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Mr. David Heath: My hon. Friend refers to the expected 7.5 per cent. precept increase for Avon and Somerset. A large component of that increase is down to changes in the area cost adjustment and the council tax benefit subsidy limitation scheme, which rubs salt in the wound. They do not pay for more police officers or better crime fighting, but simply apply the Government's formulae for the purposes of the rest of the country.

Mr. Hughes: Absolutely. A range of similar issues should also have been sorted out after nearly four years of Labour government. One example is the urban-rural mix, which has been raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) and acknowledged by the Minister. Forces such as Northumbria and Avon and Somerset, which police city and rural communities, clearly have an averaging out that does not reflect either their sparsity or the intensity of inner-city areas.

Furthermore, 14 per cent. of what we give to police forces is taken back to be spent on pensions for retired coppers, although a proposal for change seems to be on the table. That is a difficult issue, but I tabled a written question to the Minister almost a year ago to ask when he would tell us what he would do about police pensions. The answer was:

That meant spring 2000, but spring 2001 is almost here. So far, there ain't nothing to see. That is a big issue and another reason why we must be dissatisfied on behalf of police authorities.

There is another difficult issue. Police forces are still rewarded for failure, not success. If crime figures decrease, forces are likely to get less money, not more. That is unsatisfactory. In addition, answers have not been provided to the difficult allowances questions. The Met has had an additional allowance. The Tories, of course, made a complete hash of allowances through the implementation of the Sheehy report, which completely ruined Met recruitment. The Government have sought to correct that and, on behalf of people in London, I am grateful to them. The home counties and counties such as

31 Jan 2001 : Column 349

Hampshire, however, about which my hon. Friends keep asking questions, also have high living costs, but do not pay the allowance that would enable them to hold on to officers and recruit the police they need.

Although I hope that the Minister will make an announcement soon, there is still no funding package to keep officers on at the end of their 30 years' service or to bring recently retired officers back. We still have not had any correct and full answer in explanation of the fact that the Home Office allocation across the next three years is 6.4 per cent. but the police allocation less than 4 per cent. Even if extras such as forensic science are included, the police figure will still not reach the Home Office average. If policing is so important, why does it not receive as great an increase as the Home Office in general? When will there be the review of the police funding formula for which police authorities around the country have been asking for about 10 years? The formula does not manage to allocate money in the way that the authorities want.

Is not that litany reason enough to vote against the settlement? If not, there is no reason to do so. I am grateful that the Government have at last realised how important the public consider adequate funding of our police to be, but, as some of us said before the election and have said every year since and although the settlement is more generous than in previous years, thank God, it does not make up for the fact that the blue line has been stretched to breaking point. Every time the police are stretched to breaking point, they become less likely to deter, less likely to detect and less likely to bring crime figures down, and it is that which all our electors want.

5.56 pm

Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne): I shall do my level best to precis my long and beautifully honed speech into the four or five minutes available. Luckily, a lot of the points that need making about the settlement as it affects my county of Surrey have been made.

The settlement for Surrey shows once again that the Government's claims are hollow--they are simply spin. The truth, at least in my county, is not as the Government claim. The truth in Surrey is simple. After allowing for inflation, there will be a 2.8 per cent. cut--not increase--in the money that Surrey receives. If that is translated straightforwardly, without other changes being made, that represents a £4 million cut over the next three years. If we cannot find other ways to handle that, it will equate to 250 fewer police officers available to fight crime in Surrey.

The truth of Labour government in my part of the world is not what the Government say through their spin. The truth is simply that Labour government in Surrey means less money for the police and fewer police officers. In fairness to the Minister, I do not blame him for that. The villains of that sorry saga are the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who I most certainly blame, and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, which administers the absolutely absurd standard spending assessment system. The Minister has no choice but to work within the constraints that are forced on him.

Indeed, the Minister has been kind enough to acknowledge that Surrey has a problem. In fact, he has gone further by undertaking to consider whether he can accept at least some of the suggestions made by Surrey MPs when we saw him a day or two ago. It would be

31 Jan 2001 : Column 350

churlish not to place on record the thanks of all Surrey MPs for the hon. Gentleman's kindness and the positive way in which he listened to us.

The "my constituency is being treated unfairly" theme is common in the House. Sometimes it is a soundbite; sometimes it is true. I would argue that in this case it is true. In absolute terms, Surrey's grant will increase next year by 0.2 per cent, which is why, after taking account of inflation, there will be a cut. Surrounding forces will receive an average increase of 5 per cent. or perhaps more. That is unfair, and there are other examples: the grant, considered by head of population, has fallen in Surrey for four years in a row.

There is another theme that rumbles around the House--the "things are different in my constituency" theme. However, in this case, things really are different in Surrey. Again, let me be fair to the Minister. He was good enough to acknowledge that the police boundary change that has moved the whole of my constituency, and other areas, from the Metropolitan police district to the Surrey district has produced turmoil and cost.

Mr. Charles Clarke rose--

Mr. Wilshire: I have no time to give way.

In the context of turmoil, the Minister referred to 500 officer movements. The Government have tried to help, and I thank them for that. Indeed, I am doubly grateful, because the Minister said he would give careful consideration to the information that the chief constable had promised to send him. The hon. Gentleman also kindly said that he would consider the General Pinochet case again. That cost us £1.2 million, although it was not our choice to put the general under house arrest in Surrey: the matter was a national issue for which we had to pick up the bill.

We in Surrey are being treated unfairly. Ours are special circumstances: we are different. I am grateful to the Minister for recognising that. The reality in Surrey is the opposite of the Government's claim: it is "less money, fewer police officers." I repeat, however, that this is not the Minister's fault. He is trying very hard to help. Indeed, I suggest--to ruin his career--that he is too nice to be a Labour Minister. Let me end by urging the hon. Gentleman--in order to enhance the reputation that he has gained with Surrey's MPs--to think about what we said to him, look back on the proposals that we made, accept that they are reasonable and sensible, and agree with them.

6.1 pm

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy): I have two questions. First, why is less being spent per head on policing in Wales than in England? In 1999-2000, England received £140.39 while Wales received £125.49. In the current year, England has received £147 and Wales £132. Perhaps the Minister can tell me why--

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr Deputy Speaker put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 16(1).

31 Jan 2001 : Column 351

The House divided: Ayes 309, Noes 49.

Division No. 95
[6.2 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Church, Ms Judith
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hood, Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Rogers, Allan
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe and
Mr. David Jamieson.


Allan, Richard
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Fearn, Ronnie
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Kirkwood, Archy
Livsey, Richard
Llwyd, Elfyn
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Oaten, Mark
Rendel, David
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tyler, Paul
Webb, Steve
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David

Tellers for the Noes:

Sir Robert Smith and
Mr. David Heath.

Question accordingly agreed to.

31 Jan 2001 : Column 353


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