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Mr. Beith: I have listened with great interest, but is it not the case that all the people who object to having Humberside on their bills and letters really want Lincolnshire on them?

Mr. Brown: That is correct. I have been waging a campaign, of which I gave notice when we passed the Order in Council giving effect to the setting up of the current structure of unitary local government--it is in my speech in Hansard--that I would do everything possible to expunge the word Humberside from the English

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language. Yesterday's opportunity that was presented to me in Committee was simply a part of that continuing campaign.

I have successfully persuaded Anglian Water, Yorkshire Electricity, British Gas and BT to recognise that the name Lincolnshire must appear on their bills. There has been a cost to those companies, but the bills have not increased.

The hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe touched on cost, but I believe that that is a red herring. He was right to remind the House that the chief constable is concerned about the cost implications, but I dispute the chief constable's figure of £1 million. If the change were to be made overnight, I believe that the cost would be about £250,000.

I have received the same list as the hon. Gentleman from the chief constable, who says that to effect the change he will have to get new uniforms for 3,000 people, including regulars, specials and support staff; he will not have to get new uniforms unless he is terribly profligate. All that has to be done, eventually, over some time, is to change the name tag on the shoulder pads. He does not have to get new headgear, as all he has to do is change the badge.

The chief constable says that he will require funds for marketing the new name; he does not need to spend a halfpenny doing that. He says that he has to write off existing stock of all headed notepaper and official literature, including legal documents, summonses and warrants; that is not so: my constituency association is changing its name from Brigg and Cleethorpes to Cleethorpes, and we do not have the money to go to the printing presses tomorrow to change everything, so we shall continue to use the old notepaper until the last sheet has gone. That is therefore a red herring.

The chief constable speaks of vehicle livery for the whole fleet; but, when new police vehicles are purchased, they can have Humber on the side, while existing vehicles continue to have Humberside on the side, just as, when later this year the name of the Humberside ambulance trust changes, that will have to be done by a gradual process.

Mr. Morley: The hon. Gentleman is playing down some of the difficulties. Some of the uniforms have the name woven in; one cannot simply tear them off and sew on a stripe. Taking off the names on police helmets is not as simple as the hon. Gentleman would like to believe.

When my three local councils were brought together, they did not want the expense of a change, but realised that it would be too complicated if they did not act at once, so they went for a stick-over logo; even that was quite expensive. Even people who argue for local government change complain about the costs that go with it: the new signs and headings and the office administration. Should not people be given a choice as to whether they want to pay £1 million to change a name?

Mr. Brown: I do not support police uniforms being scrapped until they need replacing. In Committee yesterday, I said:

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    replace motor vehicles and uniforms. I know that he is anxious about costs and it is essential to recognise that the last thing we expect the chief constable to do is to reorder new uniforms, police cars, equipment, and so on."

The Minister made a similar point. I intervened on him and said that I accepted his warning that he did not expect the chief constable to engage in additional expenditure to effect the change. I asked:

    "If the Committee agreed to the amendment, would it be acceptable for my right hon. Friend's Department to send some sort of guideline to the chief constable acknowledging that it would not expect him to incur expenditure overnight on changing badges and logos, and that it fully understands that it could take several years for the proposal to come into effect?"

My right hon. Friend replied that he would draw our remarks to the force's attention, but:

    "The Home Office has no constitutional right to send a guideline to that effect."--[Official Report, Standing Committee F, 18 March 1997; c. 279-282.]

He accepted that his neutrality was based on the clear understanding that there would be no immediate requirement to spend money on effecting the change.

It is important to recognise that the name Humberside is still synonymous with the hated county of Humberside. I simply took the opportunity presented by the Police Bill. I would never have dreamed of introducing such legislation on its own. It is rare that the House gets an opportunity to table amendments that affect a locality. If I had not taken advantage of this opportunity, I might have had to wait another five or 10 years. The chief constable does not want to change the name, because he is concerned about the growing demand in the old South Humberside area for our area to be policed by the Lincolnshire force.

The hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe said that the consultation showed no demand for our constituencies to be taken over by the Lincolnshire force. Let me remind him that there is a growing demand in the old south Humberside area for the Lincolnshire police to take over policing because Humberside appears low down the crime ranking order relative to Lincolnshire. We often have undue problems with the Humber bridge, which is the single link between the two halves of the police area. If the majority of my constituents had their way, they would be policed by the Lincolnshire police. The chief constable is worried that the Home Secretary of the day may decide to ensure that the police authority and local government areas are more closely matched. That is why he overstates the case on cost grounds.

There is a case to be made, and it is the responsibility of Parliament--not the chief constable, the local authorities or the parish councils--to take legislative decisions about such matters and to test them in the Lobbies, if the hon. Gentleman chooses to press his amendment. It is rare for us to disagree on local issues. We have had, and I am sure that we will continue to have, a very good working relationship. I am sorry that it has temporarily broken down.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North): I have been in the House for a long time but I have never known an occasion when, on a matter affecting the title of a county or area that he or she represented with another hon. Member, the Member who had the bright idea of changing a name did not inform colleagues directly--

Mr. Brown: It was on the Order Paper.

Mr. McNamara: Not through the Order Paper.

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Secondly, I am surprised that a matter that affects the whole area was not referred to the local authorities, the parish councils or even to the police authority. The action of the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) was discourteous to his colleagues. We can live with that, because we are used to such things. More important is the cavalier way in which he has treated the people who he claims to represent in Humberside.

Fortunately, at the general election, the Labour candidate in his seat will to be able to say that the hon. Gentleman is the man who would profligately spend £1 million on changing a name--£250,000 a letter. That is the equivalent of 20 policemen. He is prepared to watch the money go, just like that. That says much for his concern for the safety and security of his constituents. Fortunately, he will not have that responsibility in future.

The hon. Gentleman is prepared to play with their physical safety and that of their homes and of the roads by being prepared to spend £1 million to satisfy a childish phobia about a name. He says, "I hate the name, I want it expunged." What sort of stupid arrogant attitude is that? What a waste of public money.

6.45 pm

The Government say that they are neutral, but they are prepared to allow £1 million to be wasted. The same Government could not give me £300,000 under the safer city initiative to protect the safety and security of people who live in high-rise flats in my constituency. They could not give me that, but they can give £1 million for the foolish idea of the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes.

Mr. Brown: I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman, who is normally a mild, meek and gentlemanly character, has got so carried away. I want to give him a breather. I challenge the hon. Gentleman about the figure of £1 million. The chief constable would be profligate to spend £1 million overnight to effect the name change, but he has no need. My exchanges with the Minister showed that only out of petty mindedness could the chief constable be profligate enough to do that. I would not expect him to spend £1 million.

Mr. McNamara: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but that is not what he means. He is really saying that he is prepared to spend that money over several years. He is prepared to allow the money to be spent, whether at once or over a period, on a foolish scheme. He says that I am usually mild, courteous, gentle and kind, that I kiss my wife and do not kick the dog. That is all true, but I get angry when something concerns the physical safety of my constituents, and the security of their homes is put at risk by hare-brained schemes.

The one thing that makes me even angrier is the Government's attitude. Time and time again we have applied for schemes to protect my constituents and those of my hon. Friends in Hull and had them turned down. Then Ministers turn round and say, "Here, take £1 million--£250,000 a letter--to get rid of the 'side' out of 'Humberside'." We shall be left with the Humber police force. What a glorious idea that is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) has shown.

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The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes says that he wants his part of Lincolnshire to be policed by Lincolnshire police authority. I understand his wanting to go into Lincolnshire. As far as I am concerned, Lincolnshire is more than welcome to the hon. Gentleman. Yet both banks of the Humber have common interests, in terms of effective policing, as we have had on such things as drug smuggling and so many other issues. Humberside police force has expertise on such matters as drug smuggling because of the maritime nature of the area and the nature of the ports on both sides of the Humber, down the Trent and up the Ouse.

Humberside police force protects not only our citizens in Humberside but the citizens of the greater part of the country. Some of the greatest attempts to import dangerous drugs occur in Hull and other Humberside ports. The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes wants to break up and spoil that expertise when it is just beginning to get on top of drug smuggling. Why? Because he does not like the name "Humberside." He would spend £1 million on changing it. For goodness sake, Madam Deputy Speaker, I know that we are supposed to be demob happy, but this is demob lunacy.

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