HL Deb 15 May 1962 vol 240 cc527-30

2.46 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Police Federations Bill be read a second time. This as a small and comparatively simple Bill, but it is of major importance to our police forces. Its purpose is to enable us in future to alter the constitution of the Police Federations by means of regulations, instead of having to have an Act of Parliament every time some change, however small, is found necessary.

As your Lordships are aware, the origins of the two Police Federations, of England and Wales and of Scotland, lie in the Police Act, 1919, whose basic purpose was to prevent the police from turning themselves into an active trade union. Thus everything down to the smallest detail for the government of the police is prescribed in the original 1919 Act, and it cannot be departed from in any way without a new Act of Parliament. For example, even when the Police Federation of England and Wales wished to alter the date of their annual conference, it required a special Act of Parliament to enable them to do so. This, naturally, has made for rigidity and long and unnecessary delays when changes have become desirable. Parliament, in effect, has had to say "Yes" or "No" eight times on every occasion when a change was found to be necessary. Indeed, during the comparatively short time that I have been in your Lordships' House, I have been concerned with two Police Bills, both of which you will be happy to know will be repealed if the present Bill becomes law. In fact, this Bill, the Second Reading of which I am now moving, is the Police Bill to end all Police Bills. It is a change which I think will commend itself to your Lordships, partly since, at long last, it implements the recommendation made in paragraph 357 of the Oaksey Committee Report, that there should be power to amend by regulations the constitutions of the Police Federations; and that is the main power given by this Bill.

Although I am very conscious that the House is anxious to proceed with the very important debate that is to follow, I feel obliged to take a few moments to briefly explain the clauses. Clause 1, the operative clause, empowers the Secretary of State to prescribe by regulations the constitution and proceedings of the two Police Federations, whose three central committees he must consult before making any regulations. These, of course, will be made by statutory instrument, and will be subject to annulment by either House of Parliament.

Apart from the general power to make regulations, it is expected that regulations under this section may be made, in particular, with regard to membership of the Federations, the raising of funds by voluntary subscription and their use in management, in the counting of attendance at meetings of Federation committees as police duty for the purpose of payment of allowances and expenses, and also for the payment by the Secretary of State of expenses incurred in connection with the Federation. The kind of expenses involved are secretarial and central office expenses of the Federation, travelling expenses, subsistence, the hire of conference halls and things like that. These expenses are paid initially by the Secretary of State, who recovers half the cost by deduction from the grant payable to police authorities. This method is found to be the fairest way of splitting the cost over the whole body of the police authorities.

The Schedule to the Bill repeals the whole of the Police Federation Acts of 1959 and 1961—the two with which I was concerned; the whole of the Schedule to the 1919 Act except paragraph 18; and paragraph 9 of the Second Schedule to the 1946 Act. My Lords, this Bill will improve the position of the Police Federations as a negotiating body on behalf of a force of men and women of whom we are justly proud. It will also make easier the position of the Home Secretary in such negotiations; and it will save an appreciable amount of Parliamentary time. As such, I commend it to your Lordships, and beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read2a.—(Lord Stonham.)

2.52 p.m.


My Lords, the Bill and its purposes have been most ably and most adequately described by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. The Government welcome this Bill and are in full sympathy with its objects. It seeks to give effect to certain of the recommendations of the Committee under the chairmanship of my noble and learned friend Lord Oaksey, which reported in 1949. I have only one observation to make, on the provision contained in Clause 1, subsection (2). This subsection requires the Secretary of State to consult the Joint Committee of the appropriate Police Federation before he makes any regulation under the Bill when it becomes law. There will be no statutory obligation upon the Secretary of State to consult any other body in this connection, but there are other bodies which will have a legitimate interest in these regulations. He will, of course, be at liberty to consult these bodies on the draft regulations, and he will no doubt do so. My Lords, I commend this Bill to your Lordships' House for a Second Reading.

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