HL Deb 17 March 1931 vol 80 cc374-8

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a Bill relating to matters affecting Metro- politan Police staffs at New Scotland Yard and the Bill is divided into two Parts. Part I applies to certain members of the staff employed at New Scotland Yard under the Commissioner of Police and the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police District, and at Police Courts under the Chief Magistrates. It does not apply to any member of the Metropolitan Police Force nor to any of the Metropolitan Police Magistrates. Its object is to bring the pension conditions of the civilian staff paid from the Metropolitan Police Fund into line with those of civil servants as regards two matters: first, gratuities to unestablished employees who leave after long service, and secondly, to computation of compensation allowances granted to the established employees on abolition of office or removal from office.

The matter is at present regulated by the Metropolitan Police Staff (Superannuation) Act, 1875. Under that Act the pension conditions of the established civilian staff paid out of the Metropolitan Police Fund are similar to those of civil servants in Government Departments, but that Act gives no power to grant gratuities to unestablished staff. In this respect the conditions of the Metropolitan Police staff differ from those in the Civil Service. In the Civil Service under Section 4 of the Superannuation Act, 1887, and Section 3 of the Superannuation Act, 1914, gratuities may be granted to unestablished employees on the following conditions: A gratuity must not exceed one week's pay for each year of service. The service need not be continuous, and the gratuity is payable after seven years service to an unestablished employee whose office is abolished and after fifteen years service to an employee who retires on medical grounds, or to his dependants if he dies while serving. These are the conditions which it is proposed to lay down by Order if the Bill passes. At New Scotland Yard no cases arising from abolition of office have come to notice, but five or six cases have occurred in the last ten years where the employee has been compelled to retire on medical grounds or has died in the service and of course there has been no power to grant any annuity. In the absence of exceptional circumstances there is certain to be hardship in discharging an employee of fifteen or more years service with nothing.

The staff affected number about 660 and consists of clerks, typists, messengers, motor drivers, watchmen, storekeepers, fitters, electricians, stokers, carpenters, tailors, compositors, clerks of works and cleaners at police stations. This is a small number compared to the number of unestablished employees in the Civil Service. There is no present intention to increase the number. The policy recently as regards temporary clerks has been to establish as many as possible and to reduce the number. About 1OO have been made permanent in the last few years.

Next with regard to commutation, the Secretary of State has no power to commute compensation allowances granted on abolition of office or removal from office in the case of permanent staff. In the Civil Service the Treasury may commute by a lump sum payment (calculated according to the pensioner's expectation of life) the whole or part of a compensation allowance granted to persons whose offices have been abolished or who have been removed for the purpose of facilitating improvements in organisation. Cases of commutation will rarely arise among the relatively small staff dealt with by the Bill—somewhat less than 500 established officers in all—but it is desirable to have the powers necessary to deal with any possible case.

Any expenditure arising from the proposals in Part I will be met from the Metropolitan Police Fund. The amount is entirely problematical as the staff affected is small and cases will arise infrequently. There may be no expenditure for several years; and the maximum amount which may be granted by way of gratuities in any one year is not likely to exceed £500. The Bill will not impose a direct charge upon the Exchequer, but so long as the present practice of making an Exchequer grant in aid of police expenditure is continued, an amount not exceeding half the total cost will annually be borne by that grant. The commutation of compensation allowances will not increase the total charge falling on the Police Fund in respect of those allowances, but will merely alter its incidence as between one year and another.

Part II of the Bill deals with the machinery of making payments out of the Metropolitan Police Fund and does not affect the kind of payment which may be made. It seeks to amend some of the provisions of the Metropolitan Police Act, 1829. Section 12 of that Act sets out the kind of payment that may be made and the Bill does not affect that. Section 10 provides for the appointment of a proper person to receive the sums of money applicable to the purposes of the Act. He is called the Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District. The section goes on to provide that all monies received shall be paid into an account with the Bank of England and all cheques drawn upon the account by the Receiver shall be countersigned by the officers appointed under that Act, and now, by a later Act, by the Commissioner of Police, an Assistant Commissioner or a Deputy Chief Commissioner. The Bill proposes that the counter-signature of cheques by the Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner or Deputy Chief Commissioner may be dispensed with. The counter-signature of cheques in the Commissioner's Office gives rise to considerable inconvenience and, as financial responsibility is vested solely in the Receiver, is almost a mere formality. Cheques are drawn in the Accountant's Department and the Controller and Auditor-General agrees that the counter-signature by an officer in the Department of the Receiver's office other than the Accountant's Department will maintain a financial check on the payment and afford adequate security to the Police Fund. The Bill will enable this change to be made.

The Bill will also enable an account to be opened at a local branch of a bank where necessary for the receipt of monies payable into the Metropolitan Police Fund. The power to open a local account will prove advantageous and convenient. For example, the Lost Property Office was recently transferred from New Scotland Yard to Lambeth. Considerable monies are received at this office from day to day and under the present law they have to be paid into the Bank of England. As there is no branch of the Bank of England near the money has to be carried some distance through the streets. The Bill will enable an account to be opened at a bank near the Lost Property Office into which these sums can be paid. In the same way the pay of the Force of the several divisions has to be drawn from the Bank of England and carried to headquarters through the streets. The Bill will enable an local account to be opened at a bank near the Lost Property Office into which these sums can be paid. In the same way the pay of the Force of the several divisions has to be drawn from the Bank of England and carried to headquarters through the streets. The Bill will enable a local account to be opened near near headquarters. It will also allow of other accounts being opened if they would promote administrative convenience. The proposals in Part II of the Bill involve no expenditure. The Bill passed Second Reading in another place without a Division. It was referred to a Standing Committee who reported it without amendment. I ask your Lordships' favourable consideration of the Bill and I move that it be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now moved 2a.—(Lord Amulree.)

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