[Mr. W. NICHOLSON in the Chair.]
(1) The service of a member of a police force for the purposes of this Act shall be subject to such deductions in respect of sickness, misconduct, or neglect of duty as may be made therefrom in pursuance of any Regulations, affecting the force to which he belongs, not exceeding the period during which he is suspended from duty on account of sickness, misconduct, or neglect of duty, as the case may be; and the expression "approved service" shall for the purposes of this Act mean such service as may after such deductions as aforesaid (if any) be certified by the chief officer of police to have been diligent and faithful service, but shall not include service before attaining the age of twenty years, except in the case of a member of a police force who before attaining that age is incapacitated for the performance of his duty by infirmity of mind or body occasioned by an injury received in the execution of his duty without his own default.
(2) Where a deduction is made from the service of a member of a police force in respect of sickness, misconduct, or neglect of duty, notice of the deduction shall be given to him as soon as may be after the occurrence of the cause for which the deduction is made; and he may appeal to the chief officer of his police force against any act of any superior officer which prevents him from reckoning any period of actual service as approved service, and any period of actual service allowed by the chief officer on such appeal shall be deemed to be aproved service:
Provided that, in the case of a borough having a separate police force, the decision of the chief officer shall be subject to the approval of the watch committee.
Amendment proposed (10th May, 1921): In Sub-section (2), at the end, to add the words 134 "and in the case of a county force the decision of the chief officer shall be subject to the approval of the Standing Joint Committee of the Quarter Sessions and the county council."—[Sir J. Remnant.]
Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
Sir FORTESCUE FLANNERY: I do not wish a prolonged debate on this Amendment, but it is necessary to say a few words. The Amendment is intended to place the constable who is serving in a county force in the same position as regards his pension and his rights as a constable who is serving under a Watch Committee in a borough. I, for one, am not aware of any reason why the police constable in a borough should have the right of appeal from any decision of the chief constable of the borough, while the constable who is serving under a county chief constable should not have the same right of appeal—that is to the committee of the elected body which governs the whole of the particular force of police—in the borough the Watch Committee, and in the county the Standing Joint Committee. The object of the Amendment is simply to give the county police constable the same rights as the Bill proposes to give to the borough police constable. No real reason has been advanced, nor am I aware of the existance of one, against the acceptance of this Amendment. The suggestion has been made that it would affect discipline. If my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary can make any suggestion as to the provision of safeguards on the question of discipline, I would recommend the Committee carefully to consider such suggestion. As the matter stands, and as far as I can appreciate the meaning of the words used in another part of the Bill, this Amendment, if accepted, would go solely to the question of qualification for pension, and nothing else. It would not affect any question allied to discipline. I hope my hon. Friend will accept this on behalf of the Government.
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir John Baird): I am afraid the two days I have had to consider this point have not led me to give it a more favourable reception than I did on the last occasion. It is very difficult, indeed, to distinguish between matters purely of discipline, and matters of service, on which a claim for pension is based. I do not know whether 135 my hon. Friend has thought out any practical means of giving effect to his desire to confine the operation of the Amendment to matters of pension entirely, and unless he can show that it can be so confined, I hope the Committee will not use this Bill to open up the very much wider subject of discipline. The boroughs are in a different position from the counties, and my hon. Friend desires to put them both on the same footing. That is an open question, but it is also an open question whether this Bill is the proper place to do it. It deals primarily with pension questions, and this Amendment opens up the whole question of discipline.
Mr. BARTLEY DENNISS: Why is it more so in the case of a county than in the case of a borough?
Sir J. BAIRD: Because in the case of a borough this appeal exists, but not in the case of a county. In the latter case the chief constable is the authority in matters of discipline, and in the case of a borough there is an appeal to the watch committee. If the Committee desire to alter that state of affairs, it is open for them to do so, but it seems rather a wide alteration, and the Desborough Committee, I understand, leaned towards the existing system. We, as a Government, certainly think the existing system should be retained.
Sir F. FLANNERY: There is no difference between discipline in a county and a borough.
Sir J. BAIRD: In the case of a county the chief constable is the ultimate disciplinary authority, and in the case of a borough there is an appeal on matters of discipline to the watch committee. Now it is desired to give an appeal to the county council.
Mr. DENNISS: On what principle should the two not be assimilated?
Sir J. BAIRD: It would be equally easy to say, "Why not alter the system which applies in the boroughs, and make it similar to that which applies in the counties?" There is nothing more to be said on one side than on the other, and we do not propose in the Bill to touch the question of discipline at all.
Major GRAY: As I understand it, in the borough there is an appeal on dis- 136 cipline and on pensions. Pensions and discipline are closely associated. The Amendment would carry an appeal to the watch committee on pensions, while it would not carry an appeal on discipline; but discipline and pensions being closely connected, to some extent the Amendment would carry an appeal on discipline also. That is not a question provided for in this Bill. A further Amendment would be required, I take it, to enable the watch committee to deal with the question of discipline. I assume that the term "county force" would not apply to the Metropolitan Police serving in the County of London. The Standing Joint Committee of London would be a most inappropriate body for an appeal against the Police Commissioner.
Sir J. BAIRD: The Metropolitan Police are not considered as a county force, as are forces under the Home Secretary.
Major GRAY: I wondered how far this Amendment would bring them in.
Sir J. BAIRD: Not at all, because they are under the Home Secretary.
Sir J. REMNANT: The Under-Secretary for the Home Office referred to the fact that the Desborough Committee was in favour of the line suggested by the Government, but so far from approving of the reference to the watch committee which the Government put in, they say distinctly "We are strongly of opinion that the public discussion of delinquencies of individual constables before the watch committee or county council is prejudicial to discipline." I think we are rather off the line. We are discussing a Bill here in reference to deductions for sickness in reckoning a pension, and many questions that you cannot put down as interfering with the discipline of the force arise in reference to punishments that take place. There may be punishments under D.O.R.A. which in ordinary times would be considered excessive, and I do not believe many appeals would take place, because as a rule the men are quite satisfied with the chief constable's decision, but it is strongly felt in some forces where they are not blessed with a chief constable that they care about. In my view, to put in a phrase like this can do no harm. It does not interfere with 137 discipline in any shape or form, but it gives a right of appeal where a man feels that he is seriously aggrieved so far as deductions from approved service in reckoning pensions are concerned. It gives him a chance to feel that in the
|Division No. 5.]||AYES.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Flannery, Sir. James Fortescue||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Dennis, J. W. (Birmingham, Deritend)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Remnant, Sir James|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Myers, Thomas||Sexton, James|
|Fildes, Henry||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)|
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
Mr. EDGAR: In regard to this so-called approval, will it not be given before the decision of the chief officer is known? If so, it will not properly be called an appeal.
Sir J. BAIRD: It is an appeal, and therefore the decision must follow the decision of the officer.
Major GRAY: I assume that before we reach the Report stage, the Home Office will consider how far this Amendment carries us—whether it will give a standing joint committee the responsibility of investigating questions of discipline, or whether or not it will be sufficient for the chief police officer to say that the decision is based on disciplinary grounds and that consequently no appeal will lie. I can quite imagine an appeal on questions of gratuity, amount of pension, method of payment, and so forth, but these are quite separable from questions of discipline, upon which the pension may be founded, and I hope therefore we may be very clearly informed, for otherwise I foresee endless complications in the administration of this Act in county areas, where the police authorities will declare that the appeal given under this Clause is upon pension only, and does not involve an appeal upon discipline.
Colonel GREIG: That is what has struck me. This Bill is to consolidate and amend the law respecting the retirement, pensions, allowances, and gratuities of the police, and the Fourth138
final resort he can go over his superior officers to the standing joint committee.
Question put, "That those words be there added."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 14; Noes, 5.
Schedule deals with a number of police Statutes, taking out sections here and there, which are obviously sections dealing with pensions. It is not meant to touch the substantive enactments that deal with discipline, but I am afraid the effect of the Amendment which has just been carried will be to alter those Statutes, not solely as regards pensions, but as regards the general question of discipline.
Question put, and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(1) Where a member of a police force has served in more than one police force, approved service in any such police force in which he has completed not less than one year's approved service, and from which after the commencement of this Act he has with the written sanction of the chief officer of that force removed to another force, shall be reckoned as approved service in the force in which he is serving at the time of his retirement.
(2) Where any member of a police force to whom this Section applies or his widow, or any child of his, in due course becomes entitled to and is awarded a pension, gratuity or allowance, the police authority in whose service he then is, or was at the time of his death or retirement, shall be entitled to call upon the other police authority or authorities, and they shall contribute a proportionate part of any pension, gratuity or allowance granted to him or his widow or any such child, reckoned according to his approved service and pay during his service in such force, and the said proportionate, part shall be settled by agreement between the police authorities, or in default of agreement by an arbitrator appointed by the Secretary of State.139
This Sub-section shall apply in cases where the previous service was service in a police force in Ireland, but in that case the said proportionate part shall be determined by the Treasury.
Mr. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "after the commencement of this Act." This Amendment is rather an important one and is designed to correct what I cannot help thinking must be due to an oversight on the part of the draughtsman. This Sub-section is designed to re-enact with certain modifications, some Sections in the Acts of 1890 and 1918, and it provides for the case where a constable has transferred from one force to another. It gives him the right to reckon as approved service his service in the first force, provided he has transferred to the second force with the written approval of his officer and served a certain time. In the re-enactment of that Section, the words occur "after the commencement of this Act," the effect of which would be that if a constable had transferred before the passing of this Act, he would not be able to reckon that approved service which was given him as a right by the Acts which are now repealed. I wondered when I read that what was the object of it and why it was desired to take away from these men who have already transferred the rights which they already possess. Seeing that there was a reference to the Desborough Committee's report I looked it up. The only reference I could find was in paragraph 176 in which the Committee point out that there is a difference between the practice in Scotland and the practice in England, and that for the purpose of reckoning this approved service no less than two years' approved service in the first force was requisite in England and three years in Scotland. The Committee recommend that the practice should be consolidated, and that in the place of the two and three years respectively there should be substituted one year's approved service, and that was after the Act came into operation, and after our recommendations had been given effect to. That seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable thing. Those who transfer before that must comply with the old conditions. Those who transfer after the passing of the Act are to have the benefit of the provision reducing the period to one year. That is not carried 140 out in the Sub-section as drawn here. I cannot help thinking that there must be an error, and I hope my hon. Friend will see his way to accept this Amendment.
Sir J. BAIRD: I hope I shall be able to satisfy my hon. Friend that the way the Bill is drafted will carry out what he desires. It will be found that Clause 28 (4) meets the case— Nothing in this Act shall affect the right of any member of a police force to reckon as approved service any service which he was entitled so to reckon at the date of the commencement of this Act. The point raised by my hon. Friend is, I think, perfectly covered. The sole effect of the Clause as it stands now is to eliminate the two or three years, as he has stated, and to reduce to one year the service in another force which a man may count. The danger my hon. Friend fears is an illusory one. The point is covered by the Bill as it stands. If his Amendment were carried the result would be to re-open the cases of men who transferred knowing they were not entitled to reckon their service. If the Committee say they should be able to reckon it, it would be conferring a very large privilege on them, and would mean going into the record of these men for 20 or 30 years. The difficulties would be insuperable. I hope my hon. Friend will agree that the point is made clear in the Sub-section I have read.
Sir EVAN JONES: May I suggest to the hon. Gentleman opposite, after what he has said, that he should add the words "Subject to the provision in Clause 28 (4)." That would make it perfectly clear.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: The Act has been drawn with singular clumsiness when it provides for one thing in one Clause and contradicts it in another. As my hon. Friend has just pointed out, you are not sure unless you read through the whole of the Act. But there is another and more substantial point to which I want to draw attention. Sub-section 2 of this Clause 7 is one which gives the police authority into which the officer transfers the right to call upon the original authority to contribute towards his pension in proportion to the service he has put in. There appears to me some considerable doubt as to their right to call upon the authority as the Clause stands, even if it be corrected by the 141 Sub-section in Clause 28. I am not asking for any new privileges to be conferred upon constables, only that they should not be deprived of any which they have already got. If the hon. Gentleman would accept my Amendment, or introduce it on the Report stage as an Amendment to this Clause, it would make it clear that there was a limit. If the words I suggest are inserted they will show the extent to which this new privilege should be given. The words so altered would make it clear to what the limitation applied, and that would be a far more satisfactory way to meet the difficulty. It would then be made perfectly clear in the one Clause what was intended. There could be no possible question about the rights of the constable or the authority.
Sir J. BAIRD: We all agree as to the intention, but will the hon. Gentleman leave it to us to put in words to ensure that the intentions of the Committee be carried out? If I accepted his Amendment now, I should be accepting an Amendment which goes beyond what he and I desire. There will be no difficulty in getting words introduced on the Report Stage which will meet the case. As regards the unfortunate Sub-section (4) of Clause 28, it has reference not only to this particular Clause, but to a great many other things in the Bill. I do not think it is unusual in these circumstances to put in a Clause which covers all the procedure.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I am willing to accept my hon. Friend's suggestion, subject to my right to put down further Amendments if I do not think his own carry out the intention.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment made: In Sub-section (2) leave out the words "to whom this Section applies," and insert instead thereof the words "who is entitled under this Section to reckon any previous service in another force."—[Sir J. Baird.]
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I beg to move in Sub-section (2), after the word "child" ["widow or any child of his"] to insert the words "or dependant." This Amendment is consequential on the Amendment which we made on Tuesday.142
Sir J. BAIRD: I accept the Amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendments made: In Sub-section (2) leave out the words "becomes entitled to and is awarded," and insert instead thereof the words "is granted."—[Sir J. Baird.]
After the word "child" ["granted to him or his widow or any such child"] insert the words "or dependant."—[Mr. Chamberlain.]
Sir J. BAIRD: I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "State," to insert the words "The power conferred by this Sub-section shall not be exerciseable in respect of previous service rendered in Scotland before the passing of this Act." The practice in the Scottish police forces is to pay a lump sum, and the Amendment is intended to safeguard the position.
Mr. SEXTON: May I ask why this Amendment is moved? Why is this exception applied to Scotland?
Sir J. BAIRD: The practice in Scotland is that, when a man transfers, a lump sum is paid over, and that has been already done. If we do not put in these words a subsequent payment over and above that lump sum would have to be made, or else the whole arrangements for Scotland would have to be altered.
Sir J. REMNANT: If a man transfer from one force to another, and gets a gratuity on condition that he pays back what he has received for the short time he has been serving in the other force, he is entitled to reckon that service as approved service for his new pension, in which case the authority from which he transferred would have to pay a proportionate part of the pension. I do not see why a man who has served a few years in a Scottish force should not be allowed to transfer to an English force under the same arrangement.
Sir J. BAIRD: From the man's point of view the effect is exactly the same, but it is the practice in Scotland—it is different in England—to pay over a lump sum to the authority to which the man transfers. The man is exactly in the same position as a man who transfers from one English force to another. This Sub-section is merely put in to safeguard the rights of a man transferring from Scotland.143
Sir J. REMNANT: Surely the crux of the whole Bill is that you want to standardise the conditions of the police force in England, Scotland, and Wales. You are going away from what you have been professing all along, if you allow certain inconsistencies to continue.
Sir J. BAIRD: This refers to what is past. If a man transfers from a Scottish police authority, the practice is for that authority to make a payment to the authority of the police force which he joins, and the pension is paid by the latter authority. We want to give the man the benefit of that, which has been the practice in the past. If these words are left out, the whole Scottish system will have to be altered, and, surely, this is much the simpler way of recognising the difference.
Colonel GREIG: I am not authorised to intervene on this matter from the point of view of the Scottish Office. My right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland is at present at a Cabinet Council. But the papers which have reached me as an ordinary Member of Parliament for a Scottish constituency include a communication from the Association of County Councils in Scotland, and there is a paragraph in that communication which, if I am not mistaken, meets this point. The communication is signed on behalf of the Association of County Councils in Scotland, and it says: "The Association object to the provisions of Clause 7, which seems to open the way to argument and differences between police authorities, and would largely increase accounting and bookkeeping; and they recommend that the Clause should be simplified with a view to adhering as far as possible to the system at present in force in Scotland whereby, on the transfer of a police officer from one authority to another, the aggregate deduction from the pay of the man is forwarded to the authority to which he is transferred, so that the last-mentioned authority becomes wholly responsible for the pension to which the man or his representatives may be entitled."
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(1) Where a member of a police force who has retired from the force without a pension, subsequently rejoins the force, there shall be reckoned as approved service the period of approved service which he was entitled to reckon at the end of his previous service, if 144 he repays to the police authority the amount of any gratuity which may have been granted to him, or of any rateable deductions from his pay which may have been paid to him, by the police authority in respect of his previous service.
(2) Where a member of a police force has retired from the force without a pension, and subsequently joins or has joined some other police force, the police authority of that other force may, if they think fit, allow the period of approved service, not being less than one year, which he was entitled to reckon at the end of his service in the first-mentioned force, to be reckoned as approved service, if he pays or has paid to the police authority of that other force the amount of any gratuity which may have been granted to him, or of any rateable deductions from his pay which may have been paid to him by that police authority in respect of his service in the first-mentioned force.
(3) Payments by a member of a police force under this Section shall be effected by means of deductions from pay, or otherwise as the police authority may determine.
Sir J. REMNANT: I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words, "may, if they think fit," and insert instead thereof the word "shall." This is the first time we have come to our old friends "shall" and "may." I hope that, after the experience we have had in the case of the last Pensions Bill, when we were assured by the Solicitor-General, and, I think, also by the hon. Baronet—
Sir J. BAIRD: Not by me.
Sir J. REMNANT: The hon. Baronet was there and backed it up—at least, that is my impression. At all events, the Solicitor-General—and I am not sure that there were not one or two others representing the Government—said that there was no use in substituting "shall" for "may," because "may" meant "shall" and "shall" meant "may," and that in all cases the Bill must be carried out by the Police authorities. We know that the small increase which the Government allowed to the old pensioners has not been carried out in a good many cases. In some cases they have definitely refused to carry it out; in other cases they are still considering whether they shall carry it out—which amounts practically to refusal; and in other cases they have only given a small percentage of what they were authorised by the Bill to give. I hope that, in order to safeguard against a repetition of that, the Committee will once and for all insist upon the word "shall" being inserted 145 in the Bill, if they really mean that its provisions are to be carried out.
Sir J. BAIRD: The word "may," in this case, is qualified by the words "if they think fit," which can leave no doubt in the mind of anyone that they cannot possibly mean "shall." We quite definitely do mean "may," and for this reason. In engaging a policeman who has had service in another force, but in whose case there has been an interval, and not continuous service, so far from doing a man a good turn, it would be doing him a bad turn to insert the word "shall."
Sir J. REMNANT: I am prepared to accept responsibility for that.
Sir J. BAIRD: Then it is for the Committee to decide. It will have this result. If a police authority engage a man who has had previous service, no matter what its length may be or whether he has got rusty or out of date, they will have to reckon his previous service for his pension. On the other hand, if he is a man who has not had any previous service, surely you handicap the man who has previously been a policeman, in favour of the man who has not had any previous service, and in respect of whom, therefore, that extra charge will not fall upon the community. In the interests of the man himself it is necessary to leave it to the discretion of the authority. If they think that the man's previous service is sufficiently valuable, from the point of view of the service that they expect he will render as a policeman, to justify such a payment, the Bill enables them to make it; but it the Bill forces them to do so in every case, you will rule out the man whose previous service is not considered sufficiently valuable to justify such a payment, which would not have to be made in the case of a man without that previous experience. I am sorry, therefore, that I cannot accept the Amendment.
Sir J. REMNANT: I do not think the hon. Baronet can have read the Sub-section. It says: "Where a member of a police force has retired from the force without a pension, and subsequently joins or has joined some other police force, the police authority of that other force may, if they think fit, allow the period of approved service …" Surely it should be "shall"?146
Sir J. BAIRD: It is not continuous service. That is provided for in another Section. This is the case of a man who has left the police force. If you make it compulsory for the new authority under which this man is seeking to serve to pay a further sum, they probably will not engage him.
Sir J. REMNANT: We do not want to look forward to another war, but what happened in the case of this last War, where men came back who were absolutely invaluable? You sent for them, and yet they are not allowed to reckon their previous service as pensions.
Sir J. BAIRD: In that case, it is open to the authority to do so "if they think fit." That is why we put in this provision.
The CHAIRMAN: Does the hon. Baronet wish to press the Amendment?
Sir J. REMNANT: Yes.
The CHAIRMAN: I must point out that the Committee cannot divide, because at the moment we have not a quorum.
Sir J. REMNANT: There is great difficulty in getting a quorum, and a good many of us are here to-day at personal inconvenience. There is an important Amendment, as to which I made, on the Second Reading, a personal appeal to the Home Secretary that he would give it consideration, and let us have it in Committee. As the Home Secretary cannot attend, should I be in order in moving that the Committee adjourn until after Whitsuntide, in order that we may have the advantage of hearing what he has done?
The CHAIRMAN: Another hon. Member has now come into the room, and a quorum is present.
Sir J. REMNANT: May I move as I have suggested?
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. Baronet might do that, after we have decided upon this Amendment.
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 11; Noes, 7.147
|Division No. 6.]||AYES.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Fildes, Henry||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Dennis, J. W. Birmingham, Deritend)||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Remnant, Sir James|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Sexton, James|
Amendment made: In Sub-section (2) leave out the words "by that police authority."—[Sir J. Baird.]
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(1) Where a person has served in two or all of the following capacities—
(2) In this Section the expression "pension" includes any gratuity, allowance, or other similar payment.
Mr. EDGAR: There is no Amendment on the Paper to Clause 9, but, as a matter of accuracy, I would point out that the words "where a person has served in two or all of the following capacities," which, I think, should read "two or more."
Sir J. BAIRD: I am obliged to my hon. Friend for pointing that out. It should be "two or more." I should like the Committee to allow me, however, to consult the draughtsman as to the right word to be put in.
Mr. EDGAR: The point is conceded in the marginal note, which is, "service in more than one capacity."
Sir J. BAIRD: That is so, and I shall accept an Amendment accordingly.
Amendment made: In Sub-section (1), leave out the word "all" and insert instead thereof the word "more."—[Mr. Edgar.]
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Where a member of a police force with the knowledge of the police authority or of the chief officer of the force belongs to any Royal Naval Reserve Force or to the Army Reserve or Air Force Reserve, and is required for training or called into actual service or called out for training or for permanent service, he shall be entitled, on returning to the police force after the end of such training or service, to reckon any approved service which he was entitled to reckon at the commencement of such training or service; and his period of training or service, and any period during which he was incapacitated for police duty owing to an injury received during his period of training or service, may, if the police authority thinks fit, be reckoned in the computation of the approved service.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I beg to move, after the word "service" ["period of training or service, and any period during which"], to insert the word "shall." 149 This is not a very extravagant Amendment. The Clause deals with the service of men belonging to reserve forces who have been called up. It only deals with those men who have been called up with the full knowledge and approval of the police authority. The first part of the Clause provides that they are not to be deprived of any approved service in the reckoning of their pension. The second part, which I wish to amend, provides that the period of training or service in the force, and any period during which the man was incapacitated, owing to injury received during his training or service, may, if the authority thinks fit, be reckoned in the computation of the approved service. My Amendment is to insert the word "shall," with the effect that the discretion of the police authority will apply only to cases of injury received during the period of training and service. It will give the man a right to count the period of training or service in the computation of his approved service. This is approved of by the Association of Municipal Corporations.
Amendment agreed to.
Sir J. REMNANT: I beg to move to leave out the words "may, if the police authority think fit," and to insert instead thereof the word "shall." I think this is on the same lines as the Amendment agreed to.
Sir J. BAIRD: I am afraid the two things are not the same. The Amendment which we agreed to makes it compulsory to accept the period of training in reckoning a man's approved service, but this is a question of incapacity, and is on a different footing. This Amendment seems to carry the principle too far. Discretionary power should be left in regard to incapacity, because a man may be injured through his own fault.
Sir J. REMNANT: The words of the Clause are "incapacitated for police duty owing to an injury received during his period of training or service." Why draw a distinction between that and the period of training itself? I press for the insertion of the word "shall."
Sir J. BAIRD: My objection is that it covers not only a period of training, but incapacity during the period which might be caused through a man's own fault.150
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: If compensation is to be paid to a man for injuries, it should be paid by the service in which he is engaged at the time, and not by the police authority.
Sir J. REMNANT: Would the Home Office not make it perfectly clear that if the man is incapacitated for duty owing to injury not received through his own fault, it shall be reckoned?
Sir J. BAIRD: I think there is something to be said for that, though it is rather indefinite.
Sir J. REMNANT: Would the Home Office undertake to put in something on the Report stage, that where a man is incapacitated from duty through no fault of his own it shall not be permissive for the authority to refuse to reckon that in computing his service?
Sir J. BAIRD: There is no doubt about that.
Sir J. REMNANT: That is all I ask for. There was to be no doubt about carrying out the Police Pensions Increases Bill, and yet they exercised the discretion.
Sir J. BAIRD: I am prepared to agree that it shall be made right on the Report stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(1) Before granting a pension or gratuity on the ground that a member of a police force is incapacitated by infirmity of mind or body for the performance of his duty, the police authority shall be satisfied by the evidence of some duly qualified medical practitioner or practitioners, selected by the police authority, that he is so incapacitated, and that the incapacity is likely to be permanent.
(2) Where the application is for a special pension, the police authority shall also be satisfied that the injury was received in the execution of duty, that it was received without the default of the applicant, and that the infirmity is attributable to the injury, and shall determine whether the injury was accidental or not, and the degree of disablement; and for the purpose of determining any of the said questions which ought to be determined on medical grounds shall take the like evidence as above mentioned.
(3) Where any pension is granted on the ground of incapacity for the performance of duty, the police authority shall, yearly or otherwise, until the power under this Section of requiring the pensioner to serve again 151 ceases, satisfy themselves that the incapacity continues, and, unless they resolve that such evidence is unnecessary, shall satisfy themselves by the like evidence as above mentioned.
(4) In the event of the incapacity ceasing before the time at which the pensioner would, if he had continued to serve, have been entitled without a medical certificate to retire and receive a pension for life, the police authority may cancel his pension and require him to serve again in the police force, in a rank not less than the rank which he held before his retirement, and at a rate of pay not less than that on which his pension was calculated.
(5) Where a pensioner so serves again, the provisions of this Act shall apply as if he had not previously retired, save that, except in the case of pensions for non-accidental injuries received in the execution of duty, he shall not reckon as approved service the time which elapsed between his former retirement and the recommencement of his service.
(6) Any special pension shall be granted for such period as may be fixed by the police authority, and if at the expiration of that period the degree of disablement is unaltered the pension shall, at the discretion of the police authority, be either renewed from time to time or made permanent. If within five years of the pensioner's retirement or at any time before the pension is made permanent the police authority are satisfied by the evidence of a duly qualified medical practitioner that the degree of the pensioner's disablement has substantially altered, the pension shall be reassessed according to the degree of disablement.
(7) If a member of a police force or pensioner fails or refuses, when required by the police authority, to be examined by some duly qualified medical practitioner selected by that authority, the police authority may deal with him in all respects as if they were satisfied by the evidence of such a practitioner that he is not disabled or, as the case may be, as to the degree of his disablement.
(8) The decision of the police authority on the matters above in this Section mentioned shall be final:
Provided that in the case of a borough force there shall be an appeal to the council of the borough, and the decision of the council shall be final.
Amendment made: In Sub-section (7), leave out the words "fails or refuses," and insert instead thereof the words "refuses or wilfully or negligently fails."—[Sir J. Baird.]
Mr. SEXTON: I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (8), and to insert instead thereof the words "Where any person is aggrieved by the decision of the police authority on the matter above in this Section mentioned there shall, in the case of a borough force, be an appeal to the council of the borough, and in 152 any case where any person is aggrieved by the decision of the police authority or council of the borough on the matters above mentioned in this Section an appeal shall be to a tribunal consisting of a police surgeon, a medical man nominated by the appellant, and an independent medical man nominated by the Home Office, and the decision of such tribunal shall be final." I am moving this on behalf of my hon. Friend (Sir F. Flannery). It does not interfere with the principle of the Bill, but merely extends it to a wider area, and I do not think the Home Secretary will object to it.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "on the matter above in this Section mentioned there shall, in the case of a borough force, be an appeal to the council of the borough, and in any case where any person is aggrieved by the decision of the police authority or council of the borough on the matters above mentioned in this Section an appeal shall be to a tribunal consisting of a police surgeon, a medical man nominated by the appellant, and an independent medical man nominated by the Home Office—" and to insert instead thereof the words "in regard to any matter mentioned in this Section he shall be entitled to appeal to a tribunal consisting of a medical practitioner nominated by the police authority, a medical practitioner nominated by the appellant, and an independent person (not being a medical practitioner) nominated by the Secretary of State." I entirely agree with the Mover of the Amendment in the objection which he feels to making an appeal in those cases from the decision of the police authority to the council of the borough. In my opinion, the council is not the right body to exercise judicial functions of this kind. The members will not have the information; they are likely to have pressure put upon them by interested parties, and the council of a county borough may possibly consist of as many as 120 members. That is not the sort of body which should be asked to decide an appeal against a decision of the police authority on matters of this kind. At the same time, I do not entirely like the composition of the tribunal suggested by my Friend, which consists entirely of medical men. The Amendment which I suggest only differs from his proposal in one vital respect. It makes the third member of the tribunal an independent person, who is not a medical practitioner, and I think that improves the tribunal. We know that doctors do not care to over- 153 rule other doctors' decisions, and you want somebody with judicial experience who will take a perfectly impartial and unprejudiced view of the case. We had similar tribunals during the War to deal with pension cases, such as Judge Parry's tribunal, which did admirable work, and these were constituted in the manner which I now suggest.
Sir J. REMNANT: It may save time if I state that I have talked over this matter with my hon. Friend in whose name the original Amendment stands, and I am quite sure he will accept this proposal. What is wanted is to have the man's own medical officer represented on the tribunal as well as the police medical officer, and an independent man to decide between them.
Sir J. BAIRD: I do not think there is any disagreement as to the desirability of having an appeal. I submit, however, that the appeal should be on medical grounds alone, and therefore I do not think this Amendment, even as modified by the second Amendment, would be quite satisfactory. It would be more satisfactory if an appeal were made to the existing medical referee under the Workmen's Compensation Act. These referees are known to give very satisfactory decisions, and it would not entail the setting up of a new body. It would not involve much additional expense, because the medical referee is paid by fee. He is accustomed to this kind of work, and I think this would provide a business-like and satisfactory method of appeal.
Sir J. REMNANT: Without any representative of the person appealing?
Sir J. BAIRD: Everybody concerned in a case will appear before the referee.
Sir J. REMNANT: When a man appeals to a tribunal he is anxious that the views of his own practitioner should have weight. It has happened in several cases that a man's private practitioner will declare him fit for work and the police authority's doctor will say he is not. I have a case in my mind of a man who joined up during the War and returned home after serving in India. His own medical practitioner and two or three other private practitioners said he was perfectly fit to return to duty, but the police authorities said he was not. In that case the man should be allowed to 154 appear before an independent tribunal upon which his own medical practitioner would be represented as well as the police authority, with an independent third man appointed by the Home Office. I cannot understand why the Home Office is so shy about accepting any responsibility in this matter. They can appoint a referee to act, and the man can be represented by his own medical practitioner who has advised him that his illness is not sufficiently serious to prevent him doing his duty.
Sir J. BAIRD: You surely would not make one of the parties primarily concerned a judge on the appeal. The man's own doctor and the police authority's doctor could appear before the medical referee and state their respective cases. Surely that is a fairer way than having them both members of the authority which is to come to a decision. You will be more likely to get a fair examination of the case if the people who take an opposite view on it appear before a medical man accustomed to weighing these cases, and abide by his decision.
Sir J. REMNANT: Every tribunal is made up of the representatives of the two parties, as, for example, workmen and employers, with an independent third party.
Major GRAY: I cannot agree with the representative of the Home Office in this matter. In these appeals it is very advisable that there should be some element of common sense associated with medical knowledge, and an appeal from the decision of one medical man to another medical man very rarely gives satisfaction to the appellant. There are schools of thought in medical practice, and it may just happen that your medical referee is closely associated with some particular school of thought and gives his decision accordingly. One has always before one's mind the fact that Dr. Sangrado wrote a book, and though he was convinced later in life that his practice had been altogether wrong, he could not go back upon what he had already put in print, and there is great danger of your medical practitioner taking that view. I have a very strong faith in two doctors intermixed with the common sense of an ordinary business man, who gives a decision very often in favour of the appellant and not always on the lines of medical 155 practice. I hope the Amendment to the Amendment will be accepted. It is my experience on the London County Council that there is now a considerable amount of dissatisfaction with the decisions given by a medical officer, whose name I must not mention, but who stands very high as a medical referee. The men are intensely dissatisfied with his decisions and are trying to get an appeal to another court from those decisions.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I sympathise with my hon. Friend's desire not to set up a new body, but at the same time I agree with the last speaker as to the dissatisfaction that is caused by having a medical referee as the sole tribunal. Further, the matters which are to be referred to this tribunal are not entirely medical. Any matter mentioned in the Section may be the subject of an appeal, and in Sub-section (6) it will be seen that any special pension may be granted for such period as may be fixed by the police authorities. I take it, therefore, that that period might be the subject of an appeal. Again, at the expiration of that period the pension might be renewed or made permanent, and there again is a decision which might be questioned and which is not entirely a medical matter.
Sir J. BAIRD: We take the view that the medical point predominates, and I would like to make it clear that on Report we must not be prevented putting in words to give effect to that, if necessary.
Sir E. JONES: This now applies not only to borough police authorities, but also to county police authorities.
Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.
Proposed words, as amended, there inserted.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 12 (Power to reduce pension where infirmity is due to misconduct), and 13 (Assignment of pensions and Regulations as to payment of pensions, etc.), ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(1) A pension or allowance under this Act is granted only upon condition that it becomes forfeited, and may be withdrawn by
the police authority, in any of the following, cases, that is to say, if the grantee—
(2) Such forfeiture and withdrawal may affect the pension or allowance wholly or in part, and may be permanent or temporary, as the police authority may determine.
Sir J. REMNANT: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out paragraph (a), and to insert instead thereof "(a) is convicted of any offence for which be is sentenced to penal servitude, or to imprisonment for a term exceeding three months with hard labour, or to imprisonment for a term exceeding twelve months whether with or without hard labour." The object of the Amendment is to retain the privileges of the 1890 Act. If it was thought necessary then to allow a certain amount of latitude such as is included in my Amendment, surely it is much more so now, considering the different times in which we are living. Nobody wishes to legislate for a criminal, but it is quite possible that a pensioner may commit an act of indiscretion, and the suggested alteration of the 1890 Act will not give the magistrate much scope, with the result that a man may easily lose his pension, bearing in mind the extraordinary legislation under the Defence of the Realm Act, which may again become operative and 157 provide heavy penalties for what would be a trivial offence in ordinary times. I do not know why this Sub-section (a) has been substituted for the Sub-section I am moving, which was in the 1890 Act.
Sir J. BAIRD: There has been a change, apparently, in the administration of the law, and there is no difference now between a sentence of three months with hard labour and three months without hard labour; they are practically the same thing, and that is the reason given for this change. It does not seem unfair to say that if a man has been sentenced to a term exceeding three months he should no longer continue to draw his pension.
Sir J. REMNANT: Why is the 1890 Act, which worked very well, altered?
Sir J. BAIRD: Because there has been a change of legal procedure, apparently, and these sentences in the 1890 Act are obsolete.
Sir J. REMNANT: If they be not obsolete, will the Home Office accept the Amendment on the Report stage?
Sir J. BAIRD: Under the Criminal Justice Administration Act, 1914, there has been the alteration which I have pointed out.
Sir J. REMNANT: If I am right, will the hon. Gentleman accept my Amendment on Report?
Sir J. BAIRD: Of course.
Sir J. REMNANT: Then I will not press it now.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sir J. REMNANT: I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), at the end to add the words "Provided that the decision of a police authority other than the Secretary of State as to forfeiture on any of the grounds aforesaid shall be subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State, but such confirmation shall not affect the right of appeal to quarter sessions conferred by Section sixteen of this Act."
Sir J. BAIRD: Here again we feel that the appeal to Quarter Sessions provided in Section 16 is quite sufficient.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.158
Clauses 15 (Penalty for obtaining pension, etc., by fraud), 16 (Appeal in case of forfeiture or refusal of pension, gratuity, or allowance), and 17 (Suspension of pension in case of service in another force), ordered to stand part of the Bill.
"The police authority of every police force shall deduct from the pay of every member of the force—
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
Sir J. REMNANT: This brings up the whole question which was raised in the House on Second Reading, and upon which the Home Secretary promised that he would consult not only the Police Council but the Home Office, to see whether these suggestions that were thrown out could not be met in some way. The Home Secretary is extremely busy now, which is not exceptional for any Member of Parliament. We had a dose of it last night, and I should like the Committee to agree to adjourn till after Whitsuntide, in order that we might have the advantage of the presence of the Home Secretary. We want to standardise, so far as is possible, the conditions of the Service. There are a large number of men under the 26 years' service for pension, and a few men who joined since 1920 who come under the 30 years' system, and there is chaos all round. It is sought to bring the 26 years into the 30 years' system by giving them under this Bill certain advantages. The men say they are prepared to meet this 30 years, and to agree to deductions from their wages in order to come on the same footing as in the 26 years' arrangement, so that you get the whole of the police forces throughout England on the 26 years' pension scheme. They go further and they say: "We are not satisfied with the pensions provided under the Bill for our widows." The £30 pension under the Bill they want increased to £45 per year. That means an additional cost to the country possibly, but the 159 men say: "We are prepared to provide for that additional money to the extent of ¼ per cent., which we believe will meet the additional cost." I put this point to the Home Secretary, who very kindly told me that he would consider it and see whether something could not be done. Until we hear from him as to what he feels about it, it does seem to me that it is useless to attempt to go further with the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman cannot come just now with the Cabinet sitting and the present crisis, and I understand my hon. Friend to say that he does not look askance at my suggestion that we should now adjourn. We have great difficulty now, and I do not know how long we shall be held up, but if we could adjourn over Whitsuntide the matter could then be thrashed out, and I am pre pared to move that the Committee adjourn.
Sir J. BAIRD: It is probable that we should not be able to finish the Bill this morning, as there are a great many controversial matters still to be gone through; and obviously, if it be for the convenience of Members to adjourn now, I am entirely at their disposal. There is no doubt my right hon. Friend will be prepared to deal with the matter subsequently. At the same time, it is rather a dangerous principle to lay down that if a Minister who is detained in the 160 Cabinet sends his Under-Secretary to deal with matters, the Committee should not accept him as his representative.
Sir J. REMNANT: No, no, that is not the point!
Sir J. BAIRD: It is not really a question of the Government, however. The question is the convenience of the Committee, and if they desire to continue the discussion now, I am entirely at their disposal. If, however, we cannot finish the Bill it seems rather foolish to sit on beyond the point which my hon. Friend desires, and to have a prolonged discussion which will not avail.
Sir J. REMNANT: I beg to move, "That the Committee do now adjourn." I assure my hon. Friend that there is nothing personal in the matter at all. It is simply that I had to address these requests to the Home Secretary himself, and he promised that he would look into the matter and see what could be done. My hon. Friend knows—no one better—that it is not a personal question in relation to the Under-Secretary, but I think, in view of the circumstances, I am justified in what I am asking.
Question, "That the Committee do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.
Committee adjourned at Thirty-four Minutes after Twelve o'clock till Tuesday, 31st May, at 11 a.m.
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:—
Nicholson, Mr. William (Chairman)
Baird, Sir John
Barker, Mr. George
Bird, Sir Alfred
Chamberlain, Mr. Neville
Dennis, Mr. John
Denniss, Mr. Bartley
Flannery, Sir Fostescue
Herbert, Mr. Dennis
Jones, Sir Evan
Norris, Colonel Sir Henry
Parkinson, Mr. Allen
Raeburn, Sir William
Remnant, Sir James
Yeo, Sir Alfred