§ 4.38 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (LORD NATHAN)
My Lords, this is a short 13 Bill, but rather technical. Within its limited scope, it is somewhat urgent and important. It relates to the maintenance of police forces overseas and also to those employed on police duties in territories outside this country at the invitation of foreign Governments. The immediate purpose of the Bill is to provide for such forces in the British occupied zones in Germany and in Austria, and also for the Police Mission now in Greece at the invitation of the Greek Government. Your Lordships will be aware that law and order have hitherto been maintained in the British zone in Germany by the British Army of Occupation. They have performed very valuable work in that respect; it is work to which perhaps not very great public attention has been paid, but it is worthy of the greatest commendation. It is felt, however, that the time has now come when we must look forward to the creation of an adequate civilian police force.
With that object in view, it is necessary that measures should be brought into operation whereunder the German police forces in the municipal areas of Germany may be purged and denazified in personnel, methods and outlook, and may be reconstructed and reconstituted so as to be able to function in the British zone in Germany with, we hope, very much the same outlook and by very much the same methods as those which have been perfected over a very long period of years in this country. Consequently, police forces are required in Germany not so much for the purpose of actually performing the duties as of ensuring that the duties are performed, and for creating and instructing a police force drawn from German civilians. So far as the British zone in Germany is concerned, the establishment of the force is, I think, 815. In Austria, where the problem is of a somewhat different nature, and a good deal easier, there is a very small group of eleven as the establishment; and in the mission to Greece there are about fifty. The denazification of the German police forces, and the constitution of new police forces in municipal areas with a modern and, as we hope, British outlook and method, will be undertaken by the force there under the command of Colonel G. H. Holland, who is one of His Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary for England and Wales. The small group in Austria, with a headquarter establish- 14 ment of only eleven persons, is headed by Mr. J. H Nott-Bower, an Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. The Police Mission which is in Greece at the invitation of the Greek Government is under the Command of Lieut.-Colonel Sir Charles Wickham, Inspector-General of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
Putting it shortly, the object of this Bill is to provide for pay, pensions, discipline and in general the maintenance of these forces. The Bill is drawn in general terms, and it may be that at some latter date it may apply over a wider range than that to which I have referred. The clauses of the Bill are of a somewhat technical character. I am entirely at the service of your Lordships, and will naturally go through them it you so desire, but I think that f can put the matter briefly by saying that so far as concerns those who are drawn from police forces in England and Wales, regulations will be made whereunder they will be put in exactly the same position as if their service was maintained in any police force to which they belonged before in England and Wales. They will be entitled to reinstatement, and for the purposes of pension their service overseas will be taken into account. The regulations as to discipline will be based upon the Police Regulations already in force, made by the Home Secretary, so far as England and Wales are concerned. The regulations will be submitted to your Lordships' House as well as to another place, and will be subject to a negative Resolution.
While it is to be expected that the majority of those in these forces will be drawn from police forces in this country, there are others who may come from -the Colonies, and some may come from Northern Ireland. It is expected that the Northern Ireland Government will make arrangements similar to those which I am outlining to your Lordships, and provision will be made by the regulations to which I have referred for their discipline and their obligations and rights, and for their pensions and maintenance, along the same lines as in the case of those drawn from the British police forces. I ought perhaps to mention, and your Lordships will be interested to know, that all those who serve in these forces are volunteers. As I have said, I am very ready to go through the clauses of the Bill in detail 15 if that is desired. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.— (Lord Nathan.)
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, for the third time to-day we find ourselves in general agreement with the Government, and noble Lords on this side of the House wish to give their general support to this small measure. There is, however, one point on which I should like information from the noble Lord. He said in the course of his remarks that this Bill was widely drawn. Oppositions are always suspicious of Bills which are widely drawn. My suspicions were not allayed when the noble Lord said that it was widely drawn because it might apply over a wider field at some future date. I am sure that there is some innocent interpretation of that remark, but I think that we are entitled to ask the noble Lord for it.
§ LORD NATHAN
My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord. The explanation of the phrase, to which he was not unnaturally inclined to give a somewhat sinister interpretation, is really very simple. Just as there has been a Police Mission sent to Greece at the invitation of the Greek Government, so it is possible—who can say?—that some other Governments might ask us to afford facili- 16 ties by sending a Police Mission to their countries. The Bill is sufficiently wide to cover that, and thus avoid the necessity of introducing in each instance a new Bill.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.