HC Deb 05 February 1987 vol 109 cc1123-4
Mr. Cohen

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what percentage above the rate of inflation the cumulative increase in the Metropolitan police precept has been since 1979.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hurd)

No direct comparison is possible of precepts from 1979 to 1986 because of changes to the rate support grant arrangements in 1981 and 1983. The ratepayers' contribution to Metropolitan police expenditure was £174 million in 1981–82, rising to £258 million in 1986–87. This represents an increase of just over 15.5 per cent, above the rate of inflation.

Mr. Cohen

Did not London's local authority associations recently tell the Home Secretary that they thought that the Metropolitan police accounting and financial management systems were archaic, that there was little budgetary control and that the basic financial management system was insufficient to make sensible decisions? When will the Minister stop neglecting this matter and carry out his job of ensuring that value is obtained for the money handed out by London taxpayers and ratepayers? Is he aware that if he does not do that the crime rate will continue to worsen?

Mr. Hurd

Value for money is extremely important in Metropolitan police expenditure, as in that of any other police authority. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Metropolitan police keep in close touch with London local authorities and are always seeking means of obtaining greater value for money and, indeed, of getting police officers on to the streets.

Mr. Greenway

Will my right hon. Friend congratulate the Metropolitan police on their magnificent efforts, in apprehending the rapists in the Ealing vicarage case? It took them 10 days and nights to achieve that, and they have not had the support that they should have from the courts.

Mr. Hurd

Yes, I will indeed do that.

Mr. Alex Carlile

Will the Home Secretary consider increasing the Metropolitan police precept so that the special branch can be trained to draft search warrants properly?

Mr. Hurd

That has been amply debated in the House. I have nothing to add to what has already been said.

Mr. Marlow

What would happen to the cost of the Metropolitan police if they were put under the democratic supervision of Mr. Bernie Grant, and who could then expect a knock on the door at 3 am?

Mr. Hurd

It would be a disaster for the Metropolitan police and, indeed, for other police forces if the Labour party were ever in a position to implement the policy that it has now clearly set out, that police forces should be under the supervision of local councils.