HL Deb 24 July 1922 vol 51 cc750-5



1. The compensation which may be awarded to an officer or constable shall be an annual allowance.

2. The annual allowance shall be calculated in like manner as the pension which the officer or constable would have been entitled to receive if lie had retired for length of service under the existing enactments applicable to him, and had been qualified in respect of his length of service for a pension, save that, for the purposes of that calculation, the following provisions shall have effect:—

  1. (a) There shall be added to his completed years of actual service if the proportion of salary on which his allowance is calculated is one-fiftieth, ten years, and if that proportion is one-sixtieth, twelve years:
  2. (b) His salary shall be taken at the amount which it would have reached if he had continued to serve in the same rank for the number of years so added, and in the case of a district inspector of the third class, as if he were entitled to promotion to the second class on the completion of one and a half years' 751 service in the third class, and, in the case of a district inspector of the second class, as if he were entitled to promotion to the first class on the completion of eleven years' service in the second class;
  3. (c) If the number of his completed years of service, as reckoned under this rule, is less than the minimum number of years of service for which provision as respects pensions is made in the appropriate pension scale, that scale shall apply with the substitution of the number of his completed years of service as so reckoned for that minimum number; and
  4. (d) If he has, in addition to his completed years of actual service, served for a period exceeding six months, his service for that period shall be reckoned as a completed year of actual service:

Provided that in the case of the surgeon of the Royal Irish Constabulary his compensation allowance may, should he so desire, be calculated in like manner as the pension which he would have been entitled to receive on retirement under the existing enactments applicable to him if the years to be added as aforesaid were added to his years of age instead of to his completed years of actual service.

3. The allowance awarded to an officer or constable shall in no case exceed two-thirds of the salary on which the allowance is calculated.

4. In the event of an officer or constable dying after an annual allowance has been awarded to him under this Act, the Treasury may, if they think fit, grant a pension or gratuities to the widow and children of the officer or constable in tike manner as if the allowance were a pension granted to the officer or constable on retirement, and as if his years of service had been the years in which the allowance was calculated.

5. In these rules the expression "existing enactments" means enactments in force at the time of the passing of this Act, and includes any orders made under those enactments and in force at that time.

THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH moved, at the end of paragraph 2, to insert: Provided that in the case of a county inspector who has served as a divisional commissioner his compensation allowance shall be calculated as if he were serving in the Royal Irish Constabulary and holding the rank of divisional commissioner therein and his entire salary as such commissioner were actual pensionable salary.

The noble Earl said: This Amendment deals with the ease of the divisional commissioner. Your Lordships will remember that the divisional commissioners have to do the most responsible work of all in the Constabulary and take risks equal to, if not greater than, those taken by any other officer or man. My Amendment seeks to provide that in the, case of a county inspector who is now serving as a divisional commissioner, his compensation allowance shall be calculated as if he were serving in the Royal Irish Constabulary and held the rank of divisional commissioner therein, and his entire salary shall be regarded as his actual pensionable salary. That is to say, I am endeavouring by this Amendment to provide that the divisional commissioner shall have his pension fixed on the basis of his salary as a divisional commissioner and not on his previous salary as a county inspector.

There were, I think, six of these very distinguished officers who were chosen from the ranks of the county inspectors, and who did this very responsible work. The appointments were made about two years ago, and their salaries were fixed at £1,200 a year. Some time after the appointments were made the officers in question were told that they were only to consider their posts as temporary ones, with the implied inference, therefore, that on the abolition of the posts they would not have pension rights on the basis of their position as full commissioners. The moment these officers realised this position they sent a deputation to the Chief Secretary, and they received from time to time various assurances.

On the occasion, for example, of one of their number losing his life, the Chief Secretary is understood to have said to I them: "If you live through, I will see that you are generously dealt with." Presumably it was already known that these men would become entitled to pensions as county inspectors, and, therefore, I think it is an obvious inference that the Chief Secretary's words implied that something more than a county inspector's pension should be given, for he said to them: "If you live through, I will see that you I are generously dealt with." On another occasion the Chief Secretary said to these officers: "You need not continue to press for new legislation to regulate your claims as, knowing your dangerous work, you are only kicking at an open door." Again, when these representations were made, and the officers pressed for legislation, the Chief Secretary used these words: "Legislation is not necessary, as we have every means to meet these claims."

I do not want to emphasise at length the great responsibility and importance of the work of these very distinguished officers, as I think it is known to your Lordships, but their duties were very onerous, and were carried out in the midst of great danger. Of the very small number of district commissioners, two unfortunately lost their lives. I do not think that I am putting it in an exaggerated way when I say that of the officers in Ireland at the time, civil or military, none were called to take such great risks as these divisional commissioners. Their claim is that they should not be treated merely as county inspectors for the purpose of pensions, but as divisional commissioners—that is to say, that in the assessment of their compensation they should be treated as existing officers at the time of the disbandment of the force, and as holding the rank of district commissioner. They also claim that they should be given compensation of one year's salary for disturbance. I do not set up as an arbiter as to what is the correct monetary compensation that should be awarded to these very distinguished officers, but I think their claims are entitled to be heard by your Lordships.

They make this further claim, that on a previous occasion district commissioners were not treated as it is proposed to treat them on the present occasion. I will take an example of what occurred at the end of the last century. One district commissioner appointed in 1893 received, when the office was abolished in 1898, a pension of two-thirds of his salary as a district commissioner. His pension was not based upon his previous salary as county inspector. At that time, therefore, the district commissioners received more generous treatment than the district commissioners themselves are now asking to be granted to them. I have put down their claim, which I venture to press upon your Lordships, in the form of an Amendment. If it is certain that their particular case can be heard by the tribunal I agree that it would not be necessary that these proposed, words should be added to the Bill, but without the assurance from the noble Viscount that these distinguished officers will be able to go before the tribunal I must press my Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 7, at end insert the said proviso.—(The Earl of Bessborough.)


I am afraid I must apply one observation that I have already made to my noble friend's Amendment, and that is that he seeks to impose by his Amendment a further charge upon the taxpayers. He proposes that the compensation allowances should be calculated on the acting rank in the case of these district commissioners. The acting rank carries with it, I think, £1,200 a year, and its effect would be to increase the compensation allowance from £600 to £800 a year. My noble friend must be aware that he is starting upon a very wide business indeed by suggesting that the allowances should be based upon the acting rank and not upon the substantive rank.


If I may interrupt for a moment, I did not make myself quite clear, as I did not wish to detain your Lordships more than was necessary. I have stated the claim of these officers, which I thought they were entitled to have laid before your Lordships. I have not said what my opinion is as to what exactly they should get, but have said what their claim is. I am asking your Lordships to consider whether the tribunal I should not be allowed to deal with these cases.


All I wished to point out was the result of the far-reaching suggestion made by the Amendment. You could not confine the compensation allowance based on acting rank merely to commissioners. If you conceded it to commissioners you would have to extend it to other ranks. You could not do it in the one case, without doing it in the others. But in answer to the specific question put to me, I understand that these men can represent their case before the tribunal. I am not sure that does not meet the point made by the noble Earl. I could not, of course, accept an Amendment of this kind, because it would set up a very difficult precedent, and one which could not be applied in one case only but would have to be applied all round.


I am glad my noble friend put this Amendment down, although I recognise what the noble Viscount has said as to the difficulty of making it a practical Amendment. I do not think the noble Viscount realises the position in which we all find ourselves. We receive communications of every sort and kind, some reasonable and some not so reasonable, from very many people, and we find that there is a widespread feeling among these men, who have served you so well, that they are not getting justice this way, that way, and another way.

If they could look to some place where they could get their cases heard and reconsidered, that would give them some satisfaction. I received only two days ago a letter from a number of men—not a large number—who think that they suffer from some such hardship as that indicated by my noble friend. I was very glad to hear what the noble Viscount stated, because I think the one thing we can do in Parliament for these men is to make them feel that there is a place to which they can go to get these things considered and reviewed. If we can do that, I think we shall have done good work for them. Do not let these men have the feeling that they have not had a chance of going before some tribunal to state their grievances.


Perhaps I may remind the noble Earl that I address myself exactly to the Amendment moved by my noble friend—


I do not think I have gone beyond it.


I am not suggesting that. I ought to say that they do get disturbance allowance. They have been allowed it in the revised terms on their acting rank.


If I understand that these individual cases will be treated by the tribunal—


Can be, not will be.


—that the tribunal is still empowered to act with regard to these cases, I will withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

First Schedule agreed to.

Second Schedule: