HL Deb 12 May 1915 vol 18 cc983-4


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the object of this Bill is to facilitate recruiting from amongst a body of men who can provide very valuable material for His Majesty's Forces. It will be within your Lordships' recollection that two Acts dealing with this question have already been passed. In the first—the Police Reservists (Allowances) Act, 1914—certain privileges were given to constables who enlisted in the Army provided that at the time of their enlistment they were Reservists, the Police authorities being given power to supplement the pensions and the allowances of constables who had been called out as Reservists or had enlisted and their dependants. By the second measure—the Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Act, 1914—these privileges were extended to constables who enlisted who were not Army Reservists but who had previously served in the Army and were specially selected by the War Office as possessing particular qualifications for, in the words of the Act, "rendering special service in the Navy or Army." These words, however, are now found to limit too much the class to which the privileges should be granted, and it has been represented both by the Police authorities and by the War Office that their repeal would promote recruiting amongst the Police, who can now be spared for enlistment in larger numbers than was possible at the beginning of the war.

By this Bill it is proposed that the same privileges which were conferred by the two previous measures to which I have alluded should be given to all constables, whether they have previously served in the Army or not or whether they have special qualifications or not, who enlist with the consent of their chief officer. The conditions under which military pensions are granted are not precisely the same as in the case of the Police, and under this Bill a disabled policeman will have the benefit of the pension conditions of his own force, and not the somewhat narrower conditions that prevail as regards Army pensions. There is another provision which enables the services of constables to be retained during the continuance of the war by suspending the right of any constable who has served his full period to retire at the age of, say, 46 or 47 on a pension although fit for further service. This is in order to make it possible to retain them in the Police force without having to go to the class who are qualified for enlistment to fill their places.

Other small provisions in the Bill are contained in Clause 3, which provides that during the continuance of the war no new separate Police force shall be created, and which enables the Secretary of State to authorise a county Police authority to take over temporarily a small borough Police authority in its area. The reason for the latter provision is that it has been found, in a few instances at all events, that in the new war conditions duties have been thrust upon some of the small borough Police forces which they have not been able to carry out satisfactorily. During the Committee stage of this Bill in another place a few days ago, in response to criticisms and requests to make certain points somewhat clearer, my right hon. friend the Home Secretary proposed and accepted some Amendments, and the Bill which was circulated to your Lordships this morning and which is now on the Table is the measure as so amended. I trust that your Lordships will give it a Second Reading to-day.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Allendale.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House to-morrow.