HC Deb 03 May 1990 vol 171 cc1194-5
3. Dame Peggy Fenner

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the real increase in a police constable's pay over the last 10 years.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peter Lloyd)

Since the Government came to office, the pay of police constables has increased by just over 41 per cent. in real terms.

Dame Peggy Fenner

Does police remuneration under the Edmund-Davies formula include the rent allowance as an integral part, as a number of my police officer constituents, who have corresponded with me, seem to believe? What has been the increase in rent allowance for the 29 forces whose force maxima were last reviewed in 1988?

Mr. Lloyd

As my memory serves me, Lord Edmund-Davies did not make any recommendation on rent allowance. He said that he regarded it as reimbursement, not pay. I can answer precisely the second part of my hon. Friend's question. The change for those who last had an increase in rent allowance in 1988 and, therefore, did not have one last year, will be about 16 per cent. There is a small margin either way because some police forces had the uprating a few months earlier or later than others.

Mr. Wilson

If the Minister were giving evidence in a court of law, would not he be guilty of withholding relevant information? In telling us of an increase in police pay, he failed conspicuously to mention the reduction in police pay that has been effected through the imposition of the poll tax in place of the previous rating system. Is not it hypocritical to prosecute when there has been something akin to the three-card trick, with the Government giving money with one hand and taking it away with the other?

Mr. Lloyd

No. I gave accurate and clear statistics on police pay. Under the arrangements that we have made for the community charge, which every adult should pay, the police, who are extremely well paid, come into the same category as the rest of the community, and quite rightly so.

Mr. Rathbone

Does my hon. Friend accept that the Government have done extremely well by the police, but that there have been some difficulties about the rent allowance? Will he ask the chief constables in the forces concerned to report back to him on whether the rent allowance difficulties will lead to recruitment difficulties in the future?

Mr. Lloyd

The fact that police pay has risen so generously as I have said will ensure that we do not have recruitment difficulties, but we discuss such matters constantly with chief officers. My hon. Friend referred to the "problem" of rent allowances. Let me give one figure which will help to put that problem into perspective. We have spent 59 per cent. more on total police expenditure, including pay and equipment, since we took office, but rent allowances have risen by 124 per cent., showing that they have got quite out of line with what the rest of the community has to pay for housing and with police pay.

Mr. Hattersley

Why did the Home Secretary veto the agreement on pay and allowances which was decided by arbitration three months ago? Will he concede that, because of the conjunction of the poll tax and the holding down of rent allowances, many thousands of police officers will be worse off next year than they otherwise would have been? What will that do for police morale? Does the Minister share my opinion that the Home Secretary should have answered this question on the crucial matter of police pay?

Mr. Lloyd

The police are much fairer and more sensible than the right hon. Gentleman gives them credit for. The fact that their pay has moved in the way that it has shows how well they have been looked after. As Edmund-Davies said, my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has a final duty to make a decision and he must make it on the wider basis of the totality of spending and in comparison with the rest of the community. In addition, he has a duty to report to the House, which he will do when the measures come before the House in due time.