§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ *(5.46.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS,) Birmingham, E.
In moving that this Bill be read a second time I shall not think it necessary to detain the House with any long statement of the circumstances which have led to its introduction. I believe the House is aware that a Committee reported to the House in 1877 that dissatisfaction existed among the police, especially in the provincial forces, and mainly on the ground of the uncertainty as to pensions. Policemen had to wait until they were invalided or were 60 years of age before they could receive any pension. The Committee condemned the precarious and discretionary pensions, and recommended pensions as of right, after 15 years' service on a medical certificate of permanent incapacity, and after 25 years' service without medical certificate. They reported in favour of the Metropolitan Police scale as that on which pensions should be calculated. This Report produced a series of Bills. Mr. Hibbert introduced Bills in 1882, 1883, and 1884, and the right bon. Member for Wolverhampton, (Mr. H. H. Fowler) introduced one in 1885. These Bills were not proceeded with. On one occasion only—in 1884—did any of them get as far as Second Reading. I think it is no secret that the reason those Bills were not proceeded with was the opposition of hon. Members who represented the views of the ratepayers, and who thought that the burdens of local taxation were sufficiently heavy already, and that Imperial resources should be used to assist the local rates. These Bills were similar in their general outline. They all gave the constabulary, both in the Metropolis and in the Provinces, a right to a pension, instead of leaving it a mere matter of discretion, and they all established a Superannuation Fund, in which the ultimate burden of pensions was thrown on the rates. It was, of course, necessary that some assured source should be provided from which to obtain pensions which were no longer to be a matter of discretion, but of right. 231 A Bill was passed in 1883 for the Dublin Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary, framed on the same lines, and last year the City of London passed a Private Bill which established a system of superannuation for the police in that City. No one can deny that these facts constitute a strong Parliamentary case for legislation. The present Government were prepared to deal with the subject in 1887, but the Local Government Bill was then in an advanced state of preparation, and that rendered it desirable to give the new authorities time to consider the subject. Moreover, at that time a Royal Commission was inquiring into the subject of pensions generally, and the question of the superannuation of the police was not unnaturally postponed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has this year found means for contributing out of Imperial taxation towards the relief of the burden of superannuation, which would otherwise have fallen on the rates, and I trust there is now no longer any reason for delay. Delay is indefensible on many grounds. It will only increase the demands on the public purse, and may throw doubts on the sincerity of the House to deal promptly and effectually with what is admitted to be a grievance. Accordingly, we ask the House to give a Second Reading to this Bill. The present Bill is based on that which was brought in by the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolver hampton (Mr. H. Fowler) when the former was Home Secretary. I mean the Bill of 1885. I know that on that occasion most careful consultations took place with the Metropolitan and the Provincial Police and the Treasury, and the Bill was the result of that careful consultation on the part of all those authorities. I therefore think it only fair to say that whatever credit may be due to the Bill I am presenting to-day, I desire to attribute it to the right hon. Member for Derby and the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton. On their Bill I have made some corrections in detail, which I think the right hon. Gentlemen themselves will admit to be necessary. The objects of the Bill are twofold. We desire to give not only fair, but liberal treatment to the constabulary through- 232 out the country. They are not only a most deserving body of men, but we believe it is in the interests of the localities themselves that some fair and sound scheme of superannuation should be established. Our second object is to give full consideration to what is fair also to the ratepayers, who, after all, are a body of men many of whom are struggling with the necessities and difficulties of their circumstances, and whose burdens ought to be considered above all by the House of Commons. The main principle of this measure, like those of our predecessors, is to give to every constable throughout the country a pension, no longer as a matter of favour, but as a matter of legal right, with an appeal to a Court of Law if, his pension is withheld from him after he has fulfilled the conditions necessary to entitle him to it. The ordinary pension is earned by 15 years' service and proof of physical disability for further service by medical certificate, or after 25 years' service without certificate. We have adhered to the 'period recommended by the Committee of 1877, and all the information leads us to believe that at any rate in the Metropolitan Force the utility of a constable is so far reduced that it is not desirable, either for his own sake or that of his employers, that he should continue in the service after 25 years on full salary. We have not imposed any limit of age, but have left that to the Local Authorities to decide. I do not propose to censure any Police Authorities, but it is obvious that the numbers of pensioners throughout the country is not up to the mark. This is no new discovery, for in the Report of the Committee of 1877 hon. Members will find it calculated that in the Metropolis out of every 100 men engaged there are 14 pensioners, in the counties 12, and in the boroughs eight. Returns made up to this year concerning superannuation to the police show that the number of pensions in the County and Borough Forces is still proportionately much below the number in the Metropolitan Force. Here, again, I do not wish to trouble the House with more figures than I need. Whereas in the County and Borough Forces of close on 12,000 men in each, as compared with the Metropolitan Force of 14,000, pensioners number 2.105 in counties, and 1,510 in 233 boroughs, they are 4,074 in the Metropolis.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
I include the City Police in the boroughs, as they occupy a distinct position from the Metropolitan Force. They are a different force under different administration. The effect of this Bill will be that the men who are entitled to pensions in the provinces will get them, and, of course, there will be increased cost for the provincial Local Authorities. This, of coarse, is the dark side of the picture. These are the main outlines, and I need not dwell on subsidiary provisions. Under this Bill the medical inspection and certificate upon which these pensions are awarded are to be made realities. We mean that the men should be really invalided before they receive relief at the hands of the ratepayers, and therefore provision is made for examination, if need be, by independent medical men. There is also a provision for a limited reduction of the pension allowance in cases where constables by their own vicious habits—drunkenness, for example—have contributed to the ailments unfitting them for service. These are provisions difficult to apply, but useful to insert. There are clauses rendering a constable liable to serve again if his incapacity should cease, and providing that any deductions made for misconduct during a policeman's career in the force shall be announced to him at the time, and shall be made according to rule and not arbitrarily. There is a clause providing for special pensions at a higher rate for constables disabled by injuries received in the execution of their duty. The average annual number of such pensions in the Metropolitan Force, taking the years between 1878 and 1888 inclusive, was only 21. This class of pensioners is therefore not a large class, but it is a most meritorious one. The injuries received range over a large scale, some being purely accidental and some the result of courageous conduct on the part of the constables. They range, in fact, from the case of a constable injured in consequence of his slipping on a piece of orange peel, to the case of a man who engages in a conflict with an armed burglar. Then we also propose to grant 234 pensions to widows and children on a more liberal scale, and to give gratuities to constables who have not served sufficiently long to earn pensions. I now come to a very important point. What will the cost of this system be? I believe that the House will not grudge the cost of any pension system which is just and fair to the constable, which is not excessive on the one side nor parsimonious on the other. But we must look carefully at the figures to ascertain what the cost will be. In the Metropolis the Pension List has grown in a manner which is not without ugly features. The payments for pensions and gratuities which in 1870 were £87,492 a year have grown until this year they amount to over £200,000. The progression has been at a rapid rate. In 1870 the force amounted to slightly over 9,000 men; in 1888–89 it amounted to 14,242. I need not point out that the pension charge is one that does not accrue in the first years of the force, and under the metropolitan system it begins to accrue at the end of 15 years' service and the periodical increases of the force of course go to swell the ultimate total. The present system has not been in operation long enough for the full effect to be predicted. The figures are a little remarkable, and will interest those whose attention is directed to this subject. The existing scale of pensions was established in 1862. In that year only 18 per cent. of the force reached 15 years' service; only 8 per cent. reached 20 years' service; and only 2 per cent. reached 25 years' service. The records of the five years from 1884 to 1888 show a remarkable change, for 43 per cent. attained 15 years' service; 34 per cent, attained 20 years' service; and 15 per cent, attained 25 years' service.
§ *MR. ISAACSON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
Can the right hon. Gentleman give the limit of age in 1862?
No, I cannot answer that question. So far as I am aware, there never was a limit of age, but the average ago during both periods of entry into the Service was 22 or 23 years. For some years very young men were 235 taken into the service. The result of the experience we have had is, as I find from Dr. Farr's Report, that while it was anticipated that 14 per cent, only of the men entering the force would be pensioned, in the last five years 28 per cent, have come to the Pension Fund. Every year more and more men are brought into the Pension List. The men who enter the force now are younger men and men of better character^ and the relative attractiveness of the force has increased. It is clear that we have not yet reached the maximum cost of the pension system, which has been in force since 1862. We have already reached the amount of £200,000, and must look forward to some 20 or 30 years more, during which the charge will grow at a rate more or less rapid. The ultimate charge will depend not only upon the number of pensions, but also on the pay which the men have received before becoming pensioners. As you increase the pay so will you increase the charge for pensions. The pension charge is a serious item, and the scale of the pensions is therefore most material. You must bear in mind that you have to act with fairness to the ratepayers. After full deliberation, we have presented the existing metropolitan scale, and we have not gone beyond it. The scale in the Metropolis has undergone several changes. The law upon the subject is that the Police Authorities in the provinces, as well as in the Metropolis, are able now to give not more than one-half pay after 15 years' service, not more than two-thirds pay after 20 years' service, and only on the condition that a man is disabled or is 60 years of age. Up to 1862 the scale in the Metropolis was very like that which the constables are now asking for. It was a scale of thirtieths, beginning with 15–30ths after 15 years' service, and giving 20–30ths after 24 years of service. This scale was examined actuarially by the late Dr. Farr, and it was reported by him to be unduly extravagant and to involve great danger in the future. Upon that Report the scale was altered to fiftieths, at which it has remained ever since. It gave one-fiftieth for each year of service after 15 years, but still always upon the condition of a medical certificate of disability or the attainment of the age of 60. 236 The maximum of two-thirds of the pay was the ultimate limit, attainable only after 33 years of service. This scale was adopted on the recommendation of Dr. Farr, and it was altered in 1873 by Mr. Lowe, who raised the scale and made it more advantageous to constables by giving two-fiftieths for each additional year of service between 20 and 25 years; consequently two-thirds of the pay was attainable by 28 instead of 33 years of service. This scale has been in force ever since. It must not be supposed that since that time the constable has not secured advantages. He has had an increase of pay, tending to a considerable increase of pension. The first-class constable who, in 1864, received only£57 4s. a year, receives now £78; the first-class sergeant who in 1864 received £66 6s., has since 1878 received £100 per annum. There has, therefore, been a large increase of pay; there has been a considerable increase of average pay from police constables upwards, and there has been a considerable increase in the average pensions. In 1873 the average of the pensions was £44, and in 1889 it was £46. I give the round figures, omitting the odd shillings. There have also been other advantages in the shape of more rapid promotion from the rank of constable to that of sergeant. Therefore, while this scale has been in force, the condition of the men, both as to pay and pension, has been materially improved. This metropolitan scale, with its consequences, going up to £200,000 a year, is binding upon us; it is a legacy which we are not at liberty to shake off; we must submit to the burden. The question is whether for the future you are going to adopt a more liberal and lavish scale than the scale which has led to these results, and whether you are going to put on the ratepayers a heavier obligation. After full consideration, we have not felt justified in recommending any higher scale, and there is strong authority in support of our conclusion. It was the scale adopted in every one of the Bills of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The metropolitan scale was the maximum adopted by the right hon. Member for Derby. It was adopted in the Irish Act of 1883, and in the Act of 1889 for the City of London, which is lavish in these matters—["No, no!"]—well, then, abun- 237 dantly liberal. It gave three-fifths, and not two-thirds, of the pay after 25 years' service. Although the Bill of last year adopted the same principle that we have adopted—namely, that pension should be given without disablement—yet it says that shall not be earned until a constable is 50 years of age. We have no necessary limit of age. But I have not exhausted our authority. The Committee of 1877, after giving full examination and careful study to the question, recommended that the metropolitan scale was one they thought fair as well as liberal. The scale is one which tends to prolong active service over 20 years. There are some curious and amusing illustrations of the operation of the scale of 1862 in precipitating retirement on medical certificates at certain dates when it was accompanied by pensions of increased amount. It is of great moment that you should graduate your pensions so as to postpone the temptation to leave the force, whether upon medical certificate or not, until the period of life at which a constable's services become less valuable. The result of the scale is, of course, that pensions after 25 years of service will be three-fifths, and not two-thirds, of the pay. The Metropolitan Police ask two-thirds, and we are told that it does not amount to much each man.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
I think it is demanded all round, and that without very much consideration. It is an easy formula—all members of the force two-thirds pension after 25 years' service. But although I agree that the amount in each case is not large I must remind the House that the ultimate cost of the difference may become a cardinal matter. I will not, however, attempt at this moment to say exactly how much it would be; but according to the best information I have received the ultimate cost of the difference between two-thirds and three-fifths may come to £45,000 a year, which means something between a farthing and a halfpenny rate on the present valuation of the Metropolis. Therefore, I say, do not suppose you are dealing with a trifling matter in considering the difference between the proportions of two-thirds 238 and three-fifths. Then you must remember that if you take two-thirds instead of three-fifths you dislocate the scale. You must either go with a jump from 28–50ths to 33–50ths at the 25th year, which would be an undesirable thing, or you must graduate the scale in the anterior years at a higher figure up to the 33–50ths, the result of which will be to increase the cost of every pension between 20 and 25 years, so as to make a solid addition to the difference between two-thirds and three-fifths. You must also bear in mind that this concession of two-thirds instead of three-fifths, if given to the Metropolitan Police, cannot well be withheld from the Irish Constabulary, and that the Dublin Police and the Provincial Police throughout the country will ask for it, too; while the City of London Authorities, why are never behind in their liberality in these matters, will also have to raise their pensions in conformity to the scale fixed' for the Metropolitan Police. These, I think, are considerations which the House should weigh as the Government has weighed them. Let the House look at the result in figures, and say whether what we propose is illiberal or unfair. The three-fifths we propose in the Bill is, for a first-class constable, £46 16s. a year; for a sergeant it varies, according to class, from £53 to £59 a year; and for an inspector it varies from £70 to £97 10s. a year. These would be the pensions at the scale of three-fifths after 25 years' service. I ask hon. Members who advocate the claims of the Metropolitan Police to consider whether these amounts are not fair and reasonable pensions to offer to the men. Remember that by this Bill a man will get a pension at 46 years of age, for his service begins at 21, and is complete at 46, and the House knows what is the class of life from which the best constables are^ drawn, namely, the best of the artisan-and labouring class. A man will at 4S years of age receive a pension of £46 16s., while it is not necessary that he should be invalided and have a medical certificate that he is incapacitated from the further performance of his duties. Therefore, lie will not be disabled from earning money elsewhere, and it is not mere conjecture when I say that a man will be able to earn something besides his pension. I have had the record of 239 1879 looked into to see what became of the pensioners. There were 159 men pensioned in that year under the old system, when every pensioner had to have a medical certificate setting forth that he was incapacitated from further duty, whereas now, each policeman will retire after 25 years without any such certificate being required. Of these 159, 76 were earning on an average £54 14s. a year in addition to their pensions, and 83 were earning nothing; but this fact shows that the pensioned man leaving the Police Force, even with a medical certificate of incapacity for the further performance of his duties, can find remunerative employment elsewhere, and no one, of course, can grudge him that. On the contrary, I am sure we are all extremely glad to think he can do so. The House will observe that these pensioned policemen are sought after for many purposes by employers, because, in the first place, they are men of good character, and because, in the next place, there is a guarantee afforded by the fact that the pension is forfeited, under this Bill as before, by any disgraceful conduct. Therefore, the employer has the strongest guarantee for the good conduct of the men. I want the House to observe that the number of men who have served 25 years is not the insignificant matter suggested by the question put by my hon. Friend (Mr. H. Vincent) in the earlier part of the evening, and cannot be regarded by the Government as a matter of indifference. If my hon. Friend will take the trouble to consult the police records he will find that of late years the number of men who have resigned after 25 years' service, or more, is a steadily progressive figure. In 1880 only 34 constables out of a total of 131 pensioners had served 25 years or more; but in 1888, 62 out of 163 pensioners had served more than 25 years, a ratio very nearly double that of 1880. Generally, I may state that in the year 1888 the retirements on pension in all ranks, with a service of 25 years or more, were no less than 38| per cent, of the whole number of pensioners. That is an enormous progression in length of service, for in the earlier years of the Service nothing like that will be found. Therefore, I say that every year in which this increased length of service is found it is 240 obvious that this change will become of more financial consequence. But whatever is fair and reasonable ought to be done without the question of cost being considered, and so I prefer to present to the House the view that this amount of pension, namely, £46 16s. to each constable, from £53 to £59 for the sergeants, and from £70 to £97 for inspectors, is a fair amount, being given, as it will be, without a medical certificate, although the men may be a good deal battered and worn by length of service. I fear I may have detained the House too long on this matter; but it is one of considerable interest. I was anxious to put the case fully before the House. Of course, the House is aware that the men contribute to the Pension Fund by deductions from pay. In the Metropolitan Police the deductions are, for ordinary constables, practically 2 per cent., and for superior officers 2½ per cent. Those deductions, if capitalised and invested, would not pay 1–10th part of the proposed pensions, and, therefore, it cannot be said that this scale is illiberal or unfair. Let me mention one other feature of the Bill which to provincial Members may be a matter of interest. We have laid down for ordinary pensions—that is, for pensions other than for injury—a minimum as well as a maximum. The idea is that each Local Authority shall draw its own line within those limits according to its own idea of what is fair under local circumstances. There, again, the maximum remains the Metropolitan scale, and the minimum is, of course, a matter entirely for consideration by hon. Gentlemen representing provincial constituencies. I do not know whether I have drawn it too high or too low; but I have endeavoured not to be to illiberal to the police. The principle is to give to each Local Authority a certain amount of latitude. Again, we have empowered any Police Authority that thinks fit to impose a limit of age as a condition of earning the 25 years' service pension. The Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton fixed positively the limit of age at 55 years; but I have come to the conclusion that that is a limit which ought not to be fixed in the Metropolis. Few of the men in the Metropolitan Force reach that age while in the Service, and to fix such a limit would be to take 241 back with one hand the boon we give with the other. In the City, I believe, the limit of 50 'years of age has been imposed before the service pension can be obtained. We enable each authority to impose the limit for itself. I will now come to the interesting question of the Superannuation Fund. Here, again, the Government have followed the precedent of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler.) I think we have provided for the Superannuation Fund the same sources of income, with the addition, of course, of the Government contribution. The right hon. Gentleman asked the other evening what were the amounts that these various sources would furnish. I have sent round to all the Local Authorities begging them to give me the figures necessary to answer the question with precision. I have not yet received the answer, but I hope confidently to lay the information before the House before the Bill is in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman is probably aware of the Return which Mr. Hibbert procured. It was a Return of 10 selected counties and 10 selected boroughs, setting out the amount of the different sources of income in them. This, however, must be an imperfect guide, so far as the whole country is concerned, because circumstances have changed a great deal since the figures were collected. Still, they will serve to some extent. With regard to the mode of distributing the Government contribution, every kind of principle of distribution has been suggested to us—population, rateable value, numbers of the Force, and so on; but I think that I shall be able to show the House that the proper principle to adopt in regard to the relief of local charges is to grant that relief in proportion to the actual charges, so that according as each locality has more or less to pay for pensions so ought the Government aid to be given. If all the Police Forces of the country were of equal standing that would probably be the right method: but the House will see that in the case of a new Force recently established the locality would get nothing for 15 years, because during that time there would be no pensioners. Accordingly the prin- 242 ciple we have adopted in this Bill is that from the beginning we give to each Police Authority an amount equal to the rateable deductions from the police pay that have been made in the locality in each particular year, and the rateable deductions may be as high as 2½ per cent., and I daresay, in many cases, will be. The Government will, therefore, add another 2½ per cent., making 5 per cent., which will, in fact, double the contribution of the Police Force to the Superannuation Fund. In the counties the rateable deductions amount to £20,000, and in the boroughs to £22,000, so that £42,000 odd would be the rateable deduction according to the Return I have produced in counties and boroughs, excluding the Metropolis. That will leave a balance of £107,000 out of the Government grant of £150,000 to be distributed among the localities according to the principle I have mentioned, that is, in the ratio of the actual pension charges.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
The entire deduction from the pay of the police during last year was £44,000, of which £21,000 was the deduction in the Metropolis.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
The right hon. Gentleman is quite right as to the Metropolis. The deductions from pay in the Metropolis were £21,000, in the counties £20,198, and in the provincial boroughs £22,439. Well, such is the principle the Government have adopted. We make what I may call a "nest egg" in the shape of a fund that must be invested and placed to the Superannuation Account of course, it is impossible to prevent any system from being abused; but I think that, on the whole, our plan will be found to give the fairest share to all parties. There is ample evidence that the Government contribution is needed, for there is a large amount of deficiency to be made up in the Superannuation Funds. In the Metropolis the deficiency is close upon £140,000; in the counties, £28,500; and in the boroughs, £14,000. They want this now, and still more will be needed when a more certain and uniform system shall have come into operation. If it should turn out that there is any real excess in any one of the Superannuation Funds there is a clause in the Bill which enables the Local Authority, with the 243 consent of the Secretary of State, to devote it to some other purpose. I hope I have not wearied the House, but having detained it so long I will not detain it any longer. I believe most hon. Members are agreed as to the principle of superannuation to the police who have rendered valuable service to the public; and, in conclusion, I will express the hope that the passing of the Bill will not be delayed—a hope in which I am strengthened by the fact that in this House there is a general wish that superannuation should become certain and assured, and not be merely a matter of precarious chance or favour. That superannuation ought to be fair and liberal; and I believe the House will agree that after what has taken place on this subject, after the different attempts that have been made to legislate upon it, we cannot too strongly deprecate further delay. I therefore ask the House to do quickly what is reasonable and just, and having said this I leave the Bill in its hands.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time,"—(Mr. Henry Matthews.)
§ (6.50) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
In the concluding remarks of the righthon. Gentleman I desire to express my entire concurrence. I think that this Bill ought to be passed, and I also think it ought to be passed as quickly as possible. I certainly may be allowed to entertain this opinion, because, as the Memorandum which has been laid before the House by the right hon. Gentleman, states, there were produced during the five years I was at the Homo Office, no less than four Superannuation Bills—a sufficient earnest of the desire which then existed to bring about a settlement of this question. I do not speak of those Bills as my own. Whatever merit may have attached to them belongs to two gentlemen far more capable of dealing with the subject than myself—I allude to my friend Mr. Hibbert, who was, at that time, Under Secretary, than whom no man possessed greater knowledge of the matter, nor more ability to deal with it, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, who introduced the second Bill. But, Sir, I must ask the House to consider this circumstance, because it is one of great 244 importance, namely, that all those Bills were founded on the investigations of the Select Committee of 1877, and, as this Memorial states, they were framed after communication with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and the Local Authorities of the boroughs and counties. Can the Government say of this Bill, as was said of all the other Bills, that it has been framed after communication with the Commissioner of Police, and the Local Authorities of the counties and boroughs? As is stated in this Report or Memorandum, those Bills failed. Why did they fail? It was not because they were unjust in their proposals or extravagant; not because they lacked the support of the Police Authorities; not because they did not have, the assent of the Local Authorities, but because they were opposed in this House by the advocates of the relief of local taxation. I am specially desirous, in what I am about to say, to make no observation that may arouse Party or 82ctional feeling in this House. I am anxious to avoid that, and will employ no words that will in any way lend to produce such a result. I, therefore, merely say that the failure of those Bills was due to the opposition of the Party who favoured the relief of local taxation. The Government state in this Memorandum the reason why no Bills were introduced in the years 1882, 1883, 1884, and 1885, for the superannuation of the police, and why five years have elapsed without any attempt to settle this question. They say they have had a Superannuation Bill in preparation, but that its introduction has been delayed by the passing of the Local Government Act of 1888, which created a new financial authority in lieu of the old Police Authority for the counties. I can understand that reason and the argument founded upon it. They say the former Bills were produced after consultation with the Police and Local Authorities; that new Police and Local Authorities were instituted in 1888; and, therefore, it was not desirable that the whole of this question should be considered by the new Local Authorities. They say this for a very good reason, the validity of which I do not dispute; but I have to ask the Government this question, which I consider is a very important one, in reference to this Bill. The Memorandum 245 states that it has been thought desirable that the new authorities should have time to consider the subject, and to become familiar with the financial conditions of their localities before an approved superannuation scheme was presented. That is the reason why this Bill has been delayed during the last two years. I ask the attention of the righthon. Gentleman the Leader of the House to this question, because I regard it as one of great importance. You have delayed the Bill for two years, with the object of allowing the Local Authorities time to consider the question. What means have you taken to ascertain the opinion of the Local Authorities with reference to the financial condition of their localities and the whole bearing of this subject? For five years you hung up this question, because you said you were going to establish County Councils. You have established County Councils, and two years have elapsed since their establishment. I ask the Government what are the results of the inquiry which, of course, they have instituted among the County Councils? Have you ascertained their opinions that you may lay before Parliament the justification or ground of this Bill? My right hon. Friends (Sir G. Trevelyan and Mr. H. H. Fowler) took the course of laying their schemes of superannuation before the Local Authorities in order to obtain their support. They laid them before the Commissioner of Police, and they secured his assent and support. And when they came to this House they were in a position to say that these Bills had been before the Commissioner of Police, who had approved them. The securing of the support of the Local Authorities, in my opinion, is the necessary preliminary and only foundation upon which you can have a satisfactory settlement. It is of no use having actuarial arguments, it is of no use demonstrating logically that the scheme is a good one. You want a practical scheme; you must have a scheme which has the assent of the people by whom it is to be worked. That is the basis upon which we proceeded, and that is the basis upon which I assume you have proceeded. How long has your Bill been under the consideration of the Local Authorities? That is a question you ought to answer to the House of Commons, which is 246 asked to pass a Bill which is to be worked by the Local Authorities, and which will lay a heavy charge upon the localities. The Government put that in the fore-front of their Memorandum, as the reason why they delayed the Bill; and the one thing I missed in the long and able statement of the Secretary of State was the result of the consideration by the Local Authorities, which you have said, and properly said, ought to be the foundation of the Bill. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said certain figures had been sent down to the Local Authorities, and he hoped before the Bill passed through Committee that he would get replies. Surely, in two years the Local Authorities would have gone through all this matter, and the right hon. Gentleman would have obtained their approbation and support. You never thought of laying before the House a Bill of this kind without obtaining that assurance. We know perfectly well how difficult it is for the House of Commons to deal with matters of this kind unless it has the approbation and support of those who are acquainted with the details and working of the measure. The first question, therefore, which I have to ask the Government is whether the consultation they have had with the Local Authorities corresponds with that which we had five years ago? Having established the County Councils I take for granted your first proceeding was to enter upon this consultation, and let us know what has been the result of the consideration of the scheme by the Local Authorities. In the words of the Memorandum—It was thought desirable that these new authorities should have time to consider the subject, and to become familiar with the financial conditions of the localities before the Superannuation Scheme could be presented.That was a statesmanlike view of the subject, the one condition on which the matter could be properly dealt with. And now we want to know the results of that consultation. Now, Sir, we are in the dark on that subject. We have no assurance that the course previously promised has been performed in this instance. With reference to the metropolitan police, not a word shall escape me to create any difficulties, or to exasperate any difficulties that now 247 exist. This at least we know, that you are not in a position to state to the House of Commons that yon have committed and obtained the assent or support on this question of the police, or of the Commissioner of Police. I put it no higher than that. With reference to the late Commissioner of Police, we know you did not agree. With reference to the present Commissioner of Police, of course, there has not been time nor material on which he or anybody else could form a judgment that could be relied on. It is of no use to say that this is a good scheme, that it is absolutely defensible, and that it is a scheme the abstract principle of which you can recommend. Ton must have a scheme which the parties interested in the administration of it are willing to accept. What assurance are the Government prepared to give us upon that point? We were able in 1882–3–4––5 to say that the Bills presented wore accepted by the parties whom they affected. Are you able to say that this is a Bill which is accepted, and which will settle the question? Because it is of no use this House of Commons accepting the abstract principles of a Bill which will not settle the question. You will be in a worse position than you were before. The Secretary of State quoted various authorities to reinforce this Bill, whom I am bound to say that I respect, and am prepared on general principles to follow. But then that does not settle the question at all. A Bill that might have settled the question in 1885 does not necessarily settle the question in 1890. You talk of the Committee of 1877. The information of that Committee was very valuable on one point, incidentally and parenthetically to which I may refer the Secretary of State. I was rather surprised to hear him speak of Dr. Parr's opinion as regards the figures of 1862, and say that Dr. Farr had founded his calculations upon the experience of what took place before there were any pensions. Why, it was quite p'ain that men of various ages would remain much longer in the Force that had a pension than would remain in the Force where there was no pension. A more foolish calculation I never heard of than that of a man calculating for a pensioned Force on the basis of the figures of a Force that had 248 no pensions. You might as well calculate your fire policies by the experience of a town built of wood, and apply the calculation to the circumstances of a town built of stone. The things are not commensurate. Therefore, I cannot understand that part of the argument. But that is quite parenthetical. To put it on general and more important grounds: It is nothing to show us the evidence of 1877, or the Bills of 1882–3–4–5. What you have got to satisfy us about—and you are the only people to satisfy us—is whether your scheme will meet with acceptance. Of course, Sir, I am in favour of the Second Reading of this Bill, and will support it. I desire that the House will address itself to the consideration of this question at the earliest possible moment, and dispose of it as quickly as it can. As far as I am concerned, I will assist in that. Well, now I observe on the Paper a proposal by the Government to refer the Bill to a Committee. I urge them to re-consider that proposition. I do not find any fault with the proposal that has been made. I know it has been suggested in various parts of the House that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton spoke of a Select Committee, but he spoke of it, not as compared with the Grand Committee, but as compared with a General Committee of the Whole House. What advantage will you gain by sending this Bill to a Select Committee 2 I can see none at all. It will take evidence, as did the Committee in 1877. If it does, you will not legislate this year. What evidence has it to take? Is it going to call before it representatives of the Police Force, and representatives of the police in the provinces? I confess I do not think that would be an expedient course. Is it to call before it representatives of the Local Authorities in different parts of the country? You have not the time to do that. If I were a Member of that Committee, I should not know what to do. All that you can gain as regards general principles of action, apart from questions of detail, you have already. You have it in the evidence taken by the Committee in 1877. You have it in the considerations of the Bills of 1882–3–4–5. What we want now is some information as to the I existing state of things, in order to see 249 that the Bill is appropriate to that state of things. The Government alone have that information. The Committee would divide the responsibility with the Government as to the proposals that are to be made. I am not prepared to divide the responsibility. They alone know what Bill will satisfactorily settle this question in the provinces and elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman has discussed this question of the Metropolitan Pension List with the late Commissioner of the Police. Well, they unfortunately differed. But the Secretary of State had the knowledge, if we had not, of the feelings of the Police; and he argued in a controversial spirit upon the Memorandum of Mr. Monro on this subject. He may have been right; the Secretary of State may have been right, as to what would be a satisfactory settlement of this question. But the Government is the only authority that can tell the House what plan will satisfy the Force of course, a Committee of this House might say, We will ascertain for ourselves; we will not take it from the Government. We will send for the representatives of the Police, and hear their case. I deprecate such a course. I think it is not safe for this House, either in Committee or elsewhere, to undertake to manage the police. They can only do it through the Government. Therefore, the Government must be absolutely, completely, and finally responsible for proposing and carrying through this House a measure which will reasonably and satisfactorily settle this question. I cannot assume—I do not assume necessarily—that the circumstances which were favourable in 1885 are equally favourable now. It may be so, or it may not. Your scheme actuarially may be just the same, but the circumstances by which you are surrounded may be exceedingly difficult. As regards the metropolitan police, I do not see that the House by Committee can enter into the question. I cannot form an opinion; I have no material on which to form one. Up to 1885 I knew all the facts, but since that year I have not had the information, and I feel absolutely unable to form an opinion as to what are the conditions of a satisfactory settlement. So much for the metropolitan police. And, with regard 250 to the provincial police, it is exactly the same thing. In my opinion, you cannot have different terms for the metropolitan and provincial police. I have received a communication from the police in my own town of Derby, in which they naturally express the desire to have as good terms as anybody else. You will find that will be the feeling of Police Forces throughout the country. In considering this question we have to look at the circumstances of the labour market, to the demands of other classes, and to all the circumstances surrounding the subject; and I am bound to say that I am absolutely unable, in the absence of information, to form an opinion of what would be a proper settlement of the question. I am very willing to receive information and instruction from the Government as to the circumstances of the time with which we have to deal. I want to know what measures the Government have taken to learn the conditions and the wishes of the Police Forces in London and the provinces, and what consultations they have had with the Local Authorities throughout the country. These are the things which should govern us in dealing with the principles of this Bill. As to the Second Reading, and as to the question whether there ought to be superannuation, I think the Bill ought to be passed as rapidly as possible for the benefit of the metropolitan and provincial police. Of that I have no doubt whatever, and I heartily support the Second Reading.
§ (7.25.) MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)
I congratulate Her Majesty's Government on bringing forward this Bill.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Will the hon. Member allow me to correct an omission? In deprecating a Committee I spoke only of the present Bill, and not of the Scotch Bill, which stands on a different footing, because it introduces a new system in Scotland, and one that has not been inquired into before.
§ MR. BURDETT-COUTTS
I was about to say that I congratulate the Government on bringing forward this Bill, and upon their determination to pass it into law. It is a tardy recognition of the claims of an important and deserving body of men, claims which have been constantly set forth and as 251 constantly deferred, at the cost of dissatisfaction among the police. The police have certainly not in any way been disloyal. If dissatisfied, they have not allowed the neglect of Parliament to interfere with the performance of their duty to the public. Something has been said with regard to a promise made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby some nine years ago. It was at a meeting in connection with the Police Orphanage. I happened to be present. I do not remember the exact words of the promise, but I recollect that they caused visible manifestations of satisfaction, and elicited ringing cheers. During the four or five years following Bills were brought forward, but none passed this House. I am sorry this question was not settled then, or, at any rate, before now, because I believe the long delay has led to grave and new demands upon the public purse. I think it is necessary that there should be a certain continuity in the treatment of the police, and that what has been justly and reasonably done by one Home Secretary should be continued by his successor. I venture to notice that so far as harmony and mutual good understanding are concerned, this continuity of relations between the Home Office and Scotland Yard has not been entirely preserved since the right hon. Gentleman took office, as is evidenced by the retirement of two Chief Commissioners, after holding their appointments for an unusually short space of time, and as is evidenced by the dissatisfaction and disaffection which, I think, any one at all conversant with the views of the police will allow now prevails in the country. But I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in bringing forward this Bill, has taken up the thread of the unfulfilled promise of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and I submit that the present measure should be so framed as to really fulfil that promise, and place the police in an infinitely better position as regards pensions than they were in before it was made.
§ (7.31.) SIR W. HARCOURT
The hon. Member has spoken of the' promise I made, and has said that it was unfulfilled. I would point out to the hon. Member that I regarded my promise as fulfilled by the introduction of the Bill.
§ (7.31.) MR. BURDETT-COUTTS
But the Bill was not passed, notwithstanding that the right hon. Gentleman's Party had a majority. It is true the right hon. Gentleman was not in the position of leader of the Party to which he belonged; but I must say I think if he had been ardently in favour of a settlement of the question, he would have been able to pursuade the Party to pass the Bill.
§ MR. BURDETT-COUTTS
I cordially join with the right hon. Gentleman opposite in deprecating the proposal to send the Bill to a Select Committee, as it would undoubtedly delay the Bill at least until next Session. Moreover, a Committee is not wanted, as there is already plenty of evidence on the subject before the House. We have the exhaustive Reports of the Committees of 1875 and 1877; we have had various discussions on the subject; we have the Returns on Police Superannuation, and the Report of the Committee on the City Police Bill in July last year, and if this is not enough—which it surely is—there was, I believe, a Departmental Committee last year, which took a mass of evidence on the subject, and broke up without a Report. I should like very much to see that evidence, and, later on, if I am in order, I will move for it. I believe it will throw a great deal of light on the nature and justice of the claims of the police. Surely the better course would be to leave the Bill to a Grand Committee, by means of which it could be got through and reported to the House in a very short space of time. The chief claim I have to put forward on behalf of the police is that which the Home Secretary spent a long time in contesting, namely, the claim to a pension of two-thirds of their pay after 25 years' service, without condition of age or medical certificate. In making this claim I cannot but regret that the Metropolitan Police have not been dealt with in a separate Bill, considering the indisputable differences that exist between them and the Provincial Police. Such a course might have cleared the Bill of the awkward and confusing feature of maximum and minimum limits, and have made the whole thing very much clearer and have 253 been much simpler from all points of view. It is quite true that the Home Secretary has expressed his determination, and given us an assurance, that the age limit will not be applied in the case of the Metropolitan Police, and that the maximum scale will always be taken; but I say that the long delay in making that announcement has already led to agitation amongst the police; and the fact that there is nothing in the Bill to bind future Home Secretaries will lead to further dissatisfaction amongst the police, because it will leave them uncertain on these two very important points. One great point in favour of a two-thirds pension is that it represents an improvement on the previous scale. I have started with the assurance that whether it was promised in so many words or not, the police gathered from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite an assurance that their position with regard to pensions would be improved. It is quite true that the Bill gives an absolute right to pensions to the police; but they had that right by custom before, and no sane man will argue that that would ever be taken from them. The Bill gives pensions for between 15 and 25 years' service on the scale of fiftieths, but that the police had before. This was the point, so far as pensions were concerned, on which Mr. Monro resigned. He has stated publicly that in their draft Bill the Government reduced the pensions for between 15 and 20 years' service to the scale of sixtieths of the pay, but this has been improved in the Bill now before us in favour of the police. I believe the draft Bill also contained this very thing I am asking for, namely, a pension of two-thirds of the pay after 25 years' service. But I suppose the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to obtain the consent of his colleagues to that. To my mind, it is the crux of the whole Bill; and if we can persuade the House or the Committee to grant that very slight additional boon it will be placing only a small burden on the ratepayer, and will be satisfying the desires of the Force. It is true that the medical certificate has been taken out of this Bill, after 25 years, but that is no very great gain, because the police know full well that in the opinion of the authorities this medical certificate is a pernicious 254 system, that it encourages malingering and induces men to build up a "sick record." So there is very little gain for the police in this Bill unless we give them what they ardently desire, the two-thirds pension after 25 years' service. Considering the small number of policemen who ever reach 25 years' service, it is surely a very small thing to ask for, and it will be the smallest possible burden upon the ratepayers, but it will be some gain for the police. I need not enlarge on the importance of the duties of the police and the admirable way in which they perform them. They have charge of the capital of a great Empire, a city covering 700 square miles and of 5,000,000 of population, and are responsible for the safety, security, and contentment of that great population. They, moreover, have to regulate the traffic which is a very difficult and very vexatious duty, through thousands of miles of streets, and this they do as admirably as the condition of the streets will allow. They have to deal with a vast mass of crime which requires not only constant attention and watchfulness, but also great courage and determination. The increased use of deadly weapons by a certain class of criminals of late years has brought out the courage of the police in brilliant colours, and in legislating for them we must not forget the dangers to which all members of the Force are at some time or other liable. We must certainly remember these things in fixing the reward we offer. There is one point which has been mentioned this evening upon which I wish to lay particular stress, with regard to the amount of this pension after 25 years' service. It points clearly to the difference between the claims of the police and the claims of other classes of public servants with whom they may be compared. It is contained in the evidence given by Sir James Eraser last year on the City Police Bill. He said—The fact is, that after a man has served 25 years in the streets he is fit for very little work afterwards. It takes it out of him tremendously. I think that is the opinion of almost every head of the Police Force in the country. If you get 25 years work out of a man you get as much as you are ever likely to get of useful workHe was further asked— 255Do you consider that the wear and tear of a constable in the crowded thoroughfares of London is greater than that of a constable in a rural district or in a small country town?He answered—I have no doubt of it; in fact, the climate of London is against a man, and the constant tramp, day and night.If that is the case in the City, where there is hardly any crime or disorder, and few of those processions and meetings which have become chronic in the West of London, how much stronger is the case of the Metropolitan Police! A conclusive answer to the argument that the Metropolitan Police ought not to have two-thirds pension because the City Police had only two-fifths is to be found in a comparison of the pay of the two forces. The Metropolitan Police receive as first, second, or third-class constables respectively 2s. 1d., 1s. 6d., and 1s. 5d. per week less pay than the City Police. Surely, Sir, if we are not going to raise the pay of the Metropolitan Police this is a strong argument in making it up to them in some slight degree by way of pension. I do not say that I should be opposed to raising their pay—far from it. But we must take things as they are, and if they are worse paid than the City Police they deserve to be better pensioned. I submit then, Sir, that this claim for a two-thirds pension is a fair and just one, on account of the reasons stated. I cannot but think that if we owe the police much on account of the important duties they perform, and of the manner in which they perform them, and of the delay which has attended this question, we owe them something also on account of the retirement of their late Chief Commissioner. I will make clear what I mean. I know that every member of the force is possessed with the conviction that Mr. Monro was sacrificed for insistence upon demands on their behalf, which I think will, upon examination, be found to be just, and many of which are granted in this very Bill. Mr. Monro was a man whom they respected as a disciplinarian, whom they trusted as a representative, and whom, as a friend and commander, they held in most affectionate esteem. They regard him as one who has fought for them and fallen for them. Several of the points for which he held out, 256 such as the appointment of Mr. Howard as Assistant Commissioner—his desire for which appointment led to his resignation—and the question of the clothing contract, have been conceded. I do not wish to lay undue stress on these points; but I do say that some of the chief grounds on which Mr. Monro resigned have been granted in this Bill now before the House, and that fact cannot fail to make some impression upon the minds of the police. I should like, whatever they may think about Mr. Monro's retirement, to be assured that this House is going to treat them in a liberal spirit. I should like also to be assured in the future that the relations between the Home Office and Scotland Yard may be carried on in a somewhat more considerate and conciliatory manner. I should like to be assured that the police will always look upon every Horns Secretary as one to whom, when they have just grievances to be redressed, they can turn with confidence to redress them, and to whom, when they have a just claim to put forward, they can look to do his utmost to satisfy those claims. I would earnestly press on the House to allow the police this two-thirds pension. The addition to the cost will be very slight, but the matter is one of great importance. I think the police have made more of the point than it is worth; but, at any rate, it is a matter on which they feel very strongly. I would earnestly appeal to the House not to delay the Bill by submitting it to a Select Committee.
§ *(7.40.) SIR J. GOLDSM1D (St. Pancras, S.)
I have only two or three words to say on matters which I think the hon. Member who has just sat down has not mentioned. I found, on calling on a number of the officers and men, that they felt as I feel, that the question of their pensions should depend on the question of their pay. I believe that they would not stand out for the two-thirds pension if their claim for increased pay was duly and thoroughly considered. I cannot help remarking that the constables of the Metropolitan Police must feel in a somewhat disgusted frame of mind when they notice that in every class of the Service the City policeman is paid on a higher scale than the scale on which they themselves are paid, and all 257 the more so when the fact is remembered to which the hon. Gentleman has just referred, namely, that the Metropolitan Police have more arduous duties to perform, and often have to serve for longer hours than the City Police. If, as; I think it can, a case can be made out for increasing the pay of the Metropolitan Police, I cannot help believing the men would be satisfied with the scale proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, for it would then be on all fours with the examples he quoted. So far as I can find out, that feeling is general throughout the country, and the matter is one which will have to be considered by the Select Committee, if the Bill is referred to a Committee. I find also that the men have some feeling as to the time at which the pension, after 25 years' service, should begin to run. The practice has hitherto been not to give a pension—unless a man is invalided or certified by the medical officer to be unfit for service—until the age of 60 is reached, no matter the age at which the man enlisted. Now, it is admitted on all hands that 60 years is an absurd age at which to fix the limit, and that, therefore, another plan should be adopted. The plan suggested is that 25 years' service should be the limit; but the Metropolitan Police say that the pension ought to date from the entry into the Service, and not from the age of 21. That point could easily be met by providing that no man should be recruited before the age of 21. That would be a provision that many would support; but even if the House adopted it, it could only be applied to future cases. It is admitted on all sides that a case has been made out for liberal superannuation treatment to the police, and that that treatment should, to a great extent, depend on the amount of pay given to the men. I believe the police and the ratepayers would rather see an increase made in the pay and the rate of pensions the right hon. Gentleman proposes adopted than that there should be no change in the pay and the higher rate of superannuation that the men are themselves demanding. I do not think the Members who know what the duties of the Metropolitan Police are can for a moment imagine that the work of the country policeman is as hard and arduous as the work of the London policeman, and it is for that reason that 258 in London the highest scale of pension should be given. But I do not think we should leave this question of the comparative treatment of the Metropolitan and Provincial Police to the promise of the right hon. Gentleman. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman or the Under Secretary will undertake to insert a clause in the Bill to make the matter thoroughly clear.
§ (7.57.) SIR H. SELWIN-IBBETSON (Essex, Epping)
I do not propose to go into the question of whether the late Chief Commissioner was justified in his attitude. On the contrary; but I should like to say a few words on the earnest desire I have that at last a solution of this question should be arrived at. I have taken some interest in the question, as the House knows, for many years. I myself, as late as 1887, had a Bill before the House for the superannuation of the police, but the Government asked me to withdraw it in view of the measure they themselves had promised. I mention this, as it shows that the question has been considered at a later date than has been suggested, I think the time has come now when the whole House must concur in the attempt to settle the question which affects so large a body of men who have so much to do with the happiness and history of this country. I believe we have now sufficient information as to the wants of the police and the opinions of the localities on this subject. At all events, I am sure we have quite as much of the opinions of the localities before us as we ever had. I cannot say I remember that such representations came very generally from the localities. I can say for my own locality that no such representations were solicited. I do not, however, attach much importance to that, because from the time of the Report of the Committee down to the present we have had opinions expressed by the localities as to the necessity of some measure of the kind. The question has been raised whether a difference should be made as between the Police Force of the Metropolis and the Police Force generally throughout the country. I venture to say I do not think there ought to be any difference as between superannuation in one district and another. Practically, the superannuation would be governed by the rate of 259 pay in the different Forces; and the rate of pay in the Metropolis, being in excess of the pay in other districts, would produce a scale of pension which must be in excess of pensions elsewhere. It is very important that policemen should be able to demand a pension at a fixed period of service. If a fair pension were insured to a policeman at a time when he became practically unfit to perform the work for which ho had been enlisted, you would do much to bring into the Force a better class of men, because the pension is a consideration in addition to his wages which he could not obtain in other services. I attach great importance to giving fixity of tenure, if I may so call it, in the matter of pensions to men of the different Forces throughout the country. When this Bill comes to be considered afterwards, I hope it may be amended in some particulars, which I think are of importance. I confess, myself, I believe the two-thirds scale of pension is one which the police have a fair right to demand. I believe that scale will not practically press unfairly on the ratepayers, because I believe they will get an equivalent in good men and good service for it, and I am sure its adoption will be a settlement of the question which will satisfy the different Police Forces throughout the country and will keep in those Forces the men whom we should be very anxious to retain in the Service. I would remind the House that a policeman is a very expensive article to form, and, therefore, you should do your best to keep him in the Force. A large sum of money is expended on the training of a policeman, and unless he is induced to remain in the Force that money is thrown away. These points, I think, should induce us not to be niggardly now that we are trying to settle a question which has been left unsettled far too long. There are other points which, I think, when the Bill reaches Committee may be fairly considered. I confess I do not like the attempt made in the Bill to allow localities to fix the scale. I should prefer that there should be a maximum and a minimum, between which the localities might elect to pension men themselves, and that would give an opportunity to the localities of discriminating 260 between men who had faults which were not sufficiently serious to lead to their discharge, but which rendered them less efficient servants than some of their colleagues, and men, as it were, with a clean bill of health. I think, however, with that exception, that the scales of pay should be uniform throughout the country. The question of the form of the Committee to which the Bill shall be referred has been mooted. There are advantages in favour of its being sent to a Standing Committee, and I strongly deprecate its being sent to a Select Committee, as that would practically result in its being hung up until next Session. I hope that this attempt on the part of the Government, following on the numerous attempts that have been made to satisfy a legitimate want of the Forces throughout the country, will result in the House putting aside Party feeling on the subject and uniting to pass much-needed reforms. (8.8.)
§ *(8.40.) MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
I understand some of my hon. Friends, who sit on this side of the House, intend to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill, because they are opposed to the principle of superannuation, but, for myself, I do not think, on the present occasion at all events, that superannuation is an open question. Committee after Committee of this House have reported in favour of giving superannuation allowances to public servants, and the case for the police is a particularly strong one. In the first place, because the system is actually in existence, and, in the second place, Administration after Administration has publicly pledged itself by legislative action to sanction, to consolidate, to methodise that system. The principle, then, I regard as settled, but, at the same time, I think it would be difficult perhaps to exaggerate the gravity of the issue this Bill raises, because, practically, we have now before the House embodied in this Bill a system of pensions more extended and on a more liberal scale than exists at the present time in reference to any class of public servants. It is quite true that for the moment we are dealing only with the police, but it is impossible, I think, for any reasonable man to blind himself to the fact that we are setting up a new standard, and it may be that other classes of public servants in the country will 261 look to that standard as their own ultimate goal. Admitting, then, that experience has shown it is inexpedient for the State to throw on the world, unprovided for, its public servants after a number of years' service, at the same time I think it behaves the House, on the present occasion, very carefully to consider the scale of pensions proposed, and the relations between pay and pension, and particularly to determine whether it may not be better to increase the pay than to raise the scale of pensions, always bearing in mind two things; in the first place, that the chief burden of an inflated system of pensions will fall, not upon us, but upon those who come after us; and bearing also in mind that, from the very nature of the case, the chief advantage of pensions will accrue rather to the upper ranks of the Service than to the lower grades, with whom I confess my interest and sympathies are most concerned. I listened attentively to the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Burdett-Courts), and the bulk of that speech was occupied with an advocacy of the two-thirds as against the three fifths system of the Government Bill. I venture to think the hon. Member attached too great weight to that particular point. I know that a Memorandnm has been issued by the superintendents of the Metropolitan Police representing that as the crux of the whole situation, and if I may say so without offence the hon. Member for Westminster seems to have swallowed that Memorandum holus-bolus. Now, I wish to emphasise, and insist upon this as an essential point, that it is not in the interest of the rank and file of the Metropolitan Police—and I have reason to think the men are of the same opinion—to insist on an inflated scale of pensions, because the establishment of such a scale will prejudice their claims in respect to pay, claims they regard, and reasonably regard, as more important than the question of superannuation. By way of illustrating what I mean, I take the case of a first-class constable, lie is neither at the top or the bottom of the scale, he is a member of the class in which, as I have said, I feel special interest. I consider the case of this first-class constable with reference to the particular issue which the hon. Member for West- 262 minster seemed to regard as the whole case, as between a two-thirds and a three-fifths pension. The wage of a' first-class constable is £1 10s. a week, and his pension, according to the Government plan of three-fifths, would be 18s., and if the scale were raised, as the hon. Member for Westminster desires, then the pension would, be £1. Butt now suppose this Metropolitan constable of the first-class were put upon the same footing with the first-class in the City Police Force, and he has a just claim to be so treated, he would then, on the three-fifths scale—hispay being 32s. 3d—receive a pension of 19s. 4d., or only 8d. less than he would receive on the scale for which the hon. Member for Westminster contends. The eonclusion I come to is, that it will be better that a constable should have 32s. pay and a three-fifths pension, than 30s. pay and a two-thirds pension, for his pension would be only eight-pence a week less in the first case, while he would receive 2s. a week more during the years of active service. This brings me to the contrast between the Bill and the Act passed last Session, in regard to which I took some part, for regulating pensions in the City Police. I venture to think the Memorandum the right hon. Gentleman has issued is rather misleading in what it states in the way of comparison between the two Forces. The Memorandum contains the statement that the scale of ordinary pensions on medical certificate is the same in the Bill with the scale of the City Police, but that statement is misleading for this reason: in the City Police the pension is reckoned on actual pay at the time of the pensioner's retirement; whereas by the Bill pensions will be reckoned upon the average pay for the previous three years. I do not wish to lay undue stress upon this, but the House will see at once there is a material advantage to the City policeman. There is something more to which I would call attention, which the Home Secretary has not mentioned in his Memorandum, which he did not allude to in his speech, and which may have escaped his notice altogether. The point is this: by the Bill, the grant of a gratuity before the completion of 15 years' service is a subject of discretion for the Police Authorities, but if the Home Secretary will refer to the Act we passed 1sst year with 263 reference to the City Police, he will find it is provided that in the corresponding case in that Force the constable is entitled to a gratuity. Here, there are two points in which the City policeman has material advantages over the metropolitan policeman. Then, again, in the Metropolitan Force, a man's service before he is 21 years of age is not to count for pension, but there is no such limitation in the City Police.
§ *MR. PICKERSGILL
I am perfectly correct in saying that service begins to count for pension in the City as soon as a man becomes a member of the Force, but, on the other hand, I was going to mention that in instituting the comparison you have to put in the other scale that the City constable is not entitled to retire on pension until he reaches the age of 50. Contrasting the two plans the City policeman has material advantages, and when we remember his better position as regards pay, I think a case has been made out for serious re-consideration by the right hon. Gentleman. I submit, in respect to remuneration, the Metropolitan Police are entitled to special consideration. I rather differ on this point from what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt). If I followed him rightly he said if we give a high rate of pay to the Metropolitan Police then the police throughout the country will agitate for a similar rise. But I do not think such a claim would be well founded. In the first place no one can possibly deny that the duties of a metropolitan policeman are both more arduous and more dangerous than those of an average policeman in the country, but I do not rest my case so much on this particular aspect of the question; but, as everybody knows, the remuneration for labour in London is higher than that for corresponding labour in the country, and necessarily so, because the cost of living, and especially house rent, is very much higher in London. It is only reasonable that the Metropolitan Police should share in the advantage which labour generally in the Metropolis receives. Then I say that in respect to control the Metropolitan Police Force occupies an exceptional position. It is perfectly true that 264 nominally the right hon. Gentleman opposite is the chief authority for the Metropolitan Force, but substantially and really this House is the authority for the Metropolitan Police, the House must recognise and cannot escape the responsibility. I noticed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby said it would be a danger, at least, so I understood him, for this House to appoint a Committee to consider the case of the Metropolitan Police. Well, that may be so, but I think the danger is not so much in the mere appointment of a Committee; the danger is in allowing a system to continue which places this Force under the control of the House instead of it being, as other local forces are, under the control of representative Local Bodies, and, so long as that condition of things exists, the House must recognise its responsibility and act up to it. As regards the further stages of this Bill, I think the intention is to refer it to a Select Committee, but with what object is this course proposed I So far as I can see, it is useless to refer the Bill to a Select Committee except for the purpose of taking evidence. I should like the Home Secretary to tell us whether he does intend the Select Committee to take evidence or not; that is an important point upon which we have not, I think, up to the present time been enlightened. Looking at the matter from the point of view of a Metropolitan Member, I am in favour of the appointment of a Select Committee, because I want to give the rank and file of the Metropolitan Police the opportunity, which up to the present time they have not had, of fairly presenting their case. Unfortunately the metropolitan question is associated in this Bill with the general police question throughout the country, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has urged with considerable force that if you appoint a Select Committee, Local Bodies in the country, and not only Local Bodies, but local police in the country will ciaim the same opportunity of giving evidence which you are ex hypothesi going to offer to the metropolitan police, and this, of course, will open the door for a good deal of delay. If you are going to have evidence offered on the scale indicated in the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, then I am afraid this Bill will run the risk of being hung 265 up for another year, and a result of that kind is much to be deprecated. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman in this conjuncture that he has two alternatives. He might himself consider the case as regards pay and other matters affecting the rank and file of the Metropolitan Force, he might constitute himself a Committee, as it were, and give them a full opportunity of presenting their case, and that is the course I would very earnestly press him to take, but if he declines that responsibility, then, it seems tome, the only alternative is to put the responsibility upon a Committee. It is, in my opinion, important that the police should have the opportunity of presenting their case either to himself, and this I should prefer because he has executive control, or to a Select Committee, if he prefers that, and, in this way, the case of the country would be separated from the case of the Metropolis, and I think I have shown that the cases are wholly distinct. Of one thing I am certain, namely, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Matthews) will not be relieved of the difficulty with regard to the Force by the mere settlement of the question of pensions, even if he were to give the two-thirds claimed after 25 years' service, which I myself should much deprecate. Having regard to the interests of the ratepayers, I do not think he ought to modify his Bill in that sense. One word with regard to a general provision of this Bill. By Clause 8 it is provided that when a pension has been granted it shall be forfeited in certain contingencies. In Committee on the Bill I shall propose to make a clean sweep of those cases in which it is proposed to forfeit a pension. The first instance of this is upon conviction for an indictable offence; but I object most strongly to attach the condition of forfeiture to a conviction. It is improper on all grounds, and it is particularly objectionable under present circumstances, because this Government has introduced, or perhaps I should say revived, the practice of employing the Criminal Law against its political opponents. Just consider, for a moment, how this clause might operate. Take a particular case. To take part in an unlawful meeting is an indictable offence. But some of the best and most public-spirited citizens of this country have been convicted 266 of taking part in such a meeting. It is, therefore, preposterous to say that, during a time, perhaps, of political excitement, a person convicted of this offence shall lose the pension which he has earned by long years of service. Moreover, I have frequently noticed in criminal cases that conditions of forfeiture of this kind introduce a very disturbing element into the administration of justice. If a man is convicted of an indictable offence, let him be adequately punished; but it seems to me preposterous to take away from him that which his own past service has earned.
§ *(9.4.) MR. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
I desire to say only a very few words after the exceedingly lucid speech of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I am glad to hear the determination which is expressed on both sides of the House, that the question shall be dealt with this Session. The Select Committee, presided over by my right hon. Friend the Member for Essex (Sir H. Selwin-Ibbetson) went into this question of Police Superannuation in 1877. It took a great deal of actuarial and other evidence from, all parts of the country, and issued a very valuable and thorough Report. I heard, with great regret, the Leader of the House say yesterday that it was his intention again to refer the matter to a Select Committee. I regretted it not because of any doubt that the police would thoroughly substantiate their case, if necessary, before a Select Committee, but because there is very great danger, at this period of the Session, in referring a Bill of this importance to a Select Committee, as, from a variety of causes, it might be hung up to a distant future. I hope that some method may be devised of dealing with the question other than that suggested. It is incumbent on the House to fulfil the long-standing (promises of successive Administrations to deal with this question. The police have waited for nearly 20 years for this subject to be dealt with. They have shown the greatest patience. They have not agitated violently, but have thought only of their public duty, and I think it behoves us to see that the Bill shall be passed into law during the present Session. With reference to the non- 267 counting of Service towards pension under 21 years of age, I would point out that there are exceedingly few policemen who join the service under this age. I have no doubt, however, that the services of a constable between 20 and 21 are more valuable to the public than between the age for example, of 49 to 50. It would be therefore exceedingly unfair not to allow this period to be counted in the policeman's service. Then as to the provision which provides that an officer shall not retire on the pay of his rank unless he has served in that rank for upwards of three years. I think when we reach the Committee stage I shall be able to bring forward conclusive evidence showing that such a provision will cause hardship. A provision of great importance in the Bill of 1885, omitted from the present measure, is that which enabled the Police Authority in counties and boroughs in calculating the pension of the Chief Officer of Police to add a certain number of years to his service not exceeding seven. Chief Constables are usually required by the terms of their appointment to have had military or other experience, and they usually join the Force between the ages of 35 and 40. If the authority be not empowered, therefore, to add a certain number of years towards the pension of the Chief Officer, he will be an old man before he is entitled to any pension at all. I am not going to mix up the questions of pay and pension. I think it most important in the interests of the police at large that they should be kept entirely distinct. It is the question of pension which the police throughout the entire country wish to see settled. Mention has been made of the important matter of two-thirds and three-fifths. The police are most anxious to have a two-thirds pension. Although it is not a very important question for the ratepayer, it is a question to which the police attach the greatest importance. The difference in the individual pension is, as the right hon. Gentleman admitted, exceedingly small—only £7 a year on a salary of £100, or, on the salary of a first-class constable, something less than 3½d. a day on his pension. I cannot quite follow the figures of my right hon. Friend. He said if the two-thirds were conceded by the Government it would 268 mean an immediate difference of £45,000—
§ *MR. HOWARD VINCENT
I think the immediate difference would only be something under £1,000. In 18S9 there were only 329 men in the Metropolitan Police Force who had completed a service of 25 years, and there is the most conclusive evidence to show that this length of service in the Metropolis, including the City of London, according to the evidence of Sir James Fraser—whose retirement from the Force I am sure every Member of the House will regret—is the maximum which a constable can perform with efficiency. Mr. Bond, a man of great experience in dealing with police sickness, puts the maximum as low as 24 years. I am sure that in drawing up the Memorandum which has been forwarded to Members-the superintendents had only the idea of furthering the interests of the Force at large, and I believe the opinions they express are the opinions of the great majority of the Force. The Superannuation Committee, which was formed many years ago to keep alive the question of superannuation of Constabulary Forces, has passed a resolution that it would be exceedingly desirable that instead of being called upon to adopt a fixed scale of pension, irrespective of merit, the Police Authorities throughout the country should be empowered to grant pensions between the maximum and minimum scale as a stimulus to good conduct, and the Committee is strongly of opinion that the limit of age should not be higher than 55 years. I am sorry that the Memorandum given to us by the right hon. Gentleman was not issued with the Bill, as it would have been of great advantage to the Metropolitan Members, and also to the police, who have found a great deal of difficulty in wading through the provisions of the Bill. I would point out that the metropolitan policeman, before he can obtain the maximum pension, has one year more to serve than he has to serve at present.
§ *MR. HOWARD VINCENT
The Bill confers, however, very substantial 269 advantages in many ways, not only upon the Metropolitan Police, but upon the Constabulary at large. I hope that, if possible, the Government will consider this little matter of two-thirds. I believe the Bill is a conscientious attempt to do what can be fairly done for the police. The only matter I regret is that, in his conscientious desire to obtain the best terms for his subordinates, my friend Mr. Monro has resigned, and I only hope that the Public Service will not be long deprived of the services of so able, zealous, and conscientious an administrator.
§ (9.19.) MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N. W.)
Anyone who has heard the right hon. Gentleman explain the Bill must be convinced that he has bestowed great pains in rendering it comprehensible to Members of the House; but, at the same time, a measure of such complexity and magnitude is extremely difficult to be dealt with in a Second Reading Debate. I am bound to say that from the most careful study I have been able to give to the Bill I have been obliged to come to the conclusion that it is a very great departure from the lines of the Bill introduced in 1885 by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler.) The measure proposes to provide for the Police Force of this country on a scale of liberality of which I cannot help thinking the right hon. Gentleman himself must be somewhat ashamed. His observations throughout his speech were in the direction of deprecating any hostility to the measure on the ground that it was too liberal. I am not one of those Members who are in the habit of making wild and wholesale accusations against the Police Force of the Metropolis. I recognise the value of the Force and the competence of its members; but I am at a loss to understand upon what principle a different scale of pensions should be conceded to one branch of the Civil Service to that which is conceded to other branches thereof. I know no precedent which equals or at all approaches the lavishness of the scale of compensation it is now proposed to award to the Police Force. At present a member of the Force is not entitled to any compensation, unless he retires through ill- 270 health or injury sustained in the Service, until he has reached the age of 60. The Bill of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) proposed to alter that scale and to award compensation to a policeman who had reached the age of 55. The proposed scale would fix upon the Metropolis, and the various sources from which the pensions are to be drawn, a burden of between £200,000 and £300,000 per annum. That is an immense increase upon the amount which obtained a few years ago. On the basis of the now scale a sergeant receiving £100 per annum will, when he reaches the age of 45 or 46, be entitled to a pension of no less than nearly £70 a year. In other branches of the Civil Service, which perform as arduous duties as the police, a man who has served for 30 years at £100 a year is entitled to a pension of between £50 and £00. I want to know, on what principle of justice or consistency can this difference of treatment be justified? Further, a policeman is paid very high wages compared with other branches of industry throughout the country. The best test is this—are you able to get a sufficient number of proper candidates for the Service? I have the authority of the late Commissioner of Police for saying that there is not the smallest difficulty in getting recruits for the Service at the present time. We are now face to face with a very serious agitation-for an increase of wages in the Police Force—an agitation which certainly is founded on no just cause. What I altogether protest against is that such a heavy burden should be laid on the already heavily burdened ratepayers of the country as the outrageously large pensions that are now suggested. A man 46 years of age is still competent to earn his livelihood; yet a police sergeant will be able to retire with an income of something like £70 at 45 or 46 years of age. We have been told by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Matthews) that pensioned policemen are able to get situations. I find that the number of retired police officers who are in indigent circumstances, after having served for any reasonable number of years in the Police Force, is perfectly inappreciable, and I cannot understand why a police sergeant in the prime of life should be 271 awarded a pension of such an extravagant amount as that proposed in the Bill. If I am the only Member, and I hope I am not, who is found resisting the passage of this measure, I shall do so. I very much regret that Radical Members—I think it is an unhappy effect of giving the franchise to the police—should come forward and champion this gross and excessive expenditure. I will only say, in conclusion, that if we are to have this excessive scale of pensions do not let it be confined to the London Police. It might equally be extended to other branches of the Civil Service. I am sure I shall have the sympathy of my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire when I say that the scale, with equal show of reason, could be applied to the dock labourers. For these reasons I shall resist this Bill, and I do hope that I am not the only Provincial Member who will do so.
§ *(9.31.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART-WORTLEY,) Hallam, Sheffield
The hon. Member who has just sat down has said that he recognised no difference between one class of public servants and another. Has he reflected on the peculiar nature of the duties of the police, who are subject to long-continued exposure, to cold, to the night air, to physical fatigue, and to personal danger—all of which renders a policeman after 25 years' service of very little use for the purposes of police duty t These considerations, I hope, will dispose of the argument that this Bill ought to be resisted because it gives a higher scale of pensions to the police than to the Civil servants. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby asked certain questions of the Government as to what consultations have been made with the localities with regard to this Bill. It seemed to me that the right hon. Gentleman entirely over-stated both his own practice in introducing his own Bills, and the statements of my right hon. Friend in the Memorandum. I do not believe that the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, in presenting their Bills, had anything like the general concurrence of the Local Authorities. It is true the Memorandum states that certain communications did pass, and, indeed, the Bill itself was a communication to the 272 Local Authorities. I believe I am safe in saying that there is no evidence at the Home Office that there was anything like a general consent of the Local Authorities on the introduction of these Bills. I was in the House when they were introduced, and opposition was offered to them by the Representatives of the ratepayers in all parts of the House. The evidence, therefore, was that the Bills had not received the general concurrence of the Local Authorities. In the present instance, we conceived that to have invited discussions from the Local Authorities would have been to cause delay such as would be experienced were this Bill referred to a Select Committee. It is contended that we should have had separate Bills for the Metropolis and Provinces. It may be that there is a difference between the circumstances of the two, but anyone who knows what the Parliamentary necessities are will agree that it would have been bad tactics to introduce separate Bills. As to the argument of the hon. Baronet the Member for Sussex that there should be a discretion vested in the Local Authority to vary the scale of pensions as between individual members of the Force, we do not consider that the Local Authority should have that power. The hon. Member for Sheffield, in advancing his views, represented not the whole of the Police Force down to the lowest rank, but only the chief officers, who, I suspect, spoke in the interests of discipline. These officers wished to have control over the amount of the pensions in order to use them as a means of enforcing discipline. We have rejected these views, believing that there should be one scale of pensions applicable to the entire Force; though where a constable is guilty of misconduct, in that case it should be in the discretion of the Local Authority to reduce the pension. As regards the service below 21 years of age, by a sub-section of Clause 29 of the Bill, any existing constable will be entitled to count for the purposes of pension years of service before the age of 21 years, As regards future constables, provision could be made against enlistment before the age of 21 years. The average age of enlistment at the present time is somewhere about 22 years. As regards the two-thirds pension—the 273 maximum amount—it is true that the officers and members of the Metropolitan Force do consider that they ought to reach their maximum after 25 years' service. I submit that that is a point to be argued in Committee, and not upon, the Second Reading. My hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division of Westminster asked whether the Select Committee would be allowed to see the information gathered by the Departmental Committee. I believe it will not be long before that information is in the hands of Members. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green complained that this Bill contained provisions as to the forfeiture of pensions. There is much to be said in favour of the principle that misconduct during active service should be punished at once and for all, and that it should not be complicated by considerations of the future withdrawals of pensions. Different considerations, however, apply to the case of misconduct after the grant of pensions. Some hon. Members have insisted upon mixing up the scale of pensions with the demand for increased pay. Some hon. Members have gone so far as to say that the present force would prefer an immediate increase of pay and not an increase of pensions. Constables who now receive 24s., 27s., and 30s. a week, I believe, demand 27s., 30s., and 35s. a week, with corresponding increases among the upper ranks. From such calculations as I have been able to obtain, that would entail an immediate additional burden of,£130,000 a year on the ratepayers, and an ultimate increase, when the system of promotion, with accompanying higher pay, has reached its full effect, would mean an increase on the rate per £ of no less than 1½d., and that increase would be exclusive of the consequent increase of the future pension charge. I mention these figures in order, as I hope, to steady opinion in this House. Let me say one word on the Committee to which the Bill is to be taken. Here I cannot help remarking that it is well that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby concluded his speech by saying that he wished this Bill to pass the Second Beading, because I noticed that what else he did say about the Bill was in favour of doubts, of hesitation and delay. I was glad to hear his declaration 274 that he does not agree with the demand made yesterday by the right hon Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee. It was only in response to that demand, very strenuously but very recklessly put forward, that it should be referred to a Select Committee that the formal Motion for so referring it was put down in the name of the Home Secretary. I am glad to find that there seems to prevail to-night a general opinion that the demand was hastily made last night, and that, on greater reflection, it need not be treated as being an essential condition of the acceptance of this Bill. I trust that the support this measure has received from both sides of the House this evening may be taken as evidence that the Bill, which accords to the police a moderate provision after a full length of service, is a measure which will do substantial justice as between the members of the Police Force on the one hand, and the purists in matters of economy on the other, and in that spirit I trust it will receive the general acceptance of the House.
§ *MR. STOREY
I have placed a notice on the Paper of an Amendment directed against the principle of this Bill. I intended to have moved this Amendment as soon as I could obtain an opportunity after the Home Secretary had sat down, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby who is practically the author of the main features of this Bill, was extremely desirous that he should be allowed to make his observations immediately after those of the Home Secretary, and in deference to his views I gave way and left the House. I am now, however, extremely desirous of having the opportunity of directing the attention of the House, not to the enormous amount of petty details which have disfigured the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman on the opposite Benches, but to the essential principle which underlies this Bill, a principle against which I must now, as ever, express my extreme dissent. Now, Sir, the Amendment I have put upon the Paper is as follows, namely:—To leave out all the words after the word 'That,' in order to insert the words 'this House is of opinion that the superannuation of the police is altogether a matter for the Local 275 Authorities, and that the only Bound principle on which to carry out a scheme is to pay the men adequate wages so as to enable them, by means of existing benefit societies or of a fund administered and controlled by themselves, to make suitable provision for their own future.'I am well aware, of course, that in moving an Amendment containing principles of utter antagonism to the main principles of this Bill, I necessarily labour under a grievous disadvantage from the fact that the occupants of the two front Benches have laid their heads together and agreed to adopt a particular course. Under such circumstances, an independent Member like myself has no possible chance of securing the support of the House; but it has always been the custom of the House on such occasions to permit a man having the courage of his convictions to state with brevity the grounds on which he holds them, and, for my part, I will endeavour to repay the House for this consideration by being as brief as possible in the observations I have to make. It must be apparent to the Home Secretary that the extreme difficulty of discussing this Bill lies in the fact that we are dealing with the subject from entirely different positions. On the one hand, we have the Metropolitan Police, who are the undoubted servants of Parliament and the country, and who are managed by this House and the Home Secretary. On the other hand, we have the great body of County and Borough Police who are not the direct servants of this House, hat the servants of the Municipal Authorities. This being so, it must be understood that in what I am about to say I cannot deal with the London police and the country police on the same level. It must be evident to any one that if the London police are under the control of this House and the Home Secretary it is the duty of the House to make such provision for their pay and superannuation as the House may think fit. But the point I desire to put is this, that with regard to the great body of the country police they are not, and never have been, the direct servants of the State, and the great objection I make to the proposal of the Government, so far as it relates to them, is that now, for the first time in the history of this question of superannuation, we are to make an entirely new departure. I have no doubt that even the Home Secretary 276 fully realises this fact. This question of superannuation is a serious one to the country. Heretofore superannuation has almost entirely been confined to the direct servants of the country.
§ *MR. STOREY
I will come to the point by and bye. What I say is that there has been no direct superannuation of the police, which has been affirmed and compelled by this House. I admit that there has been superannuation by the local authorities of their own free will, and I say that if there is to be superannuation at all in the future, the rule should be as in the past, the superannuation should depend on the free will and good will of the local authorities of the country. Will the House permit me to ask them to realise what this new departure is? I suppose we are all aware of the enormous amount of money we are already called upon to pay for superannuation purposes in this Kingdom. I have lately been engaged in taking out an enormous sum of figures on this subject, but it is not necessary for my case to enter into any great amount of detail on the subject. I may, however, state that in the year 1837, upwards of fifty years ago, the total amount paid in pensions and superannuations by the people of this country was £5,287,000; twenty years lately, namely in 1857, the total amount payable for such purposes had decreased to £4,340,000, so that during the interval there had been a grateful fall of nearly a million sterling. But in 1877, after the lapse of another period of twenty years, the pension and superannuation list bad risen to £5,148,000, while in 1887, ten years later, and only three years ago, this pension list had increased to £6,784,000 per annum. I ask the House to contemplate this fact. I have made a deduction from the return we get from India and other sources, and I assert that the net pension list of this country at the present moment, without taking into consideration the local pensions granted to the local police, amounts to the enormous total of nearly seven millions sterling per annum. Now it is estimated that a penny in the pound on the Income-Tax produces about two millions sterling, so that we are abso- 277 lutely paying something like a 3d. Income-Tax, in order to pension and superannuate persons who may have served the State. Some of them doubt-loss have served the State and others have not, but at any rate we have an enormous number of persons receiving this money, and doing no service whatever for the Stato. I submit that this is an extremely serious state of things. Still, hitherto these pensions have been paid to the direct servants of the State, and we have not advanced beyond that principle. Now let us examine what it is the right hon. Gentleman wants to do. He not only proposes to compel the payment of pensions to the Metropolitan Police who are in the service of the State, and against which I cannot on my own principle say anything, but he intends also to compel every county and borough authority throughout the country, whether they will or no, whether they think it right or wrong, to pay pensions and superannuations in due course to the members of other police establishments. Now these policemen are not the servants of the State, they are the servants of the municipalities, and therefore the right hon. Gentlemen and his Government with their usual revolutionary instincts—because Conservatives as they call themselves, they have during the four years they have been in power proved to be the most revolutionary Government I have ever seen—are going to advance a stage further, and affirm the principle that it is the right and duty of the State, not only to pension its direct servants, but also to compel the payment of pensions to the servants of the municipalities. How much further will they carry this principle? Does the Tory Government think that when they had once given effect to this principle it will rest there? There are men on this side of the House of very different temper to that of the right hon. gentlemen, and they will probably in the future propose measures which I know will receive strong objection and antagonism from hon. gentlemen opposite. Just as right hon. and hon. gentlemen on those Benches are often able, when we are opposing their measures, to produce from Hansard an authority from our front Bench confirming the views they take, so hon. Members who 278 now sit behind me will be able in the future, when they propose their Socialistic legislation to say that the first Government who ever laid down the principle asserted on this proposal was the Tory Government of Lord Salisbury. How much further, I ask, would the Home Secretary like to carry this principle? He is a man of logic. Suppose he succeeds in pensioning the policemen in the municipalities, on what principle could he object to the pensioning of the elementary school teachers? We know that those ladies and gentlemen have asked for pensions, and the demand is one on which I, for one, do not agree. I think it is an entire mistake on their part, but supposing we say that they are not the direct servants of the State they will at once reply, "Neither are the policemen, but you have assented to the principle of pensioning them, and consequently you cannot refuse to pension us." I cannot understand on what principle the Conservative Party can affirm such a method of dealing with the public money. Surely that Party must have drifted a long way from its old moorings and floated into very strange waters. How, I ask, would the right hon. Gentleman object to a demand for pensions when made by the servants of the Post Office, and the Telegraph Departments. He is, of course, aware that large sections of those two branches of the public service are not entitled to pensions, although certain sections are, and that is a fact which would make it the more difficult for the right hon. Gentleman to refuse the general demand. These people are all the servants of the State, and yet they are not pensioned. Well, there is another class to whom I ask the right hon. Gentleman's attention. I suppose ho thinks there is something special in the case of the police because their work is arduous and their calling dangerous. In fact, I quite agree with the words of the popular opera, "The policeman's lot is not a happy one," and I certainly don't object to their being adequately paid. In my part of the country you will not find a policeman who will deny that I have always been anxious to treat the police force most liberally, but I want the right hon. Gentleman to look at the case of the enormous army of sanitary officers now under the control of 279 the local authorities. What about their pensions? Why, in ray own county, when raging fevers and filthier diseases have taken place, I have known the sanitary officers to wrap people up in blankets and carry them to the hospital, then return and fumigate the places at the risk of their lives. When these men have asked for pensions, as far as I am concerned, I have been compelled, on principle, to return the only answer I ever give to such appeals: "If you receive too little pay, say so, and we will pay you better, but whilst you are earning wages you must make provision for your old age." If policemen are to be pensioned, why not the enormous army of persons who are under the control of our sanitary authorities? If pensions are to be provided for those who are not servants of the State, what answer will be given when a demand is made that there shall be a complete system, under which every workman shall be guaranteed against the dangers of his calling and the weakness and poverty of old age? The Conservative Party will have no answer. It will live as the Conservative party of old Rome lived, by appealing to the cupidity of the working classes, and in the end a sad fate will overtake it. In opposition to this unfair, unworthy, and unjust principle, I lay down the principle that you should consider the whole circumstances of these men in a fair and generous spirit. If you choose to err, err on the side of extravagance, but in the name of all that is good in this country do not commit yourselves to this fatal principle. Pay your policemen well; put them in the position in which your shopkeepers and working men are; in the position I myself occupy. Give to your employ°s as adequate, as fair, as generous a salary as you can afford, and leave it to their common sense and their thrift to provide for themselves. I am appealing to the Conservative party, for in this matter I give up the Liberal Party and its leaders, but not the Radical Party, for there are many good Radicals who would be willing to agree with the Conservative position on this and many other points. Two years ago the Ministry was in favour of decentralisation, and yet now, instead of decentralising, it is going to centralise. How is it the 280 Tory Party has departed from its old principle? I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been in his place, for he is a person one likes to quote. It is always possible to quote a short passage from a speech he made two years ago to show that his opinion formerly was different to what it is now. In 1888 the right hon. Gentleman said "My view is strongly in favour of decentralisation. The whole object of the Government was to decentralise as soon as they could." How are you carrying that out? Instead of decentralising you are going to centralise. Up to two years ago you induced us in the country by the offer of money—first one-third and then one-half—to submit ourselves to your control. You gradually obtained a very substantial control over the whole police forces of the country by offering to the municipal authorities what you knew they would not refuse. You admitted the principle was wrong, however, and you said you would put an end to it. You said you were going to establish in the counties authorities similar to those in the towns, and that when you had created them you were going to trust your own children. How are you fulfilling that high ideal of Conservative statesmanship? You are proposing to restore local grants in another form, and with the grants to restore central control. Under Clause 17 the local police authority is not to receive a grant unless it obtains a certificate from the Home Office inspector, a provision which will necessitate the keeping up of the present army of inspectors.
§ *MR. STOREY
Well, three is an army sometimes, on the stage. Why does the Bill touch counties and boroughs at all? Admitting for the sake of argument that a case can be made out for London, what is the necessity for dealing with the counties and boroughs? Which of them had asked for the Bill? Can he point to a single one that has done so t The Home Secretary does not answer; then I may take it that, as a matter of fact, not a single country authority, nor a single borough authority has asked for the Bill. Does that not demonstrate the truth of my contention? The right hon. Gentleman does not trust the county and borough authorities, and will interfere in 281 a matter that belongs essentially to them. I warn him that he will meddle and muddle. The borough authorities will not, without a protest, permit the right hon. Gentleman to restore the old system of centralisation, though out of deference to the case of London they will not make all the opposition they could at this stage. I warn him that he will have to contend with a great many municipal authorities and a great deal of municipal feeling. The right hon. Gentleman cannot be making his proposal because the funds in the counties and boroughs are deficient. He flourished before the House the fact that there was a large deficiency. I think he said it was a quarter of a million of money. The total deficiency in all the counties of England last year was £28,000, and that was in 17 out of the 44 county divisions. In the county of Durham this year there is no county rate owing to the subventions received, and as the police rate is only 2d there would have been no hardship in the county making up the deficiency in the police superannuation fund. The Borough of Sunderland has a superannuation fund, and has money invested, and it does not want to be troubled by the Home Secretary with either his money or his control. His personal presence, of course, we should welcome amongst us, but if he attempts to interfere with us and treat us as if we were little children, instead of municipal authorities, who quite understand our own districts, and are quite prepared to defray the cost of their management. I warn him that he will make a great mistake. What is the deficiency of the boroughs? The deficiency in the boroughs last year was £153,000. But on looking at the list it will be found that one of the boroughs is London, and that London is responsible for £139,000 of the deficiency, while the other 163 boroughs which possess superannuation funds are only responsible for a total deficiency of £14,000. I submit, therefore, that there is nothing in the financial necessities of the case to require this Bill to be extended either to the counties or boroughs. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary is introducing an evil principle which, by and by, will be bettered by hon. Gentlemen on this side, of the House. I bog to move 282 the Amendment which stands in my name on the Paper.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to insert the words "this House is of opinion that the superannuation of the Police is altogether a matter for the Local Authorities, and that the only sound principle on which to carry out a scheme is to pay the men adequate wages, so as to enable them, by means of existing benefit societies or of a fund administered and controlled by themselves, to make suitable provision for their own future. "—(Mr. Storey,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ *(10.18.) MR. WHARTON (York, W. R. Ripon)
I am glad to be able to follow the hon. Member, as he has made allusion to the county of Durham. It may be satisfactory to him to know that Durham stands in a better position with regard to superannuation than any county in England. But the county of Durham, together with other counties, has for some time past been breaking the law, and this of itself is sufficient justification for the Bill before the House. The hon. Member for Sunderland objects to pensions, and so indeed did I; but when a system of pensioning has been going on for years it would be very difficult to abolish it. You have to deal with things as you find them, and if you attempt to do away with the system of pensions the present disaffection, as it is called, would soon, I am afraid, become actual revolt.
§ *MR. STOREY
I should have limited myself. I don't at all propose that there should be any change in the present system as applied to existing policemen. I would do away with pensions in the case of future enlistments.
§ *MR. WHARTON
It seems to me it would be difficult, if not altogether impossible, to maintain a force half of which could look forward to pensions and half of which could not. The hon. Member contends that pensions, if given to the police, ought to be equally given to every other class of public servants; bat the peculiarly arduous, difficult, and dangerous duties of policemen place them on a different footing entirely. It is on that ground that I feel the superanua- 283 tion of policemen is more justifiable than the superannuation of any other class of public servants.
§ *MR. WHARTON
I do not imagine that they are public servants. They are the servants of either private individuals or companies and cannot in any way be compared to policemen. My hon. Friend said this was a revolutionary scheme of a revolutionary Government; but I fear he could not have been in the House when the right hon. Member for Derby acknowledged that this measure was on all fours with one introduced by himself, and also by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton. I believe the present Bill to be an excellent one, and I therefore give those right hon. Gentlemen credit for it as the Home Secretary did in the course of his speech. If, therefore, there be revolution in the Bill, the blame attaches to both sides of the House. So much for the speech of the hon. Member opposite. With regard to the Bill itself, let me say that I welcome it most sincerely, having had much to do with the police for many years, and I hope that it will prove the final settlement of a question which has been deferred too long. I do not blame any individual or any Government for not settling it, for we know pretty well what difficulty there is in bringing these matters, to a final and satisfactory conclusion. But I do hope and trust that in this matter which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has most truly said is in no way to be regarded as 'a party matter, the House will bestow its attention upon this Bill so as to perfect it and make it a real and final settlement, satisfactory to the ratepayers and to the police in the counties and boroughs as well as in the metropolis. As to what should happen if the Bill passes the second reading to-night, I myself deprecate delay. I agree with what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, that the Bill will pass with greater celerity and satisfaction if it is dealt with in the ordinary way by a Committee of the Whole House than if it is sent either to a Grand Committee or a Select Committee. I am sure from the way the Bill has 284 been received in the House, the hon. Gentlemen who take an interest in the matter will give it their careful attention, and will not unduly prolong their speeches, and that being so, it seems to me that it will be more satisfactory to the police if the details are considered in Committee of the Whole House. As to the police force itself, I believe some hon. Members hold that the policemen are a very highly-paid class of men; but I would point out that although they are not skilled they have two special qualifications—they must be men at good physique, and of a reliable character. For such a man we must be prepared to pay a good price. No one could have, heard the figures given to the House by the Home Secretary in introducing the-Bill without feeling that the policeman's-life is indeed a hard one, because, though we know that his life is a somewhat surer one, so far as health is concerned, than it used to be, we know that so arduous is his work that after 25 years he generally ceases to be fit for active duty. The police stand on a different footing to other classes of working men, and it is with that in view that I say that they have a right to be treated differently in the matter of pensions.
§ (10.29.) MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
I listened with the greatest, interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Sunderland, and appreciated the distinction he drew between the police of the metropolis and the police of the rest of the country. In regard to the metropolis, the responsibility for the police, both as to pay and pensions, rests on this House. The House cannot shirk the responsibility by saying that it is a matter for the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary for the time being no doubt is the responsible Minister, or Chief Executive Officer, but the House itself is the Watch Committee for London, and the House must bear the whole responsibility. We have had inducements held out to London police with regard to superannuation, and naturally the men have looked forward to the time when a Bill would be brought in that would give them the superannuation promised to them. I think with the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) that the 285 first step you should take should be to deal not so much with the question of superannuation as with that of wages. I say distinctly that you cannot divorce the question of the pay of the Metropolitan Police from that of their superannuation. I quite endorse the remark made by the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Home Department in his criticism of the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Howard Vincent), namely, that the hon. Member was not dealing with the question from the point of view of a man in the ranks, but was simply holding a brief for the superior officers in the Metropolitan Police force, whose remuneration is very fair indeed under the present scale.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS
I withdraw the word "brief," but I will say that the whole of the hon. Member's argument was that which was given in the memorandum sent to us by the superintendents, and that which from our personal knowledge we know to be used by them. Well, I say you cannot shirk the question whether you are prepared to place the men in a better position with regard to wages. If the question be considered outside the scope of debate, I would ask the Home Secretary why it is that in the memorandum, in which the details of the Bill are so explicitly stated, the pay of the members of the Metropolitan force is given and compared with the rate of pay in the City of London force. If that is not put there as part of the subject, why is it presented with the memorandum? We have been told that some enormous figures would be necessary to meet any increased remuneration. Last week the Government were asked what was to become of the £149,000 now charged for superannuation, when in place of it they are going to get £150,000 out of local taxation. They were asked whether the £150,000 would be absorbed by the thousand additional men added to the force, and I hope the representatives of the Home Office will give us some information on that point. I have been given to understand that what the vast majority of the members of the force are most anxious about is the question of remuneration. They think, and there is a 286 great deal of argument on their side, that they who are outside the City are entitled to the same remuneration as the-men inside the City get. They are more-concerned on this point than on receiving two-thirds or three-fifths of their pay in the shape of superannuation. The argument advanced by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Durham (Mr. Wharton) came with very bad taste from the representative of a democratic; constituency, or a constituency in which the vast majority of the men are trade unionists. The hon. and learned member told us that the police of London were engaging in an agitation for which there was no just or sufficient cause, and he added that some one connected with the force had told him that as many men could be got as were required for the service. He concluded, I suppose, that because plenty of men could be got the wages paid are sufficiently good. I appeal to my hon. friends who have had to do with labour agitations 8s to whether, whenever they have engaged in agitation, they have not been told, "If you don't like to take the wages offered, we can get plenty of men to do the work." But what I wish to emphasise is that we London Members support the Bill because you have promised the police a system of superannuation. But, at the same time, we think that the question of a proper remuneration is more important than superannuation. We think at great deal more good would be done to the men by inquiring into their grievances with regard to wages, and making superannuation a secondary consideration.
§ (10.40.) MR. ISAACSON
I listened to the clear and explicit exposition of the Bill by the Home Secretary with a great deal of pleasure, and I was also pleased to listen to the very interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt). It appeared to me that the only fault the right-hon. Gentleman found with the Government was that they have not taken sufficient pains to get proper information from the country as to whether they liked the Bill or not. Now I think the Government are very much indebted to three hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite—the hon. Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Pickersgill), the hon. Member 287 for Sunderland (Mr. Storey), and the hon. and learned Member for Durham (Mr. Atherley-Jones). All those hon. Gentlemen have advocated an increase of wage instead of superannuation. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green pointed out that the pension which the Government proposed to give to the police would only make a difference of 8d. per week in the men's wages, and in the same breath he pointed out that if the Government would only listen to advice and increase the wages, the police would receive 2s. 3d. per week extra. The hon Members for Sunderland and Durham pointed out that the Government should increase the wages of the men in preference to giving them superannuation. These hon. Gentlemen have certainly proved themselves good friends of the Government. Hon. Gentlemen are always preaching economy, yet they advise increase of pay instead of superannuation. It is quite clear that superannuation will do more to keep down the rates than increase of pay. It has been said that the wear and tear of the London police is much greater than that of the police of the City or in the counties. I feel convinced that if the Home Secretary would only alter the time of entering the Service from 18 and 19 to 21 years of age, much good would result. It is difficult to get the class of men required for the Metropolitan Police. There are many applicants, but we must bear in mind that there are many openings in our colonies and elsewhere where good men can find employment even better than in the Metropolitan Police Force. I admire the Metropolitan Police as a body more than any body of men in the country. I remember asking a few years ago a German statesman what struck him most in London, and his reply was, "Your magnificent police." I really think that when we have such a fine body of men we should not begrudge them the small sum necessary to provide them with superannuation. I feel certain that no inhabitant of London will object to pay the very slight increase in the rate which will be necessary in order to find the money for this superannuation. I only hope that the Bill will be satisfactory to the police and to the country, that the police will settle down to their 288 old form of obedience, and that we shall hear nothing more of meetings of inspectors or sergeants or any other portion of the force.
§ (10 48.) MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, West)
I do not intend to enter into the details of the Bill, but as a London Member I must express some regret that the idea of referring this Bill to a Select Committee has been abandoned. I wish to see a peaceful settlement of this question, and I feel that as regards London such a settlement would have been brought about more certainly if the police had an opportunity of themselves stating their case before a Select Committee of the House. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) has shown very clearly and forcibly that the Metropolitan Police and the country Police are entirely distinct. Unfortunately in London we have no control over our police, and if this Bill is not to be referred to a Select Committee, I appeal to the Home Secretary to use his influence with the authorities to see that the police have an opportunity of meeting together in their own districts and discussing the details of the Measure, and of placing their views before their representatives and the country. During the last few days the idea has prevailed that under the new Commissioner of Police, the voices of the men had been stifled. I hope that will not be the case. I am sure it would be against the interests of the police and the people of London if such a state of things prevailed. I am glad that the question of superannuation is to be put before the police in a more satisfactory form than it was thought a few days ago it would be put, but I repeat what I said the other night that I do not see why the Metropolitan Police should not be as well paid as the City Police.
§ *(10.52.) MR. S. HOARE (Norwich)
I think some inconvenience has arisen in this Debate from the fact that of necessity the question of the condition of the Police Force in London has occupied a very prominent position. As the representative of a large borough, I think it is only my duty to express my thanks to the Home Secretary for the introduction of this Bill. Praise has been given to the Metropolitan Police, and I think they most richly deserve it; but at the same 289 time it is only right we should give some praise to our great police forces in our counties find boroughs. I am perfectly conscious of the arduous work which the Metropolitan Police do, but I cannot admit that the work which our County and Borough Police do is necessarily of an easy kind. They have night work in lonely limes, they have heavy work in our towns, and they perform their duties satisfactorily and well. I therefore hope nothing will be done to alter the position of the police in the country as compared with that of the Metropolitan Police. Our County and Borough Police would feel it very much if they were treated in this House in a loss considerate way to the Metropolitan Police. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) asked the Home Secretary if he had made sufficient inquiries in the various localities before the introduction of the Bill. I may say that I at once forwarded copies of the Bill to my constituency. I forwarded copies to the corporation, the chief constable, and to the constables of Norwich, and I have every reason to believe they welcome the introduction of the measure. Let me add one word as to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Essex (Sir H. Selwin-Ibbetson), who seemed to suggest that it is desirable to have a varying scale according to merits of the officers in the various places. I trust we shall have a fixed scale. What the police want is to know, when they enter the force, exactly what their position is. They wish that their pension should be fixed; and if it is desirable for them to know how they stand, it is desirable that the County Councils, to one of which I have the honour to belong, should not have these questions ever coming up before them. I hope the pension will not only be fixed, and I should be glad if the Home Secretary could bring it up to two-thirds. In some districts it is already two-thirds, and it will be a great disappointment to the police officers in many places to find that the pensions they are to receive under the Bill will be less than their predecessors have received.
§ *(11.0) MR. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM
I notice just that difference of opinion among hon. Members opposite that makes the life of 290 debate. The hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Isaacson) has assured us that the Bill will be of the greatest possible use in relieving metropolitan rates, whereas the Home Secretary, who, I presume, understands the scope of the Government Bill better than his followers behind him, assured us, with equal earnestness, he was afraid that the Bill would ultimately put upon the rates a charge of £200,000. However, that may be ultimately or presently, I take leave to congratulate the Government on their novel position. With a substantial majority behind them, at last they have found a Bill which there seems to be some possibility of their being able to pass into law. The very novelty of the position must strike the House with great force in face of two remarkable examples of infructuous legislation. As to the Bill itself, I have to congratulate the police upon their case being taken up at last. Superannuation has long been in the air, but it is somewhat remarkable that this great consensus of opinion, as I suppose we must call it, should manifest itself concurrently with the agitation and dissatisfaction which have recently appeared among members of the force. I notice a remarkable change has "come over the spirit of the dream" of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Whereas last week, in discussion upon police matters, hon. Members one after another rose to deny the fact that any such thing as dissatisfaction existed among the police, to-night we have assurances repeated that this most reasonable measure of the Government is produced in order to satisfy the legitimate aspirations of the Metropolitan police force. Now, I do thoroughly like a good contradiction, especially when it comes on the heels of an opinion expressed with such force a short time ago. It must show the country the extreme steadiness of opinion that prevails in this legislative chamber. However, I do not think we should have heard much of the Bill but for two circumstances. One circumstance is the fact of dissatisfaction, amounting almost to revolt, being observed among the Metropolitan Police force. It is a very serious thing when you have the police force of a large city in a state of semi-insurrection—though I do not believe disaffection had gone so far as that in this 291 city—bat the very remarkable development of opinion on all sides in the House is due largely to the fact that members are aware, that doctrines are becoming extensively spread among classes of the population that we who assume to legislate for them live on their labour and exploit them, and that being so, it is much more convenient and satisfactory to have a well-affected and contented police force to suppress the meetings and other constitutional rights of the working classes, than to be obliged to resort, as most Foreign Governments are, to that power upon which our civilisation is based, the Maxim gun and military force. Another circumstance that has largely assisted to bring this question to the front is the dissatisfaction undoubtedly existing among the superior officers of the Metropolitan Police force. I do not hold the opinion, and I do not think many sensible men do, that a policeman is worn out after twenty-five years' service. There are large sections of men among the working classes who work far harder all their lives. The hon. Member whom I ventured to interrupt, I hope not with discourtesy, during his speech drew our attention to the fact that the occupation of gas-stokers is a far more arduous one than that of police-constables in London, and hitherto, so far as I am aware, there has been no proposition that Government gas stokers shall participate in any pension scheme whatever. What, therefore, does this point to? To the fact that among the superior officers of the Metropolitan Police force undoubtedly pensions are far more valuable than any rise in the rate of pay is likely to be, because the sympathy of many members is far more with the officers than with the rank and file of the Metropolitan Police force that this question has been pressed to the front. We have had from the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) a speech, so admirable, that if I had not totally disagreed with it from beginning to end I should have been forced to say it was one of the best speeches I have ever listened to in this House. I know he will allow me to thank him while criticising that speech in a courteous spirit for the very able argument he has laid down for us who are called Socialists, who are a much larger body in the 292 country than in the House of Commons, and for our lines of procedure on future occasions. I do not think any argument advanced by the hon. Member for Sunderland would be rejected by those of us who hold more advanced opinions than he does of me, were I in a position to propose a pension scheme for men engaged in far more arduous occupations than police constables. There was a remark or two that fell from the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Atherley-Jones) which I feel, in duty to myself and my constituents, I cannot allow to pass without a word. That hon. Member represents a constituency composed almost entirely of Trade Unionists, men occupied in the most arduous labour, and yet knowing that he represents men who hold opinions the very opposite to those he has expressed here, the hon. Member has had the audacity—I can use no other word—to lay down a theory which, if carried out in legislative sanction, would reduce his constituents to a condition very little better than absolute slavery. It is, I regret, too true that the Government could find thousands of men at any moment to replace the Metropolitan Police force; but this is because wages are so low generally, and I therefore hail with considerable satisfaction the proposition of the Government, which will undoubtedly tend to one thing, that is, to raise the social condition, the rate of wages, the condition of life of the Metropolitan Police. Personally, while not attaching so much importance to a scheme of superannuation as to the question of an increase in wages, I shall cordially support the proposal of the Government, because I think it opens a door, if only to a small extent, whereby the police force, as working men, may participate in the undoubtedly improved prospects enjoyed by the rest of the working-classes in the Kingdom.
§ *(11.10.) MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)
I think that with the exception of the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for Derby and the hon. Member for Durham, we agree that the claims of the Metropolitan Police should be treated separately from those of the provincial police. Nothing in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) astonished me more than that, with his experience, 293 he should claim for the rural ogbery Dr the same treatment as for the Metropolitan Police. The duties are very different; there is no analogy in the conditions of service. As a Metropolitan Member, I thank the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) for excepting the Metropolitan Police from the scope of his objections to the Bill. Now as to the question what is to be done with the Bill when it passes second reading, there seem to be three courses open to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, or a Grand Committee, or to discuss it in Committe of the whole House. There is much to be said for a Select Committee, and it would enable the police to state their own case. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Harcourt) says we ought to take our information from the Government, but I am not quite sure that the Government on this subject is anything else than a conduit-pipe for the views of the superior officers of the police. I am afraid in this matter the Government represent the opinion, not of the rank and file of the force, but of the superior officers, and if only as giving the rank and file the opportunity of expressing their views there is much to be said in favour of a Select Committee. But there is an insuperable objection, I think, to a Select Committee that quite outweighs the advantages, it being agreed that expedition is desirable; if the Bill is referred to a Select Committee it has afterwards to pass through a Committee of the whole House, two Committee stages, in fact, and, to my mind, this is an insuperable objection. Then the Bill might be referred to a Grand Committee, but I would point out that the Grand Committee sits only twice a week from twelve o'clock to three, that it does not continue while the House is sitting. So on the whole, and with the view of expediting the Bill, quite the best thing we can do is to pass the Bill through Committee of the whole House. With regard to the scale of pensions, the two-thirds rate or three-fifths rate, those of us who represent London constituencies are in rather a tight place; we are "between the devil and the deep sea," between the ratepayers on the one hand and an army of 15,000 gentlemen in blue on the other. We could be happy with either "were 294 t'other fair charmer away," but it requires some diplomacy to be happy with both. So far as I can see, the feeling of the ratepayers is, "The police are guardians of our homes and property, therefore let the police be contented and well paid, even though the heavens should fall or the rates rise." I think the ordinary ratepayer would rather spend a little more in securing the contentment and happiness of the Police Force, and a little less in ministering to the reckless ambition of the School Board and County Council. It is quite true that a Select Committee sat in 1877, and reported distinctly against the two-thirds scale of pensions after 25 years' service, and in favour of the three-fifths scale proposed in the Bill, but I think it ought not to be furgotten that the conditions of 1877 were very different to those of 1890. 1887 was the pro-procession era. Since 1877 we have had the growth of these monster demonstrations and processions, which have added enormously to the work of the police. I hope it may be possible in Committee to arrange a scale that will give the men two-thirds pensions after 25 years' service. I know it is a matter of some difficulty, but I think it may be arranged in Committee, and I hope it may be done. I quite agree that party capital should not be attempted to be made out of the condition of a great branch of the Public Service, and I am happy to observe that no one has attempted it, for it is a dangerous practice. I trust we shall do our best to see justice done to the police,—a body of men whom it is superfluous to praise, but whom it is necessary to pay with reference to the rising scale of wages in other occupations.
§ (11.18). SIR G. CAMPBELL
I never liked the Bill, and after hearing the speeches of the Home Secretary and the Under Secretary I hate it. The Secretary of State made a strong case in favour of the Bill, but still as if he did not like it; the Under Secretary 8 poke, con amore, as if he did like it. I have heard the provisions of the Bill ably discussed, but I think the principle is objectionable, and I mean to vote against it. At the same time, I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey), and I do think it 295 desirable in the interest of the public service that there should be a just and reasonable system for establishing a superannuation fund, but on a fair principle, not the principle upon which this Bill is founded. The Times the other day quoted me as having said at the end of the debate that "the Home Secretary, of all people in the world, had entered on a mad career of excessive and extravagant superannuation." Now, I did not mean that as a mere figure of speech; I meant it sincerely, and my impression has been confirmed. The right hon. Gentleman has told us he has reason to believe that the superannuation of the Metropolitan Police will mount up to £400,000, and in Scotland to £120,000. That means 40 per cent, of the cost of the pay of the efficient police, the cost of the police in Scotland being £500,000, and I say this is a grossly extravagant proposal to force upon the country. The Home Secretary has not repeated the figures he gave us the other night; perhaps he does not want to alarm us, and waits to get the Bill passed; but he did, in vague and indefinite terms, give vent to an alarming prediction, although he did not give us the actual figures. We had the figures put before us the other night to show that in counties and boroughs in England, where we have police superannuation in existence managed by local authorities, there is nothing like this extravagant expenditure. If these local bodies have been enabled to manage their affairs without objection at a moderate cost, why should the Home Secretary, by this compulsory Bill, impose upon them this enormously excessive scheme? I object to the principle which appears in the very first words of the Bill, that every constable shall be entitled to this advantage even though he does not provide a medical certificate and though local authorities do submit it. This is the principle in the preamble, and this I oppose. It seems to me the Bill has for its object the creation of that great evil, a vested interest, a right of every policeman to a pension. I think that a pension ought to be a reward for services willingly given by local authorities to their servants, and not a vested interest to be enforced by courts of law. We have heard much of vested interests lately, and the 296 Government have been forced to give up their project for creating a vested interest for another class. There are policemen who have never paid into a superannuation fund, have never contracted for it in their conditions of service, and have no right to it, and yet, the day after this Bill passes, they will have a right to to enforce their vested interest in the system created. We are somewhat sensitive on this subject in Scotland, we have had examples of the evil of creating vested interests, we had an example in the vested rights of schoolmasters, and I appeal to any Scotch Member whether this system of vested rights does not stick in the nostrils of every Scotch Member, and, I may say, every Scotchman. Under this Bill a local authority can get rid of a non-efficient policeman only by the payment of an exorbitant pension. The Bill goes so far as to declare that if a policeman is dismissed for the gravest fault, or for drunkenness and non-efficiency, forthwith he may claim a large pension. I totally object to these rights. In my view the object of a superannuation fund should not be to confer vested rights, but that old servants should not be turned adrift without provision, that the authorities may get rid of an old servant in the public interest, but that he should not be turned out to starve. I protest against going beyond that with a system that gives a man not exhausted, not invalided, but in the prime of life, the right to leave the service with a large pension. It would not be so bad if there were a high limit of age, but here is an entirely new departure, and no age limit being fixed, a man may retire in the prime of his powers. Employers of labour, of course, will be glad to get such men, and there will be many such, for, as we have heard that under the regime of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby very young men entered the service. I know I am an instance of one who retired from active service after twenty-five years, with an annuity, but that was service in India, and, under then existing circumstances, service a good deal harder than any in the Metropolitan Police. It was among the conditions offered to induce men to serve in India, but even then I admit it is injurious to the service to permit men to retire at a 297 comparatively early age. I remember once being in conversation with an eminent native counsel, and he said, "I can understand your administration in India is wise and good, but one thing I cannot understand, and that is when men have arrived at a period of service when their experience is most valuable you pension them off at a comparatively early age." What proved an inconvenience in India will, no doubt, become an abuse in London, and the result will be that you will get rid of the cream of your Force and be left with the dross. You will have a bad bargain; you will have an emasculated Police Force. Possibly, if this new arrangement were to be applied to the men only, there might be something said in its favour, for no doubt many of the constables are pretty well done for after they have served 25 years; but, unfortunately, it will equally apply to the officers, who are combining to extort from the Goverment and the country these excessive pensions. I think they should be strenuously resisted. The Home Secretary not only proposes to concede as much as the City Police get, but a great deal more, for the City pensions are given upon the average pay of the whole period of service, and that is a different thing to a pension given on the highest pay drawn. This is a most extravagant proposal. Again, the officers are not the men who get worn out with night duty and by exposure to all kinds of inclement weather. These proposed pensions are greatly in excess of what are paid to other classes of civil servants. I am in favour of giving the police more liberal rates of payment; they should be paid rather over than under market rates, and then it would suffice to have a moderate superannuation fund for disabled men. But you are creating for the police extravagant vested interests which will make them your masters instead of your servants. I dislike the compulsory power of this Bill; I object to the local authorities being forced to superannuate their police on a given scale whether they like it or not. I hope the Bill be largely modified in Committee.
§ *(11.37.) MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
I do not wish to interpose many minutes between the House and the division, but I think it 298 desirable that some member of the Government should get up and tell us frankly to what committee it is intended to refer this Bill when the second reading has been obtained. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Derby, has strongly urged them to reconsider the decision to refer it to a Select Committee, and to send it before a Committee of the whole House, seeing it is of vital importance. It is a complete innovation of Parliamentary practice, because it proposes to pension or superannuate workmen not directly in the employ of the State. That is a very dangerous principle indeed, but now that it has been made by the Constitutional party I suppose it is the proper thing to do. The Government are sowing the wind, and they will reap the whirlwind. I cannot forget that there is another Bill before the House in charge of a private Member which extends the same principle in the direction of giving pensions to miners in Scotland, but this indicates the nature of the proposals in the wind at the present time. I think the importance of this proposal is so great that we should have some expression of opinion from the Government as to what kind of Committee they are going to have.
§ *(11.40.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
I have no hesitation in replying to the challenge of the hon. Member. The Government believed that the proposal to refer the Bill to a Select Committee was desired by all parties in the House, as it had been urged from the opposite bench, and by hon. Members interested in the question. All that the Government desire is that the question shall be carefully and thoroughly examined. The debate has shown that on the whole it would not be desirable to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. The Government therefore propose to place the Committee on Tuesday, and consider whether it will be better that the Committee should be taken in the whole House, or whether there should be a reference to a Standing Committee. The House will have an opportunity of considering that question. The Government have not decided it in their own mind, and leave it open. I hope now that the House will be prepared to give a 299 verdict on the motion of the hon. Member for Sunderland and allow the Bill to be read a second time. I believe that the matter is one which ought to be dealt with in the words of the right hon. gentleman opposite as rapidly as is consistent with full consideration of all the important questions involved in it.
§ (11.42.) SIR W. HARCOURT
I hope that the House will allow the Bill to be read a second time. With all respect to the hon. Member for Sunderland, there is a general feeling that there should be a measure of superannuation, and if that is so I think the sooner we can get into Committee the better. I agree with the hon. Member for Ripon that a Committee of the whole House would be much better than a Standing Committee. I hope that the Government will come to that conclusion, and I am glad that they have abandoned the idea for a Select Committee. I think that there should be discussion in Committee as to how far latitude is to be given to the Local Authorities in the provinces as to this question of pensions.
§ (11.44.) The House divided:—Ayes 62; Noes 226.—(Div. List, No. 165.)
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ *Mr. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and Committed for Tuesday next.