaved within the law. We took that for granted.

Mr. Waddington

That is the usual waffle we hear from the right hon. Gentleman. The Police Negotiating Act 1980 went through the House long after Edmund-Davies. If he looks carefully at the Police Negotiating Act, he will see that the function of the police arbitration tribunal is to try to reconcile the two sides on the police negotiating board, but when eventually a recommendation is made to me, it is for the Secretaries of State to decide whether to accept those recommendations. That has been so since Edmund-Davies reported, as the right hon. Gentleman must know full well. It is therefore complete balderdash to speak of a breach of an agreement with the police, because no agreement is involved. The award that was made by Edmund-Davies was finally implemented by the Government, and the 1980 Act reaffirmed that eventually it is for the Secretaries of State to decide whether to accept an arbitration decision.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

If the Home Secretary is right that it is complete balderdash, will he explain why level-headed members of the police force in Scotland are so angry about what has happened? Why should they be so angry if it is complete balderdash?

Mr. Waddington

I am addressing my remarks to the suggestion by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook that an arbitration decision by the police arbitration tribunal is binding on the Government.

Mr. Hattersley

In honour, if not in law.

Mr. Waddington

In honour, if not in law; that is what the right hon. Gentleman says. I do not suggest for a moment that if a person who is receiving a large allowance is told that it will not be increased year after year he will not be unhappy; of course he will.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray)

Does the Home Secretary accept that we are talking not merely about new recruits but about existing members of the force being severely affected by the regulations? Does he also agree that because police forces do not resort to industrial action they have always relied on the arbitration service to reach an appropriate deal? Does he feel no moral responsibility to members of the police forces?

Mr. Waddington

If the hon. Lady will let me get on with my speech, she will find that we have made special provisions for existing officers. The original provisions made for them were made more generous as a result of representations by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) and the Police Federation. We must make our own decisions on these matters, on the merits of the recommendations, regardless of whether they are made after recourse to arbitration.

Every four or five years, police pay and allowances are reviewed by the police negotiating board, and they were so reviewed in 1988. After a reference to the tribunal by the official side and an award subject to further negotiations in the board on a variety of detailed matters, things moved slowly and further recourse to the tribunal seemed likely.

Meanwhile, the then Secretaries of State were worried that any outcome based on the tribunal's award was likely to give rise to problems, and it seemed wrong that the two sides of the police negotiating board should continue to talk without being made aware of those difficulties. Therefore, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd), who was then Home Secretary, wrote to the independent chairman of the police negotiating board on 23 October last year, pointing out, among other things, the difficulty of a formula that involved reimbursement of rates, when they no longer existed, and giving notice to the board that the Secretaries of State could not commit themselves to meeting the recommendations of the board solely because they were supported by an award of the police arbitration tribunal.

Last autumn, my predecessor made it abundantly plain that it would be very difficult to achieve a formula which resulted in rent allowance being paid on the basis that rates, which were no longer payable, should be included in the total which was then divided into rent allowance.

Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield)

That has nothing to do with it.

Mr. Waddington

The hon. Gentleman should know—I am sure that he does—that that was the reasoning of the police negotiating board.

Despite the letter, the negotiations proceeded on their original basis. Disagreements about the remaining issues were resolved by a further application to the tribunal in November, and as a result of this second major award by the tribunal a police negotiating board agreement was finally delivered to the Secretaries of State on 20 December. On 4 January, the board was informed that the agreement was unacceptable to me and was asked to comment on draft regulations incorporating what we believed to be the right approach.

On 17 January, I met the chairman and secretary of the staff side together with my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and, as a result of representations made, I agreed to make major changes. But there were certain key recommendations of the board which I could not possibly accept. For example, the old allowance was based on the supposed open market rent of a typical police house plus rates, and I could not possibly agree that into the pool out of which the new allowance was to be paid should go an amount to cover rates when they no longer existed; nor could I accept the recommendation that police officers in police houses should receive the new allowance and pay rent.

The payment of rent would have meant giving the occupants the right to buy, and police houses are badly needed—[Laughter.] I do not see what is particularly funny about that. It would not have been wise of a Secretary of State to accept a recommendation by the police negotiating board which would have resulted in people in police houses paying rent having the right to buy and therefore the stock of police houses gradually diminishing. [Laughter.]

I assume from the hilarity that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook agrees that that would have been absurd. If so, where does his argument that one must accept all the decisions of the arbitration tribunal stand? It is as plain as a pikestaff that the right hon. Gentleman recognises that that is one recommendation of the arbitration tribunal that could not possibly have been accepted by any responsible Secretary of State.

Moreover, serious difficulties could have been caused to individual officers in the not unlikely event in some areas that the rent they were charged would exceed the new allowance. Some officers would almost certainly have lost heavily.

The new allowance, still based on what is assessed to be the open market rent of a typical police house now in a particular force area, will have to be revalued from time to time, and the board proposed that it should be increased every two years by a combination of two indices. The first was the index of regional house price movements compiled by the Building Societies Association. The second was the housing element of the retail prices index. The logic of basing an index on house prices, which represent a potential capital gain to the house owner, is, to say the least, highly questionable. Such an index would almost certainly lead to steep increases over time and a return to the craziness of the old system from which most people would say we had to escape. It led to completely bizarre increases, which the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook has not faced up to, such as the 57.5 per cent. increase for the Metropolitan police in 1989 and 67.2 per cent. for Warwickshire in 1989—in other words, the increases did not bear the slightest relationship to the true increase in the housing costs of the officers concerned and their absurdity could not possibly be justified on the basis that they were necessary to maintain recruitment.

Ms. Dawn Primarolo (Bristol, South)

Who authorised the increase for the Metropolitan police of 57.5 per cent?

Mr. Waddington

The amount awarded to the Metropolitan police was the amount calculated on the regulations approved by the House. The new allowance will therefore be increased every two years in line with movements in the general index of retail prices, an index which, of course, includes mortgage repayment costs.

There is then an odd thing called the compensatory grant—the repayment by the police authority of tax paid on rent allowance—which is a considerable benefit in itself. Here the tribunal came up with a very strange suggestion. It wanted everyone to lose compensatory grant from now, those in service before 1 April and new recruits alike, but recommended that the money saved as a result should be used to make part of the new rent allowance pensionable. It seemed to us that it would be difficult to devise any fair or logical scheme on those lines, and in any event police pension arrangements are already generous and it is difficult to see any justification for further improvement in them.

Therefore we decided that serving officers should keep the compensatory grant as part of crucial transitional provisions to protect them. In short, those officers receiving rent allowance on 31 March will continue to receive the same level of allowance, including the rates element, despite no rates being payable by them. They will continue to be paid compensatory grant until the new housing allowance, which as I have said is based on the rent of a typical police house in the force area uprated by the RPI, reaches the same level.

Mr. Marlow

It has been explained to me, although I do not know whether the explanation was accurate, that some police forces had their rent allowances uprated last year according to housing costs and other forces are having the rent allowances uprated this year according to the RPI. It is suggested that similar police forces in similar parts of the country with similar housing costs are getting different allowances. Is that correct? If it is, how does my right hon. and learned Friend justify it?

Mr. Waddington

I shall come to that in a moment. I can tell my hon. Friend now that rent allowance always differed from force to force because it was based on different housing costs in the sense that it was based on the typical value of a police house in one area compared with another. Some police forces have always had their rent allowances updated in an even year while some have had them updated in an odd year. Simply as a result of that, representations were made to me by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and Police Federation officers. As a result of their representations I made an important concession. Perhaps my hon. Friend will bear with me and I shall deal with that.

Mr. Hattersley

May we have the point raised by the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) cleared up? As he said, the uprating is done on a different basis from the previous uprating, thus leaving, let us say, Thames Valley and the Metropolitan police unequal in that one force does not benefit to the same degree as the other. That is a simple fact and I do not understand why the Home Secretary does not agree with his hon. Friend.

Mr. Waddington

That was always the case and if the right hon. Gentleman had been listening he would have heard me say that. Housing allowances and costs differ from area to area. If one takes a 10-year period for one force and compares it with a 10-year period for another, one will find that sometimes the even-year force does better and sometimes the odd-year force does better.

Mr. Marlow

May I put my point again? Is it possible that in two areas where housing costs are the same or similar the rent allowances now available to police forces are different?

Mr. Waddington

Under the existing system, the allowance differs according to housing costs. Under the new system it will differ in the same way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] I am answering the question. The only difficulty arises because 33 forces are updated in an even year and 20 are reviewed in an odd year.

When I announced my proposals in January I received representations from colleagues about the alleged unfairness to the 1988 officers of continuing to pay them an allowance assessed in that year and not uprated to take account of changes since. As I said, I had representations from a number of people, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Woking, my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and the chairman and secretary of the Police Federation.

Because I was impressed by the strength of the pleas made to me, on 15 March I announced a significant change in the original proposals. In effect, officers in the forces last reviewed in 1988 will have their red circled amounts, as they are called, uprated by the retail price index for the period between the date of their last review and 1 April 1990. I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge will mind if I say that that was twice as good as the proposal that he put to me. He suggested that the grievance could be met by an uprating for the 1988 forces which would increase those allowances by one year according to the RPI. We actually decided to uprate them by two years.

Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)

Does the Home Secretary accept that one grievance felt by many police officers is that, while the review is taking place, it would have been better to resolve some of the other anomalies? Bearing in mind the point made by the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), there will be a £2,000 discrepancy between the Merseyside force and the Cheshire force as a result of the Home Secretary's announcement about rent allowances. Does he accept that that will cause considerable anguish among serving police officers in difficult areas like Merseyside?

Mr. Waddington

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's figures are correct. In any event, the anomaly, as the hon. Gentleman was generous enough to admit, has always existed. We have tried to correct what was perceived to be an injustice by not freezing the 1988 forces at the valuation then placed on their rent allowances, but by having an uprating according to the RPI.

Mr. Shersby

If my right hon. and learned Friend will reflect on what he has just said, he will recall that I pressed him originally to bring those forces on the 1988 revaluation up to the same level as those that were revalued in 1989. I went on to say that if that proved impossible, at the very least I expected and hoped that he would bring those officers on the 1988 revaluation up to the 1989–90 level through the movement in the RPI over those two years, not one year.

Mr. Waddington

My hon. Friend is in error in his last point. However, the basic fact remains that my hon. Friend made a proposition to me and I readily accepted his suggestion.

Mr. John Ward (Poole)

While my right hon. and learned Friend is dealing with that point, will he reflect on the fact that despite the concession that he made or negotiated with my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby), a Dorset policeman will be £856 a year worse off than a Hampshire policeman under the new arrangement? Would it not be sensible, as was suggested, to share the misery and ensure that at least in each region everyone gets roughly the same allowance? Otherwise, recruitment will be badly affected.

Mr. Waddington

It will not affect recruiting. The anomalies always existed and it would have been even more anomalous if we had paid the same rent allowance to all officers irrespective of the area in which they live when we all know perfectly well that the cost of renting a house differs greatly in different parts of the country. The allowance was always based on the difference in the market rent of a typical police house in a particular part of the country. Because that differed so much, rent allowances always differed greatly between one part of the country and another.

Following discussions with the Police Federation and my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge, I made a further change to help officers living in free accommodation provided by the police authority. It was represented to me that such officers were at a disadvantage compared with officers in receipt of rent allowance, the latter having their former levels of rent allowance including the rates element, protected as I have described on a mark-time basis. It was suggested that something needed to be done to help those officers who lived in police houses or quarters and who, up to 31 March, were living there free of rates.

Here again, I am glad to have been able to do something to meet the representations that were made to me. Hon. Members will see that the amended regulations provide for the payment of a transitional allowance of £300 a year for three years to officers in a police house or police quarters who were living in provided accommodation on 31 March 1990. The Scottish regulations make similar provision from 31 March 1989. The allowance does not apply in Northern Ireland, because there is no community charge, and police officers therefore continue to occupy police houses or quarters free of rates.

Even that is not the last of the concessions that I have been prepared to make. As the police authorities came to implement the new arrangements, various other matters were drawn to my attention—much mocked, I might say, by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, but obviously considered important by those who mentioned them to me—I thought that they should be put right, and I have proposed three further changes that will benefit serving officers.

First, it appears that some officers serving on 31 March would have been due to receive compensatory grant on not only their previous year's rent allowance, but the tax paid on compensatory grant itself in years before 1989–90. Although struck by the infinite complexity of the arrangements, I am content that those amounts should also be included in their red circling. Not only do those officers continue to get tax back on the rent allowance; they continue to get tax back on the tax back! It is as complicated as that.

Secondly, I have decided that, where police officers were married to each other and receiving flat rate rent allowance on 31 March, the husband should move up to full rate if his wife goes on unpaid maternity leave. Finally, if a similar married couple were living in a police house or quarters on 31 March and the wife goes on unpaid maternity leave, it seems to me right that when she returns she should resume her entitlement to provided accommodation allowance.

Draft regulations on all those matters have been sent to the police negotiating board for comment and, subject to that, will be laid before the House as soon as possible. They cover forces in England and Wales; similar drafts for Scotland and Northern Ireland will follow as soon as possible. I am sure that the arrangements are fair and reasonable.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

There is a widespread belief among policemen that the real reason for the anomalies to which the Home Secretary has referred—and to which other hon. Members have drawn attention—is that the cost of implementing the tribunal's findings would have been extremely heavy. What calculation have the Home Secretary and the Government made of that cost?

Mr. Waddington

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that rent allowances now take up 13 per cent. of total police remuneration. I can also tell him that, if more and more is spent on rent allowances, less and less will be available for other parts of the police service.

Mr. Robert B. Jones (Hertfordshire, West)

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend: he has been very patient with interventions.

The problem is, I think, one of recruitment rather than anguish. Those of us whose local authorities are next to comparable authorities—in cost terms—are very worried about police moving from one authority to another. I am informed that, in Hertfordshire, 40 police officers have asked for transfers to other authorities in the past two months. If there are recruitment problems as a result of the regulations, will my right hon. and learned Friend have another look at this and other aspects of them?

Mr. Waddington

Obviously, it is my duty to ensure that recruitment is maintained at a proper level for the sake of efficiency, and I can therefore give my hon. Friend the undertaking for which he asks. I must add, however, that I see no evidence of a fall in police recruitment; in fact, I think that we are about 0.2 per cent. below establishment at present. That is contrary to the position back in 1977, when people rushed out of the police force because of the paltry wages that they were getting under the Labour Government. No Government could have allowed a system under which rent allowances continued to roar out of control in the way that I have described. All of us would have wished to protect serving officers by ensuring that they did not lose anything in cash terms. That is what we have done.

I must stress that the new allowance still represents a most substantial addition to police pay—police pay which, under the Edmund-Davies formula, has increased well ahead of inflation since 1979. Let there be no doubt about it—we reaffirm our commitment to Edmund-Davies.

I am surprised at the right hon. Gentleman's comments. I am bound to say that no reasonable person could have read what he said at the Police Federation conference and think that it was a reaffirmation of Edmund-Davies, so the right hon. Gentleman has had to do some pretty swift thinking since then. As he has now said that a Labour Government would be committed to Edmund-Davies, perhaps, some time before the end of the debate, he will tell hon. Members what additional amount an incoming Labour Government would be prepared to dedicate to rent allowance over and above what we are prepared to spend. In other words, let him tell us precisely what is the financial commitment of a future Labour Government. Of course, he has not said one word about that.

In view of some of the right hon. Gentleman's comments, there is only one motto for the police service to remember—"Never trust Labour". I say to the police, "Labour let you down in the 1970s when officers were leaving the service in their tens of thousands because of such poor pay, by the standards of your fellow workers, and they will let you down again." When, during the miners' strike and at Wapping, the police were protecting the right of every man and woman to work and to get to his or her place of work free of molestation, they got no support at all from the right hon. Gentleman.

I remember the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), with his usual weasel words, condemning violence from wherever it came—by which he meant action taken by the police to contain violence, as much as the mob violence making that action necessary.

Not so long ago, too, the Opposition reaffirmed their determination to repeal the prevention of terrorism legislation. Those people, masquerading as friends of the police, would deprive the police of powers that every policeman in the land knows to be essential in the fight against terrorism. I do not take lectures about my responsibilities from a mess of a party like that. When it faces up to its responsibilities, I shall perhaps be prepared to listen.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. A large number of right hon. and hon. Members wish to participate. I ask for brief contributions, please.

11.3 pm

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

It is perhaps a measure of the weakness of the Home Secretary's case that he found it necessary to resort to the jejune arguments relating to police powers and did not answer the substantial questions that were raised earlier on the level of police remuneration and the structure and method of determining police pay. It is bizarre also that the Home Secretary reaffirmed his support for Edmund-Davies, when at the heart of the Edmund-Davies report is a clear message that police pay is to include rent allowances and that the whole structure of police pay was based upon that assumption. Perhaps that was an inappropriate formula for the future, and therefore it was necessary for the Government to raise some of the issues that followed the introduction of the poll tax in the police service. However, it was not appropriate simply to override the Edmund-Davies formula on remuneration, and in so doing to set aside the arbitral process that was so integral to the ultimate determination of police pay.

It is quite clear that Edmund-Davies has been honoured more in the breach than in the observance in this round of negotiations. It would have been better if, as soon as he took office" the Home Secretary had made clear his judgment that there was a need for a round-table conference on the future of police remuneration, in the light of the circumstances that he has described, and not resorted to the simple procedure of rejecting the findings of the arbitral tribunal. As the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said, they were difficult negotiations. Both sides had to make compromises, which were then embodied in a recommendation. It is true that the Government are not bound in law to accept that recommendation, but most Home Secretaries would regard it as foolish not to do so.

On previous occasions when arbitral findings have been questioned—between 1984 and the time when the Home Secretary took office, there were some six occasions on which the police negotiating board could not reach agreement and the matter was submitted to the arbitral tribunal—those findings were upheld. Even at the time of the ill-fated intervention of the previous Home Secretary on 23 October, when he meddled in the negotiations in the manner described by the Home Secretary, it was thought that it was the Government's clear intention to abide by the results of the process. Why, otherwise, bother to meddle? If, at the end of the day, the previous Home Secretary intended simply to lay down the law and utter his fiat, what was the purpose of his intervention?

Mr. Waddington

Has the hon. Gentleman had the opportunity to read the whole of my right hon. Friend's letter? In paragraph three, he said: However, in present circumstances we do not believe that we can commit ourselves to meeting the recommendations of the Police Negotiating Board. My right hon. Friend fairly intimated, on 23 October, that there would be difficulties if the police negotiating board produced conclusions along the lines of those that it eventually produced.

Mr. Maclennan

I have the whole of the former Home Secretary's letter in front of me. As I read it, the difficulty that he mentioned related to the cost of the proposed settlement. The reluctance of the Home Secretary in his speech tonight, and in answer to my intervention, to reveal the possible cost of carrying out the arbitral finding reinforces the impression that finance is at the bottom of it. Cash is at the bottom of it, not any schematic difficulties. There are always schematic difficulties in dealing with police pay, and there probably always will be—so long as there are 47 different police authorities in England and Wales, and different police authorities in Scotland, there will be no nice solution to these problems. Money seems to have been at the heart of the matter.

The modest changes that have been made as a response to the substantial outburst of anger in all parts of the country from the police, who are not a noticeably militant organisation, have created further anomalies and difficulties. I do not propose to repeat those mentioned by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook in his understandably long speech. However, in this short debate, I wish to draw attention to at least one of the problems that has arisen, and about which concern has been expressed by the Northern constabulary in Scotland, as an illustration of the Secretary of State's failure to deal with the problem.

I refer to the proposed £300 allowance to those living in police accommodation. That has not been a source of gratitude; it has brought about an awareness of the inequity of what is proposed, because many officers who have been living not in police-provided accommodation, but in lodgings that they have had to find, are very much worse off than those who are the beneficiaries of the modest change. I must advise the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton), who is with him on the Treasury Bench, that there is the gravest anger and disquiet throughout Scotland at what has been done. One letter that I received from the Northern constabulary states:

The regulations have torn us apart—my telephone is red hot every day and the Force morale as far as rent allowances is concerned is at rock bottom, and I can assure you that it is the same in every Force in Scotland. It is probably the same in every force in England, too. Evidence that I have received from a number of different forces in England suggests that there is a seething anger about the way in which the matter has been handled. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) drew attention to the concern on Merseyside about the differentiation between the positions in Cheshire and Liverpool. I have also seen letters from, for example, Norfolk, addressed to Conservative Members as well as to myself, also expressing anger.

The Home Secretary failed to explain why he was not willing to enter into negotiations and discussions with the police, not only about the matters before the police negotiating board, but about his proposition that there must be a wholly new approach to police pay, which departed so fundamentally from Edmund-Davies in ruling out the rent allowances, and which set at nought the long and painful negotiations that had taken place. The Home Secretary has argued that he was not "obliged" to implement the proposals—I acknowledge that he was not "obliged" in law, but he was "obliged" in honest decency at least to recognise that the Edmund-Davies formula on police pay had, in the past, taken into consideration the unsocial hours, the restriction on private lives, the exposure to danger, the need to be on call, and the denial of the right to join a trade union. All those matters were in the Edmund-Davies formula on police pay.

Rent allowances were taken into account when setting the basic pay scales. The increases in the rent allowances were designed to reflect movements in housing costs, not living costs. The Home Secretary has departed from that formula in the regulations. If we assume a continuing rate of inflation at 7.5 per cent., which may not be a fair assumption in the light of current rates, the transitional rent allowance will be worth only a third of the current value by the time it has caught up with the housing allowance.

The Police (Amendment) Regulations were originally laid before the House on 9 March. The right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) prayed against both the English and Scottish regulations, yet there was no debate. For months a most peculiar silence fell over the Government. Why? It was a bizarre failure of our democratic process to take the necessary step in the implementation of the police regulations. I can assume only that it was because of some internal Government battle about the sum that might be made available as a sweetener to try to rob the debate of some of the bitterness that it has assumed. Perhaps the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook is right in believing that some of the sting has gone out of Tory Members. Perhaps they are no longer so angry as they were when the regulations were first announced. The facts have not changed and it is to be hoped that hon. Members on both sides who expressed themselves so strongly earlier will reject the regulations, which do a serious disservice to the policing of the country.

The police are not a militant organisation, but they rely on us in the House to safeguard their interests so that they do not require the protection that others in the public service have enjoyed. If the Home Secretary is saying that there are grave matters of public import that led him to take the decision to set aside the tribunal, he has not spelt them out tonight. He may have said that there were some anomalies, and certainly there were, but that is not a reason for introducing regulations that in themselves are anomalies. They certainly cannot be regarded as being necessitated by reasons of grave national importance, to use the terms of Edmund-Davies.

Although the problems will be felt throughout the country, in urban and peripheral areas, they will undoubtedly be most acutely felt in rural areas, where those who must live in the village police house will not receive the allowance. Those who live in a tied house do not acquire capital in a house of their own. They have the future disadvantage that they will have no rates allowance.

We are not talking about small sums. The Northern constabulary of the Scottish Police Federation has calculated that there is a difference between the maximum old and new allowances of £1,546.25. By any test, that is a significant decrease in take-home pay. I hope that the House will take the only sensible step open to it, and will avoid continuing widespread discontent and dissatisfaction in an already demoralised police force, by voting against the regulations.

11.19 pm
Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

As the House knows, I am parliamentary adviser to the Police Federation of England and Wales, and I want formally to declare that interest.

This debate is not about pay but about the Government's decision to take the unprecedented step of setting aside a decision of the police negotiating board on rent allowances following the recommendation of the police arbitration tribunal.

The people affected by that decision are the men and women who serve the public in the police forces of our country. They do a difficult and dangerous job. They are the men and women in blue who each year sustain serious injuries in the line of duty and who in some cases lose their lives. They are members of a loyal and disciplined force who by law do not have the right to take industrial action.

They expect the Government of the day to abide by negotiations between the official side representatives—the Home Office and local police authorities—and the staff side representing 126,000 police officers. They expect the Government and the Home Secretary of the day to accept the considered verdict of the police arbitration tribunal if there is disagreement during the negotiating process.

They have always believed that the police negotiating board and the police arbitration tribunal were established by Parliament to ensure fair play between the employer and the employee on pay and allowances. But they are not suggesting for a moment that my right hon. and learned Friends the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland cannot disapprove of an agreement.

I am sorry to tell the House that the beliefs of many police officers have been shattered by the decision that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary felt obliged to take. That is why the police believe that, to uphold the principles of democracy, they have no alternative but to have their grievances aired on the Floor of the House, where the decision was taken to set up the police negotiating board and police arbitration tribunal.

Their sense of shock has been all the greater because the Home Office, in its own evidence to the Edmund-Davies Committee in 1977, uttered those famous words: The Secretary of State would never withhold approval save for reasons of grave national importance. My right hon. and learned Friend has not, so far as I know, given specific reasons of "grave national importance" for his decision, but in his letter that he sent to my hon. Friends last Thursday, he stated that his reasons for setting aside the police negotiating board agreement were that he

could not accept a recommendation which would have meant rent allowances continuing to rise at a rate which bore no relationship to the cost of running a home. And that with pay and allowances taking the lion's share of police budgets, there would have been less and less available for vital expenditure on, for instance, equipment. Those are not reasons of "grave national importance" of the kind envisaged by the Edmund-Davies Committee. Nor do they appear to take account of the savings made by my right hon. and learned Friend's Department and by police authorities which no longer have to pay rates, water rates and, in rural areas, cesspit charges for thousands of police officers, who since 1 April have had to pay those charges themselves.

I should also like to make it clear that the three small changes to the Police (Amendment) Regulations, made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary last Thursday, in answer to a question from me, are outside the police arbitration award that we are debating tonight. They correct technical anomalies which were unfair to the officers concerned. However, I can tell the House quite unequivocally that those changes are most welcome, and that they are typical of the constant care and courtesy that my right hon. and learned Friend so often demonstrates in his handling of police matters. I know that my right hon. and learned Friend will not mind my saying that those changes are not related to the fundamental issues of principle that we are considering.

As the House knows, the relationship between the Government and the police has been good for more than a decade. Therefore, if the Government considered that the arbitration award, which contains a new method of updating rent allowance, and which reflects the need for change, did not sufficiently decrease the bi-annual uprating, at least the mechanism should surely include and reflect the housing index element of the retail prices index, of which only 185 points out of 1,000 bear any relationship to housing costs.

However, my right hon. and learned Friend set that recommendation aside, for the reasons that he gave this evening. In view of that, I hope that the House will bear with me as I explain why so many police officers have been lobbying their Members of Parliament and have attended the House today, and why they are so deeply unhappy about the situation in which they now find themselves. I am afraid that, as the Home Secretary and the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) well know, it is a complex matter, but I shall attempt to state it as simply and as briefly as possible.

First, it is important to understand exactly what constitutes rent allowance and why it is paid. It is paid to compensate police officers who are not provided with accommodation free of charge as part of their conditions of service. It has been an integral part of police pay since the 1920s. It is also paid in lieu of accommodation, because police officers can be, and are, required by their chief constables to move home to meet operational requirements, and because, in many cases, they have no choice as to where they live.

In the past, the allowance has been uprated every two years, following a review of property values, by an independent valuer. For the sake of administrative convenience, roughly half the police forces in England and Wales, and half the forces in Scotland and Northern Ireland, have received their revaluation in one year, with the revised allowance being paid from the following April. The other forces in England and Wales—about 14—and in Scotland and Northern Ireland, receive their revaluation in the following year, with the revised allowance payable from the following April.

The police arbitration tribunal decided that rent allowance should be abolished for all new entrants to the police, with effect from 1 April 1990, but that it would be retained and protected—or red-circled, as it is known in police jargon—at the existing level for those officers in service before the change took place. It was the intention that in future it would be uprated every two years by the equivalent of the increase in the new force housing allowance, which came into effect on 1 April. Unlike rent allowance, which was geared to property values, the new force housing allowance will in future be related only to the movement in the retail prices index. Twenty-nine forces in England and Wales are frozen at 1988 levels, before red-circling.

Instead of agreeing to a revaluation of the existing rent allowance for the 29 forces in England and Wales alone that last had their force maximum uprated in 1988 before they were protected, my right hon. and learned Friend decided in February that their existing level of rent allowance should be frozen at the 1988 level but that the 14 forces in England and Wales that were uprated in 1989 could retain their rent allowance at the higher 1989 level. That was obviously unfair. It discriminated arbitrarily between different police forces.

As a result of that decision, it was calculated by the Police Federation's advisers, Binder Hamlyn that it would take between 15 and 17 years before the new force housing allowance equalled the existing level of rent allowance, whereas every police officer receiving rent allowance at the protected level naturaly expects it to be increased biennially, as in the past. As a result, most officers will now leave the police before receiving any increase whatsoever in their protected allowance.

Dame Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

I am following my hon. Friend's argument closely. What will be the position of police officers who, under the existing arrangements and with a certain understanding about allowances, choose to buy their homes? Do they not have a difficult choice to make?

Mr. Shersby

If they bought their homes before 31 March, they will qualify for the existing level of protected rent allowance. If, however, they were unable to do so—and they did not have very much time in which to do so between my right hon. and learned Friend's statement and the end of March—they will not qualify for the protected rent allowance if they decide to buy their own homes. That is most unfair in the case of the officers in the 29 forces whose rent allowance was to have been protected at the 1988 level.

As a result, representations were made by me, the Police Federation and the staff side of the police negotiating board to my right hon. and learned Friend and Treasury Ministers. After the most careful consideration, my right hon. and learned Friend agreed to uprate those officers in the 29 forces concerned by the movement in the retail prices index between 1988 and 1990. I repeat what I said earlier: that that is what we asked him to do and that is what he did, for which the Police Federation is grateful. The increase is equivalent to 16.6 per cent. for all but five forces, depending on the month in which they were uprated.

The increase is most welcome. I pay warm tribute to my right hon. and learned Friend for his unfailing courtesy and consideration and for his recognition of the fact that the original decision that he announced in February was untenable. I am particularly glad that he was able to persuade the Treasury to relent.

The cost of the uprating agreed to by my right hon. and learned Friend was £26.5 million. I think that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook will agree that £26.5 million is hardly "rubbish". I understand that that will bring the 29 forces who last had their rent allowance uprated in 1988 to the same level as those that were uprated in 1989 and that it will cost approximately an additional £30 million annually. We referred to a cost of roughly £55 million to bring everyone up to a common starting point. My right hon. and learned Friend has provided £26.5 million.

Mr. Bowen Wells (Hertford and Stortford)

If my hon. Friend's representations on behalf of the Police Federation have been met by my right hon. and learned Friend and if that was all that the Police Federation wanted, why is it seeking a further concession?

Mr. Shersby

The increase to which my right hon. and learned Friend agreed, welcome though it is, falls far short of the level of rent allowance that is being paid to the 14 forces which had their rent allowances uprated from 1989, and which are protected at that level. Despite my right hon. and learned Friend's welcome movement, thousands of police officers in 29 forces in England and Wales, together with half their colleagues in Scotland and Northern Ireland, will be receiving hundreds or thousands of pounds less in rent allowances than their colleagues in the 14 forces in England and those in half the forces in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

I shall give the House an example.

Mr. Waddington

I am sure that my hon. Friend would not think for one moment of misleading the House. I am sure that he will agree with me that officers in the 1988 forces are always worse off than their colleagues in 1989 forces. There are plenty of 1988 forces with rent allowances that are higher than those of 1989 forces. For example, under the new arrangements with the retail prices index uprating for two years, £4,270 is paid in Hertfordshire. The sum paid in Leicestershire, which is a 1989 force, is only £3,350. In 1989, Cumbria was uprated to £2,869. There are may 1988 forces that do much better than that. It is rather simplistic to say that all those in 1988 forces have done badly. There are some that have done very well.

Mr. Shersby

My hon. and learned Friend is right to draw attention to differential housing valuations in different parts of the country. I have a map which illustrates the argument that he is advancing.

I shall give the House an example. Thames Valley police force last had its rent allowance uprated in 1988. It will now receive a 16.6 per cent. increase as a result of the recent uprating. Police officers in that force will be substantially disadvantaged compared with officers living in my constituency of Uxbridge, which is in the Metropolitan police area. The rent allowance in the Sussex force is £3,702, whereas in the Metropolitan police area it is £5,864. That is a difference of £2,162.

Mr. Waddington

Surely my hon. Friend recognises that the Metropolitan police, for obvious reasons, has always had a much higher allowance than those of county forces. Generally speaking, property values are much higher in the Metropolitan police area than elsewhere.

Mr. Shersby

I accept that house prices in London are high. I am talking about rent allowances, which are based on property values, and those values in Sussex are very high. The reaction to the differentials is shown in the number of senior and experienced police officers who are applying to leave their present forces to join the Metropolitan police. That is happening in the Surrey and Sussex forces.

Mr. Dalyell

The hon. Gentleman talks about the difference between the allowance in his constituency, which comes within the Met, and that which is paid in the Thames Valley police force. Would 40 per cent. be an exaggeration of the difference? If it would not, what is the likely recruitment pattern in the two areas?

Mr. Shersby

I quoted figures to demonstrate the substantial difference between the allowances that are paid in the Thames Valley police force and the Metropolitan police. We shall have to wait and see what effect that has on recruitment in the two areas.

Sir John Wheeler (Westminster, North)

Until recent times—perhaps this trend is continuing—have riot experienced Metropolitan police officers been moving out of the Metropolitan police area into the areas which are policed by provincial forces?

Mr. Shersby

My hon. Friend is right. It has been suggested to me in a humorous way that perhaps that is my right hon. and learned Friend's secret weapon, which is designed to boost the recruitment of the Metropolitan police. I am sure that that is not the position.

The income from rent allowances, which, before the arbitration award, officers in some 29 forces in England and Wales had every right to expect, has been denied them. That has serious consequences for many officers who have decided to buy their homes because they are not being provided with accommodation. Moreover, they have done so encouraged by the Government's property-owning philosophy.

Let us take as an example a police officer in his late twenties or early thirties buying a house in greater Birmingham. He has calculated his ability to meet his mortgage repayments on the basis of his expected pay and rent allowance, which has always been an integral part of police remuneration. Now he suddenly finds that the financial goal posts have been moved. His rent allowance in the west midlands force was last uprated in 1988. It will now go up by 16.6 per cent. to £3,399, thanks to my right hon. and learned Friend's announcement, but it will still fall short of the rent allowance payable to the adjoining force of Warwickshire by £788 to officers doing the same job and buying a similar house. The same officer has to pay the community charge and water rates, and to cope with the current level of interest rates.

The second major problem concerns officers living in police accommodation. The police negotiating board recommends that the 16,000 or so officers living in provided accommodation should receive a force housing allowance and pay rent. My right hon. and learned Friend made that clear. The police accepted that recommendation, but my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has decided to maintain the status quo with officers living in provided accommodation receiving no housing allowance and living rent and rate-free. That includes the payment of water rates, and in country areas cesspit charges.

However, as the House well knows, domestic rates came to an end on 31 March and with effect from 1 April, all police officers in provided accommodation, and their spouses if any, will be worse off in relative terms, by anything between £300 and £1,200 a year, depending on the community charge in the area in which they live, plus water rates and, in country areas, cesspit charges.

The Police Federation accepted that all officers should pay the community charge, but 20 per cent. of the officers in provided accommodation have no choice but to occupy that accommodation. For the first time, they will be financially penalised for so doing. As a result, a police officer earning £10,000 a year with a spouse and two children living in provided accommodation will suddenly and unexpectedly have to find an additional cash sum for which he or she has not budgeted and which he or she had no reason to think would be payable. In other words, up to 10 per cent. of salary could now have to be paid in local government taxation which had not previously been paid by the police but by their employers, the local police authorities.

Clearly that was unfair, and, as my right hon. and learned Friend said, in response to representations that were made to him, he introduced the provided accommodation allowance of £300 a year. That is only £255 after tax. I observe in passing that it was fixed when the Government thought that the average community charge might be in the region of £300.

However, it is still an additional expense for officers in police accommodation to meet from their family budgets. It has been sprung on them at rather short notice and represents a major change in their conditions of service. Up and down the country, officers in police accommodation can be worse off by as much as £1,200 a year. That is a recipe for discontent and a source of grievance.

To sum up, there are two serious disagreements which will not be remedied by the regulations if they are passed without amendment tonight—the two different scales of allowance and the substantial additional expenses to officers living in provided accommodation.

Above all, I believe that it was wrong for the Government, who have constantly urged employers and employees to negotiate and to reach agreement on pay and conditions, to overturn the agreement, particularly as they are the employer. I must ask the House, what sort of example is that?

That error of judgment is compounded by the fact that the police do not have the right to take industrial action. They must rely on the process of negotiation and arbitration for the resolution of their pay and conditions. No trade union or self-respecting staff association that has the right to strike would have readily accepted the agreement.

I repeat, and I stress, that I am most grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend and his Treasury colleagues for the improvements that he has made since he announced his original decision in February. Moreover, I do not wish him to think that either the Police Federation or I are ungrateful. He might wonder what solution I would have adopted had I had the misfortune to be in his place.

Mr. Richard Tracey (Surbiton)

In his summing up, with his deep knowledge of the Police Federation and the personalities involved, will my hon. Friend say whether the leaders of the Police Federation seriously believe that they would be better off under a Labour Home Secretary, given the low police morale under the last Labour Government and the constraints on their economic policy, which the shadow Chancellor keeps spelling out to the country?

Mr. Shersby

As my hon. Friend well knows, the police are non-political; they do not express political views. That is their duty as police officers.

The Government should have implemented the agreement submitted to my right hon. and learned Friend by the police negotiating board following arbitration. Had they done so, the cash difference between what has now been agreed and what they would have had to pay would be relatively small, particularly if one bears in mind the savings being made by local police authorities, which will not have to pay domestic rates because of the introduction of the community charge.

The fact that that has not happened makes it impossible for me to vote for the regulations. Regretfully, I have no alternative but to vote against them, to show the strength of feeling of the police on the major point of principle—the setting aside of the police negotiating board agreement following arbitration. I have not encouraged my hon. Friends to vote for or against the regulations; nor shall I do so. That is not part of my role as parliamentary adviser to the Police Federation. I know that the concern that I have expressed is well understood by many right hon. and hon. Members, and no doubt they will decide for themselves how to cast their votes in the Lobby tonight.

11.48 pm
Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

May I first declare an interest? I have recently been appointed parliamentary adviser to the Royal Ulster Constabulary Federation.

The issue that we are debating is one not primarily of detail but of principle. On that basis alone, I intend to question the Government's position. It is imperative that hon. Members who vote, especially Conservative Members, fully understand that they are being called upon to demonstrate the integrity of the House and that no hon. Member is here merely to reflect his or her support of or opposition to Government policy.

At the risk of repeating some of the points to which hon. Members have alluded, I remind right hon. and hon. Members that Lord Edmund-Davies, in his 1978 report, clearly outlined what the powers of the Secretary of State should be in responding to the recommendations of the police arbitration tribunal. He noted the recommendation by all the constituent bodies of the Police Council, except the Home Department, that the findings of a police arbitration tribunal should be binding on all parties including the Secretary of State.

Being assured by the Home Department that the Secretary of State would never withhold approval of a Police Council agreement save for reasons of grave national importance, he conceded that argument in relation to the future arbitration tribunals. In doing so, he took into consideration the fact that should there be any future failure to agree or a pay award or any breakdown of the negotiating machinery, the Government would need the power to make regulations on pay matters for the police, whose efficiency was essential to the maintenance of law and order. Lord Edmund-Davies was influenced also by the unique role of the police and the ultimate responsibility of the Secretaries of State for the maintenance of the Queen's peace. Specifically, on that clearly defined basis, he expressed himself content that discretionary powers would not be used or abused.

In paragraph 117 of chapter 10, Lord Edmund-Davies states: We would, however, like to place on record our view that any award by the Police Arbitration Tribunal should be set aside only for reasons of the utmost national importance. Could anything be more unequivocal or binding as a matter of honour? In fact, the Secretaries of State have infringed that stipulation by Lord Edmund-Davies and have abrogated the spirit of the arrangement that has commanded the respect of the police for the past 11 or 12 years. What is the matter of grave national importance that requires the Government to act less honourably today than they did in 1984, when the same issue was referred to arbitration and the Government were then able to accept the tribunal's decision?

It is important that we remember that it is as part of police pay and conditions that police officers, where they cannot be provided with police accommodation, have been granted a rent allowance. Although that rent allowance may be a separate payment calculated through an independent process, none the less it is an integral part of the totality of police remuneration, and was recognised as such by Lord Edmund-Davies. At a time when our police forces have to endure increasing pressures, in terms of public scrutiny and through the advent of more sophisticated and better organised violence, is it not ironic that this Government—the so-called Government of law and order—should unilaterally undermine the confidence of those who serve the community at the coal face?

I cannot help but reflect on the flattering words that are used by the Prime Minister and her Ministers to describe the job that policemen and policewomen do, often under the most trying conditions, but it seems that talk is always cheap. When the community needs protection for whatever reason and whenever Government policies have brought angry, unruly and often violent mobs on to our streets, it is not the Secretaries of State who bear the brunt of that disorder. Are memories so short that the Government cannot remember the poll tax riots, the tragedy of Broadwater Farm or the ongoing courage of the Royal Ulster Constabulary over the past 20 years?

When Earl Ferrers, the Minister of State, Home Office, wrote in The House Magazine on 12 February, he admitted that there was absolutely no precedent for the Minister to reject the findings of an arbitration tribunal. He then asserted that this did not signal a change in negotiating arrangements or in the access to arbitration which is provided for in those arrangements. Does he expect a single officer to believe such illogical nonsense? Does he expect hon. Members to do so?

The noble Lord then asserts that there is no question of anyone having money taken out of his present earnings as a result of the decision of the Home Secretary. What is the guarantee for the future? Can we have a similar assurance on that point? The Government have advanced a series of arguments as to why awards should not be agreed in full, and why the Home Secretary should select what someone called the plums within the arbitration award and leave the police with the duff. They have sought to confuse the issue by relating rent allowance to police pay.

We have heard quoted how much better the police have done vis-à-vis the average worker in terms of increases. We all thought that that was because the Government recognise that the police do not do a normal job but a special one and that they are conscious of the danger to life and limb that the police encounter every day. We thought that they appreciated that the police do not enjoy the protection of the health and safety agencies and we are denied the right of industrial action to defend conditions of service or to pursue legitimate grievances. That is obviously not the case.

The Government of law and order clearly show that they value saving to the public exchequer more than they value the good will of the police service. They are callously prepared to sacrifice the basis of trust and faith that has been built up over the past 11 years.

To the shame of the Government, I shall quote from the last paragraph of the final report of the tribunal in November 1989: We have felt it necessary to set out these principles at some length for two reasons. There is a natural tendency for each side to cling to familiar aspects of the older arrangements that they feel advantageous, without weighing the compensatory gains. But most important is the fact that any inclination to pick and choose"— as the Home Secretary has done— between the individual changes that we have suggested is likely to destroy, to the advantage of one side or the other, the fairness of the solution we have proposed, which we believe takes account of the need not to add to the expense of the police service and is based on clear and sensible principles. Both sides of the police negotiating board have accepted and adhered to those principles. But the Government, who were represented on the official side, have chosen to ignore sound advice and the principles that are involved.

If the House is to be the final arbiter and the protector of rights and principles it must vote against any revocation of the criteria laid down by Lord Edmund-Davies for resolving matters pertaining to police pay and allowances. Anything less is a betrayal and must inevitably have the direst short, medium and long-term consequences for policing in the United Kingdom.

11.59 pm
Sir John Wheeler (Westminster, North)

I could scarcely believe my ears as I listened to the speech made by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), which must count as one of the most cynical and outrageous pieces of opportunism to have been heard in the House for many a long year. Members of the British police service who are well accustomed to dealing with the overwhelming amount of crime that is opportunistic will fully understand what I mean when I refer to the right hon. Gentleman's speech in that way.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook made several significant spending commitments for the Opposition. All Conservative Members look forward to seeing those spending commitments set out clearly with sums attached so that we may gain a greater understanding of what the tax burden would be were the Labour party, in the unlikely event, to form the Government after the next general election.

During his speech to the Police Federation's conference a short while ago, the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook appeared to make yet another spending commitment, If it understood him correctly, he undertook to establish a third police force that would be responsible for investigating complaints. Complaints investigations would no longer be supervised by the independent Police Complaints Authority. According to my reckoning, that would cost between £10 million and £15 million. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman has had an opportunity to confer with his colleagues responsible for the Labour party's financial policies, to put figures to those commitments.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir John Wheeler

No, I have only just started. I hope that the hon. Lady will allow me to proceed.

I want now to consider the Government's record as that is more relevant to the regulations that we are discussing. Under this Government the police service, as every officer knows, has received steady and what I believe the vast majority of British people would agree are fair increases in pay. Within a week of coming to office in 1979, the Government implemented the Edmund-Davies pay formula in full. Since then the Government have stuck to that pay formula. Since May 1979, basic pay has increased by more than 41 per cent. in real terms. I am delighted that the Government have reaffirmed their steadfast commitment to that pay formula and I contrast that with the condition that the police service was in when we came to office in 1979.

It might be helpful if I were to give some figures to show the pay with which we have rewarded our police officers. The figures to which I shall refer to Metropolitan police officers, as that is the force with which I am principally concerned as the Member for Westminster, North.

A police constable in the Met with 15 years' service or more enjoys a maximum salary of £16,521 to which there is added London weighting of £1,089 and a special London allowance of £1,011, making a total of £18,621. A constable—a new recruit—aged 22 years or over will enjoy £14,562 while a sergeant with four years' service and on top scale will receive £20,229. An inspector with four years' service, on the top scale, will receive £23,850. A married constable—as of April 1989—could receive a rent allowance amounting to £7,329, while an unmarried constable under 30 could receive a maximum of £3,665. That will give the House an idea of the extent of the pay and rent allowances that the police will receive from the Government.

Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Marlow

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Sir John Wheeler

I am being assailed by more than one hon. Member, but I shall give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow).

Mr. Marlow

As my hon. Friend rightly says, the Government's treatment of the police force has been generous, and I am sure that that is recognised; but will he deal with a question to which I have yet to receive an answer? I live in Warwickshire, but my constituency is in Northamptonshire. Housing costs in Warwickshire are lower than those in Northamptonshire, yet the police rent allowance in Warwickshire is higher than that in Northamptonshire. Why?

Sir John Wheeler

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for asking such an interesting question. Were we to have the luxury of sitting late into the night, I am sure that we could contemplate the possible answers in great detail. However, I propose to allow that interesting point to lie "upon the Table" for my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to pick up.

Mr. Waddington

Does my hon. Friend agree that one thing is certain—that the difference referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) results not from any assessment made by the Home Office, but from an assessment made by the local district valuer? There is no Machiavelli behind the decision; it just happens that the valuation of a typical police house in one area is not the same as the valuation of a typical police house in another area.

Sir John Wheeler

My right hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right. The way in which the rent allowance formula is applied varies from constabulary to constabulary. After all, we have 52 of them—and, as some hon. Members may know, if the matter were left to me, the arrangements would be considerably rationalised. I hope and pray that we shall work towards that in the near future, when our problems may well be resolved through the process of negotiation.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Is the hon. Gentleman thinking of bringing to the police service the expertise that has been demonstrated by the prison service? Police officers are now having to look after many people in the cells.

Sir John Wheeler

Surely the hon. Lady knows the answer to that question.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook seemed to forget the extent of Government funding during the past 11 years—not only of police pay, although I welcome that, but of the service as a whole. Since 1979, there has been an increase of nearly 59 per cent. in total expenditure on the police service. As my right hon. and learned Friend said, the average increase in allowances last year topped 42 per cent., while the allowance to the Metropolitan police rose by more than 57 per cent. The allowance in Warwickshire rose by 67 per cent. Those rises bear no relation to the true rise in living costs. Generous as the Government rightly are to the police, the Police Federation and police officers—men and women of common sense—will understand that there are limits to the amount of money that can be put into rent allowances, which my right hon. and learned Friend has a duty to consider and make a judgment upon, as he is doing tonight.

Mr. Wells

Was not it entirely predictable, given the formula that we agreed under Edmund-Davies, that such increases would take place, bearing in mind property prices, particularly in the home counties and in London? Therefore, if we want to change the arrangements, surely the Home Office should have approached the police and the Police Federation in 1986, 1987 or 1988. It is no good complaining that rent allowances have increased in accordance with the formula subsequent to those events. Surely it is no justification to object to the increases in those years and then to refuse to pay them in the next year and thus disadvantage many police forces.

Sir John Wheeler

I agree with my hon. Friend that this is an immensely complicated subject. I agree also that it is not possible to find an easy solution. However, I remind my hon. Friend that negotiations commenced in 1988 and have been going on for quite some time. It is a matter of regret, but my right hon. and learned Friend and his colleagues in the Government have had to reject the recommendation of the police negotiating board.

My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) referred to the additional funding that my right hon. and learned Friend had obtained—about £26 million—to try to ease the path of this arrangement. I for one was greatly struck by his remarks in the journal Police, the magazine of the Police Federation, a few weeks ago. He wrote that one of the most difficult tasks that he had to perform on behalf of the Police Federation was to participate in the discussions that he honourably carried out with my right hon. and learned Friend on the issue. In the magazine he referred to the new Provided Accommodation Allowance' of £300 a year for three years and to an uprating by the movement in the retail price index (RPI) between 1988 and 1990 for the 29 Forces concerned. This is worth 13.7 per cent. While these decisions are very welcome and helpful they obviously do not meet the full expectations of officers throughout the country who had expected the agreement reached by the PNB to be endorsed and implemented. My hon. Friend implied that he had found a fair balance between the interests of the federation and the Government's position.

Mr. Allason

Does my hon. Friend agree that, although the arithmetic behind the issue may be complex, the principle behind it is terribly simple? In a nutshell, it is that an arrangement that has worked very well for 10 years is now being unilaterally abandoned because it appears to be working to the disadvantage of the Government.

Sir John Wheeler

That is the difficulty of being the Government. [Interruption.] There is mirth on the Opposition Benches, for the quite obvious reason that the Opposition will never he in government. They will never need to make difficult decisions about the use of taxpayers' money. That is what my right hon. and learned Friend has had to do. Of course, my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) was right to say that there is a problem, but that is why the Government must form a view and suggest what decision should be taken by the House.

The figures that I have given tonight and the costs that have arisen in some parts of the country have been so high that the Government have a duty to consider where the emphasis should be placed in public expenditure. It is for that reason that I shall support my right hon. and learned Friend in the Lobby tonight.

12.15 am
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

The Home Secretary is good at correcting his parliamentary colleagues if they fall into error. I hope that he will interrupt and correct me if I am wrong when I ask him three questions. How much money will the Government save by the set-aside of the arbitration award? More precisely, what would have been the total cost of the scheme if they had gone along with the arbitration award and what will the present scheme cost?

I realise that there may be difficulties with the notional valuation of housing. If I asserted that the savings will be between £80 million and £100 million, would I be wrong? The Home Secretary and his advisers must have some sort of figure.

Mr. Waddington

I think that it is less than that for the first year, but that is not the point. I cannot begin to calculate what the additional cost would be, year on year on year, if we were to go down the path recommended by the police negotiating board. I believe that the initial saving will be more like £50 million than £80 million or £100 million, but it is still quite a lot of money. It is £50 million that comes out of total police provision, and therefore means less money to be spent on equipment and so on.

Mr. Dalyell

Many policemen will think that they are being done out of £50 million-plus—[Interruption.] Perhaps the Home Secretary will tell us what he really thinks about it.

Mr. Waddington

I made a long speech saying what I thought about it. I said that there had been enormous increases in rent allowances. I quoted the two instances of a 59 per cent. increase in the Metropolitan police rent allowances last year and a 67 per cent. increase in the Warwickshire police rent allowance. I do not think that it is unfair to red-circle officers so that those serving before 31 March lose nothing in cash, but we end the system of bizarre increases that bear no relationship to the true increase in the cost of running a house.

Mr. Dalyell

Many of our police constituents will say that that is all very well, but in scarcely any other job, in anything like the same way, are people ordered to change house at short notice. That point was made by the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby). I want a detailed reply to be made to the Police Federation grievance.

You asked for short speeches, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wish to raise a Scottish point—the question of community police officers in rural areas. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland—the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton) knows the problem in many parts of Scotland. People must live in police houses, to which are attached police officers, so that they can do their job. They will not receive the allowance. They have a much more limited temporary arrangement. By accepting the requirement and living in tied accommodation, they put themselves at a disadvantage anyway because they are not acquiring capital in a house of their own. They are to be subject to a further disadvantage in that they will have no rate allowance now that the poll tax has replaced the rates. Those officers are almost invariably married because it is normally regarded as essential to have a married man in such a post.

That is a genuine problem in many parts of Scotland. Perhaps the Under-Secretary of State will agree that as we Scots are a year more advanced with the poll tax than people in England, extra urgency is added to the problem.

Finally, the Scottish Office brief states that the Secretary of State

noted that as a direct result of the draft regulations, over 80 per cent. of Scottish Police officers receiving rent allowance would now receive lump-sum back-dated payments to reflect the outcome of the reviews which his decision would make possible. He further noted that these lump-sum back-dated payments would be in addition to the back-dated payments Scottish officers had received a month or so ago when the rates element of rent allowance had been restored to Scottish officers. What advice has the Home Secretary received from his Scottish Office colleagues on the adequacy or otherwise of the lump-sum payments, because there have been some pretty bitter complaints about their size?

Other hon. Members wish to speak, so I shall leave it at that.

12.21 am
Sir Bernard Braine (Castle Point)

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby), I must declare an interest. For the past quarter of a century, I have advised the Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales. If I have not spoken in recent years in the House on police matters, that has been largely because, since the advent of the present Government and the Edmund-Davies award, the police have been treated fairly. That was their view and the view of the Police Superintendents Association until my right hon. and learned Friend's decision to set aside the recommendation of the police negotiating board on housing rent allowance. I am saddened by that and must report that I have received more angry letters from police officers since that decision was made public than in all my 40 years in the House. I know that I share that experience with many right hon. and hon. Members.

In defence of all this, my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) says that the police are well paid. The view of the Police Superintendents Association, the rank and file of the police service and, I should have thought, most people in this country is that the police deserve to be well paid. After all, they are paid what Edmund-Davies recommended. Broadly speaking, they have preserved what they gained then, but we should not underestimate their feeling that they have now been sadly let down.

It is true that before 1979 police morale was very low, but that has not been so in recent years. However, since 1979 crime has increased by more than one third; the police work load has increased substantially and its scope has been widened by legislation passed by the House. Every aspect of police work has increased during that time. We have seen the emergence of lager louts, acid house parties, public order problems and racial tensions. The number of people arrested and prosecuted has substantially increased. In addition, the police have been expecred to safeguard public services in disputes. I refer to what happened in the miners' strike and in the ambulance and fire brigade disputes. Huge new burdens have been placed on the police in recent years.

A price must be paid for these extra burdens and risks. The reports of the police convalescent homes in Goring and Harrogate reveal the increased risk. Goring is new but needs to be extended, and Harrogate was extended but needs to be extended further to cope with the increasing flow of officers injured while protecting the public.

Last year, sickness caused by violent assaults on officers outside the London area alone equalled about 190 years. The biggest factors are stress and incidents leading to injuries, all of which can have a lasting effect on officers and their families. None of that has yet been properly assessed.

Today the police service faces increasing criticism, yet never have the education and professionalism of officers been higher. They are necessary because the nature of society is changing, in some respects for the worse. Assaults on children and young people, domestic violence, football violence and racial tension have increased in the past 10 years, involving the police in an increasingly complex world of multi-agency approaches, case conferences, studies and detailed specialism.

It follows that in a period of increasing work, public pressure and risk, the police are entitled to ask to be fairly treated. After all, as the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said, they are forbidden by law on pain of imprisonment from taking industrial action. After the bitter disputes of the 1970s, the Edmund-Davies inquiry set up the police negotiating board as a means of providing a fair way to resolve pay and allowances.

It is true that Edmund-Davies's awards are not set in tablets of stone for ever, but the police are entitled to ask that those who seek to make material changes in police remuneration should place their arguments before independent arbitration and, subject to national emergencies, accept the result of that arbitration.

In this instance, the arbitration award, made by responsible and credible people, did not wholly favour the police. They set out the position clearly in their report:

We have felt it necessary to set out these principles at some length for two reasons. There is a tendency for each side to cling to familiar aspects of the older arrangements that they feel advantageous without weighing the compensatory gains. But most important is the fact that any inclination to pick and choose between the individual changes that we have suggested is likely to destroy, to the advantage of one side or the other, the fairness of the solution…which we believe takes account of the need not to add to the expense of the police service and is based on clear and sensible principles. The arbitration award in itself and the police negotiating board agreement which followed made substantial savings in the police budget. The Home Office was not satisfied with that, so went much further and set aside many important provisions in the agreement which, I am advised, detracted from the fairness of the award. The police budget had been reduced by several millions, but as a result the excellent relationship built up between the staff association and the Home Office since the Edmund-Davies inquiry was undermined.

The real issue that we are debating, however, is not one of saving money, but the unfair way in which the Home Secretary's discretion has been used to overturn an agreement of the PNB, ignoring the special machinery set up precisely because the police are debarred from taking industrial action. I am worried at the way in which this decision ignores the implications for the future. I refer specifically to the police superintendents, who are the senior officers in the field responsible for the discipline and morale of other ranks. They are filled with concern that there are now fewer superintendents, who are the salt of the earth, confronted by increasing problems and a much higher work load.

Before Edmund-Davies, the police service as a whole, was unhappy. I have a vivid recollection of that unhappiness. Since Edmund-Davies, police superintendents have been busy seeking to improve service to the public and standards of education and professionalism. They are not primarily concerned with money, and acknowledge that the Home Office has, in the short term, preserved the remuneration of long-serving officers approaching retirement. They are concerned not about themselves but about the future of the service and the confidence that it has in its negotiating machinery.

That is why police superintendents are unhappy at the way in which arbitration has been treated. They fully accept that in times of grave national importance the service must take second place. But the public, and bodies such as the Association of County Councils and the police negotiating board have the right to ask what reasons of "grave national importance" arise in this case. If none exists and the Home Office is simply unhappy about part of an uprating system, in my view and that of police superintendents it should have dealt with the matter fairly and constitutionally, by referring it back to the police negotiating board.

I do not deny that concessions were made as a consequence of the approach by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and the Police Federation, but I am unhappy at the way that the issue has been handled since. I am uneasy therefore about the future of the police service in the present social climate, and suggest that the House should be, too. It is a serious matter to overturn an arbitration award, and I do not think that in this case it was justified. Therefore, I am in full sympathy with my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and find that I cannot go into the Lobby in support of the Government.

12.32 am
Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray)

In the few moments left before the closing speeches from both Front Benches, I will not rehearse the technical arguments that have been made in this interesting debate. I speak on behalf not only of the Scottish National party but also of Plaid Cymru, which are united on this issue and speak with one voice in expressing a view that they share. A matter of principle is at stake, and Conservative Members have clearly expressed their dissent, as have right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House.

When the Home Secretary addressed the Police Federation conference in Scarborough and made it clear that he did not intend to change the regulations, he expressed his hope that, after this debate, we'll draw a line under it and move on to other things. The Home Secretary cannot dismiss so easily the events of the past months. A line cannot be drawn under such a major issue. It is not a matter of wiping the slate clean just like that. The Home Office handling of the matter has done great damage to the morale, commitment and confidence of police forces the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.

The police representatives negotiated in good faith for many months, believing that the principles enshrined in the Edmund-Davies package would be upheld and honoured. What has been appalling is that Ministers, who asked that trade unionists observe democratically agreed procedures in negotiations and arbitration, throw those procedures out of the window when it suits them. It was clear from the speech of the hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) that he did not think that this issue involves principle. I believe that he demonstrated the Government's lack of principle on the issue and he showed that the dead hand of the Treasury is steering through these regulations.

What has happened is wrong in principle and outrageous in practice. We have still not heard a clear answer about the grave national importance that has led the Government to alter their view of the arbitration tribunal.

We seem to expect our police officers to observe matters of national importance in the course of their lives. The men and women of the Scottish police force trawled the hills and fields around Lockerbie after the air disaster. They are the men and women who have to deal with drug addicts and criminals in our society. We expect them to turn out on matters of national importance. No doubt many of them are working tonight, not far from here, on the explosion in London. If they observe national importance, surely they deserve respect and honour from the Government, who should observe the regulations as they were first agreed.

These events have ridiculed the staff side negotiations, have treated the negotiation machinery with contempt, have ignored Lord Edmund-Davies and Professor Sir John Wood, and have demoralised police forces. That is a terrible indictment of the Government's attitude to men and women who deserve our respect.

12.36 am
Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale)

Rather uniquely, I have experienced police matters at first hand at three different levels. As the House knows, I served as a police officer in the west end of London. I have also served as a police authority vice-chairman and here in Parliament as a member of the Select Committee on Home Affairs, when there is an opportunity to study policing matters in considerable detail.

I am sure that the House will accept that that allows me to consider the issue that we are debating tonight from three distinctive perspectives. How do the police see the new regulations? Understandably, they are upset and deeply angry at the Home Secretary's decision. My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) articulated that anger in his speech. However, I ask police officers to accept that many Conservative Members supported the representations that my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge made to the Home Secretary, and that we were glad about the improvements that my right hon. and learned Friend made. I take the view that he has gone as far as he can to satisfy policemen and women on the matter.

The five years that I served as a policeman in London coincided with the Labour Government of 1964–70. Morale was not good. I was partly attracted by pay levels into the police force in 1965, and it seemed to me that those levels had been eroded by the time I left in 1970. My most vivid recollection was the lack of support that we police officers felt we had in the aftermath of the two Grosvenor square riots, outside the American embassy, in 1967 and 1968. That is all history, but it provides an insight into how police officers feel when there is a Grunwick, a miner's strike, a Wapping, or a Trafalgar square. I think that all serving policemen know that the Government have sincerely supported their efforts in the public disturbances that have taken place in recent years.

Happily, my experience as vice-chairman of the North Yorkshire police authority is much more recent, and I have discussed the issue at length with my chief constable and my chairman. They expressed three major concerns: morale, mobility and finance. Morale was boosted recently by the decision of my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd) when he was Home Secretary to appoint an extra 40 police officers over two years. We asked for 50 in North Yorkshire. We did very well to get an additional 40. It boosted morale.

Morale has been adversely affected by the decision on housing allowance. It would be wrong to suggest otherwise. We must be careful to stress the clear Government commitment to honour Edmund-Davies on pay. The Government's support for the police speaks for itself.

Mr. Allason

When my hon. Friend met the chief constable, did the chief constable reflect the views of Mr. James Anderton, who pointed out that the tribunal reached its conclusions on 18 December 1989, that the Home Office received the recommendations on 21 December 1989 and that the Home Office managed, in record time, by 4 January 1990, to produce 20 pages of draft regulations? The view of many chief police officers is that, far from honouring the Edmund-Davies formula, the Home Office set out from the beginning deliberately to delay implementation of the arbitration recommendation and had no intention of agreeing to it.

Mr. Greenway

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his intervention. I cannot answer the point. The chief constable did not articulate that to me, but he did articulate other matters that I am about to address.

I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to recognise the problem of mobility in rural police forces. In North Yorkshire we require all new recruits to serve for the first seven years in a rural beat house. That is why my right hon. and learned Friend is right to reject the payment of an allowance and the payment of rent. It would lead to all sorts of difficulties. However, in due course we should like those officers to move out of that accommodation and to buy their own home. Thereafter, the housing allowance must be adequate to allow recruits to do that. I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to keep an open mind as to future needs.

My chief constable and chairman also discussed finance. It is a concern that manpower costs represent such a large slice of the police budget—at present 80 per cent. Community charge payers have to meet 30 per cent., whatever the police bill may be. Members of police authorities, who are also county councillors, have responsibility for other priorities: education, teachers' pay, and social services, which all place heavy demands on resources, too. The debate would not be about housing allowances if police authorities had the opportunity to choose the issue. Instead it might be about capital spending plans. We cannot ignore the urgent need to make a thorough reappraisal of police buildings and accommodation, including the fabric of many police houses, training facilities, the need for new computer technology and communications equipment.

That leads to my experience of the current work of the Select Committee on Home Affairs. All our inquiries point one way. For 11 years the Government have given top priority—rightly, in my view—to the recruitment and pay of our police officers. The priority now must be to give that manpower the tools with which to do the job. My right hon. and learned Friend supports that view. It was his recognition of the need to reorder priorities that led him to take this difficult decision. It is no more easy for Conservative Members who support the police to support that difficult decision, but I do so in recognition of three facts.

First, we have the best-paid police force in Europe. We now want to have the best-equipped police force in Europe. The Government have the responsibility for ensuring that proper priority is given to all the needs of the police service. This decision I take to be part of that process. Secondly, I invite the police to see the Opposition motions for what they are: cynical opportunism.

Thirdly, and above all, my right hon. and hon. Friends and I recognise that although a decision has been taken that has damaged the relationship between the Conservative party and the police service, the Conservative Government have given the police every support over the past 11 years. We now ask the police service to support us, to understand why the decision was taken, to understand what is being done, to understand that the Edmund-Davies pay commitment will continue to be honoured and to understand that a highly motivated, well-trained and properly equipped force must be, and will continue to be, a high priority for this and the next Conservative Government.

12.45 am
Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)

We have been dealing with what could fairly be described as a matter of byzantine details. We have been faced with a complex mass of convention and precedent. We have a system which no one would have designed and which has grown over the years. It has had the great virtues of maintaining the confidence of the police force and offering stability. It is, above all, a system that has worked.

The system has been the subject of a major review. A series of difficulties have been compounded, as in so many other areas of our life, by the introduction of the poll tax. If there is one thing on which there is unanimity in the House, it is that the police are unhappy. There is common ground between those who are unfavourably disposed to the actions of the Home Secretary and those who are bravely supporting him because of party loyalty.

The House will not be surprised to know that in Scotland, as elsewhere, the unhappiness of the police is directly reflected. The reasons for the unhappiness have been made clear during the debate. The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby), who declared his special interest, carefully documented the reasons for the unhappiness. There were moments when perhaps he documented it too carefully, but I take the points he made and recognise their substance. Undoubtedly anomalies are appearing in the system as a result of the repudiation of the arbitration award, and these will cause much bitterness and unhappiness.

The Home Secretary sounded peculiarly unhappy and unconvincing when dealing with the problems of the Housing allowance and the anomalies between different forces. Comparisons have been made between those which uprated in 1988 and those which did so in 1989. The right hon. and learned Gentleman intervened more than once to tell us that inevitably there were differences, and that those differences have always existed because housing circumstances varied throughout the country. That is true, but differences are now being introduced that are the result of a different method of calculation. That will lead to great unhappiness and deep resentment.

That point was made by the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Ward) when he expressed his worry about the contrast between Dorset and Hampshire. The hon. Member for Hertfordshire, West (Mr. Jones) talked about the impact on the force in the country of which he represents part and the number of police officers who are trying to transfer to other forces. Despite the interim or halfway stage that the Home Secretary produced under pressure, there remains a major anomaly. That is the difference between £26.5 million and £55 million, the first sum being the cost of the present scheme and protection and the second figure being the cost of eliminating all the anomalies that have been created.

We must recognise the problem faced by police officers who are buying their own homes. We are told that the rent allowance will be uprated by 16 per cent. over two years, but there was plenty of testimony by Conservative Members to the unhappiness that exists and the substantial differentials that will continue to prevail.

We have heard about the red-circling of rent allowances and mark-time protected incomes under the new system. These devices will not solve the problems or take the edge off the discontent. In a different context, and perhaps at a different financial level, I think of the last occasion when I, as a constituency Member, had to deal with a large number of people who had mark-time protected incomes. These people had been on supplementary benefit and they found themselves with a protected level of benefit as they faced transition to income support. In the first year of transition, many of them said that it was fine. They did not notice any difference. The noticed a difference in the next year and the following year when upratings were introduced and they realised that they would not get a penny piece. The new system bit, and it bit hard. That will be the impact and the effect on the police force in years ahead.

I had the impression that even those Conservative Members who were trying to be loyal were distinctly nervous about the prospects. I respect the special authority of the speech by the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway). He was not representing a particular interest but has served as a police officer. He was particularly unhappy about what he recognised as the damage that was being done to the relationship between the Government of the day and the police force. I do not like that happening. I do not worry so much about relationships within the Tory party, but I accept that there is a problem when the police force loses confidence, in the government of the day, or that confidence is damaged. That is bad for morale, which should concern us all.

The hon. Gentleman argued that police officers were angry, but he went on to say that the Government had done everything they reasonably could, leaving us with the implication that the anger was therefore unreasonable. I do not believe that, in his heart of hearts, the hon. Gentleman believes that, or that any of his former colleagues in the force would feel that they were being unreasonable, even after listening to his arguments.

The anger has been compounded by a sense of outrage over a breach of principle. The arbitration award has been overturned, according to the Secretary of State for Scotland's correspondence with me a month or two ago, "after careful consideration". He told us that it was not done lightly. That is a doubtful plea in mitigation. It suggests that the Secretary of State knew what he was about; it was a premeditated act committed with malice aforethought.

Some of his arguments appear deplorably lightweight. His letter to me dated 12 February displays a curious air of unreality. For example, he made the point that those who live in police authority housing would have had to pay rent and that the rent might have been higher than the allowances. That may be so, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say, quaintly in view of all the Government's rhetoric over the past few years, that if they paid rent they would have a right to buy and that would be unthinkable because it would have adverse operational consequences for housing stock. Having been deaved by the Secretary of State for Scotland for some five years about the essential virtues of selling off every piece of public sector housing stock that could possibly be put on the market, that seems to me to be a perverse argument.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman then discussed what index should be used to calculate the housing allowance. I understand that, if one uses capital values and the housing element in the retail prices index, one may end up with a significantly higher figure, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said, that was carefully considered by the arbitration machinery, which concluded that it was right to do so. I find it remarkable that the Secretary of State for Scotland should lecture me on the fact that the RPI includes mortgage costs and therefore is suitable. I hope that he will have a word with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and persuade him that mortgage costs should remain within the RPI.

However, my central objection concerns the nature of the arbitration. Arbitration is effective and carries long-term confidence only if it is binding on both sides. It does not need to be formally and legally binding, but it has to be an undertaking of honour and an agreement by which both sides will stand if it is to mean anything.

No doubt Mr. Justice Edmund-Davies produced a much-admired and extremely useful report, but in some ways he was lamentably naive. He said that there was no need to make it legally binding because the actions of the Secretary of State were accountable to Parliament, so no further control was necessary. I do not know whether he envisaged that we would be debating these matters at 1 o'clock in the morning with no chance to amend or debate them in any detail or principle. He went on to give that famous pledge that in his view arbitration should be overruled

only for reasons of the utmost national importance". The outstanding feature of the debate was that the Secretary of State argued good housekeeping, pleaded poverty and argued about the common sense and the nuts and bolts of a complicated system, but he made no attempt to argue that, in his decision, there were reasons of the utmost national importance. He might have said that he had to overrule arbitration because the general mismanagement of the economy made it impossible to afford the arbitration award, but for some reason he did not advance perhaps his most plausible argument.

The truth is that he is embarked on a course of action that will damage police morale, at a time when we wish to improve and not to undermine it. Having failed to win the argument in the police negotiating board and having faild to carry the police arbitration tribunal, he has decided to take the law into his own hands. I am not trying to argue—I repeat the distinction made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook—that what the right hon. and learned Gentleman is doing is illegal, but I repeat that it is an act of doubtful morality, given the expectation arid relationship of trust that has marked the machinery set up by Mr. Justice Edmund-Davies over the past 11 years.

The Secretary of State said that that argument was the usual waffle and that it was complete balderdash. But then he rather betrayed himself, because he said that it was all a matter of honour. It is a matter of honour, nothing to do with waffle, balderdash or illegality. Against that test, the right hon. and learned Gentleman fails. In the end, sadly for him, "the utmost national importance" has been equated with the convenience of the Treasury.

12.56 am
Mr. Waddington

With the leave of the House, I should make a few points.

The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) said that I was wrong because our decision was all about money. In part, he was right. It was essential that the Government chould consider the wider economic interests, because more in rent allowance inevitably means less on other police services. Every hon. Member knows perfectly well that representations are being made even now that there is not enough money for all the other expenses of running a police force, such as vehicles, equipment or machinery.

It is not a serious indictment of the Government that we were concerned with the cost of the proposals put before us by the police negotiating board. It would have been thoroughly irresponsible if we had allowed such massive increases in rent allowance. In the first year, the amount involved may be described as relatively modest, but I cannot believe that any hon. Member believes that if the system as recommended by the police negotiating board had been put in place large sums of money would not have been involved over a period of years.

Therefore, it was important that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook should have made it abundantly plain that the Opposition are pledged to an increase in rent allowances, which would deprive police forces of substantial sums that undoubtedly are needed for other purposes. [Interruption.] If the Opposition do not intend to spend those funds on rent allowances when they could be used on other police services, the indictment against the right hon. Gentleman is all the more forceful. He is committing the Labour party to considerable extra public expenditure, but we have yet to hear where the money will be found.

My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) was more than generous, and I am grateful to him. It is right that we had amicable discussions about how best to resolve the differences between the Government and the Police Federation. My hon. Friend acknowledged, fairly, that the Government were not unyielding and that, in two respects, we had listened to the representations of the Police Federation, heeded its comments and acted accordingly. I do not think that many people would seriously believe that we had not made a big move to get rid of the feeling of unfairness about officers who belong to forces that are uprated in even years compared with officers in forces that are uprated in odd years.

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway). The Government have made their commitment to the Edmund-Davies report, but there is criticism about capital spending plans in police forces. We must heed that argument and do our best to meet the representations made to us. The more we refuse to grasp this nettle, when housing allowances have run completely out of control, the less chance we have of meeting the serious objections that have been made to us on an entirely different front.

I do not understand the Opposition's point. They laughed when we said that if we had observed the recommendation of the police negotiating board, those who rented houses would have had the right to buy. They seem to suggest that they would have been happy for that to happen. I cannot understand it. If they think that the—

It being three hours after proceedings on the motion had been entered upon, MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded to put the Question necessary to dispose of them, pursuant to the Order [22 June].

The House divided: Ayes 191, Noes 293.

Division No. 262] [9.37 pm
Allason, Rupert Gill, Christopher
Arbuthnot, James Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Goodlad, Alastair
Atkinson, David Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Baldry, Tony Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Gow, Ian
Bellingham, Henry Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Bendall, Vivian Gregory, Conal
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Benyon, W. Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bevan, David Gilroy Ground, Patrick
Biffen, Rt Hon John Hague, William
Body, Sir Richard Harris, David
Boswell, Tim Hayward, Robert
Bottomley, Peter Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Hill, James
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Brazier, Julian Holt, Richard
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Buck, Sir Antony Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Burns, Simon Hunter, Andrew
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Irvine, Michael
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Jack, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Janman, Tim
Cash, William Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Chapman, Sydney Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Kennedy, Charles
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Key, Robert
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Kirkhope, Timothy
Cope, Rt Hon John Kirkwood, Archy
Couchman, James Knapman, Roger
Cran, James Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Curry, David Lawrence, Ivan
Davis, David (Boothferry) Lee, John (Pendle)
Devlin, Tim Lightbown, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Dover, Den Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Dunn, Bob Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Durant, Tony Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Emery, Sir Peter Major, Rt Hon John
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Malins, Humfrey
Evennett, David Mans, Keith
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Maples, John
Fearn, Ronald Marlow, Tony
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Fishburn, John Dudley Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Fookes, Dame Janet Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Forth, Eric Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Fox, Sir Marcus Monro, Sir Hector
Franks, Cecil Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Freeman, Roger Moore, Rt Hon John
Gale, Roger Morrison, Sir Charles
Gardiner, George Moss, Malcolm
Garel-Jones, Tristan Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Nicholls, Patrick Soames, Hon Nicholas
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Norris, Steve Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Oppenheim, Phillip Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Page, Richard Stokes, Sir John
Paice, James Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Patnick, Irvine Sumberg, David
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Pawsey, James Temple-Morris, Peter
Porter, David (Waveney) Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Raffan, Keith Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Rathbone, Tim Thurnham, Peter
Redwood, John Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Rhodes James, Robert Waddington, Rt Hon David
Riddick, Graham Walden, George
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wallace, James
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Ward, John
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Wells, Bowen
Rost, Peter Wheeler, Sir John
Rowe, Andrew Widdecombe, Ann
Sackville, Hon Tom Wilshire, David
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Winterton, Mrs Ann
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Winterton, Nicholas
Shaw, David (Dover) Wolfson, Mark
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wood, Timothy
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Shersby, Michael Tellers for the Ayes:
Sims, Roger Mr. Derek Conway and
Skeet, Sir Trevor Mr. Edward Leigh.
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Eastham, Ken
Alexander, Richard Evans, John (St Helens N)
Allen, Graham Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Alton, David Fatchett, Derek
Anderson, Donald Faulds, Andrew
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Armstrong, Hilary Fisher, Mark
Ashton, Joe Flannery, Martin
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Flynn, Paul
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Barron, Kevin Foster, Derek
Beckett, Margaret Foulkes, George
Bell, Stuart Galloway, George
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) George, Bruce
Bermingham, Gerald Godman, Dr Norman A.
Bidwell, Sydney Golding, Mrs Llin
Boateng, Paul Graham, Thomas
Boyes, Roland Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Bradley, Keith Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Caborn, Richard Grocott, Bruce
Callaghan, Jim Hardy, Peter
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Harman, Ms Harriet
Carr, Michael Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Haynes, Frank
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Clay, Bob Henderson, Doug
Cohen, Harry Hinchliffe, David
Coleman, Donald Hood, Jimmy
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Corbett, Robin Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Cousins, Jim Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cryer, Bob Janner, Greville
Cummings, John Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Dalyell, Tam Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Darling, Alistair Kilfedder, James
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Knowles, Michael
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Lamond, James
Dewar, Donald Latham, Michael
Dixon, Don Leadbitter, Ted
Dobson, Frank Leighton, Ron
Douglas, Dick Lewis, Terry
Dunnachie, Jimmy Litherland, Robert
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Reid, Dr John
McAvoy, Thomas Richardson, Jo
McCartney, Ian Robertson, George
McLeish, Henry Ruddock, Joan
Madden, Max Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Mahon, Mrs Alice Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Marek, Dr John Short, Clare
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Skinner, Dennis
Martlew, Eric Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Maxton, John Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Meale, Alan Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Michael, Alun Spearing, Nigel
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Steinberg, Gerry
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stevens, Lewis
Morgan, Rhodri Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Morley, Elliot Stott, Roger
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Mowlam, Marjorie Turner, Dennis
Mullin, Chris Wareing, Robert N.
Nellist, Dave Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
O'Brien, William Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
O'Neill, Martin Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wilson, Brian
Parry, Robert Winnick, David
Patchett, Terry Wise, Mrs Audrey
Pendry, Tom Worthington, Tony
Pike, Peter L. Wray, Jimmy
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Primarolo, Dawn
Quin, Ms Joyce Tellers for the Noes:
Randall, Stuart Mr. George Buckley and
Redmond, Martin Mr. Eric Illsley.
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Division No. 263] [1.1 am
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Fearn, Ronald
Allason, Rupert Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Allen, Graham Fisher, Mark
Alton, David Flannery, Martin
Anderson, Donald Flynn, Paul
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Armstrong, Hilary Foster, Derek
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Foulkes, George
Ashton, Joe Fraser, John
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Galloway, George
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Barron, Kevin Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Beckett, Margaret Godman, Dr Norman A.
Bell, Stuart Golding, Mrs Llin
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Gould, Bryan
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Graham, Thomas
Bermingham, Gerald Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Blair, Tony Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Blunkett, David Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Boateng, Paul Grocott, Bruce
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Hardy, Peter
Boyes, Roland Harman, Ms Harriet
Bradley, Keith Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Henderson, Doug
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Hinchliffe, David
Buckley, George J. Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Caborn, Richard Hood, Jimmy
Callaghan, Jim Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Campbell, Menzies (File NE) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Hoyle, Doug
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Carr, Michael Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Illsley, Eric
Clay, Bob Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Cohen, Harry Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Coleman, Donald Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Kennedy, Charles
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Kilfedder, James
Corbett, Robin Kirkwood, Archy
Cousins, Jim Lambie, David
Cox, Tom Lamond, James
Cryer, Bob Leadbitter, Ted
Cummings, John Leighton, Ron
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Cunningham, Dr John Lewis, Terry
Dalyell, Tam Litherland, Robert
Darling, Alistair Lloyd, Tony (Stratford)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) McAllion, John
Dewar, Donald McAvoy, Thomas
Dixon, Don McCartney, Ian
Dobson, Frank Macdonald, Calum A.
Doran, Frank McKelvey, William
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth McLeish, Henry
Eastham, Ken Maclennan, Robert
Evans, John (St Helens N) Madden, Max
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Maginnis, Ken
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Fatchett, Derek Marek, Dr John
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Martlew, Eric Shersby, Michael
Maxton, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Short, Clare
Meacher, Michael Skinner, Dennis
Meale, Alan Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Michael, Alun Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Soley, Clive
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Spearing, Nigel
Moonie, Dr Lewis Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Morgan, Rhodri Steinberg, Gerry
Morley, Elliot Stott, Roger
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Mowlam, Marjorie Trimble, David
Mullin, Chris Turner, Dennis
Nellist, Dave Vaz, Keith
O'Brien, William Wallace, James
O'Neill, Martin Wareing, Robert N.
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Parry, Robert Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Patchett, Terry Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Pike, Peter L. Wiggin, Jerry
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Prescott, John Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Primarolo, Dawn Wilson, Brian
Quin, Ms Joyce Winnick, David
Randall, Stuart Wise, Mrs Audrey
Redmond, Martin Worthington, Tony
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Wray, Jimmy
Reid, Dr John Young, David (Bolton SE)
Richardson, Jo
Robertson, George Tellers for the Ayes:
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Mr. Frank Haynes and
Ruddock, Joan Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie.
Sheerman, Barry
Aitken, Jonathan Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Alexander, Richard Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Chapman, Sydney
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Chope, Christopher
Amess, David Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Arbuthnot, James Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Arnold, Sir Thomas Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Ashby, David Colvin, Michael
Aspinwall, Jack Conway, Derek
Atkins, Robert Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Atkinson, David Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Cope, Rt Hon John
Baldry, Tony Couchman, James
Bellingham, Henry Cran, James
Bendall, Vivian Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Curry, David
Bevan, David Gilroy Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Davis, David (Boothferry)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Devlin, Tim
Body, Sir Richard Dorrell, Stephen
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Boscawen, Hon Robert Dover, Den
Boswell, Tim Dunn, Bob
Bottomley, Peter Durant, Tony
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Dykes, Hugh
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Emery, Sir Peter
Bowis, John Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Evennett, David
Brazier, Julian Fallon, Michael
Bright, Graham Favell, Tony
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Fenner, Dame Peggy
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Burns, Simon Fishburn, John Dudley
Burt, Alistair Fookes, Dame Janet
Butcher, John Forman, Nigel
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Forth, Eric
Carrington, Matthew Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Carttiss, Michael Fox, Sir Marcus
Cash, William Franks, Cecil
Freeman, Roger Maples, John
French, Douglas Marland, Paul
Gale, Roger Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Gill, Christopher Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Maude, Hon Francis
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Goodhart, Sir Philip Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mellor, David
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Meyer, Sir Anthony
Gorst, John Miller, Sir Hal
Gow, Ian Mills, Iain
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Miscampbell, Norman
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Mitchell, Sir David
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Moate, Roger
Grist, Ian Monro, Sir Hector
Ground, Patrick Moore, Rt Hon John
Grylls, Michael Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hague, William Morrison, Sir Charles
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Moss, Malcolm
Hanley, Jeremy Moynihan, Hon Colin
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Neale, Gerrard
Harris, David Needham, Richard
Haselhurst, Alan Nelson, Anthony
Heathcoat-Amory, David Neubert, Michael
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Nicholls, Patrick
Hill, James Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hind, Kenneth Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Norris, Steve
Hordern, Sir Peter Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Oppenheim, Phillip
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Page, Richard
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Paice, James
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Patnick, Irvine
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Patten, Rt Hon John
Hunter, Andrew Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Irvine, Michael Pawsey, James
Jack, Michael Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Jackson, Robert Porter, David (Waveney)
Janman, Tim Portillo, Michael
Jessel, Toby Powell, William (Corby)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Price, Sir David
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Raffan, Keith
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Key, Robert Rathbone, Tim
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Redwood, John
Kirkhope, Timothy Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Knapman, Roger Rhodes James, Robert
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Riddick, Graham
Knowles, Michael Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lang, Ian Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Lawrence, Ivan Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Roe, Mrs Marion
Lee, John (Pendle) Rost, Peter
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Rowe, Andrew
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lightbown, David Ryder, Richard
Lilley, Peter Sackville, Hon Tom
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lord, Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Shelton, Sir William
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Maclean, David Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
McLoughlin, Patrick Sims, Roger
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Skeet, Sir Trevor
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Madel, David Soames, Hon Nicholas
Major, Rt Hon John Speed, Keith
Malins, Humfrey Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Mans, Keith Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Squire, Robin Viggers, Peter
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Waddington, Rt Hon David
Steen, Anthony Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Stern, Michael Walden, George
Stevens, Lewis Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Ward, John
Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stokes, Sir John Warren, Kenneth
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Wells, Bowen
Sumberg, David Wheeler, Sir John
Summerson, Hugo Whitney, Ray
Tapsell, Sir Peter Widdecombe, Ann
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wilshire, David
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Winterton, Nicholas
Temple-Morris, Peter Wolfson, Mark
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Wood, Timothy
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Thornton, Malcolm Yeo, Tim
Thurnham, Peter Young, Sir George (Acton)
Tracey, Richard Younger, Rt Hon George
Tredinnick, David
Trippier, David Tellers for the Noes:
Trotter, Neville Mr. Alastair Goodlad, and
Twinn, Dr Ian Mr. Nicholas Baker.
Vaughan, Sir Gerard

Question accordingly negatived.