HC Deb 20 May 1976 vol 911 cc1845-83
Mr. Roy Jenkins

I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 9, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'Prime Minister'.

Mr. Speaker

With this we are taking Government Amendments Nos. 3 and 43.

Mr. Jenkins

The amendment deals with the question of who should be the appointing authority for the Police Complaints Board. I understand that the Committee expressed an almost unanimous lack of confidence in myself as an appropriate appointing authority, but I take no exception to that. I regard the judgment as being institutional rather than personal. There was a feeling that the appointing authority should be a Minister who was somewhat more detached from the police, standing a little further back. At that stage we gave the undertaking that an amendment would be put down proposing an appointing authority other than the Secretary of State.

The Committee discussed the possibility of the Lord Chancellor being the appropriate appointing authority. We have considered that suggestion and I have gone so far as to discuss it with my noble Friend, but he is not enthusiastic about the proposal. On reflection, we do not think that it is appropriate. The Lord Chancellor is concerned only with judicial appointments or certain appointments calling for legal qualifications, and I do not think that this should be regarded as a judicial or legal appointment.

Therefore, we wish to propose to the House, and I hope that the House will accept, that the Prime Minister should be the appropriate authority. That meets in full the undertaking which we gave in Committee. Historically, the Prime Minister has even closer connections with the police than I have. But the objection is ex officio rather than personal, and I do not think that that point is valid even if anyone wishes to press it.

Amendment No. 1 gives the Prime Minister responsibility for appointing members of the board. Amendment No. 3 gives the Prime Minister power to appoint the chairman and the deputy-chairman. Amendment No. 43 gives the Prime Minister power to dismiss board members in the narrow circumstances described in paragraph 3(4) of the Schedule.

The other matter which possibly arises under these amendments is the question of consultations about the appointments. I do not think that these consultations should be statutory. If they are statutory we get near to a right of veto, which the House would not wish to advocate and which would not be right for an independent board. I assure the House that the Government's intention is to have full consultations with the bodies concerned. We hope that we shall establish a board which will command the confidence of those who have to work closely with it on the professional side of the police service.

Sir Bernard Braine

Despite the self-effacing and pleasant manner in which the right hon. Gentleman moved the amendment, I am not at all sure that the House should accept it. I rise to express disappointment at the Government's failure to take the opportunity to demonstrate their concern to secure an utterly independent element in the procedure for investigating complaints. That is surely without precedent in a major Bill such as this. It was agreed by all sides that, whoever appoints the new board, it certainly should not be the Minister designated in the Bill.

Indeed, in keeping with the generally poor presentation of the Bill and the lack of effective consultation in Committee, we did not know who would be the appointing Minister. All we were agreed upon was that the Home Secretary should not have these powers. We are setting up entirely new machinery for investigating complaints against the police, and we are agreed that it should be as independent as we can possibly make it. On that there is no division in the House. But how does one ensure full public confidence in the independence of that machinery and at the same time—we agreed in Committee that this was important—ensure full police confidence that it will be conducted fairly? For these are the key requirements.

One would have thought that the Government, before the Bill was drafted. before it was given a Second Reading, at least before it went into Committee and certainly before it was considered tonight, would have realised how undesirable it would be to appoint a political Minister—the Home Secretary—who is the police authority for the largest police force in the country, comprising one-fifth of the police service. He is also the final appeal authority for a disciplinary offence in the Metropolitan Police.

All this is, of course, no reflection upon the person of the right hon. Gentleman, the present holder of the office. I refer solely to the responsibilities he carries. Moreover, there was no provision in the Bill, as far as I am aware, for him to consult the local authority associations, the police authorities or the police staff associations about whom he appoints. Nor is there such a provision now that it is decided that the appointing officer shall be no less a person than the Prime Minister. It was only in Committee that we secured the promise that the Home Secretary would not appoint to the board any ex-police officers. Presumably this now extends to the Prime Minister.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikado) may recall that in Committee I pointed out that the police service was insisting that not only should no ex-police officers be appointed to the board but that no member of the staff of the board should be an ex-police officer. That in itself is an indication of the desire of the police service that the new machinery should be truly independent from the very beginning. Even now, there is no guarantee of that. Yet while the Home Secretary has conceded the one—I must not trespass on later amendments—he has not conceded the other.

Many of us thought in Committee that there was a simple way out of the difficulty of demonstrating that the board should be as free from political influence as possible. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow, in a notable speech early today, implied correctly that what was important was not the facts themselves but what people believed the facts to be, and that justice not only had to be done but should be seen to be done. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) wanted an ombudsman as the appointing officer. That was an attractive idea which appealed to many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee.

But if the appointing officer has to be a Minister—I do not quarrel with that, nor does the organisation that I represent—it is the Lord Chancellor who is uniquely fitted for the task. He holds together all the diverse but essential elements of the constitution—the legislature, the Executive and the judiciary. In that capacity, he has to maintain the most careful balance. Like all his predecessors in that high office in modern times, the present holder does this with great flair and distinction, as not only the lawyers in this House will recognise.

It is not too much to claim that the Lord Chancellor's office is one of the bastions of liberty, as is the principle of locally-constituted police forces, run at arm's length from the Home Secretary, who must never be allowed to become a Minister of the Interior controlling a national police force. It is the Lord Chancellor who appoints the judges, the magistrates and many tribunals. It is not the Home Secretary and it is most certainly not the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister, indeed, is the most political figure we can envisage. He is a political animal par excellence. I am not talking about the present incumbent any more than I am talking about his predecessor. A politician gets to the top of the greasy pole only by being the most political of political animals.

In one sense the Prime Minister is an improvement on the Home Secretary because of the latter's police responsibilities. To that extent the Prime Minister is a tiny bit more detached, to use the Home Secretary's word, than the Home Secretary himself. But how can we be sure that he or a future Prime Minister will not behave in a political way in appointing the members of the board? I ask that question for one simple reason. Where is the provision in the Bill to impose upon the Prime Minister the duty of consulting the local authorities, which, outside the Metropolitan Police area are the police authorities? Where is the safeguard against the appointment of persons chosen because they are politically acceptable to the Government of the day?

One may say that these dangers are very remote, but, as someone much wiser than I said years ago: Dangers by being despised grow great. We must ensure, therefore, that, in this field above all, there are proper safeguards from the word "go". If the appointing Minister has to be the Prime Minister, we want the safeguards I have mentioned written into the Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman is the most reasonable of men. He has been a humane and efficient Home Secretary and we greatly respect him. Therefore, he must not take amiss anything I am saying in this regard. But I will not take from him, and I suggest that the House should not take from him, the assurance that "Of course, we will take soundings. Of course, there will be verbal consultations and so on." Let me say here and now, on this as on other aspects of the Bill, that the police organisation as a whole—my hon. Friends who represent other parts of the police service can correct me if I am wrong—wants adequate safeguards written into the Bill. It is in the interest of the public, too, that there should be adequate safeguards in the Bill and proper parliamentary control.

I conclude, therefore, by asking for the assurance that it is the intention of the Government to consult the police staff associations and local authority associations about these appointments. Would it not be better, even at this eleventh hour, to give the House an undertaking that in another place an appropriate amendment will be put down to ensure that statutory provision for these consultations will be made?

10.15 p.m.

Mr Maxwell-Hyslop

The objection to having the Prime Minister substituted for the Secretary of State is very similar to the objection to having the Secretary of State himself. Who are the officials who will advise the Prime Minister? They will be the same Home Office officials as advise the Home Secretary, so it is a change in form rather than in reality. That is my real objection. They will be the same officials who advise on the appointment of Her Majesty's inspectors of constabulary and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. It is an in-house job, and it is still an in-house job if it is done by the Prime Minister because he will be advised by exactly the same officials.

We can only break the circle of this being an in-house job by having someone who is used to taking the canon of impartiality in his selection, and that is primarily the Lord Chancellor. He does not just appoint judges from the legal profession. He is also the Minister who appoints magistrates and laymen throughout the country. He is clearly the Officer of State who should appoint the members of a Police Complaints Board. I very much hope that the Government and the Secretary of State, who is visiting the House at the moment, will even at this late hour see fit to withdraw this amendment and give an undertaking that in another place an amendment will be used to substitute the Lord Chancellor for the Home Secretary. That is the appropriate course of action to be taken.

What on earth is gained substituting the Prime Minister for the Home Secretary when the same advisers will advise, those not noted for selection procedures based largely on the concept of impartiality and acceptability. That is not their primary function in the Home Office, but it is the primary function in the Lord Chancellor's department, and that is how we are likely to get acceptability both by the public and by the police rather than by having this in the political gift of Ministers of the Crown. I believe it is agreed on all sides that the Lord Chancellor acknowledges a duty to Parliament which is different in nature from the duty of a political Minister, be he the Secretary of State for the Home Department or the First Lord of the Treasury.

Both the Home Secretary and the First Lord of the Treasury are highly political animals. Were they not, they would not get there. It is not primarily the characteristic of being a highly political animal that elevates a man, or, possibly at some date, a woman, to the office of Lord Chancellor. It is qualities other than those of a conspicuously successful politician.

The present First Lord of the Treasury, who is also Prime Minister by reason of that fact, has a background which, apart from anything else, would disqualify him from making such an appointment. I should have thought that one would not expect an ex-employee of the Police Federation to be the person who appoints the Police Complaints Board, yet that is what the Government are proposing. So it is unsuitable ad hominem, quite apart from being unsuitable in principle.

I hope very much, therefore, that the Secretary of State, instead of leaving the House with the dilemma of whether it should accept an amendment that it does not want because it does not achieve what it does want, or else reject it because it does not want that either, will agree to withdraw the amendment and give an undertaking to substitute in another place an amendment which will have the effect of the Lord Chancellor making these appointments rather than the unsuitable office of Secretary of State for the Home Department or the unsuitable office of First Lord of the Treasury.

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Chingford)

I find myself much in agreement with those of my hon. Friends who have spoken in the debate, particularly following the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop). It is no disrespect to the present Prime Minister to remind the House that he was an adviser to the Police Federation. Some other Prime Minister some day may also have been an adviser to the Police Federation. Even worse, it is possible that one day we may have as Prime Minister a man who has been a police officer. I say "even worse", but I think that that would be a very good background for a Prime Minister—and perhaps even better for a Chief Whip. However, certainly it would be no disqualification from being Prime Minister to have served in the police force.

How bizarre it would be, however, if an ex-policeman were appointing the members of this board, and not only appointing members as an ex-policeman but appointing them to a board of which one of the disqualifications for membership was that of being an ex-policeman. That is a bizarre situation that could arise. It is very unlikely to arise if we decide to accept the good sense in the speeches of my hon. Friends and to make a Law Officer, and particularly the Lord Chancellor, the responsible person for appointments to the board.

After all, it is extremely unlikely—though not, I suppose, impossible—that among all the qualifications and experience of a Lord Chancellor would be that he had been either a policeman or an adviser to the Police Federation. Therefore, we would be treading on much safer ground. The Lord Chancellor also has another great advantage in these matters. He is not a Member of this House. It is important for us to remember that.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, sometimes this House becomes mildly excitable about various things. It becomes mildly excitable on what one would call a short-term basis. The excitement fades away quite quickly. However, in the moment of excitement great harm can be done. I recollect a Minister standing at the Dispatch Box and referring to a High Court judge as a trigger-happy judicial fool. That is not the sort of thing one would expect to happen in the other place. It may be that it is a good thing for these things to be said. It may be that it is a bad thing. That is not a matter that we are discussing, in general terms, this evening. But it underlines what I say. This House is excitable. Sometimes it finds itself trapped into making quick comments of a most injudicious nature about judicial matters. It would be tragic if one day in this House a Prime Minister or even a Leader of the Opposition were trapped by party passions into making comments about the appointment of members to this board which everyone regretted subsequently, as I believe everyone regretted subsequently the remarks which I quoted just now.

It is unlikely that that would happen at the other end of the corridor. That is one of the advantages of the other place. Its Members are generally—

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop


Mr. Tebbit

Not asleep. Many of them, having been here and seen this place at its worst, are perhaps a little more placid when they are reincarnated at the other end of the corridor. So I think that it would be a great advantage if these appointments were made and were likely to be questioned at some time at the other end of the corridor, rather than here.

I also agreed with my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton when he said that, if the Prime Minister made these appointments it would be essentially an in-house job. Not only would it be a matter of the same advisers advising, though almost inevitably that would be the case; I think that it is highly likely that some Prime Minister at some time might observe casually to his Home Secretary that he had this little problem of appointments and that the Home Secretary had a lot of experience and knew many of the people involved. In that way, we would be back to the situation, in essence, which the Committee agreed was undesirable. It may be that I am naive about these matters, but I do not believe that it is likely that a Prime Minister would put this point to a Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor, because he is a different animal from those of us who are currently in this House, and certainly a different animal from the sort of man who becomes Prime Minister, would not lightly accept advice from a Prime Minister or even seek it. I think that the House would be wise to think again about this and that the Home Secretary would be wise to reconsider whether he has it right.

I was not a member of the Standing Committee. Perhaps it is remiss of me and of my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton that we did not put down an amendment to make it possible for the House to vote on this issue in a way which would make sense as opposed to a way which would make nonsense by going back to another position which everyone agreed was wrong. The only person who can solve the dilemma is the Secretary of State. He can do it by saying that he will think again and, in their Lordships' calm House—those tranquil waters so rarely disturbed by passion—come back with a better solution than this amendment.

Mr. Sims

This issue is central to the whole Bill. The object of the exercise in which we are engaged is to introduce an independent element into the investigation of complaints against the police. For that reason, the independent aspect is extremely important. It is essential that this board is independent and that it is seen to be independent, and its inde- pendence will be judged on the basis of the people appointed to it and those who make the appointments.

The Government accepted the objections raised in Committee to the proposal that the Secretary of State should make the appointments. I hasten to assure the right hon. Gentleman that, of course, there were no personal grounds for those objections.

The objections were three-fold: first, that the Secretary of State has general responsibility for the police; secondly, that he is the police authority for the Metropolitan Police; and, thirdly, that he is a political figure. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) pointed out, the Prime Minister also is very much a political figure. He is a party politician. None of us would doubt his impartiality in making these appointments, be he the present incumbent or any other. But it is not the view which we in this House hold that matters. What is important is that people outside this House should believe that these appointments are being made impartially. We have to convince the Press, the legal profession, the police, and not least the public at large, especially those members of the public who are likely to make the complaints, that this is an independent board that is independently appointed.

10.30 p.m.

It is fair to say that the present incumbent of the office of Prime Minister is a man not without a background of some political controversy. In the course of our discussions in Committee when we debated whether the Secretary of State for the Home Department should make these appointments, I offered the Committee the sobering prospect that the present Leader of the House might become Home Secretary and might make these appointments. After raising that matter we were faced with the prospect of the same gentleman becoming Prime Minister. I am sure that none of us in the House would doubt that if he did so he would make them impartially, but can we be sure that the country would consider the right hon. Gentleman to be independent of any party bias?

I feel that this is a strong objection. Although I accept that the right hon. Gentleman has moved some way towards meeting the arguments that came forward in Committee, I feel that a number of objections can be laid against the proposal that the Prime Minister should make the appointments. The point has already been made by my hon. Friends that the present incumbent of the office has held a position as adviser for the Police Federation. Then there is the question of whether the Prime Minister would have his own Department and his own staff to advise him, or whether he would not be making Home Office recommendations while wearing another hat.

On all the grounds that I have put forward I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider this matter and give further thought to the suggestion that the Lord Chancellor would be a far more suitable person to make these appointments. He is independent. He is considered throughout the country to be independent and above the party battle. He is the head of the judiciary, and the fact that he appoints magistrates and makes appointments to judicial positions justifies his making these appointments. He is especially well equipped to do so with his experience and the staff that surrounds him.

A formidable case has been put forward by my hon. Friends, and I hope that the Home Secretary will be prepared to give the matter further consideration. Perhaps he will give an undertaking that the general feeling that has come forward this evening will be met at a later stage in the Bill's passage.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I have listened to the debate with interest, but I hope that the House will be prepared to accept the amendments, which are the only ones before it. If it does not do so, it is possible that the Lord Chancellor may show his independence by not moving an amendment in the other place—I am sure that he would be very reluctant not to do so—and we should then be back with the Home Secretary.

I found the contrast between the complete political detachment and judicial nature of noble lords and Lord Chancellors in another place and politicians in this place to be a little idealised in the presentation of some of the remarks that have been made in the debate. Two of the past six Lord Chancellors have been past Home Secretaries, and most of the others have played a considerable part in the House, and often a partisan role. I should not like to lay any excessive claim to calmness and a judicial approach, but I am prepared to say that I am at least as calm as one of the past two Lord Chancellors.

The Prime Minister, whoever he may be, is used to making appointments which are not notably political. The Prime Minister, for example, appoints all the bishops and all the governors of the BBC. There is a whole range of appointments of that kind where the degree of impartiality is not queried.

I shall take note of the arguments that have been put forward. I point out that there was no unanimity in favour of the Lord Chancellor in Committee. I hope that the House will accept the amendments as going a reasonable distance to meet the view that has been put forward.

Sir Bernard Braine

Will the right hon. Geneleman deal with my point about the necessity for statutory consultation?

Mr. Jenkins

I give an undertaking that there will be full consultation. I shall be very disappointed if we do not produce a board which is manifestly independent and commands confidence. I cannot draw a line between statutory consultation and something very near a right of veto. That would go contrary to the other arguments about the totally independent nature of the board which the hon. Gentleman and others put forward so eloquently.

Mr. Whitelaw

Obviously, as the Secretary of State said, the House is in a difficulty. If we were to reject the amendment, we should be back with the Home Secretary again. Personally, I should not object to that. Clearly, that is not the wish of the House, nor of the Committee, as I understand it. As there is no proposal before the House relating to the Lord Chancellor, I must advise my hon. Friends that to vote against the Prime Minister means that we go back to the Home Secretary. If that is what some of my hon. Friends want, they have not expressed it in what they said. On the whole, I think that we must look at this matter on that basis. Before the matter goes to another place, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider whether the Prime Minister, as opposed to the Lord Chancellor, is the right person.

The Home Secretary said that some Lords Chancellors were calmer than others and that others were more political. Who could deny that? We have all had experience of Lords Chancellors of one kind or another. Some of them have been highly political and, in my experience, some have not been the calmest. I think that we must all accept that. Nevertheless, something attaches to the Lord Chancellor's position which is, in substance, rather different from the Prime Minister's position. The Prime Minister inevitably appoints many different people to many different positions. But he is the most highly political figure in the country, because he has been determined to get to, and has got to, that position.

The Lord Chancellor—however political Lords Chancellors may have been in the past and whatever their actions—is regarded as being above politics. But that is not strictly accurate. The Lord Chancellor is a member of the Cabinet and, as such, takes an active part in politics. The suggestion that he is as far removed from politics as some have tried to make out could not, I think, be substantiated, and I do not make that point. On the other hand, he is the head of the judiciary. That makes him not only important, but different from anyone else. Indeed, as he appoints magistrates, and so on, there is a strong argument for considering the Lord Chancellor.

I understand all that the right hon. Gentleman said about the case for the Prime Minister, but I think that there is a stronger case in the long run for the Lord Chancellor on the simple basis that he is not in the normal run of politics and therefore does not have to express political views.

I should like to follow what the Home Secretary said about certain Lords Chancellors in the past. Those who attain the position of Lord Chancellor—those who have been the most political and those who were not the calmest of people—seem somehow to withdraw from the political battle in a way which surprises us. That they have done that makes the point that perhaps the Lord Chancellor is rather different and can be regarded by the general public as different in kind from the Prime Minister, who is inevitably a very political figure.

Mr. Mikardo

The right hon. Gentleman and others have spoken of the duty of the Lord Chancellor to appoint lay magistrates. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that a very large proportion of these magistrates are chosen on a political basis.

Mr. Whitelaw

There are arguments about that, and I do not wish to pursue them with the hon. Gentleman now. If I do, I shall be accused of deliberately seeking to prolong discussions on the Bill, which is the last thing I want to do.

Sir Bernard Braine

But the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) has raised a very important point. Public and political opinion generally accepts that it is desirable that people of differing political views and allegiances should be appointed to the Bench. The Lord Chancellor sees that a proper balance is kept. This is a perfect example of his impartiality.

Mr. Whitelaw

Obviously, my hon. Friend has answered the point. Far be it from me to add anything to what he has said.

Clearly, the House is in the position that if it tries to reject the amendment, it will go back on what the Committee wanted. The Home Secretary has sought to meet what was said in Committee by proposing the Prime Minister, and it would be churlish of us to reject this. But, in view of the arguments which have been put forward, is it wise that the Prime Minister should be the person responsible? Perhaps the Home Secretary would consider, before the Bill finishes in another place, that perhaps the Lord Chancellor will be the wisest person to have in the end. Perhaps the Lord Chancellor will not like it. Nevertheless there are powerful arguments which suggest that he might be a better person than the Prime Minister. I hope this will be considered very carefully.

Mr. Tebbit

I do not want to overstate the fact that ermine may have the same effect as librium, but if we were to go back to the Home Secretary by voting on this tonight, there might be some noble Lord lively enough to move amendments in another place to put in the Lord Chancellor's name. This would have the advantage that when the Bill came back to this place, we would have a second chance—after considerable thought—to leave in the Lord Chancellor, or to go back to the Home Secretary's recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Whitelaw

I am getting a little confused as to where I am. On the whole, I think that it would be unwise to oppose the amendment at this stage, because, after all, the Home Secretary has sought to meet the views expressed in committee. The House should let this amendment pass, but at the same time should say that when the Bill is passing through another place, the Home Secretary should consider whether it would be right to have second thoughts, and perhaps decide on the Lord Chancellor in the end.

Amendment agreed to.

10.45 p.m.

Dr. Summerskill

I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 1, line 10, at end insert: '(2) The members of the Board shall not include any person who is or has been a constable in any part of the United Kingdom.'

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

With it we may also take Amendment (a) to the proposed amendment, at end insert 'or colonies'.

Dr. Summerskill

During the debate on Second Reading, my right hon. Friend made it clear that serving police officers would not be appointed to the Police Complaints Board. A number of hon. Members in Standing Committee were of the opinion, however, that former service as a police officer should also be a bar to appointment, and this is a view we undertook to consider. We had originally thought that it might be unfortunate if an otherwise suitable candidate were barred from appointment merely because at some time in the past he had served as a police officer, perhaps only for a very short time. But we have established that the Police Federation in particular is strongly of the Committee's general opinion, and this amendment accordingly provides that no serving or former member of a police force in the United Kingdom may be a member of the board.

The exclusion is comprehensive. It covers not only a member of a police force within the meaning of the Police Act 1964 or a special constable appointed under that Act but also a regular constable and a special constable within the meaning of Section 3(1) of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967, a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and a member of a private constabulary such as the transport police.

Mr. Alison

Will the Under-Secretary comment on Amendment (a) in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths)? Is there any reason why the proviso should not apply to the United Kingdom and Colonies? As an experienced police representative, he has good reason for proposing the amendment. There was an unfortunate case recently of a police officer of one of the colonies having proved unsatisfactory in terms of personal integrity. I will not mention any names. The House will know about this sad colonial case.

Dr. Summerskill

There is a good reason why we cannot accept Amendment (a). The debate in Standing Committee touched on service in police forces abroad, for example, in the Hong Kong police, but it scarcely seemed necessary to make any special provision in this respect. It is obvious that it is service in a United Kingdom police force which would most likely call into question the impartiality of a candidate for membership of the board, and in the event of a candidate presenting himself who had police service abroad the Prime Minister would undoubtedly have regard to the general principle contained in the Government amendment No. 2. It has to be borne in mind, moreover, that service in a police force abroad would differ considerably in conditions and circumstances from police service at home. In addition, the chances are that United Kingdom citizens who had served in police forces abroad would, at some time or another, also have served in a United Kingdom force, and so would fall in any case under the ban imposed by this amendment.

An additional objection to the amendment is that, whatever sympathy we may have with its principle, we have to ask whether it goes far enough. Why ban a former colonial police officer but not one who served in a dominion force? We must also consider police service in independent countries which were formerly British territories, or police service in any foreign country. So, in considering the problem we decided that the line had to be drawn somewhere and that for all practical purposes the line drawn in the Government amendment is the right one. Cases of candidates with police service elsewhere are likely to be rare in practice and could be suitably dealt with if the need arose.

Mr. Beith

Having tabled in Committee an amendment almost identical to that which has now been moved, I thank the Under-Secretary for acceding to the view which was put to her both inside and outside the Committee. It is sometimes difficult for people outside the police service to recognise that there is deep feeling in the police forces that it would be unsatisfactory to have ex-policemen exercising this role. By agreeing to their request she is strengthening the independence of the board in the eyes of the public.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 3 in page 1, line 13, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'Prime Minister'.—[Dr. Summer-skill.]

Mr. Alison

I beg to move Amendment No. 5, in page 2, line 2, at end insert— '(5) Salaries of the Board to be determined by the Secretary of State under paragraph 4 of the Schedule shall in no case exceed £2,400 per annum in respect of part-time members, £4,000 per annum in respect of full time members and in the case of the Chairman of the Board no more than £7,500 per annum'. My hon. Friends and I regard this amendment as one of substance and importance. The terminology of it need not mislead hon. Members. We seek to limit the possible range of salaries of certain of the officers of the board in future, but it is really a device to secure a reasonably comprehensive debate on the cost of the board. It is important to debate that because at this time, as at no other, we need to consider value for money. The Bill as it stands does not provide good value for money.

I must remind the House of how extraordinarily ineffective the new machinery will be, and I shall illustrate that by using some key statistics relating to what will be involved in the new complaints machinery.

I take the complaints in the Metropolitan Police area as the basis of my argument because those complaints represent one-third of the total work load of all complaints. To see the national picture one simply needs to gross up my figures by about three.

In the Metropolitan area in 1975 there were about 4,300 finalised complaints. Taking that as the overall figure, I shall tell the House what happened to those cases, how they were disposed of and what the Police Complaints Board's work load will be. About 1,700 of those 4,300 cases were referred, as possible criminal cases, to the Director of Public Prosecutions. That means that virtually all were ruled out of the ambit of the complaints board. They were thrown out of the window. That leaves about 2,500 prima facie non-criminal cases which might be admissible as cases to be referred to the complaints board. Of that number, only 55—a tiny fraction—resulted in disciplinary charges against an officer by the chief officer.

Why were there so few? The reason is simple. They involved Mrs. Jones complaining that P.C. Bloggins had been rude to her. There was no outside witness, and no disciplinary charge could be preferred. That type of case will make up the vast bulk of the work load of the complaints board.

If the board asks why disciplinary proceedings were not taken, the police will explain that there was no evidence, that it was a knock-for-knock account. In only a few cases will the board say that disciplinary charges should have been preferred. In most cases it will come to the same conclusion as the police.

That is the work load with which our brave new board will have to contend. It will involve a vast churning bureaucracy, a huge amount of extra work and the setting up of a new piece of Civil Service manpower.

We were told when the Bill was published at the beginning of the year that the board would cost £300,000 a year and involve the appointment of one assistant secretary, two legal assistants, two principals and 21 other staff. That was before a year's inflation of 20 per cent, and before the new ceiling on wages and salaries of £4 a week and 2½ per cent. Both the Police Federation and the Association of County Councils were convinced that £300,000 was ludicrously wide of the mark anyway, and that the cost would be at least £1 million—for the transmission of 2,500 cases by post from the Metropolitan Police alone. We gross up that figure by three to obtain the national picture. There will be a flow of cases backwards and forwards just to rubber-stamp a decision that there is no basis for preferring a charge.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr Mikardo) made a fair point in Committee when he said that having one man languishing in prison was worse than having 10 guilty men on the loose. I entirely agree. One innocent man in prison is unacceptable and inexcusable in any society. One can say that to avoid that hazard it is worth spending some money. But there is a corollary on the cost side which applies with equal validity. We have moved into a new era in public expenditure. I shall quote the definitive references in the Public Expenditure White Paper. Paragraph 16 of Part 1 says that the public expenditure programmes for 1977–78 onwards originally forecast in an earlier White Paper have been substantially revised. In this the Government's main aim has been: —first to stabilise the total level of spending on the expenditure programmes for the time being, so that enough resources are available for increased exports and investment; —second, to give priority to expenditure for improving industrial productivity and efficiency, and hence to increase the rate of growth of resources. I go on to quote what I consider to be a key passage in paragraph 17: This means that in all programmes, including the social programmes, very strict tests of priority have had to be applied. The Government's purpose in making these hard decisions was to ensure that the increase in national output in the next three or four years is not appropriated for use in the public sector, but instead is available to put the balance of payments right, to provide for increased productive investment, and to allow a modest rate of increase in private consumption. 11.0 p.m.

It is the aim of the public expenditure programme to hold the programme steady and then to increase the outlay on productive investment. It is that which it will promote. The effect of this in public expenditure is stark. If one looks at the Table 1.2 in the White Paper one finds that between the current financial year, 1976–77, which covers the first year of the Police Complaints Board operation, through, as the Americans say, 1979–80, there is forecast a cut of £4 million in overseas aid, a cut of £114 million in nationalised industries capital expenditure, a cut of £225 million in roads and transport, a cut of £200 million in housing, a cut of £70 million in other environmental services, as they are called, a cut of £240 million in education, and a cut of £33 million in health and personal social services. This means that items in the social budget like, let us say, invalid vehicles and other benefits, health centre development and the upgrading of long-stay wards in mental handicap and mental illness hospitals will all come in for pruning in the interests of restricting resources to provide for export and capital investment.

At this moment of all moments, should we launch into a net increase of public expenditure of at least £1 million to set up an abortive, bureaucratic, time-consuming, irrelevant purposeless piece of bureaucracy, solely to rubber-stamp the decision of the police when there is no case to answer in a trial?

Dr. Summerskill

I am not clear how the hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) brings £1 million into the amendment. It speaks of £7,500, £4,000 and £2,400, but the hon. Member speaks of £1 million in relation to the amendment.

Mr. Alison

The hon. Lady's question leads me to think that she has only just stopped reading her brief and started listening to my speech. I am tempted to start at the beginning again and go right through it. I have told her already—

Mr. Mikardo

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend is right. I submit that the hon. Gentleman is making a speech about whether it is right, at a time when we are restricting public expenditure, to set up a Police Complaints Board at all. That is a Second Reading or Third Reading matter. I put it to you humbly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this is nothing to do with the amendment which the hon. Gentleman is purporting to move.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Frankly, it was in my mind that the hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) was quite wide of the amendment. I think he has covered the point and will not repeat his speech from the beginning.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am always anxious to help but we are in a position of incomes policy and the purpose of my amendment is to make certain that this group of people who are to be lumbered on us will not be exempted from the incomes policy. My hon. Friend is, with respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, entirely in order in having regard to the total financial and economic situation in which we find ourselves.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have allowed the hon. Member for Barkston Ash to pursue his point, but he should get down to the terms of the amendment now.

Mr. Alison

I shall obviously have to stick more closely to the terms of the amendment. If the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow, who is an old hand at these games, wishes me to do so, I can tot up the items and show that they come to much too high a figure in relation to what ought to be spent in this direction.

This is not the moment at which to be launching into expenditure on board salaries of this sort. We ought not to be thinking of spending up to £l million a year when services are being cut in so many other directions.

If we are to cut the money spent on long-stay hospitals for the mentally handicapped—where the walls need painting, and curtains and cupboards need to be provided—we ought not to be spending money in the way proposed in the Bill. I may have common ground to some extent with the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow in this respect. The priorities are wrong. It is more important to go ahead with social expenditure of the sort I have mentioned and to hold back the expenditure which will result from the Bill.

We all agree that justice needs to be done. It must also be seen to be done. It is not a priority objective at the present time that we should sacrifice expenditure in a whole range of crucial social areas in order to set up a board which will please no one, which will not contain the sort of safeguard sought in an earlier new clause, and will simply result in paper-chasing by a lot of new civil servants.

The amendment seeks to put a restraint on the salaries of the board officers. Indeed, it might well deter many of them from accepting office. The Bill is a travesty of the policies of the Government concerning priorities for expenditure. It is for that reason that I have moved the amendment, and I hope the House will accept it.

Mr. Mikardo

As the hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) was good enough to refer in a somewhat commendatory way to some observations I made earlier, it may seem churlish for me to be rude, as I shall be, about his speech. But what he said illustrates perfectly a charge I made earlier, which was resented by the hon Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine).

My charge was that in general hon. Members opposite have paid lip-service throughout the Committee stage and throughout this debate to the desirability of having a Police Complaints Board, but they really do not want it at all. The hon. Member for Barkston Ash said that, as we are now in a situation in which public expenditure is being cut, this is not the time at which to introduce a Bill of this sort. In other words, he was saying that the Bill should be scrapped.

Hon. Members opposite have said over and over again that they are in favour of the Bill. They are in theory but they are not in practice. They want to get married without having to consummate the marriage. Their position has been exposed over and over again. I do not need any lectures from the hon. Member for Barkston Ash about cuts in public expenditure. He and his colleagues supported the Government in their cuts in public expenditure. I did not, and will not. I do not need lectures on that score. But here we are talking not about public expenditure generally but about an amendment which limits the salaries that may be paid to members of the board.

The board is to consist of not fewer than nine members, one of whom will be chairman. Let us not worry about the figure of £l million mentioned. If the hon. Member had confined himself to the subject of the amendment, as you told him to do, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the House would have seen that what he was talking about assumed half the members to be full-time and half part- time. The calculation is one times £7,500. four times £4,000 and four times £2,400. That comes to £33,100—only about 3 per cent. of the £1 million reached by the hon. Gentleman in his flight of fantasy.

If I were not convinced earlier that Conservative Members do not want this board however much they pay lip-service to it, if I were not convinced before that they were being two-faced about the matter, this amendment now convinces me. They know that one cannot recruit people at these salaries.

Where is one to look for these people? What head-hunting organisation is one to employ to find people to give full time to this job—a job that demands an expertise and carries a great deal of responsibility—for £4,000 per year? Looking round the House, I do not think that there are more than about 30 Members who are good enough to undertake the job—and we get a great deal more than £4,000 a year. I do not see how one can attract people better than we are in this House at salaries a great deal less than those paid to hon. Members.

Therefore, I do not think this is a serious amendment. It is a wrecking amendment. It says "We will have a Police Complaints Board, but will put the salaries at a level to make it impossible to recruit members for it." There. fore, it will not be set up and will not happen. Let us forget all the hoo-ha about whether the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary or the Lord Chancellor should appoint. I ask the hon. Member for Barkston Ash where he can find people to do the job for £4,000.

I suggest that the amendment is a bad joke and the Opposition know that it is not a serious amendment. If this matter is pressed to a Division, it would indicate with absolute clarity to the country that every time Opposition Members say that they are in favour of clarity, every time they say that they are in favour of independent police investigation procedures, they are not telling the truth.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

There has been some harmony between the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) and me on the Bill. I am sorry if that harmony is to be at least temporarily disrupted.

I drafted this amendment with the utmost seriousness. I did so because I think that the House should have regard to the situation of constituents. We all know that a very large number of our constituents find it hard to make ends meet. By the time they have met rising expenses, rent, electricity and the rest, many of my constituents have nothing left. They would take it very hard if the House, late at night, set up a new board whose nine members were to be paid very high salaries. If we were convinced that it was indispensable to have these large salaries in order to recruit people, the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow would have a point. But I do not believe it is indispensable.

We want people on the board who are willing to invest a little of their time, not just for the money but because they believe in it. I have deliberately framed the amendment on the assumption that the people who will serve on the board will come from a variety of walks of life and will feel they are contributing something to the public interest. Their salary must recognise the importance of their duties, but it will probably not be the whole of the increment they receive.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

I have been following the hon. Member's argument closely. Would he condemn Cadbury Schweppes Ltd for giving £76,000 to a former director? Is that not the sort of extravagance about which he is complaining?

Mr. Griffiths

Not entirely. Cadbury Schweppes Ltd's salaries are paid from the earnings of a private firm. We are handing out taxpayers' money. There is a great difference between money earned by work and effort and that handed out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who puts his hand into the taxpayer's pocket and takes the money regardless of whether the taxpayer agrees.

Mr. Mikardo

When the Bill is passed and the Prime Minister is making the appointments and looking for people, I am thinking of trespassing on a 50-year friendship with my right hon. Friend and recommending the appointment of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) to the board. Would he accept—at £4,000 a year?

Mr. Griffiths

I would accept for a great deal less, except that my parliamentary duties would preclude me from accepting the appointment. Of course, the Prime Minister must make his own decision.

I did not take part in the previous debate and I do not wish to go back over what was said except to mention that I am never in favour of increasing the patronage of any Minister, including the Prime Minister.

The Government claim that the board will be financed for £300,000. I have told them that is moonshine. There is no chance of it being done inside £300,000. Of that sum, £133,000 will be devoted to salaries. No doubt much of it will go to permanent staff. That is as it should be. But, according to the Minister, the chairmen and members of the board are to receive £96,000 between them. At a time when we are making so many cuts in social services, do hon. Members really believe that a board whose nine members will share £96,000 a year should receive such a high priority? Which hon. Gentleman will say to his constituents that he has tonight agreed to the payment of £96,000 to nine men?

Mr. George Cunningham

I would pay for it by taking the £150,000 of taxpayers' money which we give to the Conservative Opposition to help them to do inadequate research for their work in this Chamber. That would give us enough money and a bit left over.

Mr. Griffiths

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. Having made that proposal, I am sure that he will apply it equally to the funds made available to all parties. I hope, therefore, that he will take up the matter with Ministers on his own Front Bench.

Mr. George Cunningham

I have done so.

Mr. Griffiths

They repudiated the suggestion. The hon. Gentleman has experts on reputation on his own Front Bench. There is no need for me to repudiate it. The £96,000 for salaries for the members of the Board would be entirely acceptable in different circumstances.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow will see on the Notice Paper a later amendment in which we propose that the implementation of the Bill should be postponed for one year. There is no argument that the board is needed and no argument that a proper salary should be paid to those who serve, but in our present national circumstances we should be wise to defer this less-than-indispensable expenditure for some time.

In my relatively small county of Suffolk we have had to meet the Government's demands for reductions in local expenditure. We have been able to achieve a saving roughly comparable to the new expenditure which the Bill generates, of just on £300,000 in this fashion. We have cut expenditure on homes for spastic children. We have saved a good deal by stopping the spastic homes programme. We have saved a little more by cutting our meals on wheels for elderly people living in isolated villages. We have stopped the provision of home helps.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is creating some difficulty for the Chair. Without going into details of what has been done in a district council or county council, it is sufficient to make a passing reference to it. Let us get down to the question of the amount which is stated in the amendment. It is unnecessary to give details of the cuts. There is a smile on the hon. Gentleman's face, but I know that he appreciates what I am saying.

Mr. Griffiths

The smile on my face, Mr. Deputy Speaker, simply shows that when you intervene I respond with gladness.

To provide for these payments to the members of the board there have to be offsetting cuts in public expenditure elsewhere. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made plain that there is to be no overall increase in public expenditure. If there is to be an increase in public expenditure to pay these salaries, there must be a corresponding decrease elsewhere. I am illustrating the cuts which are needed to save the amount to be spent on salaries alone for the members of the board.

The amendment proposes figures which make a good deal of sense in present circumstances and which can be increased in a year's time if we can afford it. For a part-time member, who will not need to attend more than two-and-a-half days a week, I have suggested an emolument of precisely the amount received by a fully-trained constable when he takes up his duties. I think that is perfectly fair. A police constable is expected to risk his life and face up to all the demands of the police service today, whether of terror, crime or demonstration, and for that he receives £2,400 a year. It is perfectly reasonable that a part-time member of the board who, I would hope, is contributing something to the public interest because he believes in it would not demand for his services more than a police constable gets for the full-time duty which he performs. I think that is a reasonable figure in the circumstances. I would like to hear from hon. Gentlemen whether they believe that a part-time member of the board ought in the circumstances, to receive more than a full-time police constable.

Mr. George Cunningham

I am always delighted to oblige the hon. Gentleman. Would he give us more information in respect of police pay? I presume that in making the speech he has made tonight, as well as on other occasions, he very much believes in what he is saying as well as in the public necessity for saying the things he does. Is he not, however, in receipt of a salary in respect of his functions which is paid for out of the contributions of hard-pressed police officers and police constables? In order that we can compare the other salaries he is receiving would the hon. Gentleman care to say how much he is paid at the moment by the Police Federation?

Mr. Griffiths

I shall be delighted to do so. I am receiving precisely what the Prime Minister received when he was the consultant adviser to the Police Federation many years ago. The amount which is provided by the Police Federation for the task which I am glad, statutorily, to perform is substantially less than— [Interruption.] I do not think the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) understands that the federation is a statutory body. It is set up by Act of Parliament and is a statutory body. The amount in question is substantially less than the lowest figure I have suggested in the amendment. I have met the point of the hon. Gentleman totally. I would be happy indeed if those who are prepared to work part-time on the board would accept the same figure.

Mr. George Cunningham

What figure does the hon. Gentleman get?

Mr. Griffiths

I have given the hon. Gentleman the answer I intended to give. This is a matter for the Police Federation.

I will continue, if I may, with the remaining figures that I have proposed. I have suggested that a full-time member should receive a payment of £4,000 per annum. That is perfectly reasonable in present circumstances because it approximates to the figure which is paid to a full-time inspector of the police service. A police inspector has a general duty within his sub-division to deal with all matters of administration, public order, prosecutions and the rest. It is perfectly reasonable to suggest that a full-time member of the board should not, in our present national circumstances, be paid more than an inspector of the British police. In the case of the chairman I have picked a figure which is approximately equal to that of a superintendent of police. I need not elaborate upon that. I have calibrated these figures in respect of the police service itself.

The Government are proposing £96,000 for the nine members of the board. I believe that that is quite excessive. If this were explained to our constituents, I believe that they would accept the further proposition which we on this side of the House are making, that it would be wise to leave it for one year before these proposals were implemented.

11.30 p.m.

If the board would plainly give us value for money, I should have no hesitation in saying that the sums proposed by the Government should be accepted. But, unfortunately, there will be a wide variety of circumstances in which the board will do no more than shuffle paper and achieve precisely no result.

Therefore, we should have regard to the fact that there is a growing tide of opinion which believes that there are far too many people telling other people to mind their own business about the public purse. For that general reason, as well as for the particular ones which my hon. Friends and I have suggested, I hope that the amendment will be pressed and that the Government will accept that this is not the time when another group of people on patronage should receive sums of money vastly in excess of what the majority of our constituents would regard at this time as justified.

Mr. Cryer

The hon. Gentleman has made a point—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) has not given way; he has finished his speech. I think that we should proceed. Did the hon. Gentleman wish to take part in the debate? If so, I shall call him.

Mr. Cryer


Mr. Alison

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It would be very disappointing if the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) were to be deprived of the opportunity to make a speech. It is clear that he is pregnant with important information—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong The hon. Member for Keighley wished to intervene in the speech of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds.

Mr. Tebbit

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) suggested that the Opposition were being two-faced about the Bill. If that is so, I suppose, with the greatest respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) and to the police force, that might not be inappropriate, because the police force, if not two-faced about the Bill, is certainly schizophrenic about it. Many different views are expressed in the police about whether this is a good or a bad Bill. Let the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow not to be too keen to use expressions like "two-faced", because the attitude to the Bill of many of us on this side of the House is one of considerable disquiet.

We have a problem here. I shall not go far into the issue of public expenditure, but we do not know how much money is involved in the Bill. What I am particularly concerned about is the sums dealt with by the amendment. I am concerned about the possibility of a new round of public expenditure, more money for patronage in the hands of the Prime Minister. Some of my hon. Friends recently have been inquiring into the amounts of money available as pat- ronage in the hands of Ministers; they are extraordinarily large. The Bill would increase them, and I do not like that. The amendment would put some limit on them.

If the figures which have been bandied about are correct, the amendment would cut to roughly one-third the sum for this purpose which was suggested by the Under-Secretary of State in Committee—from about £90,000 to about £30,000. Few of us would lightly suggest that we should throw an extra £60,000 into the pot of public expenditure.

I had the same thought come into my mind as was taken up by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow—namely, is this a wrecking amendment? Is it necessary to ask "Are these salaries too little to get full-timers?" They are much too much for anything second rate, and there is no room for second-raters in this job.

It is instructive to compare these sums, which have been dealt with with contempt by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow, with the salaries which are paid to our full-time police officers. With the greatest respect to the hon. Gentleman, if I had to choose between pinning my faith on a police officer or on the hon. Gentleman, I should put my faith in a senior police officer. Indeed, I go further: if I had to choose blind between pulling out the name of a senior police officer in whom to put my trust or pulling out blind the name of an hon. Member, I should probably choose to pick blind a police officer. There are fewer of them that I distrust than hon. Members that I distrust thoroughly.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow has come pretty close to the line in telling us what he thinks of our police force. He says that these salaries are not good enough for those who will poke and pry into whether the police are doing their job properly and shuffle bits of paper, but good enough for members of the police force. I do not agree with that, and neither should any police officer, or senior police officer.

I am worried about the whole concept of paying these people. After all, we are finding ourselves saddled with board after board, race relations experts and sexual discrimination experts—I chose my words carefully. Boards and commissioners are laid one upon another.

There will be increasing numbers of professional full-time recipients of complaints. We know that to justify their salaries and expenses, if they find they are not getting enough work they will go about the countryside saying "Complain more because there is not enough work for us to do." [Interruption.] Labour hon. Members mention personalities. It is not for me to defend names. I should be tempted to call hon. Members something impersonal that in common parlance would be very personal. I am not here to defend any person who sits on any board. I would have away with the whole damned lot of them. I would have away with this lot as well. But if we cannot have away with them, we should ensure that the board is not a burden on public expenditure which cannot be afforded, and which insults our police officers by its members drawing salaries vastly in excess of those of the police officers whose conduct they will be investigating.

Sir Bernard Braine

I intervene briefly to support the amendment in the sense that I think the House is owed an explanation by the Government of the cost of the board and its staff. We are told in the Explanatory Memorandum that the cost in the first year—if complaints escalate, as we expect them to do when the new machinery gets under way, the cost will rise substantially—will be about £300,000. On the basis of the existing rate at which complaints are being made against the police, we calculated, if I remember correctly, that each member of the board would have to handle no fewer than eight and a half cases per day. There is provision for part-time members of the board. Believe it or not, we were told in Committee that some of these people might work at home. So we have the ludicrous possibility of confidential files being taken by part-time members of the board to their homes.

Mr. George Cunningham

Prime Ministers.

Sir B. Braine

I have heard of cases where Prime Ministers have been careless about confidential documents. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to draw me, I will go into more detail than I intended.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I take it that it will be within the ambit of the amendment that we are discussing.

Sir B. Braine

I have been a Member long enough to know that I can remain on my feet only as I am in order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman appreciates the position.

Sir B. Braine

I am glad that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, appreciate my position. In fact, I think that you know me well enought now to appreciate that I never challenge a ruling from the Chair, that I always seek to keep within the rules of order, and that I do not normally rise to my feet to make other than serious remarks. I am engaged, despite the intervention of an hon. Gentleman who sees fit only to come into the Chamber at this late hour, in trying to draw to the attention of the House the difficulty of assessing the proper remuneration.

The burden being placed upon the nine members of the board—whether they be full-time or part-time—will be considerable. The figures suggested in the amendment may be totally inadequate to attract men and women of the right calibre. Indeed, the Prime Minister, who now has this fresh patronage in his hand, may find it difficult enough to appoint to the board people who would be ready to undertake the heavy burden that I have described. That is all the more reason for ensuring that there are statutory safeguards in the Bill to see that the right consultations take place in order that people of adequate quality and capacity are appointed.

It seems almost impossible for the House to make up its mind whether the salaries mentioned in the amendment. or sums of a greater or less amount, are adequate in the absence of any proper knowledge of what the board's total operations will cost. This matter should engage the attention of the House of Commons when there is grave anxiety both here and in the country at large about public expenditure generally.

I hope, therefore, that the Under-Secretary of State, in her reply to the debate, will be able to relate what is sought in the amendment to the realities of the cost of the operations of the board and the need to attract into its service men and women of the right calibre. The absence of adequate information throughout has hampered us in our proper judgment of the Bill. I beg the hon. Lady to be frank with the House and to give us a great deal more information about the cost than has been forthcoming so far. We shall then be able to judge objectively and fairly whether the figures in the amendment are adequate.

11.45 p.m.

Mr. Cryer

I shall be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I do not want to join in the filibuster that the Opposition are putting forward.

Mr. Alison

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it your view that the Opposition have been engaging in a filibuster?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

In my view, Members have been making their contributions in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House.

Mr. Cryer

When hon. Members opposite put forward suggestions that public expenditure and salaries should be cut, we should look at their motives. We do not want people outside to get the impression that they are prepared to advocate low salaries for others but are not prepared to remove themselves from that category or to remove themselves from the patronage which they criticise. It is quite true that they are not within the purview of the Prime Minister's patronage, but the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit), in addition to his parliamentary salary of £5,750 a year, is Associate Editor of the International Aviation Review, Public Affairs Adviser to Digital Equipment Co. Ltd., and Parliamentary Adviser to Walter Judd (P.R.) Ltd.

Mr. Alison

On a point of order. 1 am enjoying the hon. Member's contribution, but I must ask, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether it is in order, on this amendment relating to salaries of members of the board, to read out a long list of extracts from the official Register of Members' Interests?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am sure that the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) will not pursue that line of argument. He has made his point, and I expect he is happy with his contribution.

Mr. Cryer

I would have thought that it was highly relevant.

Mr. Tebbit

I am grateful that my services are considered worth while by so many people. There is another entry to go into the new Register. I am Assistant Director of Information for the National Federation of Building Trades as well. All these people find that my services are valuable. That is in sharp contrast to hon. Members on the other side of the House. They are only tired trade union hacks, who would not be employable outside this House at a decent salary.

Mr. Cryer

Of course I will try to avoid the sort of personal abuse in which the hon. Member is indulging. Members of the Opposition have advocated that salaries should be cut in accordance with their amendment. In our view, the amendment would mean that the job would not attract people who would carry it out in the way we want. Therefore, it is relevant to examine the motives of those who are putting forward this amendment. If their motives are merely an attempt to wreck this section of the Bill, we can vote accordingly. But if their motives spring from a genuine concern about the sort of people on the board, and the salaries they will get, we might alter our votes.

It is quite legitimate to look at the point of view of the sort of people who are advocating only moderate salaries for important positions. If they are saying that other people should do this job at a very low salary, while they are lining their pockets as fast as they can with a number of parliamentary adviserships and directorships in addition to being paid by the taxpayers, whom they purport to defend, to the tune of £5,750 a year plus extras, we have a right to question their motives. When people stand up and advocate that others should not receive high salaries while they are getting untold doubloons, we have a right to say that this seems a little hypocritical.

It seems quite legitimate to point out that the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), in addition to being consultant to the Police Federation, for which he refuses to disclose how much he is paid, is also consultant to Cremer and Warner, Brandts Ltd., Caravans International, and, until September 1975, Felixstowe Dock—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—in addition to which he is a director of Lecalite Ltd., Redman Heenan Ltd., Barber Green Ltd., Natural Gas Tubes Ltd. and Crane Fruehauf (Overseas) Ltd.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I would appeal to the hon. Member to consider whether when he reads out these lists he is not filibustering. I think that he has covered the point sufficiently.

Mr. Mikardo

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If this point is to pursued, let it be seriously pursued. The whole tenor of the speech by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) was that people should be paid what policemen only are paid. It casts some doubt on the validity of his argument if it turns out that he does not practice what he preaches.

Mr. Alison

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope that you will agree that the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) has tapped a rich vein of debate in bringing in the list of Members' interests. I hope that he will pursue the point long enough for my hon. Friends to secure a copy of the Register because there are a number of interesting entries that we should like to read out. I hope that would be in order, because the night is young and we shall have plenty of material to discuss.

Mr. Tebbit

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Tempting as it may be to go through the financial interests of all hon. Members, I am sure that you would not regard that as proper or within the rules of order. Since the remarks by me and my hon. Friends were directed at public expenditure, it is irrelevant to introduce matters of personal income, however welcome I find the advertisements for my much-sought-after talents.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. When 1 referred to the hon. Member for Keighley filibustering I was referring only to the length of the list he was reading from. If we are to work through the whole list we shall be here until the morning on that alone. I hope that he will respond to the general desire to get on with the amendment.

Mr. Cryer

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your advice, which is sensible and soundly-based. It has been worth taking five minutes to expose the dual standards of Conservative Members in claiming to want to save public expenditure. If they had applied their own standards to the Bill they would not have tabled the amendment.

The sooner we can get rid of these outside interests the sooner we shall avoid debates like this and accept amendments based not on hypocrisy but on their true worth.

Dr. Summerskill

My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) went to the heart of the matter when he showed that the amendment would, if carried, seriously jeopardise the chance of a good board. The common factor of all the Conservative speeches was that they were anti-board. The hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) made his favourite speech, his "Clause I shall not stand part of the Bill" speech which he makes at the drop of a hat. We have heard it many times. He does not like the board and therefore he seeks to bring it within the terms of this amendment.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) revealed himself in his last sentence when he said that the board would not be giving value for money. He has already decided that it will not, even though it is not yet set up.

The amendment is being used to make the board less powerful and less influential and to destroy it. The amendment proposes low limits for the importance of the board's work and the responsibility of its members. Apart from that important, fundamental point, it is unprecedented to put the salaries of the chairman and members of a board into any Bill. But I am not saying that precedents should never be set.

The salaries of the members and chairman of the Police Complaints Board will be comparable with those of other public boards such as the Sex Discrimination Board and the Race Relations Board. Such salaries are higher than the figures in the amendment and they are unlikely to be reduced.

To restrict the Police Complaints Board alone to an unnaturally low level of payment would obviously have an adverse effect on our ability to recruit members of the necessary calibre. The Minister for the Civil Service, under the provisions of paragraph 4 of the schedule, must give his consent to the scale of remuneration for board members, and it seems best to leave him to exercise the necessary co-ordination and control over the levels of salaries in the public sector generally. He is already doing that and will continue to do it. I urge my hon. Friends to reject the amendment.

Mr. Aitken

In attacking our amendment the Under-Secretary has used some unfair and extraordinary arguments. She is no less than Lady Bountiful when it comes to handing out taxpayers' money but she is Lady Godiva when she is clothing her arguments in a degree of veracity or respectability.

The point of the amendment is to reduce the rather generous salaries offered to the members of the board from a total of £96,000 to £30,000. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), in the context of looking at the

Division No. 151.] AYES [12 midnight
Aitken, Jonathan Goodhart, Philip Penhaligon, David
Alison, Michael Hastings, Stephen Rees-Davies, W. R.
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Hordern, Peter Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Beith, A. J. Jenkin, Rt Hon P.(Wanst'd & W'df'd) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Benyon, W. Le Marchant, Spencer Sainsbury, Tim
Boscawen, Hon Robert Lester, Jim (Beeston) Sims, Roger
Bottomley, Peter Loveridge, John Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Braine, Sir Bernard Mather, Carol Stradling Thomas, J.
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Tebbit, Norman
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Mayhew, Patrick Townsend, Cyril D.
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Miscampbell, Norman Viggers, Peter
Drayson, Burnaby Moate, Roger Weatherill, Bernard
Eyre, Reginald More, Jasper (Ludlow) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Fisher, Sir Nigel Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Neubert, Michael TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Forman, Nigel Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Mr. Anthony Berry and
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Pattie, Geoffrey Mr. Cecil Parkinson.
Armstrong, Ernest Douglas-Mann, Bruce Mendelson, John
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Dunnett, Jack Mikardo, Ian
Bates, Alf Eadie, Alex Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Bean, R. E. Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Newens, Stanley
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Garrett, John (Norwich S) Noble, Mike
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) George, Bruce Ogden, Eric
Cartwright, John Grant, John (Islington C) Parry, Robert
Clemitson, Ivor Hardy, Peter Pearl, Rt Hon Fred
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Harper, Joseph Pendry, Tom
Cohen, Stanley Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford) Price, William (Rugby)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) John, Brynmor Richardson, Miss Jo
Cryer, Bob Lamond, James Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Rooker, J. W.
Davidson, Arthur McCartney, Hugh Roper, John
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) McElhone, Frank Sedgemore, Brian
Deakins, Eric MacFarquhar, Roderick Selby, Harry
Dormand, J. D. Maclennan, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)

list of Members' interests, becomes a good second to other Members' interests.

Mr. Mikardo

In the first place, that is not true, and, in the second place, I was not saying that people should be paid less than myself.

Mr. Aitken

The hon. Gentleman was saying that salaries of £7,500 and £4,000 a year were contemptuous. He must live in Millionaires' Row. Those salaries are adequate and good for the duties expected. It is perfectly honourable and respectable for a party like mine, which has consistently argued for cuts in public spending, to say that the line should be drawn somewhere, and certainly it should be drawn for a board that will cost over £300,000. One only has to add up salaries, secretarial, postal, office administration and travel costs to find that the figure of £300,000 is a complete fraud. The Minister has not levelled with the House. It is the wrong scheme at the wrong price. There are many cheaper ways of introducing an independent element into the board, including using the Ombudsman or a lay observer.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 47, Noes 64.

Sllkin Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Skinner, Dennis Tinn, James TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Spearing, Nigel Whitehead, Phillip Mr. David Stoddart and
Stallard, A. W. Wise, Mrs Audrey Mr. Ted Graham.
Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Wrigglesworth, Ian.

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I beg to move, That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned.

We have debated a number of the most important amendments and disposed of them. One of the features of the Bill is that it seems possible to make the same speech equally relevantly on every amendment. I think it can be said that we have broken the back of the Bill, but a fair number of amendments remain. After a pause the House may, I feel, be prepared to deal expeditiously with the remaining amendments at a later stage.

Mr. Whitelaw

I am sure that the Home Secretary is right. In view of my past experience in this House, I shall forbear making any further comments on the position as a result of the voting figures we have just had. I think that the House on another occasion could deal expeditiously with the rest of the Bill. I think that the Home Secretary is wise in those circumstances to propose the motion.

Question put and agreed to

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Coinmittee), to be further considered this day.

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