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Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle): Some people who do not represent my part of the world--you represent Plymouth, Drake with great distinction, Madam Deputy Speaker--may wonder why people are getting so worked up in this debate. The issue is of great importance locally. For those who are not familiar with it, it goes back to 1974 when the Government led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath), whom I was delighted to see in the Chamber a moment ago, decided to tear away from the rest of Lincolnshire parts of north Lincolnshire, including Scunthorpe, Grimsby, Glanford and Brigg. That caused enormous ill feeling. Unofficial local referendums were conducted and massively subscribed to because the Government led by my right hon. Friend, whom I now see entering the Chamber, did not allow an official referendum on the issue. The people of Lincolnshire wanted to be one, but they were not consulted.

After almost 20 years of campaigning by people like my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), the county of Humberside has finally been abolished and people can once again say with pride, even if they live in Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Brigg, Glanford or wherever, that they live in Lincolnshire. To them it is an important issue.

This is not simply an unimportant debate about a name. People in Lincolnshire feel strongly about it. That is why, as a member of the Standing Committee which considered the Police Bill, I tabled my own variant of the amendment proposed today by my hon. Friend. I proposed that we should change the name of the Humberside police force to North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire police force. That is what people want deep in their hearts.

People who live in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Hull think of themselves as belonging either to Lincolnshire or to Yorkshire. That is the reality. I was told by my

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hon. Friends and by my right hon. Friend the Minister that it was not possible to proceed that far. It is important to local people.

Mr. McNamara: The hon. Gentleman chose the names of two unitary authorities and left out the other two. He is as stupid as his hon. Friend.

Mr. Leigh: That was an unworthy intervention. The hon. Gentleman and I enjoy good relations on other matters. People who live in Hull know perfectly well that they live in east Yorkshire. People who live in Scunthorpe or Grimsby know that they live in Lincolnshire. That is the fact of the case. That was the reason for my amendment, but it was not accepted.

The campaign of my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes has met with success. The county of Humberside has been abolished. He is now rightly pressing to have all other public bodies expunge the name from their titles.

Listening to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), one would think that people do not attach importance to this issue. They do. I constantly received letters from people in the north part of Lincolnshire before the Post Office changed its rules who were angry that, although they lived in Lincolnshire, they had to put "Humberside" in their address. They did not like it. A name is important. People in Lincolnshire want that fact acknowledged.

My hon. Friend's amendment is important for another reason. I have talked about the symbolic importance of a name, but as my hon. Friend says, this goes further. Last week I had a long conversation with the chief constable of Lincolnshire. I cannot repeat what he said in private, but there is mystification as to why the two police authorities in north Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire have not been amalgamated. It is a serious point.

I represent villages in the northern part of Lincolnshire just south of the old county boundary between South Humberside and Lincolnshire. I receive complaints from people in places such as Keelby about the long police response time when an incident takes place. I am sure that people on the other side of the old boundary make the same complaint. The nearest headquarters is Gainsborough or perhaps Market Rasen. How much more sensible it would be to have a unified police authority. We should have created a unified police authority from the north Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire forces.

Lincolnshire police authority has performed superbly in the past 20 years. The chief constable told me that, before reorganisation, about two thirds of the crime in the county was committed in what is now Lincolnshire and one third was committed in South Humberside. The position is now reversed. Two thirds of crime in the county is now recorded in the former South Humberside and one third is committed in south Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire constabulary has a superb record of performing a comprehensive service within its budget.

Mr. Morley: The hon. Gentleman digresses from the argument about policing, which was considered and rejected. Humberside has a major drugs problem associated with the Humber ports. It makes sense to have an estuary-wide police force. There is a logical argument for that. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that people

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should be consulted about changing the name and that the cost should be considered? I have a suspicion that, if people in north Lincolnshire had realised that the local government reorganisation would mean a 28 per cent. increase in their council tax, they might have had second thoughts. People ought to be consulted on whether they want to pay £1 million to change the name of the local police authority.

Mr. Leigh: We all know that the figure of £1 million is grossly inflated. The letter from the chief constable is absurd. The change will not cost £1 million. As my right hon. Friend the Minister and my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes have said, the change could be phased in over a considerable time.

I can now draw my remarks to a conclusion. This is not simply a little campaign by my hon. Friend in which local people take no interest. He is not simply trying to get a few headlines in the Grimsby Evening Telegraph. It is nothing to do with any of that. It is important. If it was not important, why has my hon. Friend been able to show me a sheaf of letters from organisations such as the Great North Eastern Railway, the Benefits Agency, the Post Office and the Lincolnshire ambulance service, all saying that they are changing their name? Indeed, the Rural Development Commission is actually changing its name to the very name that I suggested in my amendment--North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire. As far as I know the Rural Development Commission is a serious and well-respected body. It obviously considers the matter important, but it has not said that it will cost it £1 million to change its name. The chief constable is using absurd arguments.

Local people attach importance to this matter. My hon. Friend's amendment does not go far enough, but I appreciate that mine cannot get through tonight, so I am happy to support my hon. Friend.

Mr. Maclean: I am pleased to respond to this short and slightly heated debate. From the Government's point of view, there are only two principal issues here. In Committee yesterday, I said that I would not attempt to impose the Government's view of what the area should be called--I did not consider it my duty to do so, nor was it appropriate. I said that I would be happy to take the Committee's opinion on the matter and leave it to a free vote in Committee. That is what happened, and I shall return to that subject in a moment.

7 pm

The other point I wish to make relates to cost. If I thought for a single moment that the cost of a change of name from Humberside to Humber, as was decided in Committee yesterday, would cost £1 million--either next year or over ten years--I would have had to tell my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) that I was sorry, but the Government could not remain neutral because that was an excessive cost, up with which we would not put.

Mr. McNamara: Has the right hon. Gentleman discussed this matter and the costings with the police authority or the chief constable?

Mr. Maclean: The chief constable, as I said yesterday, has said that he does not wish the name to be changed,

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and he has sent a letter making that view clear. Attached to the letter is a document headed, "Areas incurring implementation costs." These areas lead him to conclude that the cost could be £1 million and they include vehicle livery for the whole fleet; writing off existing stock; and marketing the new name.

I accept that, if the name was changed, whatever it was changed to, the cap badge would have to change in due course--I do not, however, accept that uniforms would have to change--and as official notepaper was replaced, it too would have to change. However, I do not accept for one moment that existing stock bearing any name needs to be written off at all--that would be an appalling waste, and I would not contemplate such action. Nor would I accept that a single penny of taxpayers' money should be spent by any police authority on marketing a new name. I know what marketing costs from when the Home Office has attempted anti-crime drives. It would be easy to spend £1 million on marketing a new name--it is possible to spend £5 million on marketing a new corporate identity without seeing any great benefit from doing so.

There is only one way in which costs could rise to £1 million and that is if a decision was taken overnight to spend an awful lot of money on a new corporate identity, marketing a new name, writing off all existing stocks and changing overnight. I have said that an authority could do that if it wished, but I would not intend any of the generous increase in funding that we have given Humberside police over the years to be spent on such action. I made that clear in Committee yesterday.

I listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) said. We have allocated sufficient extra funds to Humberside and we intend to continue the programme of allocating money for extra bobbies. Humberside, which has increased the number of its officers over the years to 2,042, can now recruit an extra 85 officers because of the extra funding promised by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Last year, we allowed Humberside police a budget increase of more than 5 per cent.; this year, it could increase by 3.8 per cent. We have put in that funding, and I want all of it to be spent on fighting crime. That is what it is all about.

I made it clear in Committee that, if the change went through, I would not want any money to be wasted on marketing a new name or corporate identity; and it would be scandalous if the costs of a change of name reached a fraction of £1 million, let alone £1 million.

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