HL Deb 07 March 1966 vol 273 cc902-5

2.53 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Police Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 1966, a draft of which was laid before the House on February 24, be approved. This is the seventh set of amendments to the Police Pensions Regulations of 1962. You may feel, as I do, that it is time they were consolidated, and we hope to achieve this before the autumn. Meanwhile may I briefly explain the draft Regulations now before you? They fall into two parts. Part I is consequential on the Pensions (Increase) Act 1965, and provides for increases in the pensions of police widows, and increases in the allowances payable to children of deceased police officers. The pensions of retired police officers themselves are increased directly under the Act of 1965. This method follows the usual procedure for applying pensions increases in the police service.

There are two classes of police widow's pension. One is related to the late husband's pay and length of service, and the other is a flat-rate amount depending upon his rank. The draft Regulations now before the House provide that, in the former case, the awards shall be treated as though they had been specified in the Schedule to the Pensions (Increase) Act, and, in the latter case, by substituting new increased rates. The cases related to pay and service are covered by Regulation 4, and the flat-rate cases by Regulations 1, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The flat-rate amounts now proposed will give an increase of 16 per cent. on the present rates, which is the highest increase for which the Act provides. Draft Regulation 2 (which relates to the additional increase in a pension at age 70 provided by the Pensions (Increase) Act 1962, and the increase payable on it under the 1965 Act) and Draft Regulation 3 (which relates to the duration of an increase in a child's allowance) are consequential upon the main provisions. I am sure your Lordships will agree that these are all desirable amendments.

Part II of the Regulations contains, in Regulation 10, a technical amendment as respects the construction of the 1962 Regulations where part of a police area is transferred to another police area, in consequence of local government reorganisation. Draft Regulation 12 provides that Part I (that is, the Part which relates to pensions increase) shall have effect from January 1 last, the date from which the Pensions (Increase) Act 1965 took effect; and that Regulation 10 in Part II shall take effect as from April 1, 1966, the date on which the proposed Regulations which are now before you will themselves come into operation. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Draft Police Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 1966, be laid before the House on February 24, 1966, be approved.—(Lord Stonham.)

2.57 p.m.


My Lords, we are grateful to the Minister for explaining these Regulations so shortly and so clearly. From this side of the House we welcome them, as we always welcome anything which is for the benefit of the police or their dependants.

I should like to ask the Minister whether it is necessary to use language in these Regulations which, in some cases, is almost incomprehensible. The noble Lord mentioned paragraph 3, but does he think that it means anything? May I read the paragraph, which is quite short? I should like your Lordships to note whether you can make anything of it. 3. In Regulation 84B(b) of the principal Regulations (which, as set out in Regulation 2 of the Regulations of 1963, relates to the duration of an increase in a child's allowance) for the words "the Pensions (Increase) Acts of 1959 and of 1962" there shall be substituted the words "the Pensions (increase) Acts of 1959, of 1962 and of 1965". I take it that it means something, but I have looked at it and, to me, it does not seem to mean very much.


My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether the Explanatory Note at the end of the Regulations is designed to help solicitors, who presumably would read the Regulations and understand them—if not, who will?—or the general public, who I should think would be more bemused by the Explanatory Note than by the Regulations?


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for the welcome which he has given to these Regulations. As he says, they will make a substantial improvement in the awards, pensions and child allowances. The noble Lord asked whether it is necessary to use language which, to him, and, in his view, to the general public, is almost incomprehensible. For some two years the noble Lord was in the seat which I now occupy, and therefore he must be aware of the problems with respect to these Regulations. As I mentioned at the outset, this is the seventh set of Regulations since 1962, which in part accounts for (as he put it) the somewhat incomprehensible nature of the language used; because in each case we are referring to a previous Act, and often to previous Regulations which this set of Regulations amends. It should become quite clear if only you are armed with the previous Regulations and have the time and skill required to study them. I have the greatest sympathy with what the noble Lord has said, and what was said by the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl. I can only plead that there are, in the police and on the Police Council, people who are extremely skilled in interpreting these things, apart from lawyers, because they have grown up with them and are a party to them. We shall, of course send detailed circulars to police authorities, and any police widow who wishes to know what her entitlement is can speedily be told. Nevertheless, we are examining this and it is my hope that we shall achieve something better next time, particularly in the consolidation measure.

The noble Lord asked what Regulation 3 meant. I confess that it would take about six hours for anyone to find out precisely what it means, but I have naturally taken the precaution of finding out. It means simply that the increases are payable so long as the children's allowances are payable. It might be thought that this could be said as simply as I have said it. I am sorry that it is not. With regard to what the noble Duke said about the Explanatory Memorandum, I agree, that it makes unusually heavy weather of the subject. I can only say that the point has been taken very much to heart, and I can guarantee that whoever has the privilege of submitting the next regulations will not incur the displeasure of your Lordships.

On Question, Motion agreed to.