HL Deb 11 February 1948 vol 153 cc994-1034

3.6 p.m.

Viscount TRENCHARD had given Notice that he would ask His Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied with the conditions of service in the Police Forces of the country, and, in particular, the Metropolitan Police Force, and what steps they propose to take to ensure this very necessary provision in the near future; and to move that an independent committee be appointed to inquire into the conditions of the Police Force. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, in moving the Motion standing in my name, which has been on the Order Paper for some considerable time, I would like first to refer to the statement made by the Home Secretary in another place on November 27, when he moved the Second Reading of the Criminal Justice Bill. In outlining the Government proposals for changes in the Criminal law, he gave a number of statistics showing the great increase which has taken place in certain forms of crime. My Motion has no connexion with that Bill, except in an indirect way. The question I am raising concerns the present and future position of the Police Force of this country, and particularly of the Metropolitan Police. In other words, with the great amount of crime which we have to combat, how is the Police Force situated to deal with it?

It is common knowledge that, far from being up to its proper strength, the Police Force in London to-day is nearly 5,000 under strength. This figure has been stated publicly by the Government and in the Press. The women police, I believe, are under strength by a figure somewhat above 100. In other words, out of an establishment of 19,700 the Force is 25 per cent. under strength. So far as centres outside the Metropolitan Police area are concerned, I have no exact knowledge; but from inquiries I have made I understand that there is a shortage in some parts of the country; that the shortage is not universal, but fairly considerable. I think your Lordships will agree that the figures I have given represent a very serious state of affairs, particularly at the present rate of recruiting. It must be a long time, indeed, before this shortage can be made up, and when it is made up I would ask your Lordships to remember that it will be made up only to the pre-war strength of 1939. In view of the figures given by the Home Secretary of this large increase in crime, and the expansion of London, does it not follow that we require a larger Police Force than we had in 1939?

I now turn to what is happening to-day in regard to the new recruits. That explains, to my mind, why we have this shortage, and why it is likely to continue. I have been at some pains to look at figures which I have collected in regard to the year 1947, and I find that in that year 1,953 recruits joined the Metropolitan Police, and 866 left voluntarily. Of the 866 who left voluntarily approximately 470 were in their first year of service. That is the crux of the situation: 470 men in their first year of service left the Metropolitan Police. Why did these young men leave? I give your Lordships another figure. In the last three months of 1947 the number of men joining was 388. In the same period 120 men left who had completed less than one year's service. That means that 30 per cent. of the new recruits tire of the Service in less than one year; and my figures do not include any of the men who were found medically unfit or unsuitable for the Service.

Looking back to 1935 after I left the Service, the resignations from the Metropolitan Police Force of those with under one year's service were only 53. In 1946 the figure was 187, and in 1947, as I have said, it was 470. I would again emphasize that these figures relate only to the young men who joined the Service to find a career and who became disgruntled and dissatisfied within less than twelve months. With a net intake for 1947, so far as I can make it out, of 700, and an increasing rate of voluntary retirement, it will be a long time before the 5,000 is made up or there is any increase of the Police Force in the Metropolitan area. I hope sincerely that I have given moderately correct figures, but I shall be only too glad if the figures are not as unfavourable as I have made out. One month of the present year has gone. I would like to ask the Government what have been the figures of net recruitment for that one month. That is not much to ask in the way of figures. Those which I have given your Lordships reveal a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. It is surely hopeless to expect the splendid body of men we have in the Metropolitan Police Force to deal effectively with the present wave of crime if their numbers are attenuated and the conditions of service so unsatisfactory.

How is this position to be changed? I now come to my proposals. I am afraid that I am taking an undue time, but I have some other facts to give. In my opinion the remedy can be found in two ways, first, by making the conditions more attractive, so as to induce a larger number of recruits of the right type—men who join the Service with the intention of making it their life career—and, secondly, improving the conditions under which the men serve and live. I know the last point will meet with the approval of all Parties in your Lordships' House. Taking the question of recruiting first, there are only two ways in which 'this can be achieved—namely, directed and voluntary recruitment. I think the first is obviously impossible, and it will, I am sure, be unanimously agreed that one cannot: direct men into the Police Force. Therefore we are left with voluntary recruitment. Voluntary recruits will be enlisted only if the conditions of service are sufficiently attractive. By that, I mean that the incentives to induce young men to join are sufficient. What are the incentives? In my opinion the incentives that would attract the right type to-day are, first, good accommodation and comfort in their living quarters; secondly, reasonable chances of early promotion in the profession for officers who prove their efficiency; and, thirdly, suitable pay. I have put them in the order in which I think they will attract recruits, having regard to conditions prevailing to-day.

Now I will deal with the question of accommodation, and I shall give your Lordships some figures which I think will make the whole House uneasy. I will deal first with the question of accommodation for the married men. In the last year of my term of office (that is, in 1934), there were 1,200 married quarters. I strongly recommended in those days, as a start—I repeat, as a start—the provision of 800 additional quarters for married men. We could, with every justification, have asked for more, but we kept the demand to a figure which made it a practicable proposition in those days. Out of the 800 I asked for in 1934, and which were sanctioned by Parliament, I understand that only 180 have been provided. But to-day that is nothing like the net gain. During the war a number of the quarters were knocked out in the bombing, with the result—if my information is correct—that there are now only 1,213 married quarters. The position to-day, as I understand it, is that there are 500 serving officers without permanent houses in London. In addition, there are over 300 who have applied for official quarters because they are either under court orders to quit their present accommodation or are living in totally unsuitable premises—many of them separated from their wives and families.

I submit that these figures disclose a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. I know that the Government will not think I am criticizing them, because I feel that it is the efficiency of the Police Force which matters here, and not Party. I realize only too well the need for houses for miners, agricultural labourers and many others; but surely the members of the Police Force should occupy as high a priority in the matter of housing, having regard to the nature of their occupation and their responsibility for so great a proportion of civil life. We cannot expect men to join the Police Force and stay in it while such conditions prevail.

I would ask another question of the noble and learned Viscount who is to reply for the Government. Could not the Government give very definite directions—and goodness knows we have enough directions of all kinds at the present moment—to the local authorities throughout the country that they should give a high degree of priority to housing the married police? I think that is an important point. I have heard many comments made, and even members of your Lordships' House have told me that they are not receiving from the local authorities support in getting policemen housed. I would ask the Government whether they can tell us how many married police officers there are now in the Metropolitan Police Force; how many of them are definitely without houses or are in unsuitable houses, and how many are living with their relatives or in-laws. I should also like to know how many are having to live separated from their wives. I have told your Lordships of the scarcity of quarters for married officers. Now let me give some details about those quarters which do exist. When I took over the control of the Metropolitan Police I inspected the quarters in which the married men lived, and some of them I found perfectly disgraceful. If your Lordships remember those days, you will remember that I said so.

I will give you one example, which I take because it is within 300 yards or 400 yards of your Lordships' House. This was a block with six married families living in it. They lived upstairs above the horses. Under their verandah was the manure heap and the litter. The horses were actually under the houses. Your Lordships can imagine what it was like in the hot weather. But that is not all. These officers lived in quarters in which the perambulators or bicycles of their families had to be carried up the stone steps and brought into the house because there was no other place to keep them. Their dustbins were on the verandah, which was the only place in which to keep them. When they wanted to have their dustbins emptied, the contents had to be carried through their sitting-rooms. The washing arrangements were below the stable, under the horses, where the coal cellar is situated in ordinary houses. It was badly lighted. It was a communal wash-place for the whole six families. These quarters were a positive disgrace. I thought that this would have been one of the first things to be put right. I gather that the property has been "redecorated"—I suppose that that means some more distemper and a little paint. I am told they have electric light down below in the wash-place. I understand also that they have one bathroom for the six families; the six families use it one day a week each. There has been another improvement: the manure heap has been put under cover. The dustbins are, I think, still there, the horses are still underneath the houses, and the housewives still have to carry the prams up the staircase. It is a disgraceful thing to ask officers of the finest Police Force in the world to live under these conditions. What I have said refers to one group of married quarters. How many more are there like them? I could quote others but I will not weary your Lordships.

I now turn to the unmarried man. In 1933 and 1934 I made a personal inspection of nearly all the quarters for the unmarried men, and I recommended a complete revision of the accommodation then provided. I put forward a programme for the erection of thirty-three new section houses and the reconstruction of twenty-three others. This programme was estimated to provide accommodation in a reasonably satisfactory way for approximately 5,000 men. There were no frills about it, but it would have been quite satisfactory. The scheme was approved and the money was allocated. That was fourteen years ago and a lot has happened since then, but little or nothing so far as that accepted scheme is concerned. To-day out of the thirty-three new section 'houses only ten have been built. Out of the twenty-three to be reconditioned only two have been done. In addition one new section house and one other reconstruction have been partially ccmpleted—twelve out of the fifty-six. One of the new section houses—only one, fortunately—was severely damaged by enemy action during the war.

My programme was kept to after my period of office, except that for some reason or other the figures of those to be accommodated were revised from 5,000 to 4,000. But that is all that has been done. I know that building for industry and for other sections of public life has made some progress, perhaps because there has been continual agitation on behalf of the people concerned. But the needs of the Police Force have had little publicity and they have been left severely alone. I notice from reading the provincial Press that this shortage of accommodation is equally serious in some other parts of the country. I understand it bears heavily in a financial way on some (but not all) officers in the Police Force, because of travelling expenses from districts where they have to live which in some cases are far from their place of duty.

I now turn to the second point—reasonable chances of early promotion in the Police Force. It is, of course, an impossibility in the Police Force for all men to rise to top rank, just as it is impossible for every man in the Army, the Navy or the Air Force, or in business or private life, to rise to the top rank. Obviously the large majority cannot do so. In these days, however, all must feel that they have a fair chance of being seen and observed in their early Service life and have the opportunity of being selected for promotion. That is what happens in other professions and it is what is happening now in the Armed Forces, where men are taken hold of very early and trained to become leaders. In this way the young men who join the Army feel that they have a chance of being selected for training for higher ranks. How can you expect the best young men to join the Police Force if they have not a reasonable chance of being selected early for training for promotion to the higher positions? I believe that that opening for ambition was promoted by the Metropolitan Police College at Hendon which was instituted in 1934 with the approval of Parliament, and with the start of which I had something to do. I say it has been killed by executive action without any reference to Parliament at all. The Press, about a year ago, when the Government issued a While Paper, had a good deal to say on this matter. There was no single newspaper voice that I could find in favour of the action taken. On the other hand there was complete unanimity in favour of the principles on which the Hendon Police College was based.

This is in no way a Party matter or a class question. Whether one is Conservative, Liberal, Socialist, or non-Party, all support the point of view which Parliament approved in 1934. Yet the Government decision now flies in the face of this mass of informed opinion and prefers to act on the half-hearted, hesitant, self-contradictory recommendations of the Departmental Committee. The Hendon Police College induced the very best types of young men to join the Force. Many have said that we were bringing in only people from outside. That is not true. We brought in from outside only 25 per cent. in my day. I said in the debate in your Lordships' House in December, 1946—and the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, acknowledged that I had said it—that I was not advocating the bringing in of anybody direct from outside.

When I asked a year ago what was going to be done about restarting the Hendon Police College, the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, replied to the effect that a White Paper was to be issued after the Home Secretary had consulted police authorities. Well, a White Paper was published a few weeks later, in March, 1947, and it incorporated the Report of the Committee I have just mentioned. The purpose of this Committee was to consider the higher training of the Police Service in England and Wales. I should like to point out that the Committee consisted of thirty-one members, largely men who had risen to their important positions in the Police Service under the old system. Those men were naturally inclined to the view that what was good enough for them was good enough for their successors. Only one member of that Committee had been through the Metropolitan Police College. In fact, the majority of its members were almost of necessity, by their history, unsympathetic to the principles that were advocated in 1933 and 1934. Only one had passed through Hendon and risen to high rank in the Police Force. Not one of the old commandants was on it. I do not believe there were any men of the staff of the College on that Committee.

Here is a most remarkable thing. From first to last in this Report (Cmd. 7070) the Hendon Police College is not once mentioned in any shape or form. Yet they were a Committee of Inquiry as to how the police were trained. They mention Sandhurst, Woolwich and places like that, but not Hendon. Although the College functioned successfully until the war, when it was suspended like all other training establishments, the Committee on the Higher Training for the Police Force entirely ignored the fact that it had ever existed. Of course, they could not say that it had failed. I suppose that is why they could not talk about it.

Let me tell the House something about the results it achieved in the four or five years the College existed. Five of the young men trained there became chief constables; two became acting chief constables; one became a superintendent. One had become an Inspector-General of police abroad; two are superintendents abroad; one became a chief security officer in the Colonies; one became superintendent of a very big dockyard; six became Lieutenant-Colonels in the Army; five or six became Majors, and one became a Group Captain in the Air Force. In addition to this list, quite a number of Hendon-trained men have had quick promotion in the Metropolitan Police Force, a good many having reached the rank of Divisional Inspector. Is it not an extraordinary thing, in view of a record like that, that the College should be completely ignored by the Committee? Remember, too, that this College received a great deal of publicity in the days when it was started as I know the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will remember. It received the approval of Parliament and prominent social figures of all classes. I submit that this Committee was wrongly constituted, and its members were influenced against the Hendon Police College as I conceived it in 1933, because of the very nature of their experience.

With your Lordships' permission, I will read an extract from the Report of the Committee (Cmd. No. 7070), which was published in March of last year, three months after my speech. It is on Page 7, paragraph 9, Sub-paragraph (v), where the Committee discuss what form of College is required, at what age policemen should go to it, and for how long they should be there. I will not read it all because it would take much too long, but I assure your Lordships that I am not trying to take anything out of its context; I am trying to be fair when I read it. They were discussing what form of college was required, whether it should be for young men or for older men, and whether the period should be six months—just a short period—or whether the College should be a character-framing college and the period be one of eighteen months or two years. They say: After discussing the subject at length, however, most of us"— "most of us"—mark you, not "all of us"— are against the provision of officer-training before a man has shown by his service in the ranks of constable and sergeant that his abilities as a practical policeman justify his being placed in the field of selection for further advancement. Then, they go on to say: We think that it the proposed course open to young constables were instituted, and whether successful students were automatically promoted or not, it might be felt in some quarters that undue weight was being given to what might be described as ' disputable '"— the word "disputable" is in inverted commas— personal qualities—such as intelligence, character, and personality—or to academic attainments, as against proved police ability and achievements. That was the opinion of some of the Committee, but not of all of them; of how many we do not know. They then went on to say, in the most pathetic fashion: Accordingly, we do not wish our recommendation to be regarded as the last weird on the subject, and we therefore recommend that the question of providing at the college a course open to young constables should be reviewed later in the light of experience. They are very modest people indeed, I think your Lordships will admit. I must be fair and say that the Secretary of State, in issuing that Report, does refer to the special exceptions that he decided to make to those rules, so that a few who had not been promoted to the rank of sergeant might be taken, under very stringent conditions. The period was to be six months.

I urge the Government to re-examine this matter in a proper way, knowing, as I do, that the existence of a police college like the Hendon Police College, with the prospects that it offers to the ambitious young man, has a tremendous effect on recruitment. In my opinion, the old-type Hendon Police College should be restarted at once. Improve it in the light of the experience of those who went through it or were' instructed in it, but keep to the main principle of taking the men young and keeping them there for eighteen months or two years. The new Police College which has been sanctioned and is going to be started and to which they have just appointed the Commandant—I saw in the papers last week that he was appointed from outside—is the exact opposite of what the Hendon Police College was and what I now advocate. Entry to it is to be open to men from the whole of England. I would have opened mine to the whole of England in my day if I had had the chance of being there long enough. The new College takes the men later in life and, with those very few exceptions, they have to be sergeants who have passed the examination for Inspectors. They are there for only six months. How is that going to form these "disputable" qualities of character and intelligence, and give them the higher training that is necessary? In other words, they will be too old and the course too short.

I now turn to the question of pay and stoppages. I am not so familiar with this subject as I should like to be, and I am sure that your Lordships do not want to hear all the details. I can touch on it only in the broadest outline, as it changes so rapidly. I know full well the danger of increasing wages, and I have read with care the Prime Minister's statement and also what Sir Stafford Cripps has said on the increase of incomes. I do not claim that what I am going to say on this subject is important, but, if the Committee which I recommend should be set up, these points should be taken into consideration, I am not putting forward my views in order to add to the difficulties of these very hard times of the economic crisis. The present minimum pay for a police constable is £4 19s. 9d., and the maximum is £6 13s. od. When the National Insurance Acts are brought into being, additional deductions will be made from the men's pay. It is a small point, but I mention it in passing to show that there are a great number of such details with which. I cannot possibly deal now.

My main point is to ask: How does the pay of the Police Force compare with the pay of a miner or with that of a steel worker, or, indeed, of any of the skilled trades in the lower grades in the country to-day? It must be remembered that the Metropolitan police constable has to live in London; he has long hours and an arduous day's work. In these days of little or no unemployment, is a man likely to join the Police Force if he gets less pay than do his fellows in industry? His is a skilled and an exacting job, and surely he is entitled to a wage which is comparable with that paid in other skilled employment? I do not think it could be disputed that, if all jobs were placed on an equal footing financially and occupations were then arranged in order of popularity, the Police would be away down the list. Why do I say this? It is a serious statement to make, but this fact has to be realized if the men for the Police are to be obtained.

First of all, there is the initial effort involved in joining, compared with the normal artisan's job. I am not saying that wrong principles are involved in this, but it is something which must be taken into consideration. There is the initial effort involved in joining, compared with the normal artisan's job. The applicant for a job in the Police Force has to write for an application form, he has to provide a birth certificate, and furnish references. Then he has to take a written examination, attend an interview, undergo a medical examination. All this, if the candidate is successful, is followed by three months' intensive training and study. Then there is a posting to a strange place for duty, followed by two years' probation, coupled with further study. With so many other jobs available for skilled men, a man must be keen indeed to go through that. I am not saying that those conditions are wrong; I do not think they are. But in the face of present conditions, in order to attract a recruit, there must be some solid inducement.

The conditions under which a man serves in the Police Force are more difficult than those in other walks of life. The hours of duty are long, and they are liable to be altered at very short notice. There is duty in all weathers, changing meal times, liability for service in remote parts, with no social facilities and poor educational facilities for children. There is liability to transfer and a forty-eight hour week. All this must be compared with the normal occupation, with its forty or forty-four hour week, with the evenings off, nights in bed, and Saturdays and Sundays free, and payment for overtime. I could give you many instances which I have had sent to me in the last three months of comparison in pay in civil and police life, but I have not the time to do so. What I would urge, is that an impartial outside and independent Committee should be appointed, rather in the nature of the old Desborough Committee. There have been many of these outside committees in the past in the Police Service, and the time is now ripe for another.

I hope that the noble and learned Viscount who is to reply will see fit to accept my Motion. After what I read yesterday, I do not see how he can avoid doing so. In the other place on Friday the Under-Secretary for the Home Department replied on the Police Pensions Bill. I have not seen it recorded in any paper or anywhere else, except in Hansard, but, speaking in the debate on the Police Pensions Bill, Mr. Younger said: Before I leave this question of conditions, I have to say that it is intended to have a review, by an independent committee, of the whole question of police pay and conditions. If that can be repeated in this House I know that the noble and learned Viscount will accept my Motion and we shall be delighted. My Lords, that is my Motion. We have a splendid body of men in the present Force, and I ask your Lordships to realize the importance to this great Metropolitan area of the work they have to perform. I fear very gravely that if the present difficulties are not tackled now we may wake up in four or five years' time and find the largest city in the world, in the centre of the British Empire, still with a depleted and inadequate Police Force. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That in the opinion of this House it is desirable that an independent Committee be appointed to inquire into the conditions of the Police Force.—(Viscount Trenchard.)

3.45 p.m.

Viscount SIMON

My Lords, I am sure that everybody who has listened to the speech that has been delivered by my noble friend Viscount Trenchard will have been greatly impressed. This is another example of the advantage of having a non-Party debate in this House. He has brought together, as it seems to me, a number of facts and urged a number of considerations which we should all wish to weigh; and, unless there be some contradiction to be made on the statement which he has brought forward—and brought forward in the clearest possible manner—I cannot help feeling that he has made out his case. The noble Viscount started with two considerations of which we are all aware, but at the same time, to get the true view of this position, I think it is necessary to dwell on them for a moment. There is a great increase in crime in the Metropolis, but it is not merely that there is this increase; there is now being practised in the Metropolis crime of a sort which not so long ago we should have regarded as quite unlikely to occur in London.

We prided ourselves (and with justice) on the fact that in London, at any rate, we did not have the operations of the gangster; we did not have assassinations in the street, and a succession of violent crimes due to an organization which was not detected. We were entitled to pride ourselves on that, and to receive compliments from other countries about it. But that state of affairs no longer exists. Not a day passes, I should say, without one finding, at any rate in the evening papers, a report of some fresh crime of this new character. Burglary is so rife that everybody begins to wonder when his turn will come. Still more serious is that form of violent action, accompanied by the use of lethal weapons, which (if I may go back to the day when I was first Home Secretary) was practically unknown in London. I am not saying that the authorities at New Scotland Yard, together with the rank and file policemen, are not doing a fine jab of work in trying to stop it; and everybody admires the way in which the London police control processions and manage public demonstrations. They throw themselves into these new duties with the greatest desire to render the maximum help that they can.

The fact remains, however, unless I am greatly mistaken, that the number of undetected authors of serious crime in the Metropolis has enormously increased. Whilst I trust that, whatever happens, we shall keep our own country and our own capital in a position which compares favourably with some other cities in some other parts of the world, the fact remains that we are in a situation which has come about gradually in these last seven years and which is now positively shocking. What I fear most of all about this is that the young people of this country—the boys and girls who are growing up—have lived in no other world than that. They may so easily come to the conclusion that it is one of the natural incidents of living in a great capital like ours, and, in some cases at any rate, they may not only tolerate but even admire exhibitions of violence of this kind. It is all very well to have a high-spirited boy who imagines himself engaged in some dangerous and exciting adventure which, for all I know, may or may not be on the weather side of the law; but it is quite another thing for a population to grow up hereafter believing that these things are part of the normal life of the city in which they live.

That is one side of the picture and, of course, although it is known to all of us, one cannot judge the seriousness of the case which my noble and gallant friend has just made unless one couples with it the fact, which he has brought home to us in the most effective manner, that the actual number of persons serving in the London Police Force is very greatly below the authorized number. In the case of policemen, I think, there is a. margin of something like 5,000 below establishment. In the case of women police, who are, of course, very much fewer in numbers, the noble Viscount gave a figure which shows that the strength is 50 per cent. below establishment. There is the further question of whether, in the circumstances in which we now live and in view of the continuing growth of this immense city, we are justified in being content with the old figure of establishment. It seems to me that my noble friend has made these two points absolutely clear. My own interest in the matter is not worked up for the occasion. One cannot be Home Secretary twice in one's life without being intensely interested in, and in some senses responsible for, the police of the Metropolis, though I may say that it happened that my noble friend as Chief Commissioner and I as Home Secretary overlapped only for a very short time. But I know his Hendon College well. I have been there with him more than once. I know something, too, of married police quarters in this city. If I may say so, while we are most grateful to Lord Trenchard for having brought these matters before us, we may see the confirmation of what he says in the pages of the Annual Report made by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to the Home Secretary.

I have here the latest Report which Sir Harold Scott has made. It is dated April 11,1947. As these are Annual Reports, this is the latest. It is a Report as to the Metropolitan Police over the preceding twelve months and was published as Command Paper No. 7156. If I look at the first two pages of this Report, I see in them statements—made no doubt with less emphasis—which in fact confirm the substance of what Lord Trenchard has been saying. The Commissioner begins thus: The year 1946 has been a difficult year for the Metropolitan Police. Crime is far above the pre-war level and traffic has returned to the London streets on a pre-war scale, while the strength of the Regular Force is lower than it has been for sixty years. There your Lordships find two factors exactly as my noble friend has presented them. The Commissioner goes on, in detail, to give an account of the efforts to obtain recruits. Whilst I do not at the moment find in the Report that very interesting matter to which my noble friend has referred—the number of newly joined officers who have resigned within twelve months, finding when they got into the Force that they did not like it—I do find statements which, I suggest, are quite enough to stir Parliament to action.

At the bottom of the first page of his Report the Commissioner writes: During the summer months the supply of recruits was very disappointing and it became clear that the rate of pay and conditions of service were not sufficiently attractive. This does not, therefore, depend on any deduction made by my noble friend. It is asserted in the Report made by the Commissioner of Police himself. On the next page the Commissioner writes: The situation was met by the grant in November of substantial improvements in pay and conditions … which were accepted by the Federation as a fair settlement of their claims, and the police service now offers a career which should ensure an adequate supply of young men in the future. But then, the Commissioner states: During the latter part of the year the numbers under training were gradually increased until in the last week of December there were 341 probationers under training at Pee] House and 282 at Hendon. This represents an intake of just under 50 a week, but plans are well advanced to increase the training facilities so that an intake of eighty to a hundred a week can be dealt with if the necessary recruits can be obtained. Your Lordships will note that: "if the necessary recruits can be obtained." The Commissioner continues: Even at this rate the Force will still be well under strength at the end of 1948. He goes on to deal with the very deplorable situation as regards quarters for some of the married officers, and makes observations which are exactly in line with those of my noble friend Viscount Trenchard. At the bottom of the same page from which I have just been reading we find this: Applications for assistance in rehousing married officers have been made to the Local Authorities, but they all have long waiting lists of applicants and scales of priority and have not felt able to give any sort of preference to police officers. I think, therefore, that the Commissioner's Report confirms, in its main assertions what has been put before the House in detail. Subject always to what may be said by those who are in a position to give us the latest information, I should have thought that the case which Lord Trenchard has been at pains to make—obviously without the slightest desire to raise Party controversy—was a case which was fully justified. This is a matter which ought to be looked into by an impartial and well-qualified Inquiry. The report of such a body, if it were properly qualified, would, I apprehend, be of very great value to the public and to His Majesty's Government, at this juncture.

The noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Trenchard, referred to what was said, apparently, in another place, by the Under-Secretary for the Home Office as recently as last Friday. I read the earlier part of the Report of the debate but I did not notice the part to which my noble friend has referred. It is, I consider, most important that one should watch to see that in the proposed terms of reference the width of the Inquiry is adequately stated. That the Home Office, are acutely conscious of the difficulties which face the people of London now in this matter—difficulties which may, if we are not able to grapple with them and reverse the process, lead us into a situation which would be perfectly disastrous—is clear enough, I think, from the Police Pensions Bill, There is in that Bill a passage of only two sentences to which I would draw the attention of the House, because I confess that they leave me in a state of complete puzzlement. In introducing this Bill, which will come to this House in the course of time, the Home Secretary explained how, after a certain number of years of service, a policeman is given a pension. But he does not get his pension absolutely. It is a pension which is liable to be forfeited if certain satisfactory conditions are not observed, and apparently those conditions are to be changed. I do not know whether it is with a view to improving recruiting or not, but this is what was said: At present forfeiture"— that is forfeiture of the pension— can take place if the retired police officer knowingly associates with thieves, or reputed thieves. Then, said the Home Secretary: We have decided, after consultation with the Police Council's, that if retired police officers like to have friendly relationships with former customers we shall not deprive them of their pension as a result. It would, perhaps, afford the House some amusement if one were to investigate that statement further. "Customers" is an odd word. It usually means those with whom one has had dealings before. No doubt the word was used humorously, and one takes it to mean Convicted thieves. I can only express a slight surprise that it should be thought perfectly Consistent with the retention of a pension now guaranteed by Statute that a retired policeman should collogue with the very people he has been assisting to convict. One would have thought, with the exercise of a little imagination, that it would have consequences hardly for the benefit of the State. Perhaps this is just an illustration of the stress of this problem of recruiting more policemen. The advertisement ought to be, "Join the Police Force"—I will not say, "then the poacher will turn gamekeeper ''; rather would it be that the gamekeeper who has been engaged in repressing the poacher, after he has a pension for years of good effort in that direction, should be fully at liberty to tell the poacher which is the best way into the game preserve! I cannot believe that is seriously intended, but it did surprise me and that is why I never got to the end of reading this debate.

With regard to the Police College at Hendon, from the very good knowledge I have of all the skill and devotion with which the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard constructed that place—and nobody who has known his services in other fields, where his ingenuity and energy were endless in the service of this country, will doubt that it was in the same spirit that he proposed this new College—my impression was that it would be a fine venture and should produce good results. I think it has produced good results. But that is for the moment a side issue. The main thing is, ought there not to be some inquiry into this matter? I hope very much that the Lord Chancellor will be able to say on behalf of the Government that that shall be done. If so, the Inquiry should be wide enough to cover the essential points. Its constitution will be a matter of some difficulty, I expect, but there is a good precedent in the Desborough Inquiry. I feel convinced that not only Parliament, but also the law-abiding inhabitants of this country will all be greatly relieved if as a result of this debate the Government are able to accept my noble friend's Motion and will act accordingly.

4.4 p.m.

The Marquess of MILFORD HAVEN

My Lords, as this is the first time I have had the honour of addressing your Lordships, I hope you will excuse my nervousness and my youth. Some of you may wonder why I should be talking about the Police Force, as I am not a police officer, I am a naval officer. I have the greatest admiration for our Police Force, believing it to be the finest in the world, and I do not think the members of it are getting a fair deal at the moment. The basic problem, to my mind, is man-power, but that is also the problem in the Services, in industry and in many other walks of life in this country. I understand that, after a year of campaigning by the Police Service, there has been No Increase in the numbers of the Force; indeed, I think I am right in saying that there has been a slight decrease. The problem of man-power is how to get suitable men into the Force and retain those who are already serving. I would like to see a much greater intake into the Police Force from the Armed Forces, but that will happen only if conditions of service and pay and pensions are greatly improved. I would suggest one point which might help. Men joining from the Army should have their time in the Army counted towards their pension in the Police Force. Men who have served for, say, five years in the Army have to start with the police right from scratch. If their service in the Armed Forces could count, a great encouragement would be given to soldiers, sailors and airmen to join the police.

I do not entirely agree with the points made by the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, in regard to getting suitable men for the Police Force. I maintain that pay is the most important encouragement. Five pounds a week is not a very great encouragement to men leaving the Army, or to young men wanting to take up a job. They can get that in so many industries. Even if they are keen on police work, the pay must be increased. I understand that there was an increase in pay last year, and the Home Secretary has said he will not consider any further increase until 1950. When 1950 comes, I think a great effort should be made to increase pay—that is the most important point. Lack of accommodation is undoubtedly the second most important thing. The point I should like to make about accommodation, which has not been made so far, I think, is that many retired policemen have married quarters which they are entitled to hold on to, with the result that newly married men cannot get accommodation. There is a lot of resentment in the Force because of that. However, I know that the whole question of accommodation is a most difficult one, and I will not touch on it further. Of course, conditions of service cannot be improved greatly. There will always be night duty and duty from two o'clock till ten o'clock—late turn. The only way that can be improved is by an increase in the number of men available for duty. Food conditions are not what they should be, but I think that is mainly a question of administration. There is no reason why the food conditions in the Police Service should not be as good as those anywhere else.

The reasons why men are leaving the Police Force are twofold. Promotion, as the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, has pointed out, is not good enough. A constable has to wait ten years before he can be promoted to sergeant. That is not much encouragement for a young man. That period must be shortened. Obviously the great majority of police constables will never be promoted. All the same, there must be encouragement and opportunity for young policemen to receive promotion. A man who is kept in a subordinate position for such a long time loses any power of leadership he had earlier. If he has stagnated for five years and is then promoted, he is at a disadvantage, whereas if he is promoted young, the power of leadership comes out and is developed.

As regards the Police College at Hendon, I am entirely in accord with the noble Viscount that it must be started again. I do not quite agree with the system that was previously in existence. There was a lot of resentment in the Police Force against young men from the Universities going straight into the College, without any police service, and getting quick promotion, while men who had worked for five years in the Police Force did not get it. I think that method is wrong. A man who comes from a University or public school should do two or three years in the Police Force before he goes to the college. He will not be too old then—25 to 28—and will make a very good police officer.

As regards pay being one of the reasons why men leave the Force, the question of pension has been dealt with, but I would emphasize that £63 a year as a widow's pension is not good enough. I think the C.I.D. officer gets a very raw deal. The C.I.D. are an exceptionally fine body of men, who take on the great responsibility of guarding Ministers, Royalty and others in the country, as well as performing many other duties. They are always in a considerable amount of danger, and they do not get paid overtime. A C.I.D. officer may be away on a job for two or three days, and he has a driver in his car who is paid overtime. At the end of the two or three days' period the driver, who is a comparatively unskilled man, will get more pay than the C.I.D. officer. That is not right. The C.I.D. officer is a very capable professional man, and to see his driver getting more pay than he receives, when he is doing a job of work far more skilled and dangerous, provides him with no encouragement. I think these men should be given every encouragement. I would like to make one further point. If and when this Committee is set up, why should it not discuss some common Empire police policy? Surely that would be a great help. I know there is a European police liaison between all the capitals of Europe, and a common policy and common methods among the Commonwealth Police Forces might eventually lead the way to the formation of a World Police Force which many people, including the United Nations organization, think is so desirable.

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, before I make my own contribution to this debate, I am sure your Lordships would wish me to express on your behalf, and on my own, congratulations to the noble Marquess who has just sat down. It is a particular pleasure to me to be able to do it, because I received many and very great kindnesses and help from both his father and his mother. The noble Marquess has now added to my indebtedness by saying for me a great many of the things which I proposed to say. There are, however, one or two things which have not been said by any other noble Lord. To start with, I ought to declare the fact that I am an interested person in this debate. I am a commandant of special constables in London. The present serious shortage of regular police means that I am putting a demand or. my specials which is absolutely unfair and far in excess of what they ever promised to do when they joined. The original idea was that they should do one night's duty a month, and now many of them are turning out once a week, in spite of the fact that they have already done their day's work—and a long day's work at that in many cases. To be quite frank, the situation in London to-day, as any police superintendent will say, is desperate. If there is any special occasion in London it means simply that the police have to be withdrawn from large sections of London which are left totally unprotected. For a procession—whether it is a Royal procession or a Labour profession does not matter—police are demanded; they have to be taken off the regular beats, and the ratepayers and taxpayers are left unprotected. That situation can be met only by adequate recruiting, and by keeping the recruits when they have been obtained.

Your Lordships have heard a good many of the reasons why recruits are difficult to attract, but you have not heard what I believe are the main reasons why they are difficult to come by and still more difficult to keep. As your Lordships have heard, to-day, the policemen receive roughly £5 per week total pay. But the young policeman does not draw £5 a week. A young policeman on the beat receives £4 12s. od.; deductions account for the rest. If any of your Lordships looked into your paper yesterday you would have seen an advertisement for dustmen offering them £5 19s. od. per week.


That is the rate.


The policeman is in a position of great trust, performing a duty with no foreman to keep an eye on him all the time, and he may have to make a quick decision the result of which may possibly appear in this very House before your Lordships. Is that man seriously to be rated at £4 12s. od. a week, as against the dustman's £5 19s. od.? Is not that in itself a good reason why we cannot get recruits? The policeman has to work a 48-hour week: there is no 45-hour, 44-hour, or 40-hour for him. And those 48 hours a week are not daylight hours; they are not even all night hours; they are scattered over the whole day and night. Sometimes he is on duty during the day, sometimes at night, and sometimes a mixture of both; but it is for 48 hours a week. Then, again, on Saturday afternoon when all his pals are going to watch football matches, or to play their own games, what is the policeman doing? He is regulating the crowd; he is on traffic duty. If he is lucky, he may have every other Saturday afternoon off; not every Saturday afternoon, but one in two. Then how many Sundays does a policeman get off in a month? One Sunday a month is what a policeman can look for. That is not going to appeal to the young men, and it is certainly not going to appeal to the married men. Something has got to be done to get sufficiently large numbers on the establishment to do away with working practically every Sunday, and every other Saturday, and also to reduce the 48-hour week to something like the 40-hour week that other people are doing.

There is another minor point which has not been mentioned, and that is the rather curious result of the new National Health Service Act. One of the great attractions to the police has been free dental treatment, free medical treatment, and even in some cases, treatment for their dependents. Under the new National Health Service Act that incentive will disappear; the police will have lost one of the advantages which they have always had which could not be found outside. Even with regard to the pension, they will now have to contribute to two pensions, although at the end they will be able to draw only one of them. Those are all points that could be considered by a Committee if it is set up. I do submit, however, that it is essential that a Committee which really understands the job should be set up, with wide terms of reference and wide powers to call evidence.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Trenchard, has told us a most disturbing story this afternoon, and undoubtedly the most disturbing factor in his remarks was the statement that no fewer than 470 young men had left the Police Force in their first year of service. That is very worrying indeed. With his great knowledge the noble Viscount told us the chief reasons why this has happened, and his speech was followed by the most thoughtful maiden speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Milford Haven, to whom we all listened with interest; and I hope we shall have the pleasure of hearing him many times in your Lordships' House. I will make only one other point and offer one more reason for the unpopularity of the Police Force and the fact that so many men are leaving it in their early days. I refer now to traffic duty and point duty. I would suggest that from the point of view of prevention of crime traffic duty really is a complete waste. I think that very much more consideration could be given to the replacement of constables on that soul-destroying job by automatic traffic signals. Since I came into this House I have thought of three places quite close to here. For instance, consider the bottom of St. Martin's Lane and Chandos Street, the crossing of Charing Cross Road and Cranbourne Street, and even Parliament Square itself. If one walks across and sees the number of constables employed on traffic duty, one realizes what a complete waste of men it is so far as the prevention of crime is concerned. I rise this afternoon to make only that one point. I agree that it is a minor point, compared with the important considerations which have been raised by other speakers, but I think it has some bearing on the matter.

4.22 p.m.

Viscount SWINTON

My Lords, I want to add only a few words to the forceful debate which has taken place on this vital subject. I do so only because of the interest which naturally we all have—both for our own sakes and for theirs—in the men who form the Police Force. When I became a very young Member of Parliament one of the first jobs I was asked to do was to sit on a Committee on police housing. This is a difficult problem, but it seems to me that our approach to it ought to be the same as the approach we are asked to make to-day to the essential industries of this country which are understaffed. The police are as vital as any other industry in this country—I do not think I need elaborate that point. It is common ground that all Ministers have advocated that if we are to get people into these essential industries we must offer some inducement for them to come in. I realize that to-day especially it is very difficult to ask for an over-all addition to pay, although I am bound to say that the difficulty ought not to exclude us from taking account of exceptional cases. I think Ministers themselves agree on that point.

I am bound to say that the instance given by my noble friend Lord Milford Haven, in the very agreeable speech which he addressed to your Lordships, regarding the highly skilled C.I.D. officer, is very significant. I know how good these men are. I worked with some of them during the war and I know that they are brilliant and most highly trained, and are the wisest of people. That such a man, working overtime following a clue—maybe at some risk, and certainly taking no account of time or place—should find that he is getting less pay than his driver, does seem a curiously anomalous position. The fact that he will not do his work any the less well and that he will keep just as keenly on the trail, is no excuse for our not remedying such an anomaly. But if it be said—and it may be—that an over-all increase in pay cannot be given, it makes it all the more necessary to consider what are the other advantages and attractions that can be given to men in this most essential Service.

The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, mentioned housing. Thirty years ago, when I was sitting on the Committee of Inquiry, I was horrified at the conditions under which a number of the married men, and senior married men, in the Metropolitan Police Force were living. We cannot make Party capital out of this, because so far as I can see, we have all been equally to blame, and singularly little has been done by any Government who have been in power. To-day housing probably counts more as an attraction into a service, or a deterrent from a service, than anything else. The other thing is opportunity: the career open to talent. I agree with my noble friend Lord Milford Haven when he says that a career must be open to all talent. That means that everybody has to have the same chance. It is quite right that everybody should come in through the ranks, but it does not necessarily mean that for years and years everybody has to be treated in exactly the same way. Everybody should have an equal chance of getting into a training college. It does not matter in the least where the man has been educated; no preference of any kind should be shown. But you should choose the best, and I am quite certain that you will not disgruntle the Service by doing that—far from it—provided the opening is really there for all. I am sure there would be no resentment if the best man is given his chance at that training.

If this Force is to be efficient, and if, at the same time, an incentive is to be given, it is no use postponing a man's career until his talent has grown old in a napkin. It seems to me, if I may respectfully say so, that in this new College there is rather a danger of mixing up two things and—to mix my metaphors—falling between two stools. It is very important to know what you are driving at. Are you driving at a Staff College, or are you driving at selected initial training to find the best people to push on comparatively early in their careers? The senior Staff College is certainly for the older men, but what I think is needed is an earlier college for specialized training, and all men should have an equal chance of being selected for it at an early stage in their careers. I believe; that incentives of these kinds—which are entirely consistent with the economic policy which I agree we have to pursue to-day—are now the only attractions which can be offered to bring men into this most essential industry—an industry which deserves so well of the State and is so necessary to-day.

4.31 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount for having raised this topic again. We have had an interesting debate, a debate made remarkable by the most interesting maiden speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Milford Haven, and by thoughtful contributions from all parts of the House. I think it is quite obvious that there is a case for an inquiry and, as has already been announced, His Majesty's Government do intend—not in the immediate future but at the beginning of 1949—to set up an independent Inquiry with wide terms of reference. We selected that date particularly because the existing pay and all the terms and conditions of service are to last until the end of 1949. Therefore, we want to have the whole thing up-to-date and to review it in the light of the circumstances as they are likely to exist at the end of 1949. Things change quickly to-day.

First of all as to the facts. We have a number of facts about the position, and these facts are pretty grim, particularly in view of the dangerous increase in crime to-day, which makes it very undesirable that the Police Force should be under strength. The authorized establishment of the Metropolitan Police is 19,766. At the outbreak of the recent war it was 18,700; it was, therefore, 1,000 under authorized strength. Of course, as the result of the war there was a suspension of recruiting. The younger men in the Service were joining up; those under thirty were called up in the later stages of the war; and the net result was that by the end of 1945 the effective number had been reduced to 13,400. That, as your Lordships will see, means that the Force was about 6,000 under the authorized strength. I am not giving figures of the auxiliary police, because that would only complicate what I have to state shortly. At the end of 1946, the number had risen slightly to 13,581, and at the end of 1947 it was 14,703—a slight increase, but still an increase. The figure was rather remarkable in view of the fact that previously the police in the force were "frozen." By that vernacular, of course, I mean that they were not allowed to leave their employment and that control was lifted at the beginning of 1946, when a large number of men then left. It is some achievement not only to have kept up but to have slightly increased the numbers.

What is disquieting is this. We have had a considerable number of new recruits joining. In the year 1946 there were 1,775. In the year 1947 the number was 1,953. It is the fact that of these recruits who joined, a considerable number left after a very short time. In 1946,177 left; and in 1947,525 left. I will discuss with your Lordships in a moment why that is, but do not let us be too gloomy about this matter. Let us face the facts fairly, but not overstate them. The facts are that in the last two years we have recruited and retained over 3,000 men, whereas the average intake during the six years before the war was 860. The average intake, therefore, for the last two years—and I am talking about the average intake recruited and retained—has been well over 1,500, whereas the average intake in the six years before the war was 860. Those figures are not unsatisfactory.

Now we come to the question of why it is that a considerable number of these men who, as the noble Viscount knows well, have to have very high qualifications, physical and so on (and rightly so) leave the Force. I am quite certain from the researches that have been made for me and from my own investigations into the figures, that by far the most important reason is accommodation. I do not agree, if I may say so with great respect, with the noble Marquess, Lord Milford Haven. He took the view that the primary reason was pay. I think he is wrong; I am sure it is accommodation; and I will mention one or two facts which indicate that. Some—and not a small proportion—of these men who are leaving the Metropolitan Police are joining Police Forces in the provinces, where the conditions so far as pay is concerned are no better, but where they find that the prospects of accommodation are more hopeful. That seems to me almost a proof of the suggestion I have made. There is no doubt that the difficulties we are facing in regard to accommodation for the police, are very great indeed. As the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, rightly says, this is no Party question, and I do not want to make Party capital out of it; but I must point out this. The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, said that he had recommended certain things in 1933 and 1934. It is a thousand pities that those things were not done then, because there was then a far better opportunity of doing them.


We did begin them.


If the noble Viscount had directed all his great energies into the work he would surely have got it done. He told us that his requirements at that time were modest, almost inadequate. The tragedy is that the recommendations nothing like fulfilled his requirements of those days. As he rightly said, the problem has become so much accentuated by loss of accommodation through bombing and the like; it is now a very great problem. I feel that the local authorities in London have not had this consideration sufficiently in mind, because they have, as your Lordships know, devised a system of points indicating the various needs of applicants for housing. One of the questions in connexion with these points is, "Did you previously live in this area? Are you coming back to your old area?" In the case of the police, the answer almost invariably is "No"; they are going to places where they did not live before.

There is another matter which adds to the difficulty. Owing to the war a very much larger number of recruits to-day are married. So far as the single men are concerned, although accommodation is not by any means of the quality we should like, we have the accommodation. So far as married men are concerned, all we have is substantial accommodation which is not yet occupied by single men.


May I intervene for a moment? Would the Lord Chancellor please tell me what the accommodation is like? Is it still in the state it was in when I was in office seventeen years ago? I take it that there are reconstructed buildings. Does the Lo:: d Chancellor say that those buildings are satisfactory?


I have said nothing of the sort; indeed, I said the contrary. I said the accommodation was not of the quality which we desired. I was comparing the position of the married and unmarried men. So far as the unmarried men are concerned, we have accommodation which is being occupied, although it is not of the quality which we want. So far as the married men are concerned, we have not even inadequate accommodation; we have nothing at all.


I misunderstood the noble Viscount. I apologize.


That is the problem. We asked the Minister of Health to circularize local authorities and he did that some time ago. In the provinces, the local authorities are doing better by the Police Force than they are in London. I appreciate to the full the difficulties of the local authorities. I realize how difficult it must be for them to decide who shall have priorities when so many people want them, 'but in London we have not had a satisfactory response from the local authorities. Consequently, we are having to "make do and mend," frankly speaking, before we can do anything else. The noble Viscount gave us an illustration of premises where there are horses down below, with a manure dump and the like—a deplorable state of affairs. We have been able to cover over the manure dump, and we have put in a bathroom, in these days of acute difficulty; but in those old days of 1933 and onwards no one covered over the manure dump and no one put in a bathroom. The difficulty we are in is a difficulty which we have inherited, and it is not by any means easy to deal with it. However, in spite of those facts, we are getting the. recruits. I sincerely hope that we shall be able to hold them. I will tell your Lordships presently, when I come to consider pay and conditions, what arrangements we are trying to make by way of palliatives. I can say at once that palliatives they are, and only palliatives. That is the position.

Let me now say a word or two about pay and conditions. This is the position at the present time. In pre-war days, a constable received 62s. a week, rising to 90s. a week in twelve years, with two long-service increments bringing it up to 95s. a week. On the present scale, he starts at 105s. a week and rises to 132s. a week in ten years, with two long-service increments which bring it up to 140s. a week. That represents an increase of 69 per cent. at the minimum and 47 per cent. at the maximum. But that is not by any means all that he receives. It is a complete fallacy, if I may say so with respect to the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, to compare the gross amount which the dustman gets with the net amount which the policeman receives—leaving out of account entirely any other considerations. For instance, the policeman has a rent allowance. The pre-war rent allowance was 17s. 6d. a week. The present scale is 35s. a week. That is an increase of 100 per cent. And whereas the pre-war rent allowance was subject to Income Tax, the present rent allowance is not. Then the policeman can receive the constable-detective allowance. Pre-war, it was 5s. a week; the present scale is 12s. 6d. a week—an increase of 150 per cent. The plain clothes allowance was 5s. a week before the war. The present scale is 10s. a week—an increase of 100 per cent. Then there is the boot allowance—we are always hearing about policemen's boots. Pre-war it was 1s. a week; now it is 2s. 6d. a week—a 150 per cent. increase. The separation allowance, in the case of a constable who is separated from his wife because he cannot find accommodation in London for her, is 25s. a week plus tax-free rent allowance for the accommodation occupied by his wife.


Would the noble Viscount tell me how many police constables are separated from their wives?


I am afraid that I have not those figures available at the moment. There are, unhappily, a large number, owing to the difficulty of securing accommodation. The noble Viscount would agree that the number is far too large to be comfortable. Disregarding separation allowance, and allowances reimbursing expenses, a married constable, therefore, receives £7 4s. od. a week when he joins, and £8 17s. od. a week after ten years. Those rates were agreed upon by the Police Council and the Police Federation. They are to be reviewed in 1949. The agreement provides that those rates should continue until January 1,1950. I am sure your Lordships will all agree that in present circumstances we are right in saying that those rates shall maintain and govern the position until January 1,1950. They must then be reviewed and, therefore, we must have this Committee which will be able to review not only rates of pay but other questions, such as accommodation. They should, I agree, have wide terms of reference and they should be a really independent Committee. They will issue their Report, I suppose, somewhere about the middle of 1949, so that Parliament will have plenty of time to consider it, and the Minister to act upon it, in order to bring in by January 1,1950, such alterations as are agreed.

The Marquess of SALISBURY

And also pension rights.


There is also the very important matter of pension rights.

The Marquess of SALISBURY

My Lords, I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but there is one suggestion I would like to make to the Government. We have had, I am sure your Lordships will agree, a most valuable discussion. Some facts have emerged which must have deeply shocked noble Lords in all parts of the House. I am not trying to attach blame for those facts, tout we are faced with this position and it must be remedied at the earliest possible moment. The Lord Chancellor has made a very sympathetic and helpful reply in which he has stated, as I understand it, quite clearly and unequivocally that the Government are ready to set up an independent Committee—


Is the noble Marquess under the impression that I have finished?

The Marquess of SALISBURY

I thought the noble and) learned Viscount had finished.


I had not finished; I was in full cry. The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, asked me a question and I thought I had better answer it.`

The Marquess of SALISBURY

I make my most sincere apologies.


I come to my next point. If the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, will forgive my saying so, I think there is just a touch of King Charles' head about this Police College. I may inform the noble Viscount that the Government have considered this matter most carefully and have decided definitely against the Police College as he laid down at Hendon. I will tell your Lordships why, and I will start, if I may, by giving an analogy. If eminent people from this House and from another place are sent abroad to fill diplomatic posts, I have no doubt that we shall have most worthy and excellent diplomatic representatives. We have only to think of the excellent work done by Lord Temple-wood in Spain, Lord Halifax in America—as well as Mr. Duff Cooper in France. However, if we make a habit of do: ng this, what effect will that policy have on the foreign Service? It may be that it will no longer attract the best people to the Foreign Service. I know that it is perfectly true, and let it be said, that the Police College which the noble Viscount established at Hendon was efficient; it brought some very good men into the Force who otherwise would not have come in, but it had a most unsettling effect on those who were in the Force because they saw so many of the plums to which they hoped to rise being taken away from them.

There is, I think, no doubt, whether it be right or whether it be wrong, that what the ordinary policeman felt: and thought—and after all the strength of this Force, although I agree that we want good officers, depends upon the qualities of the ordinary policeman upon the beat—and what the Police Federation mads very plain was that the average policeman was not getting a fair deal. That was why the other police forces would not come in. Lord Trenchard wanted them to come into the Hendon College. He made it quite plain that he would welcome them if they wanted to come, but they would not corns, and the reason for that was that they knew they would have difficulties and dis-gruntlement within their own forces. That being the case, we do not think it right to have a system whereby any people can come in from outside and, after a career at the College for a couple of years or so, can go more or less automatically into one of the higher positions I know that Lord Trenchard does not want that now, and equally we do not think it right that anybody who has merely done colourable service for about a year or so should have this advantage. We think a man should have clone a term of real genuine service in the Police Force.


Up to sergeant.


Up to sergeant. We can, of course, promote, constables, but a constable after four years' service is entitled to sit for his examination, which is a competitive examination. There is no harm in a man doing four years' service. It is wrong to talk as though these people will be greybeards when they reach this College. If they enter the service at about twenty, at twenty-four years of age surely they will be young enough to develop the qualities of leadership which we all want. In relation to the advice which we had from this body, the noble Lord—although I know he meant to be perfectly fair—quoted one sentence which by itself I agree seemed rather ridiculous; but if he had read a few sentences on, so as to get the right context, I think he would have seen that the sentence was not so ridiculous as it looked when taken by itself. It is for the reasons I have stated that we decided not to go on with that College. We want a College which, apart from exceptional cases, will be for men who have done five years in the police, who have shown themselves to be reliable, steady characters, who will do their course—a six-months one—at the College in preparation for promotion. We shall learn by all this.

What we learned from the Hendon College was this—and I will be quite frank. We learned that we attracted some very good men whom otherwise we would probably not have had. We learned that it taught efficiency, but that it upset the general rank and file of the Police Force who thought they were not getting a fair deal. What we want to do is to see whether we can achieve equal efficiency without letting the Police Force feel disturbed and disgruntled. Quite likely we shall fail, but we shall learn from experience. We start off with the concession that the man shall do his five years and then go to the College. Experience may show that the five years is too long. We do not by any means shut our minds to that fact. It may be a shorter period. We shall have to learn all this by experience; but as at present advised we are not going to repeat the experiment on the lines of the Hendon Police College. We think it would be a mistake to do so, and we are not going to do it. I thought it right to say that definitely.

On the other hand we have this advantage: that the Police College we are now able to contemplate establishing will, I hope and believe, be used, not merely by the Metropolitan Police, but by most, or at any rate many, of the police forces in the country; and in that way we think we shall be able to build up the traditions of the Force. My Lords, that really is what I wanted to say. With regard to the Inquiry, certainly I can accept this Motion, provided that it is understood that I am not committed to an immediate Inquiry. There is nothing in the Motion to suggest that I am, but I do not want to accept the Motion if there is that understanding. We are not going to appoint this Committee of Inquiry until about the beginning of 1949 or the end of this year. We shall certainly see that the terms of reference are wide, and we shall certainly try to get a Committee which will suit the requirements of all reasonable people—that is to say, people who are really independent and having, if possible, some previous knowledge of the subject. I hope that that will satisfy the noble Viscount and, with that understanding, I shall accept his Motion.

4.56 p.m.


My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Viscount for his reply, but I am not quite clear in regard to this matter. He has said that a Committee of Inquiry will be set up at the end of the year, or not until the beginning of next year. I think it ought to be set up at once. An Inquiry was held in 1944, at a critical time in the war. The Government set up a Committee then, and the situation in regard to crime is worse to-day. I cannot see any reason why the Committee should not be set up to-day. Next I wish to ask the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack a question regarding the College. He dealt with the question of age very loosely, if I may say so. He spoke about it taking four or five years for a policeman to become a sergeant and he mentioned the promotion of sergeants to inspectors. A policeman may become a sergeant in four years, but there are very few who do under the present system. Therefore it is merely a misinterpretation of the problem which faces us in this matter. I say that the average period which will be required under this system throughout the whole country will be more like eight to ten years. If you are trying to develop character, intelligence and personality at the College in order to get the men for the higher grades, you will again have to bring in officers from outside. I would also ask this question regarding an independent Inquiry into the College: Do I understand that an independent Inquiry is going to be set up and that conditions for the Police Force are not related to the College?


I cannot tell the noble Viscount what the precise terms of reference will he, but I am fairly certain that the terms of reference would not extend to the establishment of a new Hendon College.


I am not prepared to withdraw my Motion.

5.0 p.m.

The Marquess of SALISBURY

My Lords, I apologize for interrupting the noble and learned Viscount just now. However, I feel that the Government might go a little further in this matter. We have had, in some respects, a forthcoming and helpful reply. I understand that the Government are now ready to set up a high-powered, independent Committee. That is certainly something gained. There is no doubt that, whatever the merits of the last Committee's Report—I may say that I have not read it; I am entirely dependent upon the extracts which have been read to-day by various speakers—it was not an independent Committee. It was a Committee which consisted largely of people belonging to the police, who, no doubt, had preconceived ideas. I am not criticizing that Report, but I do say that obviously there is room for another and more independent Inquiry.

The question which I wish to raise—I think that this was the subject of Lord Trenchard's first point in his speech just now—is this. Is the end of 1948 soon enough? Cannot the Government set up their Inquiry a little earlier than a year hence? After all, we have had a deplorable situation exposed to us. I am not blaming anyone; I am not saying that it is the Government's fault. It is, clearly, a situation which has grown up over a number of years, and no doubt the difficulties of dealing with it are very much greater now than they would have been at an earlier date. But the fact remains that it is a shocking and deplorable situation. There does not seem to be much sense of urgency expressed in saying: "We are setting up an Inquiry which will start a year hence and may report at the end of 1949 or in 1950." That is not what the people of the country will be expecting. They will be saying: "Set up an Inquiry now." I understand that the reason why the Government find some difficulty over this—and I think it is a valid reason—relates to the matter of pay. I understand that present conditions of pay cannot be altered until the beginning of 1950, and the Government want to come to their decision on the latest information. That is, I think, a perfectly valid reason.

But, after all, the Lord Chancellor in his reply said that pay was not the vital consideration in attracting recruits. He said that there are other tilings more vital, and he particularly instanced the question of accommodation. In view of what Lord Trenchard told us, there is no doubt that the problem of accommodation is absolutely urgent. Police are at present living under conditions tinder which we would not wish anyone in this country to live. Therefore, something must be done about it. One would have thought—though of course we realize the difficulties of the times—that interest in the matter of security is so great in London that some measure of priority would be given to this problem. It is a very difficult one, but it is not an enormous one, and it is certainly one in respect of which something ought to be done. It seems to me that it would be quite possible for a Committee to sit: immediately and make some recommendation. Equally there is the question of means of obtaining earlier promotion, of devising new channels to ensure the discovery and recognition of talent. It was not clear to me from what the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor said whether or not this was a matter which was going to come within the terms of reference of the Committee at all. As I understood it, he said that the Government had already come to their decision.

It may be that they cannot, for reasons which seem valid to them, accept Lord Trenchard's original proposal for a police college. But there are many other alternatives which ought to be considered. There is, for example, the O.C.T.U. system which to-day exists in the Armed Forces of the Crown. That has worked with great success, and it gives a chance to talent, from wherever it comes, to rise and learn leadership. Is that not going to be considered at all? My feeling is that whatever provisional decisions the Government have come to, they will be greatly helped in this matter by the advice and work of examination of a very high-powered independent body. I should have thought that it was a question which would certainly come within the purview of the body which they are now going to set up. These two aspects of the matter—facilities for earlier promotion, and accommodation—I suggest, need not wait till the end of 1949. They might very well be the subject of an Interim Report.

As to the question of pay, which I appreciate cannot be dealt with now, that, I think, could be left to a later date, when a further Report could be made. What I would put to the Lord Chancellor, with all due deference, is this request: Will he take this matter back to his colleagues and ask them to consider it further? I think that, from the point of view of the public, it is important that urgency should be shown. To have this appalling state of affairs existing in the London Police Force, to have it nearly 5,000 under strength, to have conditions of living, conditions of pay and other matters relating to the Force such that the contentment of its members is gravely questioned by people who know, is a matter for urgent and immediate inquiry. Let the Committee sit as soon as possible to deal with the aspects which they can deal with immediately, and leave the question of pay to be decided as near the end of 1949 as is considered most appropriate. I urge the noble and learned Viscount to try to give us a more favourable answer upon this. I feel sure that if what I have suggested were done, my noble friend, Lord Trenchard, would be willing to withdraw his Motion, reserving the right, of course, to put it down again at an early date.

5.5 p.m


My Lords, I can speak again only with the leave of the House, but if your Lordships will permit me I will try to reply briefly to the noble Marquess. I will, of course, gladly convey to my colleagues the request which has been made, and point out to them the force of what has been said. On the other hand, I have no authority to give any undertaking beyond what I have already given. The understanding at the present time is that this Committee will be set up by the beginning of 1949. If I believed that by appointing Committees you could get houses I would certainly appoint a committee—several of them, in fact—to-morrow. But I do not believe that the appointment of a Committee will get us one extra house or will improve the accommodation of the police in any way. I think it is for Ministers to decide whether they are to order that some extra priority be given. Therefore, I do not see that that is a very cogent reason for an immediate Inquiry. The facts are there; we do not need an Inquiry to ascertain them. What is to be done in that connexion must be decided without an Inquiry.

So far as the Police College is concerned, I think that that may be regarded as settled. I quite agree that there is ample room for ensuring that there is an early chance of promotion, and so on, but I should be wrong to tell your Lordships that we are going to re-open the whole question of what I might call the Hendon College. Therefore, the best I can say is this. The intention at the present moment—and I have no power here and now to alter it—is to set up a Committee at the end of this year. I will convey to my colleagues the representations which your Lordships have made, so that they can consider the advisability of setting up the Committee earlier. But I am not going to give any undertaking that it will be set up earlier. I suggest that the time at which a Committee of this nature is to be set up, whether it is to be in March or April, October or November, is a matter which may well be left to the Home Secretary.

The Marquess of SALISBURY

My Lords, I, too, can speak again only by leave of the House, but I would like to ask the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack one further question. By his last remarks he has practically excluded the questions of accommodation and promotion from the purview of the Committee, for he said that the Government have already come to a decision. On the question of avenues of promotion, I understand that they have drawn up a plan which they propose to carry through. I do not say that they are not perfectly entitled to do that; but the fact remains that that matter, apparently, will not come within the purview of the Committee. Equally, the noble and learned Viscount says, as I understand him, that the question of housing and living accommodation generally is not an appropriate one for the Committee's consideration. That may or may not be true; I do not know. We have not had a statement of the action which Ministers propose to take about this matter. But, as I understand the situation, the only matter which is definitely coming within the purview of the Committee is the matter of pay. Is that correct? I suggest that unless their terms of reference are so wide as to cover conditions among the police the Committee will not be fully effective.


I thought I had said that, and I am sorry if I did not make it plain. The terms would be wide; I said so several times. The only thing I want to make quite plain is that I excluded the Hendon Police College, as it used to be. The terms of promotion certainly come in, but we do not contemplate reintroducing the old Hendon Police College. If I told your Lordships that we did, or treated the matter as open, I should be misleading you.


Before the noble Viscount finally replies, may I point out that the question of the old Police College is not a matter of a year or two; it is a matter of a principle. Is the noble and learned Viscount saying definitely for the Government that they are not going to make it possible, as in all other professions, for the police to get young men and train them for leadership when they are young, but that we shall have to take them in what I may call early middle age? I hope that this is not the last word on this question, and that the matter can be re-opened. A Committee sat in 1944, and took two years to report. This next Committee will also take two years, although Interim Reports on special questions could be made quickly. The Desborough Committee took fifteen months. If the terms of reference of this Committee are not to include conditions of the training of young men, I must press this Motion. I look upon it as vital. We shall not get as recruits young men of character, or intelligence, or academic qualities, if they know that they are to be taken for an average of eight or ten years as a constable or sergeant in the Police Force—and I say this quite plainly, whatever the Government have said. This is so serious that if it is not going to be re-examined again, I must press for an independent Inquiry into this question.


My Lords, perhaps the noble and learned Viscount will clear my mind for me. I take it that the Police College, as it was pre-war, is to be ruled out, but that there is no question of ruling out the system by which a man who has done three or four years in the police may be sent for training.


The noble Lord has put the matter properly. We propose to rule out the Police Collage, so I assume, as it was pre-war, but any questions of whether the period is to be three or four years, or of promotion and the channels of promotion, are included.


Do I understand that the noble and learned Viscount, with his explanation, accepts my Motion as it stands?




I feel that I must be satisfied with that, on those terms, but I will reserve the right to raise the matter again, if necessary, at a later date.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.