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Swanson Agrees With Monro

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Swanson Agrees With Monro

Post by Karen on Sun 24 Apr 2011 - 14:11


Mr. James Monro, the late Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has at length broken silence, and in the pages of a monthly magazine has told the story of Police Pensions in a manner which will give Mr. Matthews a very uncomfortable half-hour. When the Home Secretary made his explanation to the House of Commons, at the time when he abandoned his project of making Mr. Ruggles-Brise an Assistant-Commissioner, he had it all his own way, but it was then hinted by Mr. Monro that the last word had not been said. Had he occupied a seat in the House of Commons, and been able to answer Mr. Matthews on the spot, that gentleman would have found himself in an extremely awkward position. It is all ancient history now. Sir Edward Bradford rules at Scotland-yard; the Police Pensions Bill has passed into law, and the Home Secretary is enjoying his holidays. It is only just, however, to the late Commissioner that the widest publicity should be given to his statements. In 1881 Sir William Harcourt, being then Home Secretary, when addressing a gathering of the police at the Orphanage at Twickenham, expressed the hope that he might before long be able to place on a fixed and satisfactory footing the superannuation and pension of those who had spent the best days of their lives in the service of their countrymen. A police pension fund has been in existence for half a century, the members of the force contributing 2 to 2 1/2 per cent of their weekly pay towards it. After ten years the fund became insolvent, and by 1886 the whole of the capital was absorbed. The contributions continued to be paid by the police, and the deficiency was thrown on the ratepayers.
The Act of 1839 provided that a constable serving for from fifteen to twenty years was entitled to an allowance of not more than one-half his pay, and after twenty years to two-thirds of his pay, provided that he was certified to be incapable from infirmity to discharge his duties, if he were at the time under the age of sixty. From 1862 to 1872, in consequence of the insolvent state of the pension fund, the scale of allowances was revised unfavourably to the police, and then discontent and insubordination came to a head, and there was something like a police strike, the result being that the scale was somewhat improved. Sir William Harcourt's promise of 1881 was not fulfilled, although the wishes of the police were formulated in reports presented in 1882, and when Mr. Monro went into the force, in 1884, he found that strong feeling existed on the subject, and tried to press for a settlement of the question. Nothing was done till a year ago, when a Committee was appointed to report on the matter, but after they had taken evidence and before they had reported, Mr. Matthews took the strange course of suspending their sittings. Meanwhile, as all the world knows, the duties of the police have become more arduous of late years. The policemen, however, in 1889, made even more moderate demands than in 1882, the chief point being that a pension should be granted after twenty-five years' service irrespective of age, and without a medical certificate. The demand was justified by Chief Inspector Wells, who declared that "police work kills men in twenty-five years; they cannot do it any longer if they are compelled to do it in the streets." Chief Inspector Swanson also testified that "a man is thoroughly worn-out after twenty-five years' service." Mr. Monro strongly supported this claim of the police, and, after long delay, he was told that there were no grounds for favourably considering it and that the promise of Sir William Harcourt in 1881 was not of a binding character. Thereupon he resigned. It will be remembered that the views of Mr. Matthews as to the appointment of Mr. Ruggles-Brise underwent a complete change as soon as Mr. Monro resigned. It appears that his views on the pension question underwent a radical change also. The Police Pensions Bill has been altered. As it originally stood it required twenty-eight years in order to qualify for a full pension; that has been reduced to twenty-seven years, and then to twenty-six years, and Mr. Matthews himself admitted that the whole of the evidence tended to show that after twenty-five years the policeman is a worn-out man. We have not the smallest doubt that Mr. Monro really won these concessions by flinging his resignation in the face of the Home Secretary, who now tries to take credit for the fair and liberal provisions which he claims to have made for the members of the force.

Source: The Echo, Saturday August 30, 1890, Page 2

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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