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Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes): It is a rare occasion when the hon. Gentleman and I are on opposite sides on behalf of local interests. In our 10 years as next-door neighbours, we have usually worked together on local issues, and I will not fall out with him because of today's debate. I remind him that when the county of Humberside was abolished, the Government's regional office in Leeds changed the name of Yorkshire and Humberside to Yorkshire and the Humber--the Humber has become an accepted term for the region.

Mr. Morley: That is true, but in that case the name had to be changed because it referred to the county of Humberside, which no longer exists, so there was no choice. I remind the hon. Gentleman that we still have the Humberside fire brigade and that that name will not be changed by his amendment. We also still have the Humberside ambulance service, but for some reason we are to have the Humber police. It does not make sense.

Dr. Godman: In response to the intervention by the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), when the Government got rid of Strathclyde regional council even they retained the Strathclyde police force.

Mr. Morley: My hon. Friend makes an excellent point.

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During the consultation period on local government reorganisation, the police authority and all the local authorities were consulted about the name, and wanted unanimously to keep the name Humberside police. The force's operational area is still within the county boundary of the old county of Humberside.

Hon. Members should oppose the amendment agreed in Committee for three reasons. First, on consultation, the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes has his own view of the name Humberside. It is an anathema to him. He has criticised Radio Humberside, saying he did not like it because of its name. Disliking a name is not sufficient reason to change it. The change could cost up to £1 million. It is outrageous that a decision was taken in Committee that will have far-reaching implications in terms of cost to Humberside police, when there was no consultation with local people, the police authority, the chief constable and Members of Parliament representing the Humberside police area, nor any consultation with local parish and town councils. No one had any say in the change. It has been sprung on us with no consultation.

If there were a groundswell for change, we would listen. I did not object to the name of North Lincolnshire for my new unitary authority because I knew that there was a groundswell of opinion for it. There is no groundswell in the former Humberside area for a name change of this kind.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle): The hon. Gentleman says that he did not object to the fact that the local authority changed its name to North Lincolnshire. Would he accept changing the name of the police authority to the North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire police authority, which is precisely what it is?

Mr. Morley: The same points apply. People should be asked for their view of the change. If there is to be any change, local opinions and views should be sought. There was no attempt to do so before the amendment was agreed to in Committee, and that is why I object to the change. There has been no consultation. I have seen no groundswell of opinion, I have not had a single letter on the subject and not one person has mentioned to me that the name of the Humberside police force should be changed.

When people in the old Humberside area realise that the change could cost up to £1 million, which will come out of the police authority's budget, they will wonder why the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh)--a Member representing Lincolnshire--is so concerned about changing the name. The authority will not cover his area.

The cost is the third point. The Minister should think carefully. Will he consider accepting my amendment rather than making me force it to a vote? If he does not accept my amendment, he is telling the people of Humberside and the four councils in the area that they will have to find nearly £1 million--according to the chief constable with whom I have been in touch today--out of the existing police budget simply to make that change. How many police officers will be affected by that? Does not the Minister think that fighting crime, dealing with criminals and ensuring that there are police officers on the streets are far more important than changing the name on a cap badge or the side of a police car? That is what the Minister should think about, and it is what every hon. Member thinks about.

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If the Minister will not accept my amendment, he and those hon. Members who go into the Lobby to support the Bill as it stands should realise that people in my area will think that they and the Conservative party care so little about fighting crime and about effective police resources that they are prepared to take £1 million from a police authority budget simply to drop the "side" out of Humberside. That is unacceptable. There has been no consultation. The views of local people have not been taken into account and a good police force might be crippled by having to find that £1 million.

I read in the Hansard report of proceedings in Committee that the name change could be phased in over a number of years and introduced as it can be afforded, which is a ludicrous idea. One cannot have one police car going out with Humberside police on it and another with Humber police, or half the police force with one cap badge and half with another. It does not make sense and would be a bureaucratic nightmare. That is why we Labour Members are saying that our priority is fighting crime. Our priority is law and order and we do not want to waste money changing four letters in the name of a police force. We want to ensure that the money that the local police authority has is used to greatest effect and that means by fighting crime and not messing around with a name in this way.

Dropping the "side" in Humberside will not only let down the side referred to in the name, but will let down the side as regards representing the people of the area and ensuring that the money is used to fight crime.

Mr. Michael Brown: As I said in my intervention, it is a rare occasion when the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) and I disagree on a local issue. We have been good neighbours, and normally we are on the same side.

The hon. Gentleman speaks of lack of consultation. The position is simple: I served in Committee on the Bill, and I saw that it was within the long title to table my amendment, which has been on the amendment paper and known to the hon. Gentleman since 25 February. Any Member of Parliament who studies the Vote bundle can see any amendment that is tabled and take appropriate action.

If he had been watching the proceedings of the House, the hon. Gentleman would have known that my amendment was selected for debate by the Chairman of the Standing Committee on 11 March, so there was no attempt to slide it through; every hon. Member knew that I was on the Standing Committee and that I had tabled the amendment that first appeared on the amendment paper on 25 February.

6.30 pm

Yesterday, when my amendment was debated in Committee, it was open to any member of the Committee to vote it down. My right hon. Friend the Minister made it clear that the Government were neutral, and said that he and his Front-Bench colleagues would not participate in a Division. It was possible, therefore, for the Opposition to call a Division and defeat my amendment, but I am delighted to report that it was made without a Division, after a good debate that covered several issues.

The most important point for me to stress is that the county of Humberside no longer exists. I spent 16 years, from the day on which I first entered the House, trying

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unsuccessfully to persuade successive Ministers in the Department of the Environment that the hated county of Humberside should be abolished. Eventually, in February 1995, the House passed a statutory instrument enabling the county to be abolished and the new unitary authorities to be set up.

The Government recognised that, with the abolition of Humberside, some names would need to be changed. The Government regional office of Yorkshire and Humberside was renamed Yorkshire and the Humber. The Post Office acknowledges that to write Lincolnshire on a letter is an accepted form of address.

The hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe says that he has had no complaints about the name of Humberside constabulary, but that is not my experience. Whenever the name Humberside arises in a water, electricity or gas bill or in reference to the fire service I get a large number of letters from constituents who say, "You have abolished the county of Humberside, Mr. Brown, so why do we still have Humberside police and Humberside ambulance service?"

From October this year, the hon. Gentleman's constituency and mine will be served not by the Humberside ambulance service but by the Lincolnshire ambulance service.

Mr. Morley: The hon. Gentleman is right, but that change will be the result not of any popular movement but of the daft internal market and the tendering procedure, in which Lincolnshire ambulance trust happened to win.

Mr. Brown: I suspect that, if I pursued that avenue too far, Madam Deputy Speaker, you would rule me out of order. However, I will say that, with the Lincolnshire ambulance trust taking over the responsibility for the ambulance service in the constituencies of the hon. Gentleman, myself and the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), I bet that the name Humberside ambulance service, which will cover only east Yorkshire, will not remain.

I bet that, when the name is changed, there will be no suggestion that £1 million will have to be spent on changing the names on the ambulances. In October, when the present Humberside ambulance trust becomes responsible only for Hull and East Yorkshire, it will call itself not Humberside but East Riding. It will not spend £1 million painting out names on ambulances immediately and change all its notepaper. It will have to continue on existing budgets, because that is the structure of its cost basis.

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