§ Mr. Charles Wardle
Home Office officials frequently discuss such measures with representatives of a number of key agencies in the north-west, including local authorities.
§ Ms Lynne
Has the Secretary of State any plans to speak to members of Rochdale council to explain to them the cut in the safer cities grant? Does he intend to take the opportunity of congratulating Rochdale council on finding the money to keep the scheme going, and also to provide extra funding for special constables to patrol areas on Rochdale estates?
§ Mr. Wardle
The hon. Lady knows that the safer cities project in Rochdale was for a four-year term, and that it was intended that a local partnership should take the project on after that four-year term. That has been the pattern with the first 20 projects in phase 1 of our safer cities programme. It is working effectively in Rochdale, and the metropolitan borough council will have a close involvement in the continued partnership. Two safer cities project staff will be seconded from the Home Office to guide it.
§ Mr. Dickens
Does my hon. Friend understand that many people in the north-west would like prisoners who are sentenced to five years actually to serve five years—cutting out all the remission, rehabilitation, and parole—and, if they misbehave, to be given extra years? Then we shall get to grips with law and order.
§ Mr. Wardle
My hon. Friend, as usual, makes his point most effectively. He will also be mindful of the fact that since the Criminal Justice Act 1991, prisoners will be serving more of the sentences given to them by the courts.
§ Mr. Lewis
Will the Minister inquire into the case this week in which a firearm that was used in a heinous crime in Greater Manchester was returned to its rightful owner? I have mentioned the subject in the House on a number of occasions since eight legally held firearms were stolen about two years ago, three of which have now been responsible for three murders and two serious woundings. 392 There seems to me to be a case for a fresh examination of what happens to those firearms when they have been recovered.
§ Mr. Wardle
The firearm was stolen. Indeed, as the hon. Gentleman will be aware, it was stolen two or three years ago. Obviously, the House will share the regret at the tragic deaths and serious injuries that stolen firearms have caused. However, the chief constable of Greater Manchester satisfied himself that their owner had the proper certificate and had kept them in a proper and secure place and that they should be returned to him.