HL Deb 11 August 1890 vol 348 cc465-6

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill applies to England, excluding the City of London, and to Wales, but not to Scotland or Ireland. The matter has been before Parliament for the last 13 years, and since the Committee which at that period sat under the Presidency of Sir H. Selwin-Ibbetson, Bills have, in 1880 and 1885, been brought in by various Members, but they have been successfully resisted by those who objected to any further charge on the local rates. The matter has been before the present Government for a considerable time, but it was delayed—intentionally delayed—until the Local Government Act of 1888 had passed. By that Act a new Financial Authority was created, and it was thought well to hear what that new authority had to say on the question before legislation was proceeded with. The Bill may be briefly divided into three parts, and I will briefly describe its provisions without wearying your Lordships with any figures or statistics whatever, but as it is a matter which, owing to many circumstances, has excited much interest, if any noble Lord desires further particulars I shall be happy to give them. The first part deals with pensions as of right; the second with pensions according to scale up to 25 years' service; and the third with pensions after 25 years' service, subject to age limit, if any. The new scale was a slight rise on the old metropolitan scale over the 25 years' service, and in the Metropolis it is not proposed to impose the limit of life service. The scale of ordinary pensions in the country is left to be fixed by each Police Authority within the limits of a maximum and a minimum laid down in the Bill. The duties and conditions of service in the various police forces differ so much that an amount of variation seems necessary. One uniform scale would not suit all police forces, but the scheme of the Bill is that there shall no longer be differences in the same district. Thus, although the ordinary scale of pensions may be different in the various rural and urban districts, there will no longer be differences between one man and another in the same district. After 25 years' service the constable is entitled without medical certificate to retire on pension. There are also provisions made for special pensions for men who are partially or wholly disabled from earning their livelihood by injuries received in the execution of their duty, either accidentally or not accidentally, and there is likewise provision made for gratuities to constables who have not earned a pension, and for allowances and gratuities to the widows and children of constables who die whilst in the service, or within 12 months after retiring on pension. Now, I will say just a few words about the Metropolitan Force. They have additional advantages on the old scale. The amount of their ordinary and special pensions will be substantially the same as at present, but as I have already said they will be as of right, and the forfeiture or refusal of a pension, even for misconduct, may be questioned by an appeal to a Court of Law. This will carry a right to 31–50ths of their pay after 25 years' service, without medical certificate and without question of age. If a constable has contributed by his own default to the inefficiency which compels him to retire, his pension may not be reduced by more than one-half, and gratuities may be given to the widows and children of constables who die from natural causes whilst serving in the Force. That, I think, is a general summary of this very important measure. It is founded largely on Mr. Fowler's Bill, and has been thoroughly discussed for several days before a Select Committee of the other House. I beg to move the Second Reading.

Bill read 2a (according to order) and committed to a Committee of the whole House to-morrow.