HC Deb 06 June 1996 vol 278 cc710-1
10. Mr. Rendel

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria he has used to decide on the allocation of Government grant to closed circuit television schemes. [30271]

Mr. Maclean

Bids made under the CCTV challenge competition are being assessed against the criteria set out in the bidding guidance issued on 22 November. Copies of the guidance have been placed in the Library. We shall be announcing the results of the competition in early summer.

Mr. Rendel

In the first round of grants, we had the absurd situation of a grant being offered to the then Conservative-led Wokingham district council, which then refused to take up the scheme, while no grant was offered to Newbury—then led by the Liberal Democrats—which went ahead with the scheme anyway because it was determined to push ahead with crime prevention. Will the Minister assure us that the criteria will not allow such a ridiculous situation to arise again and that, this time, grants will be given to the authorities that want to use them?

Mr. Maclean

The hon. Gentleman is being rather careful in his use of language. Throughout the country, Liberal Democrat and Labour-controlled councils have been consistently hostile to CCTV. Those councils may now be queuing up to take money from a Tory Government to set up CCTV schemes, but they have been hostile to its use in the past. We will judge all bids for CCTV fairly and honestly. If a council does not make use of the money, it will lose it and the money will go into the Treasury coffers. If a council can use the money allocated to it, it can hang on to it. Newbury will be treated the same as the other applicants—they will all be treated fairly. But the hon. Gentleman should not pretend that the Liberals have liked CCTV, although they are keen to take our money now.

Mr. Tracey

May I commend to my right hon. Friend the grant application from the royal borough of Kingston upon Thames? Kingston has one of the most vibrant and successful shopping centres in the south of England, but that centre provides opportunities for crime. CCTV would ensure that the crime rate in Kingston fell, as it should.

Mr. Maclean

Of course, the police in Kingston have been successful in ensuring that the crime rate is reduced. I repeat that all applications for CCTV funding from the extra money that we have made available—an increase from £5 million to £15 million—will be carefully considered before we come to a decision.

Mrs. Ewing

We all recognise that CCTV is an innovation and that its success in the prevention and detection of crime has yet to be proved. The Minister, who knows my constituency, may realise that there is a danger that the application of CCTV may drive organised criminal gangs out of city centres and into rural areas. What action will he take to ensure that rural areas are not subjected to increased crime as a result of what is happening in city centres?

Mr. Maclean

The hon. Lady's question would have been better directed to the Scottish Office, but I can refer her to Scottish Office and Home Office research which shows that the displacement that she fears has not occurred. I can speak with authority for England and Wales on this matter, as I am the Minister responsible. The latest crime figures in those countries show that the police in rural areas have been every bit as successful in cracking down on crime as the police in metropolitan areas. In 1995, crime fell even more in rural or non-metropolitan areas than in metropolitan ones. I cannot give the figures for Scotland.