§ 4.57 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time. I think your Lordships will be aware that the Police Federation was established by the Police Act, 1919, for the purpose of enabling the members of the Police Forces of England and Wales to consider and bring to the notice of the police authorities and the Secretary of State all the matters affecting their welfare and efficiency, other than questions of discipline and promotion affecting individuals. The constitution of the Police Federation, which is set out in the Schedule to the Act, provides that the Federation is to consist of all members of police forces below the rank of superintendent. The Schedule to the Act also provides that the members of every police force below the rank of superintendent shall form a branch of the Federation, and that in all police forces there shall be separate branch boards for the constables, sergeants and inspectors. The boards are elected by the members of the several ranks, and they choose delegates to attend the central conferences for the three ranks; and the members of the central conferences elect the three central committees, each consisting of six members, again for constables, sergeants and inspectors.
When the Metropolitan Police College was established at Hendon it was felt that officers who were at, or who had passed through, the College, ought not to be members of the Police Federation. These officers passed out of Hendon as junior station inspectors, and they might thereafter become station inspectors, sub-division inspectors and chief inspectors before ceasing to be members of the Federation on promotion to the rank of superintendent. Accordingly and, as has long been felt, very unfortunately, Section 3 of the Metropolitan Police Act, 1933, provided that junior and station inspectors, sub-divisional and chief inspectors of the Metropolitan Police should be no longer members of the Police Federation. When the Metropolitan Police College closed, the rank of junior station inspector, of 977 course, became obsolete. Later in 1949, sub-divisional inspectors were designated chief inspectors, and the chief inspectors became superintendents, so that when the rank of station inspector also became obsolete and was finally abolished in 1955, out of all the four ranks of inspector who were excluded from membership of the Federation by the Act of 1933 only the chief inspector now remains. It is only the chief inspectors on the Metropolitan Police, some 170 in number, who are now excluded from membership of the Police Federation; and chief inspectors of all other police forces throughout the country are members of the Police Federation.
It is not surprising therefore that in 1949 the Oaksey Committee, in paragraph 361 of their Report, said that the Metropolitan Police chief inspectors should be restored to membership of the Federation, and pending legislation—, this was twelve years ago—arrangements were made under which these chief inspectors have for the last seven years taken part in the affairs of the Federation on a non-statutory basis as advisers to the Inspectors Branch Board and they have sent delegates to the Central Conference, although, of course, they have no voting rights since they are not members of the Federation. I think these arrangements have worked satisfactorily. It has been accepted by everyone concerned that legislation would be introduced as soon as possible to restore chief inspectors to membership of the police Federation. That is precisely what this Bill does, and indeed it is all that it will do in its present form.
Unfortunately therefore, in its present form, it omits another long-awaited improvement which was also recommended by the Oaksey Committee—namely, separate representation for policewomen on the boards, the conferences and the committees of the Federation. Your Lordships will appreciate that there are some 2,000 policewomen, compared with more than 70,000 police officers, and I believe that only one policewoman has ever succeeded in being elected to any of the committees or conferences of the Force. It is highly desirable that there should be this special representation, and I shall therefore be submitting for your consideration in Committee a new clause and a Schedule which will make good the 978 present deficiency in respect of policewomen. I should say, my Lords, in case the thought has occurred to you, that these Amendments would have been moved in another place and would therefore have been embodied in the Bill when it came to your Lordships' House but for the fact that the Amendments will involve a slight alteration in the Long Title of the Bill and that could not be done in another place. So, at least, we have the consolation of not only doing a good deed but of proving that we have our uses.
In approving this measure, particularly in its final form, we shall be performing a small but useful service for a fine body of men and women who do a great service for the community and therefore I trust your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading. I beg to move the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a—(Lord Stonham.)
§ 5.5 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord opposite on behalf of Her Majesty's Government for his lucid and excellent explanation of the Bill that he has put before your Lordships, and I should also like to congratulate his honourable friend in another place, Mr. Edwards, upon introducing This Bill. As the noble Lord has said, it puts into operation the recommendations of the Oaksey Committee in 1949. The noble Lord has said that he will be tabling some Amendments which your Lordships will see in the near future, and I can assure the noble Lord that my right honourable friend in Her Majesty's Government will give him all the help that is possible with these Amendments. I commend this Bill to your Lordships and wish it good luck through its remaining stages in your Lordships' House.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.