Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the police in Leicester and elsewhere do an excellent job in spite of being heavily understaffed? To ease that understaffing, civilians have been brought in at Leicester to do part of their work. Is he aware that those civilians are being offered shift allowances and pay for Sunday duties? Does he not feel that it is unfair to discriminate against uniformed police officers in this way?
An offer made by the Official Side at a meeting on 30th November of the Pay Review sub-committee of the appropriate Police Council committee was rejected by the Staff Side. Negotiations have not been broken off and I understand that a further offer may shortly be made by the Official Side.
Is it not clear that, whatever the reason and whoever is to blame, police pay is shockingly low? A police constable with 15 years' service and an average-sized family has take-home pay of about £80 a month. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that thousands of men who joined after the war will soon have completed 25 years' service and will be opting out in large numbers?
Is the Home Secretary aware of the present state of morale in the police and the feeling that, because of the Government's view on pay rises in the public sector, they will be pushed to the back of the queue, and that the effect on morale is a great encouragement to criminals and crime in general?
I do not share the hon. Gentleman's view about the state of morale in the police forces. The Government have made it clear that they intend to strengthen the police forces.
Although it is right not to intervene while the talks are still going on, and although I recognise the danger of inflation as a result of unnecessary wage increases, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the whole nation will expect a fair deal to be given to the police?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the so-called revised offer was completely unacceptable to the staff side on Monday because it was not a true revision at all but merely a rearrangement of the original offer which left some police officers worse off than they would have been under the original offer?
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that I think that the police should be treated as a unique body and I want them to get the maximum that they can? I hope that we do not have to argue about this matter either with my right hon. Friend or with the Treasury.
After many years' experience, I always dislike arguing with my hon. Friend. I think that the general feeling in the House is that the police forces are in a very special position and there is a general desire that they should be strengthened.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is highly likely that the increase in the number of police officers in England and Wales this year will be only half the average increase achieved over the last five years and that only a very substantial injection of resources can enable the number to come anywhere near establishment strength?