At the quarterly meeting of Hertfordshire County Council, held at St Albans on Monday, the Standing Joint Committee reported that they had under consideration the resolution passed by the County Council asking the committee to reconsider the resolution passed by them as to the salary to be paid to the Chief Constable during his absence on leave, and the remuneration to be paid to the Deputy Chief Constable, Supt William Wood, during the absence of the Chief Constable. The Committee were still of the opinion that the Chief Constable should be paid two-thirds of his salary during his absence on leave, and that an additional salary at the rate of £160 per annum should be paid to the Deputy Chief Constable, which latter amount represented approximately the remaining one-third paid to the Chief Constable previous to the granting to him of leave of absence.
The Hon A. Holland-Hibbert moved an amendment to the effect that the Council considered the proposal would cast an undue burden on the ratepayers, especially under the present trying conditions. He said he wished to make it perfectly clear that nothing he was about to say in any way reflected on the Chief Constable, whom he regarded as a most efficient, able, and hard-working officer. The Chief Constable had written to the Standing Joint Committee just such a letter as they would have expected of him, saying that if his services could be spared he felt it his duty to re-join the Army, and that the matter of pay did not enter into his head. What he wanted to point out was that in spite of the fact that the Council by an enormous majority at their previous meeting asked the Standing Joint Committee to reconsider the question of the salary of the Chief Constable, that committee had declined to entertain it. It was argued that the County Council had already laid down the rule that married men in their employ who enlisted should receive their full salaries, and unmarried men two-thirds; but there was not a member of the Council who would dare to say that the rule was intended to apply to men like the Chief Constable, who could by joining the Army obtain a very considerable addition to their salaries. The upper officials of the Council were not in contemplation when that decision was arrived at; they were simply discussing school teachers and roadmen. The salary of the Chief Constable was £667 a year, but his pay in the Army exceeded that, for it was £720 a year; yet in spite of that the Committee suggested that he should continue to receive two-thirds of the salary he was earning before he joined the Army. In other words the Chief Constable was to receive £1,167 whilst he was away from them, whereas he was only getting £667 when he was with them. The Government auditors had refused to pass in certain cases war allowances such as this when voted by local authorities, on the ground that they should not be expected to pass unreasonable sums. Let them compare the treatment of the Chief Constable with that of a female teacher. She volunteered to go as a nurse, but because the Council’s resolution only applied to the Army and Navy they could not allow her any part of her salary, and so she threw up her job and became a nurse. He dare say that that action was perfectly right in law on the part of the Council, but it compared very unfavourably with the treatment of the Chief Constable. Their duty was to do as the Staffordshire and Warwickshire County Councils had done, viz., to take care that the Chief Constable was not the loser by joining the Army, but they also had a duty to the ratepayers and that was to economize, and he held that they could not by any means justify practically doubling a man’s salary when he was away from his duties. (Applause). If the Committee refused to take the matter back, then he should ask the Council to place the matter before the Home Secretary. (Hear, Hear).
Mr Whateley, Wheathampstead, seconded, and said he entirely agreed with what Mr Holland-Hibbert had said, and remarked that it was very unfair at a time when the Government was preaching to them to exercise stern economy in every direction that the Chief Constable should be making a large profit out of the transaction.
Mr Craufurd, (Northchurch) said that he was a member of the Standing Joint Committee and supported the proposal, but he had no idea at the time what the Chief Constable’s military pay was.
The Chairman said that whether they made a good bargain, or whether they had been too liberal or not, they had pledged their word to Major Law that he would be paid two-thirds of his salary, and they ought not to go back upon it. He could not hold out any hope as long as he was connected with the Standing Joint Committee that they would go back on their word. Of course if the Council chose to pass the amendment they could do so, but it would stand on record.
Mr Holland-Hibbert: ‘My reply to that is that we are dealing with ratepayers’ money, and the County Council have never approved of the extravagant decision of the committee to spend the ratepayers’ money in the way it is proposed by you now.’ (Hear, Hear).
Mr Pank again reminded the Council that they had already decided to give Major Law two-thirds of his salary, and that the county was not being put to a single penny extra expense, as an arrangement had been made with Supt Wood, the Deputy Chief Constable, to perform the duties.
Mr Holland-Hibbert’s motion was then put and carried by 31 to 12.
The Chairman: ‘Well, it will have no effect, (Cries of ‘Oh!’ and laughter). Of course I cannot pretend to know what the Standing Joint Committee will do now, but knowing that they have considered the matter twice and knowing that the committee is an independent body over which this Council has no control, I don’t think they will alter their decision.’
Mr Hine then moved, and Mr Holland-Hibbert seconded, that as the chairman assured them that the committee would not alter their decision the matter be laid before the Home Secretary.
The Chairman: ‘I rule that out of order. It is not an amendment to this resolution. It is not a question for the Home Secretary. If Mr Hine or anybody else does not approve of the action taken they can call the attention of the Home Secretary to it individually, but not as a Council.’
Mr Holland-Hibbert: ‘Are we to understand that in spite of the very strongly expressed opinion of the County Council, and in spite of members of your own committee differing from your decision, the ratepayers’ money is still going to be spent in this way, viz., to pay the Chief Constable on lines which we as guardians of the ratepayers’ money heartily disapprove?’
The Chairman: ‘I cannot answer what the committee will do.’
Mr Toovey: ‘If what you say is true, that we have no control over the Standing Joint Committee, why are we asked to endorse their decisions?’
The Chairman: ‘Personally, I never have thought it necessary. It has always been done as a matter of courtesy. In other counties the Standing Joint Committee do not report to the County Council: they simply send in a requisition for the money they want.’ (Cries of ‘Oh!’).