asked the Home Secretary the number of police constables and officers transferred to the Westhoughton township for special duties; how many are billeted at the local Conservative club premises; what are the terms upon which they are billeted there; how long is it proposed to retain them in the township; whether efforts have been made to find billets for them elsewhere; and whether he will now take steps to remove them from the Conservative club premises and place them altogether outside the possibility of political influence?
The total number of men transferred to Westhoughton is one inspector, three sergeants and 36 constables, of whom one inspector, two sergeants and 32 constables are accommodated at the premises mentioned. 1s. per day is charged for each man for the sleeping accommodation; meals are obtained elsewhere. The chief constable cannot say how long it may be necessary to retain the men in the township: he has been unable to find suitable accommodation elsewhere.
None whatever. As regards the Supplementary Question of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Davies) he has been in the Home Office and he knows that one has to be careful in regard to chief constables who are independent officers. I can only ask them for information, and I have received the information. I can also transmit a complaint, and, if the hon. Member has any complaint from any member of this force, then of course I will transmit it to the Chief Constable.
They must be billeted somewhere and it is always difficult, as the hon. Member knows, to get billets for police officers and others away from their own homes. This was the most convenient place in which to billet them, and there have been other cases of men being billeted in other clubs of other political parties and there has been no complaint.
Yes, I have a certain control. There is a financial relationship between the Government and the police outside the area and where there is a financial relationship there is always a certain amount of control.