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Mr. Paice: Rubbish.

Ms Blears: That is absolutely the case. When the previous shadow Home Secretary said that the figure of 40,000 was based on two Tory terms of office, and that he could not predict whether there would be two such terms, we felt that he perhaps could not even predict one. I am surprised to see that figure being resurrected. Perhaps it should join the realms of crime fiction rather than crime fact.

Mr. Paice: I want to place clearly on the record, for the avoidance of doubt, that our pledge for a further 40,000 police officers remains. It is calculated on the basis of an extra 5,000 a year, which the Minister knows full well is the most that can fairly be recruited, trained and added in addition to replacement officers. Is she or is she not telling us that there is a need for more police officers? Does she want more or not?

Ms Blears: I think that the arithmetic is 5,000 a year over the first term of a Tory Government, making 20,000. So the promise can only be for 20,000, even if there is a Tory Government, and 5,000 of them would be recruited by us anyway, so we are down to 15,000. The whole House knows that all of that is predicated on the marvellous savings from the asylum system, based on the island that has not yet been identified. I was surprised to see the policy being resurrected in that way.

The hon. Gentleman also spoke about the failure to apply the formula this year. Again, I am surprised if he is saying that he objects to the 3.25 per cent. flat rate across-the-board increase, because if we had applied the formula, many of the forces that I referred to earlier—Kent, Sussex and Surrey—would have lost out by millions of pounds. The vast majority of forces are gainers under the settlement this year. Only a small number, albeit including the Met, Greater Manchester and West Midlands, have made significant contributions to that pot. He did not make clear whether he wanted the other forces to lose out.

The hon. Gentleman also made a point that he has made on a number of occasions and that I take real issue with. It is that everything should simply be at the local level and that there is no place for the matters that are funded through the central pots. Is he saying that there should be no central assistance through the police standards unit, helping to drive up performance in our forces? Is he saying that there should be no central assistance in developing evidence-based codes of practice around the way that we do our policing; no central assistance around training and Centrex; no central assistance around new technology, bringing in automatic number plate recognition and video identification, and expansion of the DNA database, which is leading to our forces being much more effective?

There is a balance to be struck between the centre and the locality, but, as every other organisation in the country accepts, there is a case for having some functions, such as IT, training and human resources,

5 Feb 2004 : Column 962

funded properly and rationalised. I hope that people who take a sensible approach to the future effectiveness of our police service will recognise that.

Mr. George Howarth: I apologise to my hon. Friend for not having been here at the opening of the debate. I had another meeting elsewhere. Will she give some thought—I do not expect an immediate response—to the point that the hon. Member for Southport (Dr. Pugh) and I both made, that in looking at where the balance should be struck, the centre should take into account the presence of organised crime in areas such as Merseyside when the funding formula is reviewed or looked at again?

Ms Blears: My hon. Friend makes an important point. He will know that, because of where I live, I am very conscious of the pressures of serious and organised crime along the M62 corridor from Greater Manchester to Liverpool. Merseyside has developed some extremely effective ways of dealing with it, but clearly that is at a cost to the force. In the consultation document that we launched last year on the long-term future of the police service, we wanted to make sure that we got right not only community policing, but also the structure to deal with serious and organised crime, which unfortunately is an increasing threat to our communities. I undertake to look further at that matter.

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold) (Con): I should like to put to the Minister a matter that I have raised in correspondence with the Home Secretary: the cost of policing the Iraq war at RAF Fairford, which was more than £3 million on a budget of £36 million for Gloucestershire police, one of the smallest forces in the country. The Government have kindly undertaken to pay most of that, but the Gloucestershire police force still faces having to pay some of it. It causes a great deal of bad feeling in Gloucestershire, which had to put up with the disruption caused by the war. It was happy to do that, but as it was a national war effort it seems to me that the national Government should pay that cost. I should be grateful if the hon. Lady would look into the matter and write to me.

Ms Blears: I am aware of the extra costs of policing RAF Fairford and the demonstrations there. The police did an extremely good and professional job in that very demanding situation. An application for special grants to meet the additional costs is being considered at the centre. However, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman knows that for most forces there is a requirement to find a minimum amount towards the cost of special occasions that arise, and we would want to treat Gloucester similarly to other forces. I certainly undertake to look at the significant additional costs that the force incurred.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Paddy Tipping) made some excellent, serious and considered points about the challenges facing the Nottinghamshire police service. As he said, I am due to visit on Monday. I shall look at police performance and particularly at the extremely good partnership work with the local authority to tackle antisocial behaviour. I shall meet some of the victims of antisocial behaviour that has taken place in that community.

5 Feb 2004 : Column 963

I am delighted that police performance in the area has improved in recent times, but there were significant problems in the force in the past, as evidenced by the report of Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary. There is a great deal of support from the centre. The police standards unit has been engaged with the force for a considerable time. There is consultancy support to look at performance, new ways of working and new ways of tackling crime. The extra resource provided by the police standards unit comes to about £1 million. It has been pointed out to me by colleagues from Nottingham that although Nottingham is funded as a shire, it has metropolitan police problems. The formula takes into account the pressures, the challenges and the demographics for all authorities, however, and authorities are not funded as metropolitan or shire authorities.

The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) said that forces were underfunded. I do not accept that. In the past two years, police authorities have raised their precepts by a greater amount than they needed to meet the requirements—

It being two hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Madam Deputy Speaker put the Question forthwith, pursuant to Order [2 February].

The House divided: Ayes 252, Noes 167.

Division No. 45
[3.55 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, rh David
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Burnham, Andy
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Heppell, John
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kelly, Ruth (Bolton W)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lepper, David
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Merron, Gillian
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Mole, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Soley, Clive
Squire, Rachel
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Vernon Coaker and
Jim Fitzpatrick


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Bacon, Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James (Beverley)
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Grieve, Dominic
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, rh Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Leigh, Edward
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Moore, Michael
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Redwood, rh John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Peter Atkinson and
Mr. John Randall

Question accordingly agreed to.

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5 Feb 2004 : Column 967

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