|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Strange: I support the amendment, which is noble and honourable. This is something we should all do to support the widows and orphans. Those of us who are lucky enough not to be widows and certainly an orphan know how people feel. They suffer a great deal of pain. They have been pursuing their duty and we really owe this to them. I hope the Government will support the amendment.
Lord Eames: Next Sunday I shall be dedicating a memorial window to officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in a certain area who have paid the supreme sacrifice. I can tell at this moment the congregation I shall look at. I simply say to the Minister that any generosity found possible by Her Majesty's Government in the days to come would be responding to a great need in our society at home. I would gladly welcome what was offered.
Lord Glentoran: I have two comments: first, I made representations to the Minister and his right honourable friend on this subject some months ago. I support the idea and the principle of the amendment. I am a little concerned that maybe paragraph (b) could lay the foundation for getting involved with pensions and so forth. If the Minister is minded to accept the amendment, I would ask him to ensure that it is drafted in the Bill in such a way that the foundation is not laid for getting into an area in the statutory business of pensions. However, I support the amendment.
Lord Hylton: I am happy to support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Laird. Indeed, bearing in mind what I said on Monday, I hope he expected that I would. However, perhaps I may put a small drafting point to the noble Lord and to the Government. It concerns the last word in the amendment; that is, "families". That may be too wide. The Minister may like to consider substituting
Viscount Brookeborough: I support the amendment. The widows, the injured and the retired are proud and honourable. Rather like the war widows, discussed in recent months in this place, they will not go begging. The reason we are here is to look after people who have given such service to their country. We should do that by introducing, if not this amendment, an amendment to the same effect.
Lord Archer of Sandwell: Lest it be thought that silence from these Back Benches betokens any lack of enthusiasm for the amendment, perhaps I may say that we are wholly behind it. We think that it is admirable and we are delighted to see it.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government entirely agree with the sentiments expressed in the amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Laird, has been a persistent and effective advocate on behalf of injured policemen and the widows of policemen. I readily acknowledge the work of the RUC Benevolent Fund and the fine job it does for members and former members. With regard to the RUC Widows' Association, the Government have already fully met Patten's recommendation 88 that it should be given an office free of charge and a regular source of finance adequate to run its organisation. I am pleased to report that the widows' association is now conducting its affairs from premises adjacent to the Police Rehabilitation and Retraining Trust in Belfast and has agreed with the Secretary of State the amount of financial support which it believes is needed to provide reasonable funding for its organisation.
As regards the second part of the amendment, the Government are committed to implementing recommendation 87 of the Patten report which states that a substantial fund should be set up to help injured police officers, injured retired officers and their families, as well as police widows. Noble Lords will recall that I prefaced my comments at Second Reading on 27th July by announcing that the Government had appointed the highly respected former Northern Ireland Office civil servant John Steele to examine and make recommendations about the needs of those listed in this amendment and arrangements for establishing and administering such a fund. I know that his report will be presented to the Secretary of State by the end of this month. In substance, therefore, the Government are already going beyond what the amendment seeks to do.
I turn to the RUC GC Foundation. The noble Lord will recall that the Government set up this foundation in response to Her Majesty's fitting award of the George Cross to the RUC to mark the sacrifices and honour the achievements of the brave officers of the
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, referred on Monday to the possibility of fortification of the RUC GC Foundation with a royal charter. That, of course, is not something within the Government's gift. However, I understand that the Secretary of State would seek to support any such application that might be made by the foundation. For all those reasons I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Laird: I thank the Minister for his words, and other noble Lords who have spoken in support of the amendment. I am prepared to withdraw the amendment. However, I should like to discuss the issue with the Minister and perhaps refer back to it on another occasion. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Page 58, line 43, leave out ("member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland") and insert ("police officer").
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Page 35, line 29, at end insert--
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page