§ 3.23 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER of STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD STONHAM)
My Lords, I beg to move that the Draft Police Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 1968 laid before the House on February 22 be approved. These Regulations make minor amendments to the Police Pensions Regulations 1966 and I should like briefly to give some explanation of each of the changes. The amendments contained in Part I deal only with the administration of the pension arrangements for policemen who leave police forces in this country to serve temporarily overseas, and do not affect in any way the pension rights of these officers or their dependants. In the past a number of officers have served in this way in police corps set up under the Police (Overseas Service) Act 1945 and, more recently, officers have served under the arrangements of the Overseas Service Act 1958. During their overseas service officers continue to be subject to the police pension scheme in all respects, and the Secretary of State responsible for the particular appointment has assumed responsibility for their pension position.
For administrative reasons it is desirable for these functions, at present being performed by different Departments, to be transferred, for the most part, to the 950 Minister of Overseas Development, and Section 12 of the Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1967 went some way to enable this to be done. The amendments contained in Part I of the Regulations now before the House follow upon the Act of 1967 and make the changes in the Police Pensions Regulations which are necessary to enable the transfer to take place. That is all there is to Part I.
Part II of the Regulations contains three separate amendments. The first of these, Regulation 3, makes provision for a higher gratuity to be paid in certain cases to widows or to the children of policemen who may die as the result of duty. At the present time the Regulations provide that when a policeman dies from injuries received from an attack or while effecting an arrest or preventing an escape his widow or his children shall receive, in addition to a pension, a gratuity amounting to twice the maximum pay of a constable in the force in which the policeman served. But, as your Lordships will be aware, the pay of a constable in the Metropolitan and in the City of London Police is £50 a year higher than in other police forces, so there is a difference in the amount of gratuities which may be paid. This amendment provides that in future in all cases the gratuity will be assessed on the same basis—that is, twice the maximum pay of a constable in the Metropolitan Police whether or not the policeman was a member of that force. The gratuity would amount to a sum of over £2,500 at the present time.
The two next amendments are both concerned with preserving the pension position and the continuing application of the pension scheme in relation to former and serving policemen of police areas which are absorbed into other police areas in certain circumstances. The pensions regulations already provide, in Regulation 97, for preservation of rights and the continued application of the schemes in most situations created by alteration or amalgamations of police areas, but these amendments provide for kinds of cases which are not at present specifically covered.
Regulation 4 makes the appropriate provision in relation to all former members and serving members of the River 951 Tyne police force in the event of the dissolution of this force by a harbour re-organisation scheme under the Harbours Act 1964. Regulation 5, which is rather technical—not unusual in these pensions regulations—makes provision for a situation where the whole of an existing county or county borough police area is included in a new county or county borough police area by reason of an order made under the Local Government Act 1958.
I now come to Part III of the Order. Regulations 6 and 8 of this Part will help to reduce the complexity of the main Regulations because they revoke certain provisions which now have no application. These provisions governed the payment of allowances to children of police officers who died before July 5, 1948. Your Lordships may wonder why separate provision existed for the payment of awards by reference to this date, and I should explain that it is because that was the date when the police pension scheme was incorporated for the first time in Regulations. Previously it had been contained in the Police Pensions Act 1921.
July 5, 1948, was also the day on which the National Insurance scheme came into operation, and this brings me to the amendment contained in Regulation 7. National Insurance benefits are not payable to some children of deceased policemen because their fathers were unable to complete the necessary contributions to the scheme. They were too old. So since July 5, 1948, the Police Pensions Regulations have given police authorities discretion to increase the police allowances of these children up to amounts which are related to certain National Insurance benefits for which they do not qualify. It is the practice to revise these amounts payable by police authorities whenever the amounts of the related National Insurance benefits are changed, to retain parity. Your Lordships will be aware that from April 9 National Insurance benefits for children become payable at revised rates in accordance with the Family Allowances and National Insurance Act 1967. The amendment in Regulation 7 makes certain related adjustments in the amounts payable under the police pensions scheme, but it makes no adjustments which would reduce the amounts of payments already 952 being received by children. Finally, my Lords, I would assure you that all these changes have been agreed by the Police Council for Great Britain.
§ Moved, That the Draft Police Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 1968 laid before the House on February 22 be approved.—(Lord Stonham.)
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for explaining in simple words which we can understand this type of regulation which is always rather complicated. We on this side have nothing adverse to say about any of them, but I personally particularly welcome paragraph 3 in Part II of the Regulations. I think this is a very fair move.
There is one question that I should like to ask the noble Lord. I can quite see why all these pension arrangements for police officers from this country who serve temporarily overseas should all be dealt with by one Ministry, but as a matter of purely academic interest, since in practically all cases these police officers will be coming back here at some time during their service, why is this matter given to the Ministry of Overseas Development to administer, and not to one of the home Departments—and I do not necessarily mean the Home Office? It has nothing to do with overseas development, and most of these police officers are based in this country. Why has this particular Ministry been chosen?
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, it is desirable to channel administration into one Department, and my understanding is that the Overseas Development Department has been selected because it has, in general, the most in common with the countries where these officers have been or are serving. It seems a most logical thing to transfer the responsibility to that Department.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I do not want to pursue the point, but I do not think the explanation is very satisfactory, because, although the Department may have most to do with the countries in which these officers serve, this is the country in which their pensions are paid. However, apart from that, we welcome the Regulations.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, I rise to seek a point of information on those parts of the amending 953 Regulations which refer to the increased sum which is paid to the widow of an officer who is killed while endeavouring to arrest a criminal. I understand that if that officer is killed directly by the criminal, either by shooting or stabbing, his widow will receive the increased award; but if in trying to apprehend a criminal he is killed by, say, falling off a roof when pursuing him, or even killed in a car when pursuing him, the widow and family will not receive the increased contribution. I rise to ask if that is a correct interpretation, and, if so, what is the reason for the distinction.
§ LORD STONHAM
No, my Lords, it is not correct, If the noble Lord would do me the honour of reading Hansard he will see that I made it quite clear that the officer could be directly killed, or killed as a result of injuries sustained in the course of duty in the circumstances I described. The criteria is actually being on duty, and the distinction is between an officer dying in that way and one dying from natural causes.