§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The VISCOUNT MERSEY in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2:
§ Adjustment of rates in consequence of abolition of non-county borough police forces.
§ 2. Where the Secretary of State is satisfied that the amount of the rate required to be raised by the council of a non-county borough will be substantially increased by reason of the inclusion of the borough in the county police area under the provisions of this Act, he may by order direct that the provisions of the First Schedule to this Act shall apply in relation to the county in which the borough is comprised, and those provisions shall apply accordingly.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK moved, after the word "increased," to insert "or decreased." The noble Earl said: This Amendment raises a small but not unimportant point. As your Lordships are aware, almost every Bill which entails the taking over by some local authority of part of the area or some of the functions of another contains some provision for differential rating, as does this Bill in this clause. But in this clause the differential rating is only one way. It is provided that if the rates of one of the former police authorities are raised, certain adjustments shall be made. It is not provided that if the rates are decreased, thereby entailing some additional burden on the rest of the county, equal provision shall be made for adjustment.437
§ The Education Act, 1944, was very similar in some respects to this Bill, and under it some Part III local authorities had some of their duties taken over by county councils. In other cases certain fresh authorities were made to correspond with the old Part III authorities. There was provision for it to work both ways. I suggest that it would be fairer if similar provision were made in this Bill. I beg to move.
Page 2, line 33, after ("increased") insert ("or decreased").—(The Earl of Cranbrook.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Frankly, I do not very much like this Amendment. I rather wish that the County Councils' Association, who I think probably inspired it, had not done so. They did not bring it forward in another place, and of course it may raise some question of Privilege. But that is no reason why your Lordships should not deal with it if you so desire. I know how local government bodies feel about these things. I remember well a dramatic phrase which was used to me by the Rural District Councils' Association, who were relieved, more or less, some years ago of the burden of looking; after their roads. They referred to it, and they still do, as having been "robbed of their roads." Now we are dealing with the question of non-county boroughs and the police. The non-county boroughs, I am afraid, are saying that they are going to be robbed of their police.
But what is the true position? Compare the two rates—because they are both special rates. You may have a non-county borough where the police rate at the present time is, let us say, 7d. and that non-county borough may be situated in a county where the police rate is 10d. Under those circumstances, not only do you take away from the non-county borough their police, but you make them in the future pay not a rate of 7d. but a rate of 10d. In those circumstances we thought it right to soften the blow by saying that they should not have to pay the whole extra 3d. at once, but should pay one-quarter of the 3d. in the first year, one half of it in the second year, three-quarters of it in the third year, and finally come to the full 10d. That, as I think the noble Earl will agree, is the provision that we have. Now, he says (I see the logic of it) "Con- 438 sider the thing the other way." You may have a case where in a non-county borough the police rate is 10d., and the county rate is 7d. The result of removing the police from the non-county borough is, of course, to relieve them from the burden of a rod rate, and substitute instead a rate of 7d.—or 7d. very slightly increased. But just consider the non-county boroughs, and how they will look at it. They will say: "Not only have you robbed us of our police, but you are in effect fining us, you are continuing to make us pay the extra sum, not because we have a police force, but because we used to have one. Consequently, you say, we have to make higher contributions to the county rate for the benefit of county boroughs that do not have police forces." I do not like that very much. If we are doing what the County Councils' Association have always wanted, taking away the police from the non-county boroughs and putting them under the county authorities themselves, I think that the county councils should be prepared to relieve the non-county boroughs whose forces are taken away from any extra contributions in respect of their once having had police forces.
I must say to the noble Earl that I know the County Councils' Association very well. I had many negotiations with them in the past. I night have said to them in this connexion: "You are taking these forces away, and we want to ease the burden as much as we can. I really do not think it is very wise that you, as an association, should press that these unfortunate people who are losing their police forces should also have to make some additional contribution. That, indeed, is adding insult to injury." I cannot help feeling that if I put that to the County Councils' Association, they would not press the point which is contained in this Amendment. As I have said, they did not raise it in another place, and I very much hope that in order that this may work smoothly and happily, the noble Earl will see his way not to press it now.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
I must confess that I am not very much impressed with the arguments of the noble and learned Lord. In point of fact, as I said just now, in an Act passed as recently as 1944 an exactly similar position arose when the Part III education authorities were in many cases having 439 their functions transferred to the county councils. In respect of a number of cases the provision I am suggesting was in fact inserted in the Education Bill.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Will the noble Earl forgive me? He will remember that in that case the equalization does not begin to apply unless the discrepancy exceeds sixpence. In this case the highest discrepancy will be three farthings.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
I think in some of the Kentish non-county boroughs the discrepancy will be greater than three farthings. Some of them are gaining both on the swings and the roundabouts. I do not want to press this very strongly but I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord to give this further consideration before the next stage. It is not for the county councils that I speak so much as for the other districts in the county who in fact have got to pay the rates of these police authorities. It is the county districts upon whom it falls and not the county councils.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am always quite ready to consider matters but I really do not hold out any hope that I can change my opinion. There is no case in which the burden on the county can exceed three farthings and I think it is probable that there is no case in which it will exceed a halfpenny. I will look at the matter again but I do not hold out much hope of changing my mind.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3:
§ Voluntary schemes for the amalgamation of county and county borough police forces.
§ 3.—(1) If it appears to the police authorities for any two or more police areas being counties or county boroughs that it is expedient that those areas should be amalgamated for police purposes, they may for that purpose submit to the Secretary of State a scheme (hereinafter referred to as an "amalgamation scheme") and the Secretary of State may by order approve any scheme so submitted to him.
(2) Subject to the provisions of this Act, an amalgamation scheme shall make provision with respect to the following matters, that is to say:
(e) the transfer to the combined police authority of such property, rights and lia-
bilities of the constituent authorities (being property, rights and liabilities held or incurred in connexion with the constituent forces) as may be determined by or under the scheme, or the use by the combined police authority of any such property;
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved in subsection (2) (e), to leave out "in connexion with the constituent forces" and insert "for police purposes." The noble and learned Lord said: This Amendment is a little more than a drafting Amendment but only a very little more. It proposes to leave out the words "in connexion with the constituent forces" and to insert the words "for police purposes." If I read out these words I cannot help feeling that the words I am proposing to insert have more resemblance to the language of Shakespeare than the words I am proposing to leave out. I do not at all like the phrase "constituent forces" and "police purposes" straightforward English. To take an example of this, Canterbury as your Lordships know is a county borough of Kent. At the present moment owing to the amalgamation scheme which is in force the Canterbury police station is being used by the Kent constabulary. So it may be that Canterbury is not one of the constituent forces. That being so it is felt better to use this wording if, as is possible, there is an amalgamation scheme between Canterbury and Kent which would merge the two on a permanent basis instead of as at present on a merely temporary basis. At present the police station belongs to the Canterbury Corporation and it is desirable that that police station shall become the property of the new police force which would be the combined force for Canterbury and Kent. So we think that the words "for police purposes" would be desirable instead of "constituent forces" since Canterbury would be one of the constituent forces. I beg to move.
Page 3, line 21, leave out ("in connexion with the constituent forces)") and insert ("for police purposes)").—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.441
§ Clause 4:
§ Power of Secretary of State to make amalgamation schemes.
§ 4.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, if it appears to the Secretary of State that it is expedient in the interests of efficiency that an amalgamation scheme should be made for any such police areas as foresaid, and no scheme satisfactory to him has been submitted to him by the police authorities for those areas under the last fore-going section, the Secretary of State may for that purpose by order make such scheme as he considers expedient, and the provisions of the last foregoing section shall apply in relation to any such scheme as they apply in relation to schemes made under that section;
§ Provided that where the population of a county or county borough, as estimated by the Registrar General, is one hundred thousand or upwards, then except with the consent of the council of the county or borough, no scheme shall be made by the Secretary of State under this section for the amalgamation of the county or borough with any police area or areas of which the population or aggregate population, as so estimated, exceeds that of the county or borough.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ LORD LLEWELLIN moved, in the proviso to subsection (1), to leave out the words "of which the population or aggregate population, as so estimated, exceeds that of the county or borough." The noble Lord said: The clause to which I am moving this Amendment is the one under which the Secretary of State may make amalgamation schemes, but a proviso says that he cannot make such a scheme if the population of a county or borough is estimated by the Registrar-General as 100,000 or upwards. Then he can only do it with the consent of the borough unless that borough is going to be amalgamated with a police area of which the population, or aggregate population, does not exceed that of the county or borough. If it exceeds that of the county or borough the consent of the larger authority has got to be obtained but if the large borough has a population which exceeds that of the area in which it is going to be amalgamated its consent no longer has to be obtained. I realize that this proviso was inserted as an Amendment in another place to the original Bill and I am really asking for information why consent should be necessary in one case and not in the other. I beg to move.
Page 4, line 33, leave out from (" areas ") to end of line 35.—(Lord Llewwllin.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I can best answer the noble Lord by an illus- 442 tration. I will take an illustration I have used several times, that of Canterbury and Kent. We are dealing here, of course, with the powers of a Secretary of State to make an amalgamation. Kent has a population of over 1,000,000 and Canterbury with a population of only 25,000 is almost the smallest county borough that there is. If you do amalgamate these two forces, instead of having the Standing Joint Committee which you have for Kent to-day you will have a new joint authority and on that joint authority Canterbury would be entitled to have some representation. What we rather fear is that it may be that in some cases difficulties will arise as to what the representation should be. Sometimes there have been such difficulties. What the Home Secretary feels is that he should have a discretion to prevent the larger concern being able to dig their toes in and say they will not agree unless they can get whatever terms they like with regard to the constitution of the joint authority. Consequently we say that where the population of a county is 1000,000 or upward:—that obviously means Kent which has 1,000,000—then except with the consent of the Kent County Council no scheme shall be made by the Secretary of State under this clause for the amalgamation of Kent with Canterbury. If you do not put it in that way you will enable Kent to say "We will not consent unless the Canterbury representation on the new joint authority is only one man" or something of that sort. I am not suggesting that they would say that, but I am suggesting that you put them in the position of being able to say "Unless you grant the terms I have stated, I shall not consent." That is why we have put this in and I think the noble Lord will probably agree with this.
§ LORD LLEWELLIN
I am obliged to the noble and learned Lord for his explanation and in the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 4 agreed to.
§ Clause 5.—[Constitution and powers of combined police authorities]:
THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved, after subsection (1), to insert:
(2) Provision may be made by an amalgamation scheme for applying, in relation to the
constitution and proceedings of the combined police authority and in relation to the officers of that authority, any of the provisions of Parts II to IV of the Local Government Act, 1933, subject to such modifications as may be prescribed by the scheme.
§ The noble and learned Lord said: We propose to put in this clause the words on the Amendment Paper. We could of course put all the provisions save one of the Local Government Act in the scheme, but we could not put in the scheme the penalties which are provided by the Local Government Act for improper conduct. For instance, suppose you had the case of a contract being made and one of the people concerned getting what is commonly called a "rake-off." The Local Government Act provides penalties for that sort of case, and therefore unless we incorporate the provisions of the Local Government Act we could not provide for a penalty in that sort of case of dishonesty. That being so we thought it desirable to put in these words.
Page 5, line 17, at end, insert the said new words.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 6 to 10 agreed to.
§ Clause II:
§ Chief Constables.
§ 11.—(1) The person appointed by an amalgamation scheme to be the first chief constable of the combined force shall be a member of a police force, and shall be the chief constable of one of the constituent forces unless the Secretary of State is satisfied, having regard to any exceptional circumstances, that no such chief constable is suitable for the appointment.
§ (2) The chief constable of a non-county borough force shall not be transferred by virtue of this Act to the county force or to the combined force constituted by a county scheme made before the appointed day unless before the date of transfer he agrees to join that force in some capacity other than that of a chief constable; and the chief constable of a police force shall not be transferred to the combined force constituted by a scheme under this Act unless he is appointed as the first chief constable of that force or unless before the date of transfer he agrees to join that force in some other capacity.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD LLEWELLIN moved, in subsection (2), to leave out "The chief constable of a non-county borough force shall 444 not be transferred by virtue of this Act to the county force or to the combined force constituted by a county scheme made before the appointed day unless before the date of transfer he agrees to join that force in some capacity other than that of a chief constable; and". The noble Lord said: The Amendment I am moving now is to leave out the first part of subsection (2) of Clause 11. It seems to me prima facie that these words are quite unnecessary. I should have thought the words in the latter part of the subsection were ample to protect the chief constable. The first part of the subsection merely deals with the particular point of the chief constable of a non-county borough force, and if these words which I am proposing to omit are left in it will be impossible for him to be appointed chief constable of the new combined force unless he has previously entered that force in some other capacity. I really do not see why you want to deal with this particular case in any different way from the general words which would be left if we omit the first five and a half lines of this subsection. For these reasons, and as we do not want redundant words on the Statute Book, I beg to move. If the words are not redundant then perhaps the noble and learned Lord Chancellor will tell me why they are not.
Page 10, leave out from beginning of line 25 to ("the") in line 30.—(Lord Llewellin.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am afraid these words are not redundant. I think I can easily satisfy the noble Lord. Subsection (2) deals with two different cases. As the noble Lord will see, the first half deals with the non-county borough force and the second half with the chief constable of a county borough or county police force. The first deals with a non-county borough and the second with a county borough or county.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
No, I do not think so. That is the intention, anyway. I asked about that. I looked into it to see whether it could not be made clearer and I suggested that it would be clearer to put in the words "the chief constable of a police force of a county or county-borough." I will look into it again, but the object is this. The scheme of the Bill, 445 as your Lordships will remember, so far as non-county borough police forces are concerned, is that they are simply absorbed or swallowed up by the county forces, whereas, of course, the county boroughs or the counties keep their forces, subject to amalgamation. For instance, if you amalgamate Northampton and Rutland, both of them being counties and both of them having their own forces, you will then have a police force brought into being which is different from anything now existing. It will be a combined Northampton and Rutland force; "Nutland," shall we call it. It will be a new force, whereas so far as the non-county boroughs are concerned these police forces simply disappear. The scheme of the Bill is that everybody in the police force is to continue in the police force in his same capacity. Your Lordships will find that provided, I think, in the Third Schedule on page 23 at line 30, which provides:… and shall hold in that force the same ranks respectively as they held immediately before the date of transfer in the force from which they are transferred.I will come back again to my own county of Kent. There are a very large number of non-county boroughs, each of whom has got its own chief constable. Well, you cannot have nine chief constables. You have got to have one. Therefore you have got to deal with such a case by the first words in subsection (2), and to say that the chief constable of a non-county force cannot be the chief constable of the new force. There cannot be two, at any rate.
What is proposed is that under regulations which are going to be issued chief constables are going to be given the chance of going into the new police force in some other capacity than chief constable, or, if they desire to retire, we are going to facilitate their retirement. The scheme is that they are going to be credited with an extra ten years' service which I think everyone agrees is fair. That is the reason why we have got in this part of the clause words to deal with that. I think the noble Lord will see that we must have something; otherwise we shall have nine chief constables in Kent!
§ LORD LLEWELLIN
I was not suggesting there should be nine chief constables in Kent. Of course the last words would really adequately deal with that position, because he shall not be trans- 446 ferred to the combined force unless he is appointed chief constable of that force or unless before the date of transfer lie agrees to join that force in some other capacity. That would in fact deal with the point which the noble and learned Lord was putting. If it is intended to keep them, I see the force of an Amendment such as that adumbrated by the noble and learned Lord, save that in the second part of this subsection if you put in some such words as "and the chief constable of a county or county borough police force" we should get the two things distinct. As it is I believe the last words apply to the others as well as the former. If the noble and learned Lord would lock into the question of putting these words in, I think we should get it clear.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause II agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ Schedules agreed to.