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Compensation For Clothing

Volume 113: debated on Tuesday 31 March 1987

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'In the case of a claim under section 78(1)(a) compensation shall be payable for loss or damage to clothing or personal adjuncts of the claimant.— [Mr. Kaufman.]

Brought up and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 11— Character and way of life—

'In deciding whether to withhold or reduce compensation on the grounds of a claimant's character, way of life or conduct in which he has engaged at any time the Board shall take into account any relevant criminal offences of which he has been convicted .but shall not take into account his lawful behaviour, race, sex, political or religious beliefs or sexuality.'
New clause 12—Minimum compensation levels
'The Secretary of State shall not make an order under section 81(1) which reduces the minimum award of compensation to less than £150.'.
New clause 13—Compensation for police officers—
'Any police officer who sustains an injury while attempting in the course of his duties to enforce the law shall be eligible for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.'.

We now come to what, from the point of view of the Government's policy, is the shoddiest part of this Bill. Two weeks ago the Government gave away billions of pounds in an attempt to bribe the electorate in the general election whenever it comes. In this part of the Bill they are saving tiny amounts of money at the cost of victims of crime of small means and also at the cost of members of the police forces of this country. I find it remarkable that it is possible for the Government to resist amendments which will afford victims of unpleasant crimes small amounts of compensation which could make a very great difference to their lives.

This new clause would entitle those suffering criminal injuries to compensation for loss of or damage to clothing or personal adjuncts. We are not saying here that we want people of ample means to be recompensed for the loss of expensive garments. That is not the implication of what we are proposing. We are not proposing that the state, through the public purse, should compensate people for what insurance policies ought to be able to put right; nor are we saying that, even when insurance is not available, people whose means are considerable should be recompensed in order to obtain new clothes in place of older clothes which have been damaged or destroyed as a result of a criminal assault.

We are saying that, by the very nature of things, by the very nature of the large numbers of violent crimes in the country today, a considerable number of people of very modest means are going to lose the clothes which they have on their backs, which are the only clothes available to them.

I do not know about Conservative Members, but I certainly know about my own constituents. Whenever I go about parts of my constituency I am deeply depressed at the patent poverty of my constituents as demonstrated by the clothes that they wear. If one goes around many of the wards in my constituency and sees the unemployed people or people living on supplementary benefit—one-parent families, elderly people, pensioners—the extent to which they are no longer able to dress as well as they used to is clear. Their clothes are often old; their clothes are often drab; their clothes, despite their best efforts to keep them in good repair, have seen better days a long time ago.

That sort of person in my constituency is more liable to be a victim of a crime of violence than people of greater affluence because, despite any views or legends to the contrary, it is the poorer people who are predominantly the victims of crime and it is the poorer people in the inner city areas such as I represent who are most likely to be the victims of violent crime.

Again and again it happens that somebody who is a victim of a crime of violence has his or her only available clothes damaged beyond repair. We regard it as regrettable that it is not going to be open to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to compensate such people by giving them the cost of a new set of clothes, a new jacket, skirt, coat, pair of shoes or whatever it might be. Therefore, I am depressed that the Government have so far been unwilling to make the sort of concession that the clause requests.

As I have said, it is not that the money is not available. The money is there in enormous quantities and money is being handed out in tuppenny tax reliefs all over the country. A minute fraction of the tuppenny tax relief is all that is required to fulfil the aim of this new clause. Therefore, I hope that the Government will no turn it down but will say that they recognise that there is an important case.

New clause 11 is a different sort of clause, one with which we are seeking to rectify a serious shortcoming in the Bill as it stands. The Bill has a provision that limits eligibility for criminal injuries compensation. I refer the House to clause 79(2)(b), which states that the board shall have powers to refuse to award compensation or reduce compensation
"where they consider that the making of any or, as the case may be, a full award of compensation would be inappropriate having regard to the claimant's character, his way of life or the conduct in which he is engaged at any time."
Of course, we are not saying that where somebody has been guilty of a criminal offence he should necessarily be eligible for criminal injuries compensation. However, it seems that a subjective view of merit for compensation is not one that is appropriate for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to take.

We do not believe that somebody should have his eligibility for criminal injuries compensation limited or removed because of his race. We do not believe that that should be so because of his sex or because of his political beliefs. We believe that a Communist or even— I will say it-a member of the National Front has as much right to obtain compensation for criminal injuries as anybody in what one might call the main stream of British political life. We certainly do not believe that there should be discrimination on the basis of religious belief, even if that claimed religious belief is minority, unconventional or unpopular. I do not believe that somebody who is, for example a Moonie, should be deprived of eligibility for criminal injuries compensation if he has been a victim of a criminal assault. I do not believe that anybody should be deprived of compensation on account of their sexual preferences. Sexual preferences in this country are all lawful, provided they are carried out within the law.

That being so, I do not believe that there ought to be any subjective assessment of merit with regard to eligibility for criminal injuries compensation but that the test should be simply whether the criteria applying to eligibility are fulfilled by the applicant. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will accept that, in order to clarify beyond doubt the obligations upon the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

11.15 pm

We come to new clause 12, in which we seek to lower the floor for criminal injuries compensation. Of all the obnoxious actions which the Government have taken in recent years, possibly the most obnoxious was when, at the time of the autumn statement last year, they raised this floor from £400 to £550. They did this—even if they did not admit it, the Green Paper on criminal injuries compensation admitted it— simply in order to save money. When the lower limit was increased to £400 from 1 February 1983, the Green Paper, the report of an interdepartmental working party, said that this was the first time it had been increased in real terms. My right hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) had raised it simply to maintain it in real terms, but this was the first time, said the working party, that it had been increased in real terms.

The report was quite open and honest about why it was done:
"the aim being to contain the cost of the Scheme by excluding a greater number of cases involving only minor injury and loss".
That is what the Government did again, when they raised the floor from £400 to £550 last autumn. What does it mean? It means that the Government have reduced by about a quarter the number of those who are eligible for criminal injuries compensation. They have done so to save the niggardly sum of £2,300,000—because, of course, at the bottom end of the scale aggregate compensation for many thousands of people comes to very small sums of money.

I really do not know how the Prime Minister can, as she did at Torquay a couple of weeks ago, go on about the sadness of criminal injuries victims, when at the same time she herself is depriving victims of the right to compensation, a quarter of them, all for £2,300,000, yet she is giving away billions of pounds to others. So if the Government are not going to accept this amendment, I hope that they will stop whining and moaning in this hypocritical way about their concern for victims, because they are deliberately and specifically removing the eligibility of victims for compensation.

The fourth new clause that we have tabled—No. 13—relates to compensation for police. I believe that the Government have behaved very meanly towards police officers by keeping what was clause 74(7) in this Bill, even though they amended it in Committee. We put some cases to them in Committee. Once again, the Government demonstrated an extraordinarily niggardly attitude towards police officers injured on duty.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths), who is here, fairly questioned me on Second Reading when I criticised what was then clause 74(7). I was saying that we would move—as we did in Committee—for the deletion of that clause, the clause that then excluded from compensation, and now limits the eligibility for compensation of not only serving police officers but other people who serve the public in positions of hazard and danger.

We said that we would move to delete that clause, and the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds said:
"I should like him"—
that was me
"to be precise. Is he saying that he will return to the present position—that where police officers take exceptional risks they should receive compensation—or is he saying that he will go all the way back to the position which existed some years ago when that test did not have to be met?"—[Official Report, 27 November 1986; Vol. 106, c. 480.]
I replied that we would restore the present position. Because of the increasing incidence of crime it is unfair that there should not be proper compensation for police officers, firemen, ambulance men, security workers, nurses and others who may be involved in hazard in the course of pursuing their duty if it results in injury. In some cases, it can mean limited compensation and in other cases a great deal, because the injuries may be very serious.

In Committee I was questioned by Ministers about the difference between injuries. The Minister of State said:
"The right hon. Gentleman must understand that although, as I hope I have made clear, the accident must be concerned with the matters which he discusses, it could mean that somebody running along perfectly flat ground to prevent somebody from riding a bicycle on a pavement could qualify under the scheme. That would not be right."— [Official Report, Standing Committee F, 24 February 1987; c. 769.]
I asked why it would not be right. If somebody is attempting to stop a crime, and particularly if he is involved in pursuit, is he to think twice about whether he will go that next step in case he is injured and will not be compensated for it? Of course people will not do that. A person carrying out that service to the community does not think as he pursues a criminal or a potential criminal, "Shall I stop running now because I might not get compensation?" The spirit of public service is too great for that. It is deplorable that the Government should not respond to our wish to have this rectified.

I think the Police Federation made a great mistake in accepting the compromise that the Government offered— that is, to reinstate exceptional risk. If the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds advised the federation to accept that, I think he was mistaken in that advice. If the Police Federation had held out for the deletion of that subsection, it would have had our support. If it had said that it was dissatisfied, I do not believe that the Government could have carried the day in Committee or in the House. I am not saying that the hon. Gentleman advised the Police Federation to accept the compromise because I do not know, but if he did, he did not do the police a service because they could and should have got the lot. I still think that they should get the lot. That is why we have tabled the new clause.

Here again the amounts of money at issue are minute; they are a fraction of 0·1 per cent. of the Budget that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced two weeks ago. I cannot understand how it is possible for the Government to say that they have all this money at their disposal and then he so mean as to tell police officers and other public servants injured on duty that they cannot qualify except on the basis of exceptional risk—that being, of course, a subjective concept.

Much of what the right hon. Gentleman says is music to my ears, and I shall listen carefully to my hon. Friend's reply. When the right hon. Gentleman suggests that the quantum is very small, I hope he has taken account of the fact that in an average year the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board will make awards for as many as 15,000 police officers. For example, during the miners' strike at least that number were eligible for compensation. Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he resumes his speech whether what he has in mind is a statutory compensation scheme or merely a discretionary arrangement of the CICB?

We are dealing here with what the Bill says, and we can only amend the Bill. I have said— indeed, I said it to the hon. Gentleman when he questioned me—that we believe that there should be a scheme for police officers that is different from the CICB scheme. We believe that a scheme should be built into their contracts of engagement. We believe that it should be an automatic scheme. We believe that it should he a scheme that applies to families where there is loss, and certainly where there is bereavement. We want a different and much more secure scheme, which we would readily negotiate with the Police Federation and other representative bodies of the police forces. But we are not dealing with that here.

We are dealing here with an exclusion and we believe that that exclusion is wrong. I talk here of small amounts of money because that is all that we are dealing with. I have a letter sent to Opposition Members from the Police Federation last November before clause 74(7) was amended by the Committee. It took the view that about 1,500 claims a year were at issue then. Clearly, there will be fewer now, but the smaller the number at issue, the more miserly the Government are shown to be and the more easily it is possible for the Government to provide the compensation with scarcely a waver on the graph of public expenditure. That is why we believe that, now that it has been reduced to this area in this scheme, as distinct from the scheme that the Labour party would introduce, the Government have no excuse for being so recalcitrant on this issue.

That is particularly so because, as I say, since 17 March when we make a request from small amounts of public expenditure the Government cannot say that the money is not there. The fact is that the money was there in huge quantities and the Government have decided to use it for other reasons than to compensate victims of criminal injuries. They have decided to use it in order to hand out a bribe to try to win the general election and be damned to the police whom they say they support and be damned to the victims of crime about whom they say they care. That is why we have tabled this group of amendments.

I can best sum up our view on this by quoting from The Times the words of Miss Helen Reeves, director of the Association of Victim Support Schemes. When the raising of the floor was being considered, she said:
"We are saddened that the Government is to confirm that limit. We would like to see it gradually eroded by inflation. If it is kept up, large numbers of victims will be excluded."
The Government's criminal injuries compensation scheme is being put on a statutory basis, but that scheme is in a huge mess because we have so much more crime and, because of that, more people have become aware of the possibility of compensation.

It is right for the Government to say that applications for criminal injury compensation are growing faster than the level of crime, but that is simply because the public, through being victims of violent crime, are catching up with the possibilities of compensation.

It is a fact that 60,000 people are now awaiting compensation. It is a fact that in 1985–86 30 per cent. of those who had their cases resolved had had to wait for over a year. It is a fact that a year ago at least 11,800 people had had cases pending for over a year. It is a fact that the number of people now awaiting criminal injuries compensation is nearly three times the number who were awaiting it when the Labour Government left office. Some of those people have suffered injuries so unspeakable that it makes me shudder to describe them or even to think about them.

The Government have not done justice to criminal injuries victims. The Minister will talk about the sums of money that the Government are adding to the criminal injuries compensation scheme. I know, because he admitted it in Standing Committee, that he has not got as much as he would have liked; the Treasury has done him down. But, as he admits, all that he is going to be able to do with what he has got is to reduce the queue by 5,000 a year for three years. At the end of those three years, the queue will not even start to be reduced again. What is more, he is not reducing the queue as it will be; he is reducing it as it is now. He may be reducing an existing queue, but he is not reducing a putative later queue.

11.30 pm

Let not the Minister of State— who has done his best, but failed, to obtain decent amounts—say that he is increasing the amount available under the scheme. It is for a limited period, for a limited reason and with limited scope. What we want is hundreds of millions of pounds to be made available under the scheme. Let us suppose that the taxpaying electorate were faced with a choice between adding £500 million to the criminal injuries compensation scheme, and losing a fraction of a penny from their income tax cuts. If there were a referendum tomorrow, I think that they would choose to add £500 million to the scheme.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we keep a tab of those commitments, which are at present running at £34,000 million. Is that commitment another £500 million to add to Labour's public expenditure plans?

No. I am saying that, given the choice, I know what choice the people would make. I also say that we shall lower the floor in the way proposed in new clause 12. The amount of additional public expenditure involved will be minute, but a large number of people will be assisted.

The Minister of State had better not make glib interventions like that, when he knows that two weeks ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer could have provided the country with a decent, properly funded, properly functioning, speedily paid criminal injuries compensation scheme, and chose not to, in the hope that—of all things—the hon. Member for Leicester, East (M r. Bruinvels) would be re-elected. That is one of the most grotesque political and expenditure priorities in the history of modern democracy.

Let not the Minister of State say for a moment that the money was not there, and let him not issue glib challenges to us. The challenge is to him. We have four new clauses and every one of them, if put to the electorate, would receive an overwhelming majority in favour.

I reiterate the four things that we want: compensation for loss or damage to clothing or personal adjuncts; no withholding or reduction or compensation on the basis of a claimant's character or way of life; lowering of the floor to £150; and the removal of the exceptional risk proviso from criminal injuries compensation for constables and others injured in the course of their duties.

We have heard the usual endearing display of brazen virtuosity from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). I congratulate him on being able to maintain in such adversity such a sustained attack on the exceptionally generous way in which the Government have dealt with the victims of crime. He knows the facts and the figures cannot be denied. He tried to take the wind out of my sails by saying, "It is no good the Minister of State talking about money." I shall certainly mention it, although I do not intend at this time of night to go over all the ground that we traversed in Standing Committee.

The right hon. Gentleman knows only too well that in the next financial year we shall be spending, in real terms, three and a half times what the Labour Government spent on compensating victims. We will also spend money on victim support schemes. Although they were in existence throughout the lifetime of the Labour Government, they did not receive one penny in Government assistance.

The right hon. Gentleman also knows that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was able to secure no less than £113 million of extra resources for the scheme last October. How that can be portrayed by the right hon. Gentleman as a defeat for the Home Office, I do not know.

The right hon. Gentleman has given the lie to any suggestion that what we are doing is done to save money by drawing attention to one inescapable fact— there is an inevitable backlog of cases, and always will be, when the scheme has to deal seriously with major, traumatic injuries and when hearings are required. That is why, in the world where one has to run things rather than criticise others for running things, we cannot have a scheme which does not concentrate on the real injuries which require major compensation. That is why we have decided to lift the floor.

The right hon. Gentleman knows that I cannot accept new clause 12. He knows that, when the scheme was first introduced in 1964, the base limit was set at what was then three weeks' average wage. That is pretty much the scale we have with £550, which enables us to focus on people with more severe injury. The right hon. Gentleman knows that the pace of the increase of violent crime has been slower throughout the 1980s than it was during the 1970s, but that, for perfectly proper reasons, more people now claim compensation. We go out of our way to ensure, through victim support schemes and citizens advice bureaux, that people know their entitlement to claim under the scheme. No such conscious attempt was made under the Labour Government and, even now, only a minority of victims apply for compensation.

As for new clause 13, the right hon. Gentleman finds himself in the position of, I think, Engels—I am not well up on revolutionaries—who said that one cannot agitate a man with a full belly. The right hon. Gentleman is trying to lead a charge when those who might have supported him have melted away. A perfectly reasonable distinction has been drawn since 1979 about the basis on which compensation should be paid to people who are injured accidentally.

The case that the right hon. Gentleman erected on sand about compensation to police officers relates not to an intentional application of force but to accidental injuries. The Police Federation which, as ever, was sustained in its efforts by the diligent and unswerving efforts of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Sir E. Griffiths) properly made representations to us to restore the situation to what it has been recently and what it remains— that there should be compensation when an exceptional risk is taken.

I was interested when the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to say that someone who runs across flat ground to stop someone riding a bicycle on a pavement should receive compensation if he falls and injures himself from a criminal injuries compensation scheme which is designed to compensate people for injuries inflicted on them by criminals. That is taking debating licence too far. However, the right hon. Gentleman is only playing with the issue, as he has made clear. Having made grandiloquent statements about how the public would leap up and down at the prospect of the spending of another £500 million in taxes—those who like to jump up and down at the prospect of paying taxes would have every opportunity to do so once the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) took over Treasury responsibilities, if that were ever to happen—the right hon. Gentleman was asked whether he was to make a pledge or enter into a commitment, but he jumped away from that like a scalded cat, as well he might.

The answer to new clause 13 is that we have entered into an arrangement with the Police Federation which I believe to be, and which I understand it believes to be, entirely satisfactory. On that I must rest.

When it comes to new clause 10, I accept that we are drawing a line in one place when it could have been elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman knows that such margin as I had, notwithstanding the exceptional additional sums that have been made available for the scheme, was taken away from me—I do not complain about that—by my agreeing to meet the claims of railwaymen who suffer nervous shock as a result of people trying to commit suicide in front of railway trains. That means that the £400,000 that it would cost to compensate for clothing is not available, £800,000 having been made available for railwaymen.

There is a perfectly logical case for the exclusion, but if we are to have a commitment of additional spending by some future Labour Government to compensate for clothing, let us hear it now. The right hon. Gentleman knows that if someone has his clothes ripped as a result of a criminal action, and that is the only damage, there is no basis for a claim. Claims must be based on criminal injuries. However, if an injury lies within the scheme and additionally clothes are damaged, compensation can be obtained for the clothing as well as for the injury.

We do not propose to continue with that provision, for two reasons. First, it seems arbitrary that someone can recover for damage to property merely because they have been physically injured, but not otherwise. That does not seem logical. That is why we shall restrict property claims to personal adjuncts. Secondly, the average payment for damage to clothing has been about £15 to £20 under the scheme, and that is well documented. I am well aware of the impoverishment of some claimants, although they are only a small minority, but £15 to £20 is hardly a large sum on which to make such a great claim as that which the right hon. Gentleman submitted. There is an ability to apply for exceptional payments if there is no other way in which clothing can be replaced.

It is regrettable that these lines have to be drawn, but it is necessary to do so when formulating a practical scheme. We have taken the view that we should focus on the more serious injuries, and that is what we are doing.

I can offer something positive to the right hon. Gentleman in responding to new clause 11. As I understood the right hon. Gentleman, he is not pushing against the entitlement of the board to make reductions on a basis that is broadly equivalent to the contributory negligence arrangements that prevail in the civil courts. Indeed, the entire scheme proceeds by analogy with claims for personal injuries before the civil courts. It is true that in clause 79 the principal ground for withholding the whole or part of a claim lies within subsection (2)(c), which reads:
"that he was not to any extent responsible for the injury to which the claim relates".
Paragraph (b) relates to what is already within the rules of the scheme under K— "Character and Way of Life"- which, inter alia, states:
"The applicant's criminal convictions will influence whether the application should be rejected completely or the award reduced because of character and way of life. Any attempts the applicant has made to reform himself should also be taken into consideration."
The passage continues to identify the nature of convictions that would be borne particularly in mind. It is clear that that is more specifically related to convictions than the construction of subsection (2)(b) might be.

It is on that basis that we have no wish to enhance the ambit of the arrangements that the board presently applies. I should like to discuss with the chairman of the board the proposal that is contained in new clause 11, and I hope that it will be possible to bring forward some restriction in another place to meet the point that has been raised.

I shall comment briefly on new clause 13, but in doing so I welcome what my hon. Friend the Minister has just said about new clause 11. If his ruminations bear fruit, I shall be interested to see what the Government are able to provide when the Bill goes to another place.

I was fascinated by the speech of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). I never look a gift horse in the mouth. I assure him that the Police Federation will study very carefully both what he has said and the terms of his new clause. I understand that in it he is offering an all-embracing occupational accident insurance policy. I do not think that any police officer would resist that for one moment. It is uncommonly generous of the right hon. Gentleman to propose it. It would make the police unique—but they are unique. I am happy to accept, for careful study, his generous offer.

11.45 pm

It would have to be built into a new, separate and statutory compensation scheme. The right hon. Gentleman has said on previous occasions as well as tonight that, constrained as he is by the Bill, he can only seek to make improvements within the parameters of this legislation and that if he had the opportunity to do so he would put together an entirely new scheme. I take it that it would be a statutory scheme. The right hon. Gentleman knows that the Police Federation has a number of reservations about that. However, the offer will be studied with care.

In respect of the Police Federation, I regard myself as, above all else, one of the custodians of the Edmund-Davies pay formula. The right hon. Gentleman knows that that pay formula was constructed from a whole series of factors that make the police unique. I refer to the shortage of police officers at the time; to the 24-hour responsibility that they uniquely must bear; to the very severe standards of discipline to which they and their families are exposed; and to the loss of civil liberty, whereby a police officer must, on joining, abandon all trade union and political activities. Above all else, there was built into the formula the risk of hazards on the job. It was to that point that the interdepartmental working party of civil servants drew attention when it made what, I confess, I regarded as the outrageous proposal that found its way into the Bill that we debated on Second Reading.

I should approach any proposals for a new insurance scheme a little charily if it appeared to put at risk or to cut away at the basis of the Edmund-Davies formula, which is constructed on the unique hazards that police officers have to face when doing their job. Whenever there is civil disorder, whether it be at Wapping, or connected with the miners' strike, or elsewhere, very large numbers of police officers suffer severe or minor injuries. I note that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to cover all those injuries. I hope that he has been able to carry with him the Trades Union Congress and his friends in the National Union o f Mineworkers. I shall be very interested to hear about that. I am bound, therefore, to welcome all that the right hon. Gentleman has said about an occupational insurance policy that would insure the police against all future accidents.

It is a disgrace that the original proposals should have been jumped out of an interdepartmental working party report into the Bill, without any consultation. It was quite proper that the Police Federation should immediately protest. On behalf of the federation I entered into negotiations with the Home Office. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and my hon. Friend the Minister of State behaved in an entirely civilised manner. They recognised the problem, accepted that the policy was a mistake, and returned to the previous position. The Police Federation's view is bound to be that it struck a bargain with the Government, and in the circumstances it will not go back on that bargain. It is grateful to the Home Secretary for what he has done. In all the circumstances—as the right hon. Member for Gorton will understand the—federation's best position is to take what it can from the Government and be grateful for that, but to look very carefully at the proposals made by the right hon. Member for Gorton.

The debate has confirmed my view that the Police Federation was badly advised in the decision that it made. If the implication of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edrnunds (Sir E. Griffiths) is that he was a participant in that process and an adviser to the federation, I believe that he advised the federation badly, because the federation could and should have received more. It should not have settled for what it agreed in the end. Public sympathy was rightly with the police, and the bargaining position of the Police Federation was a good deal stronger than may have been explained to the federation by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds. Of course, the hon. Gentleman was correct to state that, the Police Federation having made a bargain with the Government, it should stick by it. That is an honourable position and I have no doubt that the federation will maintain that honourable position. I simply say that I do not believe that the federation was sensible to strike that bargain. If the federation had stuck with the Opposition, it would have done a great deal better. I have advised the Police Federation before, as the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds is aware, that it should change its adviser and get a better deal.

; It should have chosen the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn).

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) would have done a better job for the Police Federation than the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, who only got the federation a return to the status quo. If it had had a little chat with me instead of with the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, the smiles on the faces of members of the federation would be broader than they are now.

However, the federation was badly advised. It has made a bargain and is sticking to it. I have repeatedly said—I said this to the largest meeting available to me at the Labour party's fringe meeting at the Police Federation meeting at Scarborough last May and I have repeated it to many other police audiences and to police as individuals,— that as far as the Opposition are concerned the Edmund-Davies agreement is intact. Whatever we propose must be in addition to Edmund- Davies and should not require a re-negotiation of Edmund-Davies formula. That point must be clearly understood. I want no one to believe that somehow or other we want to reopen the Edmund-Davies package to produce the better scheme to which I believe the police are entitled. I hope that the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds will take that message away with the greatest of clarity.

We all know the Minister. He is coming to the end of a very long stint and he has done his best, but he has failed with the Treasury. He can only give us any kind of leverage when it comes to the new clause that does not cost any money. He told us that it will cost him £400,000 to allow the clause on clothing, but he could not do that because he had done justice to the memory of his ancestor and done right by engine drivers. I do not believe that it should be a matter of choice. We should have both. Now that the Minister has told us that his assessment of the cost of the clothing new clause is £400,000, we can set that within the context of the Budget announced two weeks ago. I have already made our position clear on the police and on the very small additional cost that would be implied in the lowering of the floor to £150.

In this life we take what we can get. What I can get is new clause 11. As I have got new clause 11, I am taking it. I expect the Minister to deliver. Having clinched that deal with the Minister, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.