HL Deb 29 June 1949 vol 163 cc483-530

2.42 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to move that the draft Police Pensions Regulations, 1949, a copy of which was presented on May 25 last, be approved. Perhaps I may say this. Subject to your Lordships' consideration and convenience, what I propose is that, after I have formally moved these Regulations, which of course relate to England, my noble friend, Lord Morrison, should add a word or two relating to Scotland, so that, if any noble Lord desires, we may on the one debate discuss both English and Scottish matters. The Motions must be put separately and formally at the end, but I thought that that course would meet the convenience and wishes of your Lordships' House.

Your Lordships will recall that when I asked you to approve the 1948 Regulations a year ago, I intimated that there were a number of issues connected with police pensions upon which no agreement had been reached on the Police Council. I said it would be for the Committee on Police Conditions of Service, appointed by the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland, under the Chairmanship of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Oaksey, to decide whether to recommend further changes in the police pension code.

We now have before us the first part of the Report of the Committee over which the noble Lord, Lord Oaksey, presided. That part deals, inter alia, with police pensions, and my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has already expressed his gratitude to the Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Oaksey for the most thorough and careful examination of police problems, the results of which appear in the first part of their Report. I understand and I desire that this debate shall be as full as possible, but I hope your Lordships will realise, if and when I come to reply at the end of the debate, that it would be embarrassing to me to have to deal with matters which are now before Lord Oaksey and will form the subject of the second part of his Report. There is no reason why your Lordships should not debate and discuss them and I have no doubt Lord Oaksey will derive assistance from such a debate. But I think it would be wrong that I, on behalf of the Government, should express a definite view on matters which are at the present moment, as it were, sub judice, in that they are before Lord Oaksey's Committee. I am prepared therefore to deal with Part I of the Report to which I have already referred. Inasmuch as the police required such a Committee, I confess that I think they should regard themselves as very fortunate that I found my way to consent to anyone of the eminence of Lord Oaksey acting as Chairman of the Committee, and I feel that as a result of the great amount of laborious work which the Committee have put into this task, they have produced a Report which does show a real insight into police conditions as they exist to-day.

I would remind your Lordships that this Committee were unanimous in presenting that Report. Of course, there are inevitably some features which do not appeal equally to all sections of the service, but I feel that the Report as a whole presents a series of closely integrated recommendations which, if adopted as a whole, will without any doubt result in a general raising of police conditions. We feel that there should be no question of picking and choosing between the various recommendations made in the Report; the Report must stand or fall as a whole. It has been explained in a White Paper issued just before the Recess that the Government share the Committee's view that the circumstances of public interest and of the police service render it essential that effect should be given at the earliest possible moment to the recommendations contained in the Report and so, after discussion with the Police Council, it is proposed that the new conditions recommended by the Committee shall be introduced with effect from July 1 of this year. In order to give effect to the recommendations of the Committee we must pass the necessary Police Regulations and Police (Women) Regulations to be made under the Act of 1948, and in order that all these Regulations may come into force as from July 1 I must ask your Lordships to-day to approve the draft Pensions Regulations which I am now moving.

My Lords, we now have that which we did not have last year when we were debating this matter—namely, the advantage of a thorough review of the whole police pensions scheme by an impartial Committee of the highest possible standing. The Committee have made some most interesting remarks about the background of the police pensions scheme—for example, that the cost of the benefits provided is the equivalent of 25 per cent. of the policeman's pay. I need hardly add that these figures were supported by figures supplied by the Government actuaries—and only one-fifth of this amount is covered by the policeman's pension contributions. But they make few recommendations for amendment of the present code. The Committee record that they have had considerable difficulty in maintaining a balance between the claims made on behalf of the service, many of them supported by a considerable weight of evidence, and the obvious impracticability of accelerating the rise in pensions costs to a level which, apart from other considerations, can hardly fail to have adverse repercussions on the pay of serving members of the force. The Committee express the view that it is not unlikely that a review of the pensions scheme, taking into account the National Insurance scheme, may he necessary in the near future, but having regard to the circumstances in which they were appointed, they recommend no major alteration either in the scales of benefit or in the contributions.

The Committee then go on to deal with the specific points placed before them in evidence, and set out in full their recommendations, all of which are implemented in the draft Regulations now before the House. These draft Regulations, for which I am now seeking your Lordships' approval, form a complete and comprehensive new code. They are broadly similar to the existing Police Pensions Regulations, 1948, as amended by the Police Pensions (No. 2) Regulations, 1948. But it was felt that it would be preferable, in the interests of administrative efficiency, to produce a complete new set, rather than simply to lay before the House the amendments proposed to the existing Regulations. The existing 1948 Regulations, as modified by the Appendix to the new Regulations, will continue to apply to pensions granted in respect of retirements between the day when they came into force—that is to say, July 5, 1948—and the day on which the new Regulations come into force, and in respect of deaths occurring before the latter day. The proposed alterations in the existing law have been summarised in the White Paper on the pay and conditions of service of the police, which was presented to Parliament just before the Recess, but I should like to draw special attention to some of the new or amended provisions.

The first of these is the proposal that once the new Regulations come into operation police pensions should be calculated on the basis of the average of pensionable pay over the last three years of the officer's service—a proposal which received a good deal of attention at the recent meeting of the Police Council, when the first Part of the Committee's Report was discussed. The proposed scheme of averaging will not in practice have any considerable effect on the amount of pension to which the majority of members of the police force will become entitled on their retirement. Objections which have been levelled to this proposal are levelled, not so much at the principle, which is already in operation in other public services, as to the suggestion made by the Committee and accepted by the Government that it should be brought into operation at the same time as the new rates of pay. Two criticisms most often made are, first, that the introduction of averaging at the same time as the new pay scales will have an adverse effect on promotion, because a number of senior officers who would otherwise have retired will prolong their service in order to obtain higher pensions, and, second, that it is unfair to men who have already done a full period of service to have to continue to serve in order to secure a pension based on the new rates.

We do not yet know what the Committee will say in Part II of their Report on the subject of promotion, but it may well he that some senior officers will defer their retirement as a result of the introduction of averaging, which may mean a temporary slowing down of promotion, although, of course, taking it at its worst, there will in three years' time be a corresponding acceleration of the rate of promotion. Something will be done to mitigate this effect by the provision made in draft Regulation 87 to meet the case of the members of police forces who were serving on August 28, 1921, who will, if they are compelled by the operation of the age limit to retire within three years of the day on which the Regulations come into force, have their pension assessed on actual, as opposed to average, pay. There is no doubt that police authorities will be readier to exercise their right to require officers to retire when they know that these officers will be able to have their pensions calculated on the actual rate of pay in operation when they retire. Further, I do not think that it should be automatically assumed that all the senior officers who are now entitled to go on pension, and who are not covered by the special arrangements made to cover officers who were members of the service on August 28, 1921, will, in fact, stay on for the full period.

However this may be, the Government take the view that the considerations which the Oaksey Committee had in mind, and which are fully set out in their Report, are overwhelming. The Committee point out that if any considerable proportion of the 7,000 men who have completed twenty-five years of service (and who would accordingly be entitled to retire on pension) were to retire during the next few months it would be a serious embarrassment to an already undermanned service. They go on to say that, in their view, it would not be right for policemen to secure a substantial improvement in their pensions as a result of the Committee's proposals on pay, except in return for some period of service under the conditions which they recommend. The Committee say that no other practicable way has been suggested to them of encouraging the large number of men whose continued service for a further period it is necessary to retain, and that they regard averaging as an essential concomitant of the substantial increases in pay which they have suggested.

The Government have accepted the Committee's recommendations as a whole, and would certainly not feel justified in departing from them in a matter of this importance. The House will, however, expect me to say something about the method by which it is proposed to introduce the new provisions for averaging. The Government wish to avoid any suggestion that, in implementing the Oaksey Committee's recommendations as regards pensions, the provisions of Section 2 of the Police Pensions Act, 1948, are being infringed. Had the Government decided to bring in amending legislation to deal with this point, it might have been necessary to delay the introduction of the new rates of pay for weeks, if not for months, while this was done. The only way of ensuring that there was no question of infringing the 1948 Act, and at the same time bringing the new pay scheme into operation by July 1, was to make the provision, contained in draft Regulation 87, for serving members of police forces to elect to accept averaging and to provide in the corresponding Police Regulations that only those members who accept averaging will receive the new scales of pay. It is important that the House should bear in mind, in considering these provisions for averaging in the new Regulations, that in no case will the pension based on average pay under the draft Regulations be less than the pension would have been if it had been based on the actual pay on the scales now in force, so that no officer will receive a smaller pension as a result of the introduction of the new pensions scheme.

I hope that, in considering this most important question of averaging, the House will not lose sight of the provision made in the draft Regulations for the implementation of the other recommendations of the Committee. The most important of these is probably the provision for increased scales of widows' pensions which are included in scheme 1 of Part I of the Second Schedule to the Regulations. It is proposed that in future scheme 1 widows' pensions (that is to say, the flat rate minimum pension which a widow is entitled to receive in addition to any National Insurance award to which she may be entitled) should be increased to £50 a year in the case of constables and sergeants, £60 a year in the case of inspectors and £70 a year in the case of ranks higher than inspector. Provision is made in Part l and paragraph 1 (a) of Part III of the Third Schedule for the corresponding increase in children's allowances recommended by the Committee. Provision is also made in draft Regulation 11 for widows whose husbands die before being able to compete the preliminary number of contributions necessary to qualify them to receive National Insurance widows' benefit, and who otherwise fulfil the conditions for the grant of such benefit, to receive a basic police widow's pension with the addition of the amount equivalent to what the widow would otherwise have received by way of National Insurance benefit.

Provision is also being made by an amendment to the existing Regulation for service below the age of twenty to be reckoned as pensionable, and the recommendation that the pension contributions paid by policewomen should be reduced 4½ per cent. is put into effect in Regulation 37. Finally, the draft Regulations also provide, as recommended by the Committee, that where a man is dismissed for misconduct he should not be granted a pension, even if he has more than twenty-five years' service, but that the contributions which he has made during his service should be returned to him or to his dependants.

I understand that it will be the wish of some noble Lords to refer to aspects of the C'aksey Committee's recommendations which are not directly concerned with the Police Pensions Regulations and do not require an affirmative Resolution. It will probably be convenient to your Lordships, therefore, if I say a few words about some of the particular points. Your Lordships will appreciate that a number of important matters within the terms of reference of the Committee are not dealt with in Part I of the Report, but will be dealt with in Part II. These include such subjects as representative organisation, negotiating machinery, promotion, discipline and housing. Part I deals with pensions, pay and conditions of service.

As regards pay, the recommendations provide for substantial increases throughout the Service. Appendix I of the White Paper sets out the amount of those increases for constables, sergeants and inspectors. For the higher ranks the increases will be prescribed under the Police Regulations which are being made by the Secretaries of State after consultation with the Police Councils. It may be that in the case of higher ranks the immediate effects may be unevenly distributed in individual cases, and that one officer will obtain much greater immediate benefit than a colleague whose merits do not appear to the officer himself to be in any way superior. This is, however, inevitable in any broad settlement of this kind, and I hope the broad principles will not be obscured by the ventilation of exceptional or marginal cases where, because of exceptional circumstances, the advantages gained may fall below the average. It must be borne in mind in this connection that when any average is struck there is as much weight above the average as there is below it and, on balance, the Government feel that the scales recommended for the ranks of superintendent and above, based as they are in the case of England and Wales on the recommendations of earlier Committees which have examined these problems, represent a fair and just recognition of the responsibilities of the higher ranks.

In this connection I may say that in the last few days a meeting has taken place in the Home Office between the representatives of the superintendents and the police authorities of England and Wales, at which substantial agreement was reached as to the measures for applying equitably to serving officers the Oaksey Committee's recommendations with regard to grading and pay. As a result of this meeting, it is hoped that most, if not all, of the earlier criticisms of the Report which were made by superintendents have been met—apart, possibly, from that in connection with the loss of detective allowances which will be incurred by detective-superintendents. This is a particularly difficult point to meet, as at present the allowances received by detective-superintendents amount to £65 a year, which in future, under the Oaksey recommendations, will not be payable. The authorities have been unable to find any ground for disagreeing with the clear intention of the Oaksey Committee that a detective allowance should not be payable to officers of the rank of superintendent, but they recognise the financial loss which its discontinuance will entail to existing members, and it has accordingly been decided that upon its discontinuance, any superintendent whose new rate of pay would be less than his present pay with the detective allowance, shall be given a personal allowance sufficient to ensure that he is no worse off than he has hitherto been.

In addition, the Report provides for not inconsiderable improvements for the lower ranks in matters of overtime and time off and, as the Oaksey Committee themselves point out, they would have been able to recommend still further improvements in the general field of conditions of service if these improvements had not been given already over the past few years as the result of normal discussions and negotiation, on the Police Council and through its committees. I think I can safely say that the recommendations of the Committee on conditions of service generally are regarded with considerable satisfaction by the service and, so far as I am aware, they have not been subject to any adverse criticism.

Apart from the matter of averaging, the main subject of criticism in connection with the implementation of the Oaksey Committee's recommendations has been the failure of the Government to grant the recommended increases of pay with retrospective effect. There has undoubtedly been disappointment in the service at this decision, and unfavourable contrasts have been made with the action taken in 1919, when retrospective effect was given to the Desborough Committee recommendations. The absence of retrospection bears particularly hard on chief constables and superintendents in England and Wales, who before the Oaksey Committee was set up received an assurance that improved scales of pay, substantially in accordance with those now recommended by the Committee had been accepted in principle and would be granted as soon as the financial situation of the country enabled them to be paid. We are not unsympathetic to these officers, but the short position is that in respect of pay given by or under statutory instruments there is no power to grant retrospection. We are, however, anxious to grant the improved pay at the earliest possible moment, and ever since the Part 1 of the Oaksey Committee's Report was received every effort has been made to accelerate the reaching of final decisions as to its implementation, and it is proposed to introduce the new rates, with effect as from July 1, for all men who elect for averaging.

Too short a time has so far elapsed since the publication of the Report to enable me to express any firm opinion as to the effect of the improved conditions upon recruiting, and it may be that many would-be recruits are still holding back until this debate has taken place. The Government hope that in the course of the coming month there will be a steady improvement in recruiting, and that the tendency which has been observable during the last two or three years, for men with substantial periods of service to retire before they become eligible for pension, will disappear. That is the view of the Government with regard to the Oaksey Report. Your Lordships will perceive that we accept the Report in toto, and accordingly I ask your Lordships to approve these Regulations.

Moved, That the Special Order, as reported from the Special Orders Committee on the 1st instant, be approved.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

3.9 p.m.


My Lords, in accordance with the statement made by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, it may be for the convenience of your Lordships if in a word or two I draw your attention to the fact that there are two sets of Regulations which your Lordships are asked to approve—namely, the Police Pensions Regulations and the Police Pensions (Scotland) Regulations. For the convenience of the House I think it would be better to have one debate on the two sets of Regulations.

The substance of the two sets of draft Regulations is, for all practical purposes, identical, but each set contains certain provisions which apply either only to Scotland or only to England and Wales, as the case may be. The special Scottish provisions included in the Scottish Regulations are three: Regulation 29—provisions consequential on the abolition of the rank of lieutenant; Regulation 36—provisions as to the members of the Orkney and Zetland Police Forces; Regulation 37—provisions as to unattested service prior to 1924 of policewomen in Glasgow. These provisions are similar to the provisions contained in the Police Pensions (Scotland) Regulations, 1948. The draft Regulations for England and Wales contain four provisions which are peculiar to England and Wales and do not apply to Scotland. For instance, Regulation 54 deals with funds out of which and into which payments are to be made. In Scotland there are now no separate police funds. Regulation 58 deals with special arrangements for pensions to Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners of Police of the Metropolis. Regulation 63 refers only to Lincolnshire, and Regulation 85 to references. There is no corresponding provision in the Scottish Regulations, because references are dealt with differently in those Regulations. That is all I need say.

3.11 p.m.


My Lords. I find myself in general agree- ment with not a few of the Lord Chancellor's observations. First, I gladly associate myself with him in thanking one of our most respected members, Lord Oaksey, for the time and trouble he has given to this Report. If in the course of my speech I make criticisms of the Report, those criticisms will be due to the inherent difficulties of the problem rather than clue to any disparagement of the noble Lord's effort. Secondly, I agree with the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack in hoping most sincerely that these proposed changes will stimulate recruiting to the police, and will keep the recruits in the service when once they have entered it. In the course of my speech I shall have to throw several doubts on whether that is likely to happen. Thirdly, I agree with the Lord Chancellor that we must treat these police problems as a whole. I think he used words to that effect at the end of his speech.

Our trouble to-day is that, owing to the fact that the Oaksey Committee have dealt only with part of the problem, and the Government dealt in another place first with pay and are today dealing here with pensions, it is very difficult for us to consider the problem as a whole. Indeed, the last observations the Lord Chancellor made upon this subject show how difficult it is. He suggested in general outline certain changes that were going to be made in the position of superintendents, and so on. We have at our disposal none of the details upon which we can form a final decision. I would, therefore venture to say that, in my view, the Government are placing this House in great difficulty in dealing with the question piecemeal; and they are much less likely to make the police service attractive if they deal with it first in one chapter and then in another. I prefer what Lord Desborough did after the First World War, when he produced a comprehensive Report in which the advantages and disadvantages of the police service were set out over the whole field, instead of dealing with it step by step and by beginning with the two steps that matter least.

I remember the debate that took place in this House in February, 1948. I do not think I am misrepresenting what then took place when I say that it was the general view—I think the Lord Chancellor himself agreed with it—that the two most important factors of the problem were living conditions and housing conditions, and that pay came only third. To-day we are asked to deal with the pensions part of the pay. We were asked to deal at the end of May with the pay. All we can do is to put before noble Lords the difficulties of the problem, as we see them, and to look to Lord Oaksey and his Committee to take into account what is said in this debate and embody in their Second Report, if they can, the suggestions we make.

Let us look at the facts of the problem. The facts are very serious. On the one hand, the figures of crime have increased to a formidable degree; on the other hand, the police forces of the country are greatly under strength, and a wastage is going on that takes almost as many men out of these forces as are going into them. I will not weary your Lordships with many statistics, but let me give one or two figures to illustrate what I am saying. Let me take, first of all, the figures of indictable crime. The figures of indictable crime have been rising in the years since the war by anything up to 70 to 80 per cent. They have been rising particularly in the case of juvenile crime and delinquency, the part of the subject in which I personally am very interested. If noble Lords will look at the figures, they will find that the greatest rises in crime and delinquency are taking place in the ages between ten and twenty. That is a formidable side of the problem. On the other side, the police forces of the country are 17 per cent. below their establishment: they are 3,725 below their establishment in the provinces, and 4,280 below their establishment in the Metropolitan district.

The figures however, are really more serious than that. In the case of the Metropolitan figures, you find that in the Metropolitan Police district there has been no raising of the scale of the establishment, as there has been in most of the provincial authorities. I am told upon very good authority that the Metropolitan Police to-day, upon what should be their post-war establishment, are short by no fewer than 8,000 men. I think any noble Lord who analyses the position will find that I am not exaggerating when I give that figure. At the same time—and this is another serious factor—the standards, physical and so on, have been considerably lowered since the war.

There is the problem: an increase of crime, a decrease in the police forces and a wastage going on that to me is almost appalling. I have here the figures of wastage that are given by Lord Oaksey's Committee in their Report. I take, first of all, the figures of the men who have been from six to nine years in the force, and subsequently those from ten to fourteen years. Those were the age groups that Lord Oaksey's Committee took, I suppose because they were most significant. They showed the men who had gone into the forces and passed through a certain amount of training, and to whom in the ordinary course of events we should have been looking to till the posts of inspector, superintendent and so on, in the future. In the case of men from the sixth to the ninth years, the average wastage in the years 1927 to 1939 was 1.9 per cent. In 1946 it went up to 12.1 per cent. In 1947 I am glad to say it fell, although not by very much, to 8.1 per cent. If I turn to the figures of men from their tenth to their fourteenth years, I find that these men are leaving the force five times as frequently as they did in the years before the war. That surely shows a very serious state of affairs—I am not speaking so much now from the point of view of the police service as from the point of view of the community and of crime and delinquency.

I take the view that the first essential in the checking of crime and delinquency is an efficient and sufficient police force. I believe that that is particularly the case with the young. I do not believe that the young boy or girl who is thinking of breaking into an unoccupied house wonders whether he will eventually be convicted in a court and sent to an approved school or Borstal, or whatever it may be. I believe he is thinking chiefly: "Am I going to be caught by the policeman who is walking up and down outside?" What is happening here is that great areas—particularly in the building areas round great cities like London—are left practically without sight of a policeman from one end of the week to the other. I need not delay upon these facts, for they seem to me to be so obvious that one need not argue them.

I go on to ask how far the Oaksey proposals will help to re-establish the position. I own that I am not very hopeful. I take first of all the case of pay. I admit that, under the scale announced by the Home Secretary at the end of May, scales of pay are going to rise. They are not going to rise, however, to anything like the extent which was asked for by the Police Federation and the Police Council. The fact remains that, at the end of these rises, the policeman will no longer have—I will not say the favoured position, but the advantageous position that he had in the past, as compared with comparable workers in the country. His profession will no longer be a profession which has marked special advantages over and above the advantages of other walks of life.

I pass from the question of pay to the question of pensions. There again, I admit that in certain respects pensions are being satisfactorily increased, particularly the widows' pensions and pensions for orphan children. At the same time, I cannot take the view that has just been expressed by the Lord Chancellor about the new plan of averaging pensions. I think it is a bad plan. If it is not an actual breach of the undertakings given to the police, I think it is very nearly a breach. As things have been in the past, a man has received a pension based upon his pay, whatever the pay might be. The pay is now being put up. That being so, I maintain that the pension should continue to be based upon the pay. If the Ciovernment think that an increase in pay is necessary, it seems to me to follow necessarily that the pension should go up pari passu.

I believe that this three years' average will create very great discontent. I think also that it will keep some men, who have already had their period of service extended against their original contract, in the service for three years longer and that this will create discontent. It would have been much wiser, both in the case of pay and in the case of pensions, if it is really our intention to make the police service an attractive service, to face the statutory difficulty and to make payments in each case retrospective. There are many analogies of making payments retrospective. Every noble Lord in this House must have noticed how often it happens in industry. A long inquiry takes place and, at the end of it, advances in pay are made retrospective to a date which may be quite a long way back. I believe that it would have been much wiser if, in this case also, the rises in pay and pensions had been made retrospective.

I shall not linger upon these questions of pay and pensions, for before I sit down, I want to say a word or two about what I consider to be even more important than these actual money questions—namely, the conditions of police service, the living and service conditions. I have particularly in mind the problem of housing for the police. That is a question which has been raised time after time in this House, and we have never yet had a satisfactory answer. I cannot sec what is the objection to priority in every housing scheme being given for whatever police houses are necessary. As it is, the policeman has to take his chance with the rest of the community, and it does happen—and I am sure noble Lords can confirm this from many parts of the country—that great housing schemes are started, possibly at some distance from the older police stations, and that no accommodation whatever is provided for the police in those housing schemes. I greatly hope that when Lord Oaksey makes his next Report he will give particular attention to this housing question, and that he will give particular attention to the point I have made—namely, that definite priority should be given by every building authority to the building of police houses.

I come to the last point which I wish to press upon the noble and learned Lord. It concerns the service conditions of any young man who goes into the police. I am convinced that the conditions will have to be made so attractive that an enterprising young man will go into the force feeling that he has the chance of rising to the very top, and does not see, time after time, all the highest posts in the service—or most of them—given to outsiders. In other words it is necessary by some means or other to find merit in the police force—and to find it soon; otherwise you will break the hearts of these young men who enter the service. At present, they do their routine work, year after year, and they see no chance of getting any further; and they leave, as they are leaving now, after their sixth, seventh or eighth year. I know that around this question there has raged a great controversy over Lord Trenchard's scheme for the Police Colley. The noble Lord had a scheme; he faced this very difficult problem of attempting to reconcile the question of seniority with that of efficiency. The scheme did not meet with general support (I am not now going into the reasons for that), and it was scrapped.

What I want to say to the noble and learned Lord. Lord Oaksey, to-day is that, now the Trenchard scheme has been scrapped, it is essential that some new scheme should be introduced which would do what we all wish to see done—namely, give the young men encouragement and make the police service an attractive career. As it is, we have gone backward and not forward. I remember that in a debate which we had eighteen months ago the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, had some argument with Lord Trenchard on the subject and, in the course of this argument (I think I am giving an accurate account of what the Lord Chancellor said) he gave the impression that young men of twenty-four and twenty-five years old would be selected for the Police College, and—after having undergone a necessary period of routine work in the streets—that they would be marked out for future promotion. I would not demur at such an age as twenty-four or twenty-five, but the present position, so I am informed, is that the average age of attendance at the Police College is from thirty-seven to forty. What chance or hope is given to a young man who goes in, full of enterprise, anxious to make a career, when he sees that one of the channels for promotion is restricted to men of thirty-seven to forty? I will not pursue the argument, except to say that here is one of the key questions for the second Report of Lord Oaksey's Committee. I hope it will take a very prominent part in that Report, and that one of the results of the next Report will be to make an opening for talent and to give these young men a chance of rising to the top.

I have now dealt with the matters which seemed to me to need criticism or comment. I hope that what I have said will prove to be pessimistic, and that recruitment for the police in future will be better than I expect it to be. I hope that wastage will not be so great. But from the information I have at my disposal, and the inquiries that I have made, unless the second Part of the Oaksey Report can give a much more attractive picture of conditions in the police service than the first Report has done, I am afraid my prophecies of woe will be fully confirmed.

3.38 p.m.


My Lords, after looking at the list of speakers I hope I may be allowed one anticipatory word: that is to say how gladly we welcome tile prospect of hearing "the sound of a voice that is still" with us—happily now in a more unbridled capacity. Earlier debates on this subject revealed that there was a substantial volume of discontent in the police force which was reflected, first, in the difficulties of obtaining suitable recruits and, secondly, in the alarming wastage which was going on. No one can doubt that all over the country there have in the last few post-war years been a series of crimes, especially of burglary and theft of jewels and furs, far in excess of anything that was known in the past. Equally, no one can doubt that at least one of the reasons for the profusion of these crimes is that the intending criminal knows that he has a very considerable chance of escaping detection. In that context, I hope that it is not as irrelevant to this subject as it might at first sight appear if I venture to make one more plea to His Majesty's Government that they could now, four years after the end of the war, make up their minds to grant a complete amnesty to deserters from the armed Forces of the Crown. I say that that is a not irrelevant consideration, because it is obvious that no small proportion of the men who are committing these crimes, largely undetected, are men who have been driven to a criminal course of life, not by any inherent vicious instinct but by the force of circumstances which have placed them in that position and which have disabled them from earning a normal honest livelihood. The number of those potential desperadoes would be reduced by extending to them at long last that amnesty, and the sooner that is done the lighter will be the task of such police as we possess.

In the Oaksey Report there occurs the sentence: In our view it is essential that members of police forces should be contented and reasonably free from financial worry. My Lords, that is an unexceptionable sentiment with which we should all agree—perhaps in connection not only with life in the police force but in many other walks of life. But, equally, all of us who have ever had any connection with the Services have been confronted with the problem of what was known as "the anxious soldier"—the man who was so afflicted and obsessed by his own personal troubles that he was below the proper standard of efficiency, and so disqualified by his worries from carrying out his duties in a proper mariner. I believe that for some time past this has been, and still is to a large extent, the case in regard to members of the police force, who of all occupations ought to be able to devote themselves with single-minded alertness to the carrying out of their duty.

Great as, in common with all others of your Lordships, is my respect for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Oaksey, who was Chairman of this Committee, I must regretfully say that such information as I have been able to collect does not indicate that the causes of discontent have yet been, or are likely to be, removed by this first instalment of the Report. I appreciate that it is a first instalment but, while recognising the need for speed in the preparation of the Report, I regret that it has had to be published not as one volume but as a serial story. As the noble Viscount who has just spoken said, it is obviously to be regretted that it was not possible to put before serving members of the force and, equally, before potential recruits, a picture which would show them the entire field of conditions in which they would be called upon to serve. It is not easy for them to make up their minds on a piecemeal survey of the territory.

There will certainly be a further instalment of the Report, but it will not deal again, as I understand it, with the question of pay and pensions, which is the subject of the first Part. From all my information, the matter which is causing dissatisfaction, and considerable dissatisfaction, is in the main this question of pensions, with the obligation upon a man to extend his period of service if his pension is to be added to on any worthwhile scale. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack—rightly, if I may say so—appealed to us not to give individual cases. I would merely ask this one question: Is it the position that, under this new scheme, it may be possible for a man to have to stay on for a period of up to six years in order to obtain an accretion to his pension of not more than £30 a year? If that is so, it will not satisfy the grievances of even the least rapacious of men.

I realise that the next volume will in all probability deal with housing. Therefore, I do not want to spend too much time upon that subject at this stage. I believe that to be of pre-eminent importance in the whole discussion of this matter. From time to time, one reads in the papers examples of local councils having before them an appeal to make special provision to allocate accommodation on their housing list for the benefit of the local police. I do not think that I have ever yet read a report which states that a council agreed to that course. It seems to me astonishing that a local authority which, after all, is charged with the whole interests of those who reside within their area, should refuse to give a priority to the police force, in order that they may be able to carry out their duty in reasonable personal comfort and with a measure of professional accessibility to the area in which they are called upon to work. I very much hope that the recommendations of the next volume of this Report will so strongly emphasise the need for such a priority that steps may be taken to make it no longer a question of caprice but a question of general, definite duty. It is difficult to think that the other inhabitants, or potential inhabitants, of an area would find themselves aggrieved if they were moved down two or three places on a list of those waiting for houses, in order to make room for the police. After all, it is the people who are going to live in that neighbourhood who are most deeply interested in having the police on the spot, and not miles away. If the councils would show a little more courage and resolution in these matters, the police would probably be better housed.

There are also considerations, upon which I do not dwell now, in connection with the provision of married quarters in general, and certainly of unmarried quarters for the police in the neighbourhood of the police station. It may be that Stone walls do not a prison make, but stone walls in their old age make very unattractive accommodation for unmarried constables. I understand there is a considerable entry into the force of young men of good education, and equally there is a substantial wastage of just that type of young man. No doubt it is partly due to the fact that in these days there is no shortage of labour and there are other occupations available for them if, perhaps after an inadequate period of probation, they decide that life in the police force does not attract them as a final career. I think it is also the case that they find their prospects of promotion blocked by the older men. I think it is also the case that, in many instances, they meet friends of theirs, from school or regiments and so on, who are earning £8, £9 or £10 a week, and getting Saturdays and Sundays off regularly, and that rapidly alters the attitude of mind which originally persuaded them to take service in the police force. Yet it is of importance that those men should be retained.

I have sometimes wondered—and it may or may not be of value as a suggestion—why it is that in the police force, and, so far as I know, only in the police force, the first what I may call noncommissioned rank is that of sergeant. A man steps straight from constable to sergeant and, according to the establishment, the number of sergeants permissible is not very large. I have sometimes wondered whether it would not encourage men and provide them at an earlier stage of their career with some additional pay if there were to be instituted a rank—for instance, that of corporal—intermediate between constable and sergeant, which would give them a first step towards responsibility and a first increase of pay, although I am prepared to admit that experience has shown that corporals are apt more to disturb than to preserve the peace!

The Government have accepted this Report en bloc, but I do not imagine that they, any more than we, are of opinion that, even on those subjects covered by the Report, it is a conlplete and final answer to the case which the police are presenting. The Government will have to think again and act again if there is to be what we desire, what the police deserve and what public security demands—a force adequately and indeed generously treated, strong, stable, and satisfied with the terms and conditions upon which it carries out the inestimably valuable service of protecting the interests of the citizen.

3.50 p.m.


My Lords, I feel that I should be guilty of what was once called a "terminological inexactitude" if I put forward as a plea for your Lordships' consideration the fact that I have never addressed this House before. I would rather rely on a continuance of that kindness which made my service in the House so supremely happy. Indeed, I should not have strained what I may perhaps call my mature maiden modesty so far as to make a speech at all so soon after admission to your Lordships' House were not the subject under discussion this afternoon one which is very near to my heart. As there is so much business before the House I promise to be very brief. My close association with the police—which I hasten to say has an athletic and not a criminal origin—has gone on for many years, and I have made many friends among both the officers and the men of the police force. I think all your Lordships have a deep appreciation of the value of that force.

The subject before the House is, of course, the consideration of the Police Pensions Regulations, but I think I know enough of your Lordships' strict views on the rules of Order to be comforted by what the noble and learned Viscount said, and that I shall not be infringing those rules by discussing for a moment or two the Oaksey Report on which these Regulations are founded. Anyone who studies the Oaksey Report—and it needs study—cannot fail to be struck by the extraordinary and meticulous care and diligence with which the Committee have examined the subject entrusted to them. The Report is beautifully edited and as full of facts, figures and diagrams as any pre-war plum pudding was of plums—or whatever it was stuffed with. But beautifully-painted miniatures do not make good posters, and I am rather afraid that when a man who contemplates going into the police force reads that Report, if he ever does, or receives a digest of it, he will not be attracted as one feels he should be.

I would like to emphasise what the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood said —namely, that it would have been much more satisfactory to have a Report dealing with housing and other things as well as the mere question of pensions and pay. However, that may come, and we shall be glad to see it when it does. I am sad about the three-year-average pensions scheme. It is obvious what the Committee were after. They wished to retain in the force men who had experience and standing, who would form a sort of backbone to the force. To a certain extent, they seem likely to attain their object. The chief inspector who, under the new scheme, will be entitled to an extra £140 a year on his pension, is not likely to let a lapse of two years stand between him and that increase, and I. anticipate that a great many men will stay on in the force with a view to drawing the increased pension.

The Police Pensions Act, 1948, gives them the option of choosing whether they will retire on the old basis of pay or whether they will stay on and gain the extra advantage. But there are two repercussions. The first that has been voiced to me by a considerable number of men in the ranks is a sense of bitter disappointment at the fact that at the age of retirement they are likely to have to prolong their time in the force. The second, which is much more serious, is that there is almost certain to be a three years' block in promotion. Where frustration arises from a block in promotion, it is hound to breed discontent, and I look upon that with great apprehension. The Home Secretary was conciliatory About this matter in another place and I hope he will go some way to meet it. I trust that in the future some steps may be taken on behalf of the younger men to meet that real grievance.

I will not keep your Lordships much longer, but I would like to say a word or two on the question of pay. We have heard a great deal about "concealed emoluments." I would like to say a word in regard to the question of pay, as it will affect the constable who is going to join the police force now. He will receive a salary of £330 a year, as against the £268 which lie had before the scheme was introduced. That is an increase of about 21s. a week. Out of the £330, taxation has to he paid, and 4s. 11d. for National Insurance contributions, for Medical services—which up to date he has received free of charge—will be deducted. And I think I am right in saying that under one of the Regulations now before the House he has to pay a contribution towards his pension. What does that leave him? Not very much. Out of what is left he has to pay for food and such civilian clothing as he wants, and, if he is a cigarette smoker, he has to buy his cigarettes. I do not think that is an attractive picture.

I was sorry to hear the noble and learned Viscount say that the figures are not ready, because it would have been very instructive to the House to know how the Oaksey Report has affected enlistment and wastage from the force, both of which are most important matters. I should like to put this point to Lord Oaksey before I sit down. There has been suggested an allowance of £10 per annum to the man in the Metropolitan or the City Police to meet the extra cost of living vis-à-vis his brother in the country, who can, so to speak, grow his own cabbages and lay his own eggs. Many people think that that is not enough, and would advocate an additional payment of £25 a year for the extra expense of living in city. The other point in regard to accommodation will, of course, arise from the second Part of the Report. I only hope that that second Part will make some helpful recommendations on this point. I will not detain your Lordships any longer, but I hope—and I know I speak for many of your Lordships—that the result of all these efforts will be to put the force on a much better basis of security.

3.58 p.m.


My Lords, it is a pleasure and a privilege but I feel it is almost a presumption that I should be the first to speak after the speech we have just heard from the noble Lord who used to counsel me and who has given such wise advice to many in your Lordships' House. I feel that I am not the best person to congratulate him on his speech, but I do say that he has shown the same wisdom in his first public speech here as he has always displayed to all of us who have been helped personally by him. I hope we shall hear him many more times in this House.

The noble Lord ended on a note upon which I feel I would like to begin. My sole object in speaking to-day is because I feel very strongly about the subject with which we are dealing—namely, the vital necessity of having and maintaining a contented and happy police force, one that is up to strength and is proud of its position and its conditions of service. Is that too much to ask? I would like to begin by saying that I agree with all the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, said. This debate on the police is long overdue. The last time we discussed the subject was in February, 1948, well over a year ago, and our debate now really deals only with pensions and pay. I gather that the Report of Lord Oaksey's Committee that has been published so far has not been received with the satisfaction the authorities thought it would give. I realise to the full the difficulties of making a Report on the police that will carry conviction throughout the force. 'You are trying to lay down Regulations for different men in different forces—for those in London and in the big cities, in the small cities and in the country districts. It cannot be done, because they are not working under the same conditions. You must face the fact that it cannot be done.

There is another point about which I know Lord Oaksey and his Committee took a great deal of trouble. I hope the noble and learned Lord will not feel that I am in any way unfair in criticising his Report, because I consider that he had an almost impossible task. It is impossible to deal with the question of police pay and police pensions separately, yet it seems that the practice has been to deal, as it were, with pensions one day, promotion another day, housing another day and welfare conditions yet another day. The more you separate these matters, the more you argue about them and make recommendations, the more likelihood is there that the recommendations which you make will be objected to by a certain number of people. The difficulties will be accentuated and the objections will be multiplied. Instead of a comprehensive Report being issued with recommendations which, while they might not advantage a man in one way would confer benefit on him in another and would benefit other men in yet other ways, the various matters which I have mentioned have been dealt with separately. That, in my view, is going to make for continuous trouble.

In this connection, I would like to ask the noble and learned Lord, Lord Oaksey, whether he even knew that there was another body sitting at the time and considering the same subject. I have here a report published on June 21 called The Fourth Report of the Police Post-War Committee. There have been three earlier reports but this one, as I say, came out about seven days ago. I criticised the first report very severely and the Lord Chancellor replied in February, 1948. Since that time three other reports have been issued. I do not know whether it would be improper for me to ask Lord Oaksey if he knew that this committee was still sitting. The subject of the report is described as the "Standardisation of Responsibilities of the Higher Ranks of the Police Service." A list of names of the members of the committee is given. Does this not exemplify what I have been saying about dealing piecemeal with this subject? This report went out to the police forces after the first part of the Report of Lord Oaksey's Committee had been issued. Is that the way to deal with police questions? Any young man who wants to join the police force, if he takes up this Report and reads in it what officers have to do to qualify to become superintendents, will I think receive a set-back to his ambitions. I would like to ask the Lord Chancellor what paragraph 5 of Part II means. I have read it myself and it has also been read by others with whom I have discussed it. Nevertheless it remains to me quite incomprehensible. It certainly will not tend to induce one young man to join the police force.

Questions relating to pay have been discussed to-day and there is no doubt that generally what is suggested has not been received with satisfaction. I hope that on closer examination the police will be more satisfied with the proposals than they have shown themselves to be up to the present.

Now to turn to the Oaksey Report. I see that besides pay and pensions, the Report deals with one other point, the alteration in the ranks, as mentioned in paragraph 47, where it says that the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police recommended that in future sub-divisional inspectors should be called chief inspectors and chief inspectors should be called superintendents. The Committee saw no reason to dissent from that view, but pointed out that it would have other consequences than a change of titles, such as an allowance of annual leave, entitlement to a weekly rest day, widows' pensions et cetera. I think that the last point is confusing to the police, as I have heard it said that the sub-divisional inspector's rank is being discontinued and that a new senior rank above that of superintendent will be introduced. I think that that shows that some of the police do not thoroughly understand what the paragraph means. I am not sure that I understand it fully myself and I hope that the Lord Chancellor will, with his clear mind, explain exactly what this means, as some of the police believe that the sub-divisional inspectors now being called chief inspectors will get the advantages that go with this rank at present. Is that so? And will their pay be graded up to that extent or not.

I want now to refer to the background of this Inquiry. The noble Lord, Lord Templewood referred to the debate in your Lordships' House in February, 1948. I recall that everything I suggested on that occasion was turned down by the noble and learned Viscount who replied to the debate. I asked for a Committee of Inquiry to be set up at once. That request was refused. Within a month it was granted in another place. I hope that after this debate we may have some improvement, even though it may be refused to-day. The Lord Chancellor also said that he thought the question of accommodation was a more important point than that of pay—in fact, he was very emphatic upon it. And yet the first Part of this Oaksey Report, the only Part of the Report which has so far been published, deals with pay. It deals with pay, and not with the other matters which have been under consideration. Why? I hope that when he replies, the Lord Chancellor will give the reasons why pay was chosen as the subject of this Part of the Report when there are so many other matters to be considered, matters which I gather are, in the Government's opinion, more important.

In the debate which I have just mentioned, I referred to the conditions of police quarters and I described them as deplorable. I think I was criticised severely because I had not done more about them during the time I was at Scotland Yard. I thought that the Lord Chancellor was almost cross with me that day. He seemed to complain that the difficulties of accommodation had been handed on to the present Government by their predecessors; and he seemed to blame me and the Government of that day. I would like to point out that it was over a year ago that this inquiry was set up, after attention had been drawn to the deplorable condition of the quarters, and it is four years since this Government took office. Yet we have not even had the Report about improving the housing. The Government have had longer to deal with this matter than I had during my period of office. I feel that if the Government do not move more quickly, the new Government that comes in next year will rightly say, when they are attacked on the question of quarters for the police, that this question was handed on to them by the previous Government who had not used their great majority and some of that great energy of which they are capable to deal adequately with the housing question. Will the Government tell us to-day how many section houses they are aiming at constructing in the Metropolitan Police area now, and will they say to-day how many are under orders for construction? It would be interesting to hear also how many more married quarters they are constructing to-day. Or are they waiting for the second Part of the Oaksey Report?

Again, we asked on the previous occasion whether the Government would use their powers or take new powers—this has been mentioned by two previous speakers to-day—to insist that local authorities give priority to the police in the housing which they own and control. Has anything at all been done about that yet? The question of pay has been adequately dealt with by previous speakers in this debate. The police authorities, I gather, recommended that the increased pay should start at £7 a week, but the Committee have recommended an increased rate to start at £6 6s. 11d. a week. The noble Lord, Lord Badeley, has dealt with the whole question of pay much better than I could do. How much, he asked, does it cost to live in London, in view of the conditions in which police officers have to live and carry out their duties? I hope that the pay offered will produce the recruits, as that was the chief object of the increase in pay. The Lord Chancellor said in his opening speech that the Government thought it too early yet to say whether any extra recruits are coming in as the result of the increase. Would it be possible for him to tell us, when he replies, whether there has been any indication one way or another in the last month? I strongly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Badeley, that the system of granting pension on the average of the last three years' pay before retiring is a retrograde step. It will cause the force to become still older in the average age of its members.

I am sorry to detain your Lordships, but I look on the police as exceedingly important. Some sixteen months ago, in a debate in your Lordships' House, I gave some disturbing figures about recruiting; I pointed out that in 1947 470 men left the police voluntarily in their first year's service. The Home Office have informed me now that in the first part of this year, from January 1 to April 30, 330 recruits joined the Metropolitan Police and 306 left—a total gain of 24. On a deficit of between 4,000 and 5,000 men that is not very much. Of the 306 men who left, no fewer than 139 were post-war entrants; therefore the departure of young men from the force is going on almost at the same rate as when I spoke sixteen months ago. I emphasise the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood. In some forces the establishment has been increased, but the Metropolitan Police Force have not increased their establishment. I cannot believe that the Metropolitan police authorities are not working on the increased establishment necessary to combat the crime which exists in London today; and if they have a new establishment, why cannot we be told?

The Government may say, "What is the good of publishing an increased establishment when we cannot even fill the present establishment?" I feel that concealing the true deficiency in the police force in London is doing a great deal of damage. Why is it that the young men do not join the police force? I do not want to weary your Lordships, and I know the importance of the subject we are to discuss later, but this is a really important question. If we do not induce a few of the very best young men to join, we shall never persuade second and third-rate men to come in. We must get a few young men who have made their name at school, or who established some kind of record, to join; then they will attract others. To answer the question, why do we not get a few of the best young men to join, we must go back to the question of what we do with them when they do join. It is vitally necessary to get them. They are to be found in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, in business and in other walks of life. If the young men cannot find a real career in the police force, they will not join.

In last year's debate I spoke at some length on the subject of the old Police College, to which men went in their early days and remained for two years; and I criticised the new college set up in Warwickshire, which has courses which last only six months and to which men go at an older age. The noble and learned Viscount who answered that debate made some severe comments on my views. He said definitely that the Government objected to the sort of college I had envisaged and gave as an analogy what would happen if senior members of your Lordships' House, like the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, and the noble Earl, Lord Halifax, went into the Foreign Service. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor said: If eminent people from this House and 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 Templewood in Spain, Lord Halifax in Amer.…However, if we make a habit of doing this, what effect will that policy have on the Foreign Service! Could anything show more clearly how the Government misunderstand the whole question? If the Government are still using that argument for doing away with the police college, then I understand why they cannot get recruits. The whole object of the police college was to train police officers so that they could have a chance of rising to the highest posts. The Commissioner, Sir Harold Scott, and the Deputy Commissioner did not start their careers in the police force. Even the Commandant of the new police college which the Government have set up did not begin his career in the police force. If we go on like this, we shall have a second-rate force.

Your Lordships will remember that the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, referring to my statement that men entering the new college would be too old, said that it was wrong to talk as though these people would be greybeards when they reached the college. He said: …If they enter the service at about 20, at 24 years of age surely they will he young enough to develop the qualities of leadership which we all want. The noble Viscount also said: 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. The noble Viscount talked about men of 24 years of age. But the average age of the men going out of the college today is about 40. The present college has two courses. At the first course, 24 men attended, and their average age was 37 years. At the second course the average age was 40, and I believe that at the third course it is over 41. So we are going gradually up the scale. I know that it will be said that the police are working off men who are seeking promotion, and that they are being given a chance; but that was said to me in the past in regard to Hendon. On that basis, there will be no chance of training young men at an early enough age. A few days ago I picked up a paper in which it was stated: London's youngest crime chief has been appointed Scotland's youngest chief constable. He is only 35, yet he has been in charge of crime in a large area of London's East End. He was another product of the Hendon Police College. I should like to congratulate the noble Lord who answers for Scotland; I am glad that the Scottish police authority concerned was so wise. If this officer had not been Hendon-trained and had come under the present system, he would not have been trained for the job at 35—and he would not have been during the next twenty years. But he chose the police force, and went through the ranks and the Hendon College. In the debate in February, 1948, the Lord Chancellor said: Quite likely we shall fail"— that is the only remark in his speech with which I thoroughly agreed— but we shall learn from our experience. I only hope the Government will not take so long as the average age of the recruits going through the police college—40 years. Before I sit down I would ask whether the Police College papers were referred to the Oaksey Committee by the Government, or whether it is decided that the Government will not re-examine the question of reopening the College. Is that still their intention after all this experience? I would repeat: the establishment of the Metropolitan Police Force is dangerously low, and crime is dangerously high.

4.22 p.m.


My Lords, I intervene only for the purpose of answering the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, where he criticised tie making of this first Part of the Committee's Report on the ground that everything had been done piecemeal. He referred to the fourth post-war report of the Police Council under the impression, I think, that that had not been before the Committee over which I presided. As a matter of fact, I am told that that Report was issued in 1947, and it was before us in the evidence which was presented to us by the Home Office. The only other thing I desire to say is this. The reason why we presented an Interim Report upon the subject of pay and pensions was that we were urgently requested to do so I think by every rank in the police force and certainly urgently and repeatedly by the Police Federation.

4.32 p.m.


My Lords, may I say straight away, as one who also proposes to offer some criticisms of the terms of the Report, that I do not think the noble Lord who has just sat down could, with any Committee, have produced a Report which would clear up the mess of thirty years and gain universal praise. Certainly I am bound to say that the division of the Report into two makes it difficult to get a complete picture, but the division of the Report is not something for which the Committee are responsible so much as some of us who have wanted to see pay and conditions dealt with, and who even now think those matters have not been dealt with quickly enough. We were content to see the Report in two parts, even if it did mean a rather disjointed picture.

Those of us who are concerned with the trade union movement are certain that over a period of thirty years the police force have drifted into a state of grave discontent through being completely unable to discuss effectively their own affairs. For many years even the Police Council—which was a very poor form of organisation to offer the men—was not even summoned by the Home Secretaries in office. The Whitley machinery and the revised form of organisation which we hope the noble and learned Lord is going to recommend in his Second Report, may do as much as anything else to help the police force in the future. As there is to be another Report on that subject, and clearly this House will then want an opportunity of discussing the matter, I do not propose to detain your Lordships by developing those points now. I propose to reserve what I want to say on that matter until we see the recommendations of the noble Lord and his Committee.

In respect of the Report now before us, and the deficiency in the Metropolitan Police, I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood. From the information at my disposal, I would say that the deficiency in the Metropolitan Police is much nearer the 8,000 which the noble Viscount quoted than the 4,280 referred to in the Report. It specifically tells that the force is 4,280 under establishment. What we have not been told is the establishment which the Metropolitan Police ought to have to deal with the state of things in London as they are to-day. Obviously there has been a larger volume of recruitment. Here again I develop a point made by the noble Viscount opposite. What has happened in regard to recruitment is, first, that the standards as to physique have been reduced; secondly, standards as to education have been lowered, and thirdly, recruitment has benefited fortuitously from various things, such as the absorption of war auxiliaries, former members of the Pakistan Force and the Palestine Force, and so on.

I agree with the statement in paragraph 17 of the Report that it would be rash to claim that the recommendations on pay will do much to improve the situation. I do not think they go far enough. I want to say a few words on that subject and on a few other points, specifically at the request of the police force. I consider—and this is the only reason why I venture to address your Lordships—that the view they have to put on this subject should be brought before your Lordships' House, particularly because they are deprived of the full and effective opportunity normally given in Whitley machinery for the discussion of their business. The police would have been satisfied with the £7 a week minimum. They wanted a higher maximum than that proposed by the chief constables, but the chief constables agreed on the £7 a week minimum. I would remind your Lordships of the comparison made by the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, when he spoke in the debate last year, of the advertisement in the newspapers of that day for the position of a dustman at £5 19s. a week. A dustman works a five-day week, organised on the basis of a clear and set day each day, and not a 48-hour week, as in the case of the police, with alternate duties at night, with bad splitting up of the times of duty, and so forth. We who live a normal life must keep in consideration the abnormal kind of life the police have to live.

I would associate myself with those of your Lordships who have said the date of application of this pay award is causing concern in the police. I do not pretend to be able to argue with the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack as to the statutory difficulties which present themselves in respect of dating back an award of this kind. All I would venture to observe, with great humility, is that if difficulties of this kind exist in respect of the servants of the State and do not exist in respect of the rest of the community, it is time we looked at the position to see whether they can be removed.

How absurd those difficulties are your Lordships will realise when I say this. The Oaksey Committee was appointed in May last year, and there was an agitation for an interim settlement on pay. The police force, controlled by the Government, could not have an interim award of pay (I make no complaint about that, because clearly we had to wait for the Interim Report of the Oaksey Committee) but the police employed by British Railways, who had their pay brought level with that of the ordinary police some two years ago, also agitated for an interim award, and, unlike the police employed by the Government, having the right to go to arbitration, threatened arbitration. In the result, the British Railways police were given a rise in pay of 11s. to 19s. a week from July 1 last year, while they awaited the Report of the noble Lord, Lord Oaksey. What we are, in effect, saying to the police of the decision now reached, is: "If you are in the position to threaten arbitration because you happen to be employed by British Railways and not by the Government, you can get the improvement dated back; but it is forbidden to you if you are employed in the Home Office." I do not know whether that knowledge is in the possession of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, but I suggest that he might take it into account and refer it to the Home Secretary.

If I may, I would like to say this about the present Home Secretary. In my contacts with the police, the one thing I have found them insistent upon is the way in which the present Home Secretary has tried his hardest to understand their problems, has shown them kindly consideration and has done everything in his power to improve their position. There is not one member of the police force with whom I have had contact who has wanted to say anything other than praise for the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Chuter Ede, nor would they for a moment want me to say one word critical about him. I suggest, purely personally, that it might be possible for the Government to consider a compromise by making the payment retrospective to the date on which the award of the Committee was issued. If the noble learned Viscount on the Woolsack tells me that that is completely illegal, then my suggestion clearly fails. I knew that restrospection to a previous financial year was never liked—that was the highest I have heard it put until to-day—but as the date of the Report was the date of a new financial year, I had hoped that my compromise might have some merit in it.

I will not keep your Lordships by dealing in detail with housing, but we are all conscious of the terrible conditions under which the men have been living for thirty years. I think the words "thirty years" are very important; it is the long period of neglect in years gone by which is producing the difficulties this Government have to overcome to-day. The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, in the debate last year, told us how thirty years ago he was on a Committee of Inquiry to try and improve the conditions of housing, and of the bad conditions he saw then. These conditions were still existing when, in 1933, the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, made the drastic recommendations for improvement in the housing conditions of which he told us when he spoke last year. He also told us that, having made those recommendations in 1933 and 1934, hardly anything had been done about them by the time the war commenced in 1939, and that constant policy of "drift and do nothing," whatever Reports were received, is something which stands out as a very clear picture of these conditions in general. I did not quite follow the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, in what he said about a new Government next year. I was not quite clear whether he was prophesying the return of the Labour Party to power to continue their good efforts on behalf of the police.


Does the noble Lord ask me to explain? I meant that the next Government, when it comes in, will find police housing in a very bad condition, and they will say that in the four years of the Government which preceded them, with their immense energy and great majority, they did nothing to improve it.


At that rate, the noble Viscount must have been suggesting that some other Government would come in next year. If that is so, what they would be having handed back to them would be the conditions which they failed to cure during the long period of years before the present Government came to power, and I have no doubt that they would find it just as difficult to handle as have the present Government.

I have referred to housing mainly because it is one of those concealed emoluments to which the noble Lord, Lord Badeley, referred. In the calculation of pay scales in the Oaksey Report, every single thing has been added together in order to produce a comprehensive figure, to show how well remunerated the police are; and the bad housing conditions are included in the figure. Indeed, it was put to me that if the police want a rise in pay, all they need do is to go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ask him to put up the income tax. Even the amount of income tax paid on the housing which they do not receive has been included in the Report of the noble Lord's Committee. One of the members of the force asked me whether, if income tax not paid is included in remuneration, they may go along and ask for the extra shilling which is due to them when income tax in future comes down.

Others of the concealed emoluments, as they are called, are, of course, uniform and boot allowances. For some reason, which I have been completely unable to understand, the Committee take the amount of 10s. a week which is paid to plain-clothes men, and say that that is the value of the uniform which the uniformed men received. Now the plain truth is that 10s. a week is paid to the men in order that they may use their suits and, in the words beloved of writers of thrillers, that they may have disguises available. They may need an old suit and a couple of good suits. They need to have evening dress or dinner jacket, or both; and if they are unlucky and do not possess those, they have to repair to those institutions beloved of other folk than the members of the police force in order to hire for a few guineas the appropriate clothing in order to make their way to the evening event to which they are seconded.

I am told that the contract value of the clothes in fact issued as uniform to the police in a period of six years works out at under £40. But we are asked to accept for that same six-year period, in the terms of remuneration in the Report, a figure of £156. Let me go on to add to your Lordships that I am being generous in saying "up to £40." That would be the value if the police kept their uniforms, but in fact they have to hand them back, so that they may either be sold or issued to somebody else. I am told that the boot allowance of £6 10s. 0d. a year covers only part of the cost. I have seen the costing sheets, which show that £8 8s. 0d. a year is the minimum upon which a policeman can expect to maintain the effective footwear that he needs.

There is one essential thing which I must mention before I sit down, and that is the subject of hours. When the Report was first published, one of the first items I looked for was a recommendation about the future hours of the police. I realised that when you are dealing with a force which is short of men and trying to get more men into it, you cannot go along and say: "The men's hours will be reduced," because you are merely making worse an already difficult position. I think that the Committee—or, if not them, the Government—ought to make some encouraging statement on hours. If they made a statement as to the future to which the men could look forward, giving them an 88-hour fortnight, with three days off instead of two, every fourteen days, it would do something, to make them feel that they were being considered. Other noble Lords have referred to the attractions of factory and other kinds of work. One of the bitter things the policeman sees is that not only are his hours longer and badly spaced from the point of view of his health and his enjoyment, either in his home life or other entertainment, but he has the galling experience that when you and I repair to Lord's or Wimbledon—or wherever it is we may want to go in the time that is free to us—the police are not able to go to those events, but are busy controlling the traffic and seeing to the regulation and arrangement of those events.

I know that I have spoken too long. There are many other points on which I should have liked to say something. On overtime, for instance, I feel that, while no precise recommendation has been made, the recommendation in its general terms is satisfactory, provided that it does not mean the introduction of a complicated system. I regret that I have found it necessary to keep your Lordships so long. I speak not so much from any personal desire to do so as because the suggestion was made to me by members of the force that, as I was a trade union representative, I might make some contribution to your Lordships' House—particularly since the police force have yet to receive the report of the Whitley Committee. I hope your Lordships will bear with me. I sympathise with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Oaksey, on the task he has had to perform. It is a task which will never bring him bouquets, and I am bound to say that it was very well done, though not everybody perhaps, would agree with recommendations of the kind which the Committee made. I thank your Lordships, and I look forward to an opportunity of discussing the second informative Report of the Committee presided over by the noble and learned Lord. I also look forward to seeing a further improvement in the conditions of our police force.

4.41 p.m.


My Lords, I propose to respond very briefly to the invitation extended by the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, to say a word about Scotland, since the two Instruments are being taken together. It would be a pity if the Scottish force should go by default when the matter is being discussed. We in Scotland think very highly of our force; it is second to none, and indeed, a notable Scottish export for many years past has been policemen to London. One cannot say at this stage whether the improved Metropolitan allowances will still tempt these men away from Scotland or whether they will decide to remain there. That remains to he seen. I should like to echo what the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, said about the value of the work done by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Oaksey, and his Committee. It is an extremely valuable Report, and obviously much hard work has been done. Nobody would expect to find it free from criticism, for few important Reports have ever been free. In Scotland the criticism has been fairly active. Perhaps that is because Scottish policemen have said what the English policemen thought; certainly they have been very vocal in their criticism of certain points in the Report.

But I would ask your Lordships to bear in mind that, in taking evidence for the Report, the Committee met with varying evidence in Scotland as to the desirability of the proposed changes. We find that, while the county councils and the Convention of Royal Burghs were in favour of improving the scale of police pay, three of the great cities—Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dundee—reported generally against any such increase. But Aberdeen led the way in asking for a very substantial increase in pay. I am glad that Lord Oaksey reported in favour of an increase, and that the Secretary of State has accepted the proposal. My only comment is that I agree strongly with the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, that these increases should have been made retrospective. If this had been done, much, if not all, of the criticism we have heard would have bee avoided.

I should like to ask one specific question which I hope that the noble Lord who is to reply can answer. In his opening speech the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, referred to a meeting which had recently been held at the Home Office—presumably by the Home Secretary—with the representatives of the superintendents to deal with their observations about the pay of the higher ranks, particularly with regard to the pay of detective-superintendents. I should like to know whether that discussion is also being held in Scotland with the Scottish superintendents. I imagine that the Home Secretary would not discuss Scottish questions, but I know that we in Scotland are also interested in this matter.

Finally, housing conditions are extremely difficult in Scotland—more so than even on this side of the Border. The difficulty has of course been aggravated by the war, and I am sure there are many in the Scottish police force who await eagerly the second Part of the Report of Lord Oaksey's Committee. I hope that it will be possible for this second Part to deal specifically with the matter of police housing conditions in Scotland. It may be possible to lay an obligation on local authorities to give a priority to police houses, where these are necessary. I welcome the Report so far as it goes. I wish it had gone further in the matter of retrospective payments, but none the less I am sure it goes a long way towards improving police conditions.

4.46 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord who has just spoken will not expect me to go into detail on this matter. In reply to his question, I am informed that, in view of the fact that these Regulations come into force the day after to-morrow, there has not been sufficient time to gather together the Scottish police officers, but any improvements which may result from the meeting to which the Lord Chancellor referred will, of course, apply to Scotland as well as to England and Wales.


I thank the noble Lord.

4.47 p.m.


My Lords, perhaps I may reply briefly to some of the matters that have been raised in this most interesting discussion. So far as the matters outside the immediate discussion are concerned, I am anxious not to say very much. They are, of course, matters which Lord Oaksey's Committee will be considering on their second Report. The discussion has been extremely useful in calling attention to certain matters which should be considered and presented to the Committee, and I do not think it is right for me in any way to pre-judge the position by giving any decision of the Government, as it were, on these matters.

I should like to emphasise one matter again—I think that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Oaksey, referred to it. It is the question of this Report coming before your Lordships in a kind of piecemeal form. I am fully conscious of the disadvantages of that from many points of view. But in view of the fact that a Statutory Instrument cannot have retrospective effect, it was essential to bring this recommendation into force without retrospective effect at the earliest possible moment. The earliest possible moment is July 1, and therefore all the police authorities have been anxious that this course should be adopted. If we had waited until we had the whole Report, and had had time to digest and consider it, there would have been many advantages, but from the point of view of getting these improvements operative from July 1, it would have been very bad. It is the fact (I think I am right in saying) that Lord Desborough's Committee a long time ago also reported in two parts. But the representations were clamant and insistent that in the present case pay and pensions should be taken in a separate Report. That is why this has been done.

I do not accept the suggestion that the shortage of Metropolitan police is 8,000, although I do not necessarily tie myself to the figure of 4,200 mentioned in the Oaksey Report. This matter is now receiving the personal attention of the Home Secretary and probably the actual figure is 'between 4,000 and 8,000. On the other hand, there are indications that the crime wave is beginning to recede. So far as the Metropolitan police are concerned, I have before me some figures. I am not going to give them to your Lordships now, because I want to check them with some figures I gave on a previous occasion which formed the subject of a debate. If any noble Lord likes to put down a Question during the next few days with regard to this matter I shall have an opportunity of saying whether these figures are correct as I believe them to be. The figures do, however, show a considerable improvement so far as the Metropolitan Police area is concerned.

The noble Viscount, Lord Temple-wood, also dealt with the question of averaging, and rightly said that we had to try to make the terms of service sufficiently attractive to attract new entrants of the right type. I do not think that making those terms retrospective will have any attraction or inducement for new entrants. The real problem we have to face up to is this. You have at the present time some 7,000 men serving who have done their twenty-five years' service. It is most important to see, if we properly can, that those men do not all leave now, as they are entitled to leave, because that would make an embarrassing situation much more embarrassing. Of course, if they stay for these extra three years, then, from the point of view of the police service, that is manifestly all to the good. I will say a word or two presently, in a dogmatic form, about housing, to which I attach, and have in the past attached, the greatest possible importance, and about the Police College which the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, has mentioned.

The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, asked me one specific question. He said he had been told that it was necessary for a constable under the new scheme to serve six extra years to get £30 more by way of a pension. In the long run, a man will not have to stay on at all to secure an increase of pension because of averaging, since he will have been on his maximum rate of pay for three years by the time he has done twenty-five years' service. But in the next three years, a constable who now has twenty-five years' service—in the next three years, not six—will get an increase of £60 a year by staying on. That compares with the £30 a year for staying on for six years. A sergeant will get an increase of £76 by staying on an extra three years, and an inspector will get £88. In no case will a man have to stay on more than three years to have the Oaksey pay increases fully reflected in his pension. I hope that deals satisfactorily with the query raised by the noble Marquess.

I come now to the observations of the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard. With regard to the meaning of Part V, paragraph 2, of the document to which he referred, I hesitate to express an opinion, because I have never seen it. But I am happy to think that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Oaksey, answered the noble Viscount and said that it had been brought before his Committee. There is one specific question which the noble Viscount asked me with which I would like to deal. Sub-divisional inspectors are to he regarded as chief inspectors, and will receive the pay and allowances of a chief inspector. Now may I turn to the Police College? I assure the noble Viscount that I am never cross with him, even on the hottest, day, when wearing the hottest wig. But I think—I hope he will forgive my saying this—that it is rather his "King Charles' head." I do accuse him, if I may, of having a rather closed mind about it. I would invite him, and I should like him, to visit the existing College. We should greatly value his judgment and his expression of opinion. The police are rather proud of what they are doing. They think the scheme is working well, but there is no man better able to judge that than the noble Viscount. I would beg him not to close his mind until he has seen all the evidence, on the one side and on the other.

If the noble Viscount desires to see, as he does and as I am sure we all do, a happy and contented service, I can assure him of this (I speak with no personal knowledge in this matter; I speak the words which the Home Office put into my mouth, with a certain amount of latitude which I always demand!) that the serving police are happier with a college on these lines than with a college on the lines the noble Viscount instituted and advocated. That is the information I am given. Again, he is able to check up on that. I do not believe that, if we were to depart from the type of existing college which we have—and we do not intend to do so—and institute the type of college which the noble Viscount advocates, we should carry with us any considerable number of the police force. I do not believe that he can reconcile having his sort of college with a happy and contented police force.


Would the noble and learned Viscount deal with the question of age?


I am coming to that. I have not the figures for the three years' course which your Lordships had, comparing one year with another—one was 37 and the next was 40—but I have the average age for the courses so far. It is right to say that the average age for the first two courses, and the third course which is about to begin, is 37–38, but it is hoped to reduce this figure in the future. The reason for the high average age at the present time is that many of those policemen went to the late war, thus experiencing a considerable gap, and necessarily so, in their police experience and police practice. There are police who have been away for five or six years, and obviously that is reflected in the higher age at the College. For the course now starting, we have two officers under the age of 30, and it is hoped that we shall have an increasing number of the younger men. It is important to emphasise, however, that there is no intention on the part of the Government of excluding from the College officers who are above the present average age if they are thought by chief constables to be worthy of promotion. You may have either the brilliant young man coming on at an early stage, or you may have a late developer. If the chief constable thinks that the latter man is worthy of promotion, I am sure all your Lordships will agree that he should not be precluded from going to the Police College.


Could the noble and learned Viscount give the figures of those attending these courses?


I think I can answer the question put by the noble Marquess. There are 297 men and 9 women who have attended the two junior courses, and 94 men and one woman who have attended the two senior courses. Whether that agrees with the noble Marquess's figures I do not know. Two is a very small proportion, but it is an indication that so far as youth is concerned the position is better than we have had before, and we intend to try to continue in that direction.


Did the noble and learned Viscount not tell the House that he contemplated an age of 24 or 25? From the figures that he has given us, it certainly appears that there is nobody as young as that; and, in fact, that there is hardly anybody under 30 years of age.


I certainly did not mean to convey that I contemplated that everybody would be of the age of 24–25. I contemplated that there would be some people of the age 24–25. That has proved wrong. There are, in fact, going to be some people under 30. Owing to the delay of six years of war, it is natural that we cannot get men of 24, at present, but now that that difficulty is removed, I hope we shall get some people of that sort of age in future.

Now, my Lords, with regard to the question of housing. This again is a matter which is now before the Oaksey Committee, and I do not want to say very much about it. If this Government are to be blamed for the difficulty with regard to police housing, I think it would be right to point out to Lord Trenchard—what indeed is obvious—that, owing to the situation and circumstances of today, it is much more difficult to provide houses than it was in the inter-war period. It costs far more; we now have full employment, whereas we then had a mass of unemployment and many builders unemployed. Although I do not make any attack on the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard (I am perfectly certain he used all his great energies to try and get the Governments of those days to move in the matter), he relatively failed to get the Government to do what it was easy to do then and what it is very difficult to do now. Responsibility for housing, as your Lordships all know, rests on local councils; they have many heartbreaking questions to solve, and they have a points system and so on. They have tried to deal out their new houses fairly, and it is the fact (it would be wrong to condemn them) that some of these councils have given satisfactory preference to the police. I confess that there are some councils, particularly in the Metropolitan Police area, which have not given adequate preference to the police; but that is a matter which at the present time it is for the councils to determine.

What is the position in broad outline? Here are some figures for you. Up to the end of last month, we had provided since the war dwellings for married officers in the Metropolitan Police district to the number of 200. Dwellings for 100 more are in the course of erection, and will be finished shortly. In addition to building new houses, we have purchased or rented other houses, and that gives us another 50, so that we have, or will shortly have, 350 houses. We hope, now that the housing problem is beginning to get slightly easier (although Heaven knows! it is by no means solved) to invite tenders during the next twelve months for a further 450 new dwellings—I am talking only about the Metropolitan Police district. We have schemes for the improvement and modernisation of single men's quarters which have been carried out during the period mentioned, and the number of quarters available has so far been sufficient to meet requirements. There are similar schemes being prepared which, it is expected, will provide a sufficient number of quarters to meet all demands in the immediate future.

At the end of last month 128 men with children were living apart from their wives and families because of housing difficulties, and 106 men without children were living apart from their wives for similar reasons. Then, of course, we have a considerable number of married men, with or without children, who live in furnished rooms, and also a considerable number living in rooms which are unfurnished by the landlord but which the men themselves have furnished. I have those figures with me, but I do not think they would convey very much. I said before, and I say again: I attach the greatest importance to this matter of housing. I attach at least as much importance to housing—and I think more— as I do to any question of pay and pensions. That gives your Lordships some sort of indication of the progress being made with the very intractable problem of housing.

Two noble Lords spoke on the question of concealed emoluments. We were all delighted to hear a maiden speech from the noble Lord, Lord Badeley. It can have been given to few men, if any, to listen to so many speeches in the course of his life and yet to have delivered so few. I hope that he will now make up for the paucity of his speeches and that we shall hear him on many occasions, particularly on this sort of matter about which he obviously has a great knowledge, accompanied by a great sympathy in regard to the people for whom he is talking.

I do not pretend to know—how can I?—how one ought to assess all these various allowances. What we did was to refer the whole matter to the Committee presided over by Lord Oaksey. When I am asked to spare one of my colleagues to embark upon a Committee, knowing how heavy is his judicial work I consent only in the most important cases. It was because I regarded this as a most important case that I consented, and your Lordships were fortunate enough to have Lord Oaksey to preside over this Committee. If I have a Committee of that calibre going into the details of this matter and presenting a Report I say only, knowing Lord Oaksey pretty well, that there are strong indications that his conclusions are probably right on pure questions of fact. And I have certainly heard nothing to lead me to suppose that his conclusions are wrong. Lord Crook referred to the inclusion in concealed emoluments of income tax which the men did not pay on the value of the houses they did not have—or words to that effect. If you are comparing two things, one an income and a concession, such as a free house, and an income, without any concessions, out of which the man has to provide a house, you have obviously to remember that the latter is an income which has to bear tax in full, while the former is an income which does not bear tax in full. Surely that is a legitimate thing to bear in mind when comparing the two. That is pretty obviously what Lord Oaksey had done, and I confess that I should have thought it was a proposition of plain common sense.

However, my Lords, here we are. We want to do everything we can for these police. We are going to have a Second Report—I hope shortly, though I have no knowledge—and Lord Oaksey has had the benefit of hearing the speeches of your Lordships on many of these points. I have deliberately abstained from giving any Government view on these matters because I do not want in any way to pre-judge the matter or to cramp his style. Here we are debating the first Part of the Report. At the request of the police themselves the Report was divided in this way, so that we might have these reforms starting from July 1. That is why—and there is no other reason—your Lordships are today debating the first Part. I hope that we may have the second Part before long. I do not believe that the first Part of the Report has been greeted with that somewhat faint praise which some of your Lordships seem to think. On the whole I believe the First Report has received a considerable welcome, although of course it is impossible to satisfy everybody. I have never known a case of that. Moreover, what chance would a fellow have if he admitted that he was satisfied? He would he reminded of that for ever thereafter. I venture to think that a large number of people are satisfied with these Regulations, and I am satisfied that they have not been made without very careful consideration and a desire to do that which is fair to a body of men who deserve the sympathy of all your Lordships.

On Question, Motion agreed to.