HL Deb 11 August 1890 vol 348 cc466-70

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


I find some difficulty in asking your Lordships' attention to this Bill, because the state of the Benches on the other side of the House is not such as to induce one to give a very long explanation of any Bill which may be brought before your Lordships. At the same time, I am gratified to see that both the Members of your Lordships' House present, one on the Cross and the other on the Opposition Benches, are interested in Scotland. Your Lordships have just given your assent to a Bill providing for police superannuation in England, and the Bill to which I have now to ask your assent is a similar measure for Scotland. I should explain that although in England and other parts of the United Kingdom there have been schemes for the superannuation of police no such system has been in existence in Scotland, with the exception of one small instance in the borough of Greenock. It is true that the County Police Act, 1857, and the Borough Police Act, 1862, did give powers to the Commissioners of Supply and to the Police Authorities to make certain provisions for constables worn out in their service, but no proper scheme of superannuation has ever been in existence in Scotland up to this moment. Last year, under the Bills of 1857 and 1862, a sum of £4,000 was expended in Scotland in gratuities and in making provision for superannuating constables. This question has interested the people in Scotland for some time, and on more than one occasion Bills have been introduced into Parliament by private Members, but no Act has been passed dealing with this question. However, as long ago as 1868 a Committee of your Lordships' House was appointed to consider this question, and they after having done so reported to this effect: that in the Army and Navy, in the Police Services in England and Ireland, and in the Civil Service, a system of pensions exists; that a long and regular course of instruction and training are necessary for making efficient constables, and that, as in the absence of any pension system for Scotland, men frequently retire from the Service to follow other occupations, the Committee are of opinion that a well-considered scheme of pensions and gratuities would tend to prevent men leaving the Police Service, and would conduce to its efficiency. That Committee reported in 1868, but up to this time, as I have stated, nothing has been done. Under the provisions of the Local Taxation Bill, to which your Lordships have just given a Second Reading (although my noble Friend Lord Jersey did not refer to the point), a sum of £40,000 is provided for the purpose of police superannuation in Scotland. That sum of £40,000 is to be contributed from the Exchequer, and it is in consequence of that provision that this Bill has been introduced by Government. It was introduced into the other House of Parliament, but the Bill as introduced by Her Majesty's Government is not quite the measure to which I have now to ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading. It was referred in the House of Commons to a Committee, which took evidence upon the administrative and financial provisions in the Bill. The evidence upon that point was almost entirely given by Mr. Finlaison of the National Debt Commission, to whom I take this opportunity of making the fullest recognition of the valuable services he has rendered in connection with this Bill. The result of that evidence was, that the Committee came to the conclusion that if such arrangements were carried out with impartiality and prudence no charge would fall on the local rates for about 27 years, and even after that time there are provisions in the Bill which would probably prevent them arising. Now, the provisions in this measure are not exactly the same as those in the Bill which your Lordships just now heard detailed in the English Bill. The circumstances of Scotland are somewhat different, and therefore the Committee of the House of Commons which sat to consider the matter made some alterations, but they will not, I think, require any very lengthened explanation. In he first place, to establish a pension fund there will be deductions made from the rate of pay of the police to the amount of 2½ per cent.; the fines imposed on constables by Courts of Summary Jurisdiction; proceeds from sale of constables' worn clothing; sums received for services rendered by constables for payment; and sums received for pedlars' certificates. Then there will be contributions from the Exchequer, according to the charges of the previous year. Careful provision has been made as to the allocation of these sums for the investment of the fund, and for the use of the interest as income. I think the calculations have gone to show that with good management at the end of the 27 years such an amount of capital will have accumulated that sufficient provision will be made for meeting all liabilities. It will then be in the power of the Secretary for Scotland, having regard to the accumulation of a sufficient fund, to submit to Parliament Provisional Orders for the discontinuance of investments, if it appears to the Police Authority that the pension fund is sufficient to meet the annual charges. I think I had better now state the nature of the superannuation arrangements under this Bill. I do not propose to go into the details as to the subsidiary arrangements; but the principal proposals are these: that every constable and sergeant who has completed 25 years of approved service, and who is not less than 55, is entitled to a pension without medical certificate. In the case of superior officers the age limit is 60 years. That is the main provision of the Bill. There are other provisions with regard to gratuities or pensions to officers who may have received injuries accidental or non-accidental in discharge of their duties, and there are also provisions made for the benefit of the widows and children of officers who may have died within a very short time after they have become entitled to a pension, or who may have lost their lives or received serious injuries in the performance of their duties. But as all those provisions are detailed in the Bill, I do not think it is necessary for me to trouble your Lordships with them. The scale of pensions and gratuities is contained in the schedule. It is sufficient, I think, to state that the ordinary pension which a constable who becomes entitled will receive is 20–60ths of his annual pay, that is if he has completed 20 years' approved service; if he has completed 21 years, but less than 28, he will get in addition to the 20–60th, 1–60th of his annual pay for every year of approved service above 20 years, and if he has completed 28 years' service he will receive a pension equal to 28–60ths of his annual pay, and an addition of 2–60th for each year above 28 of approved service, so that the pension of a constable will never exceed two-thirds of his annual pay. The provisions with regard to Scotland are not quite so favourable as those with regard to the Police Force in England in the Bill which your Lordships have just assented to. In England and Wales there have been schemes in operation for this purpose in different parts of the country, that is providing for superannuation in the various Police Forces in the country, but, as I have said, in Scotland there has been no such provision or scheme. This Bill will therefore confer a new benefit upon the Police Force in Scotland. It is a proposal which I have long desired to see carried out, because it will place the Police Force in Scotland upon a more equal footing in this matter with the Police Forces in the other parts of the United Kingdom. I think it is desirable that this benefit should be conferred on a very deserving class of public servants, so long as it can be done without an undue charge upon the rates; and I believe under this Bill this can be carried into effect. I need not trouble your Lordships with any further remarks, and I move that the Bill be now read a second time.

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