HL Deb 16 May 1944 vol 131 cc769-71

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, noble Lords who have read the Explanatory Memorandum attached to this Bill will have observed that the object of the measure is to amend the Police and Firemen (War Service) Act, 1939, in order to cover certain contingencies for which experience of its working has shown provision to be required. I do not think that there is any need for me to weary your Lordships by a full and detailed examination of the somewhat complicated clauses of the Bill, and I shall therefore confine my remarks at this stage to a very brief review of what the Bill sets out to do.

The object of the principal Act, which, as I have said, was passed in 1939, was to confer upon those men who joined the Armed Forces and were injured or killed (and also upon their wives) benefits similar to those which would have been received had they been injured or killed while serving as police or firemen. Many noble Lords will be aware that the Police and Fire Service pension schemes provide higher scales of pension in the case of men retired or killed as a result of injuries received while on duty than when retirement or death is due to ill health arising from other causes. The principal Act enables the police authorities in the case of war injuries to increase the pension to the appropriate amount under these higher scales, after taking into account, of course, the pension provided by the Ministry of Pensions. These principles were further extended by Defence Regulations to police and firemen who have been transferred to civilian war work of national importance.

This Bill has been drawn up to deal with certain anomalies which have arisen, but it does not in any way alter the principles of the Act of 1939. Under the terms of this Bill, the police authorities will no longer be prevented from giving their men or the widows of those men the generous treatment which they so richly deserve, and which the 1939 Act clearly intended that they should receive. At the same time, the opportunity has been taken to deal with other matters which might cause difficulty in future, so far as they can be foreseen. I think that at this stage the House may perhaps agree to read the Bill a second time, although there may be noble Lords who desire to raise questions of detail which could be more appropriately dealt with at the next stage of the Bill. I may mention that the measure was agreed to in another place without discussion, after a statement made by the Minister. I therefore beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(The Earl of Munster.)

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