§ Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)
I beg to move, a manuscript amendment: in page 56, leave out lines 27 and 28.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Speaker for selecting the amendment which—as a manuscript amendment—is unusual at this stage. But when I explain the circumstances in which I asked the Speaker to accept the amendment, hon. Members will understand why I thought it important to give the House an opportunity to debate an issue that will affect the people in my constituency—and every constituency covered by Humberside police—because of the impact of a change that took place yesterday in Committee.
In some ways, I am sorry to speak against the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), who moved that amendment in Committee. On many occasions, he, my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) and I have worked together to represent the interests of north and north-east Lincolnshire, but on this occasion I cannot support him, and I shall explain why.
Hon. Members from all parties should support my amendment, which would delete the amendment agreed to in Committee yesterday to change the name of Humberside police to Humber police. Hon. Members might ask themselves what is so important about changing the name and that is a good question. Humber police is not a great name, is it? We do not call the Metropolitan police the Thames police, or the Merseyside police, the Mersey police. The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes sounds as if he wants the police to concentrate on police boats going up and down the river Humber checking shipping. The name is not sensible.
§ Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes)
It is a rare occasion when the hon. Gentleman and I are on opposite sides on behalf of local interests. In our 10 years as next-door neighbours, we have usually worked together on local issues, and I will not fall out with him because of today's debate. I remind him that when the county of Humberside was abolished, the Government's regional office in Leeds changed the name of Yorkshire and Humberside to Yorkshire and the Humber—the Humber has become an accepted term for the region.
§ Mr. Morley
That is true, but in that case the name had to be changed because it referred to the county of Humberside, which no longer exists, so there was no choice. I remind the hon. Gentleman that we still have the Humberside fire brigade and that that name will not be changed by his amendment. We also still have the Humberside ambulance service, but for some reason we are to have the Humber police. It does not make sense.
§ Dr. Godman
In response to the intervention by the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), when the Government got rid of Strathclyde regional council even they retained the Strathclyde police force.
§ Mr. Morley
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point.
927 During the consultation period on local government reorganisation, the police authority and all the local authorities were consulted about the name, and wanted unanimously to keep the name Humberside police. The force's operational area is still within the county boundary of the old county of Humberside.
Hon. Members should oppose the amendment agreed in Committee for three reasons. First, on consultation, the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes has his own view of the name Humberside. It is an anathema to him. He has criticised Radio Humberside, saying he did not like it because of its name. Disliking a name is not sufficient reason to change it. The change could cost up to £1 million. It is outrageous that a decision was taken in Committee that will have far-reaching implications in terms of cost to Humberside police, when there was no consultation with local people, the police authority, the chief constable and Members of Parliament representing the Humberside police area, nor any consultation with local parish and town councils. No one had any say in the change. It has been sprung on us with no consultation.
If there were a groundswell for change, we would listen. I did not object to the name of North Lincolnshire for my new unitary authority because I knew that there was a groundswell of opinion for it. There is no groundswell in the former Humberside area for a name change of this kind.
§ Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)
The hon. Gentleman says that he did not object to the fact that the local authority changed its name to North Lincolnshire. Would he accept changing the name of the police authority to the North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire police authority, which is precisely what it is?
§ Mr. Morley
The same points apply. People should be asked for their view of the change. If there is to be any change, local opinions and views should be sought. There was no attempt to do so before the amendment was agreed to in Committee, and that is why I object to the change. There has been no consultation. I have seen no groundswell of opinion, I have not had a single letter on the subject and not one person has mentioned to me that the name of the Humberside police force should be changed.
When people in the old Humberside area realise that the change could cost up to £1 million, which will come out of the police authority's budget, they will wonder why the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh)—a Member representing Lincolnshire—is so concerned about changing the name. The authority will not cover his area.
The cost is the third point. The Minister should think carefully. Will he consider accepting my amendment rather than making me force it to a vote? If he does not accept my amendment, he is telling the people of Humberside and the four councils in the area that they will have to find nearly £1 million—according to the chief constable with whom I have been in touch today—out of the existing police budget simply to make that change. How many police officers will be affected by that? Does not the Minister think that fighting crime, dealing with criminals and ensuring that there are police officers on the streets are far more important than changing the name on a cap badge or the side of a police car? That is what the Minister should think about, and it is what every hon. Member thinks about.
928 If the Minister will not accept my amendment, he and those hon. Members who go into the Lobby to support the Bill as it stands should realise that people in my area will think that they and the Conservative party care so little about fighting crime and about effective police resources that they are prepared to take £1 million from a police authority budget simply to drop the "side" out of Humberside. That is unacceptable. There has been no consultation. The views of local people have not been taken into account and a good police force might be crippled by having to find that £1 million.
I read in the Hansard report of proceedings in Committee that the name change could be phased in over a number of years and introduced as it can be afforded, which is a ludicrous idea. One cannot have one police car going out with Humberside police on it and another with Humber police, or half the police force with one cap badge and half with another. It does not make sense and would be a bureaucratic nightmare. That is why we Labour Members are saying that our priority is fighting crime. Our priority is law and order and we do not want to waste money changing four letters in the name of a police force. We want to ensure that the money that the local police authority has is used to greatest effect and that means by fighting crime and not messing around with a name in this way.
Dropping the "side" in Humberside will not only let down the side referred to in the name, but will let down the side as regards representing the people of the area and ensuring that the money is used to fight crime.
§ Mr. Michael Brown
As I said in my intervention, it is a rare occasion when the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) and I disagree on a local issue. We have been good neighbours, and normally we are on the same side.
The hon. Gentleman speaks of lack of consultation. The position is simple: I served in Committee on the Bill, and I saw that it was within the long title to table my amendment, which has been on the amendment paper and known to the hon. Gentleman since 25 February. Any Member of Parliament who studies the Vote bundle can see any amendment that is tabled and take appropriate action.
If he had been watching the proceedings of the House, the hon. Gentleman would have known that my amendment was selected for debate by the Chairman of the Standing Committee on 11 March, so there was no attempt to slide it through; every hon. Member knew that I was on the Standing Committee and that I had tabled the amendment that first appeared on the amendment paper on 25 February.
Yesterday, when my amendment was debated in Committee, it was open to any member of the Committee to vote it down. My right hon. Friend the Minister made it clear that the Government were neutral, and said that he and his Front-Bench colleagues would not participate in a Division. It was possible, therefore, for the Opposition to call a Division and defeat my amendment, but I am delighted to report that it was made without a Division, after a good debate that covered several issues.
The most important point for me to stress is that the county of Humberside no longer exists. I spent 16 years, from the day on which I first entered the House, trying 929 unsuccessfully to persuade successive Ministers in the Department of the Environment that the hated county of Humberside should be abolished. Eventually, in February 1995, the House passed a statutory instrument enabling the county to be abolished and the new unitary authorities to be set up.
The Government recognised that, with the abolition of Humberside, some names would need to be changed. The Government regional office of Yorkshire and Humberside was renamed Yorkshire and the Humber. The Post Office acknowledges that to write Lincolnshire on a letter is an accepted form of address.
The hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe says that he has had no complaints about the name of Humberside constabulary, but that is not my experience. Whenever the name Humberside arises in a water, electricity or gas bill or in reference to the fire service I get a large number of letters from constituents who say, "You have abolished the county of Humberside, Mr. Brown, so why do we still have Humberside police and Humberside ambulance service?"
From October this year, the hon. Gentleman's constituency and mine will be served not by the Humberside ambulance service but by the Lincolnshire ambulance service.
§ Mr. Morley
The hon. Gentleman is right, but that change will be the result not of any popular movement but of the daft internal market and the tendering procedure, in which Lincolnshire ambulance trust happened to win.
§ Mr. Brown
I suspect that, if I pursued that avenue too far, Madam Deputy Speaker, you would rule me out of order. However, I will say that, with the Lincolnshire ambulance trust taking over the responsibility for the ambulance service in the constituencies of the hon. Gentleman, myself and the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), I bet that the name Humberside ambulance service, which will cover only east Yorkshire, will not remain.
I bet that, when the name is changed, there will be no suggestion that £1 million will have to be spent on changing the names on the ambulances. In October, when the present Humberside ambulance trust becomes responsible only for Hull and East Yorkshire, it will call itself not Humberside but East Riding. It will not spend £1 million painting out names on ambulances immediately and change all its notepaper. It will have to continue on existing budgets, because that is the structure of its cost basis.
§ Mr. Brown
That is correct. I have been waging a campaign, of which I gave notice when we passed the Order in Council giving effect to the setting up of the current structure of unitary local government—it is in my speech in Hansard—that I would do everything possible to expunge the word Humberside from the English 930 language. Yesterday's opportunity that was presented to me in Committee was simply a part of that continuing campaign.
I have successfully persuaded Anglian Water, Yorkshire Electricity, British Gas and BT to recognise that the name Lincolnshire must appear on their bills. There has been a cost to those companies, but the bills have not increased.
The hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe touched on cost, but I believe that that is a red herring. He was right to remind the House that the chief constable is concerned about the cost implications, but I dispute the chief constable's figure of £1 million. If the change were to be made overnight, I believe that the cost would be about £250,000.
I have received the same list as the hon. Gentleman from the chief constable, who says that to effect the change he will have to get new uniforms for 3,000 people, including regulars, specials and support staff; he will not have to get new uniforms unless he is terribly profligate. All that has to be done, eventually, over some time, is to change the name tag on the shoulder pads. He does not have to get new headgear, as all he has to do is change the badge.
The chief constable says that he will require funds for marketing the new name; he does not need to spend a halfpenny doing that. He says that he has to write off existing stock of all headed notepaper and official literature, including legal documents, summonses and warrants; that is not so: my constituency association is changing its name from Brigg and Cleethorpes to Cleethorpes, and we do not have the money to go to the printing presses tomorrow to change everything, so we shall continue to use the old notepaper until the last sheet has gone. That is therefore a red herring.
The chief constable speaks of vehicle livery for the whole fleet; but, when new police vehicles are purchased, they can have Humber on the side, while existing vehicles continue to have Humberside on the side, just as, when later this year the name of the Humberside ambulance trust changes, that will have to be done by a gradual process.
§ Mr. Morley
The hon. Gentleman is playing down some of the difficulties. Some of the uniforms have the name woven in; one cannot simply tear them off and sew on a stripe. Taking off the names on police helmets is not as simple as the hon. Gentleman would like to believe.
When my three local councils were brought together, they did not want the expense of a change, but realised that it would be too complicated if they did not act at once, so they went for a stick-over logo; even that was quite expensive. Even people who argue for local government change complain about the costs that go with it: the new signs and headings and the office administration. Should not people be given a choice as to whether they want to pay £1 million to change a name?
§ Mr. Brown
I do not support police uniforms being scrapped until they need replacing. In Committee yesterday, I said:I understand that the chief constable may be concerned about the cost implications. If the Committee approves my amendment, we should do everything possible to ensure that the name change takes place only as and when resources allow the chief constable to 931 replace motor vehicles and uniforms. I know that he is anxious about costs and it is essential to recognise that the last thing we expect the chief constable to do is to reorder new uniforms, police cars, equipment, and so on.The Minister made a similar point. I intervened on him and said that I accepted his warning that he did not expect the chief constable to engage in additional expenditure to effect the change. I asked:If the Committee agreed to the amendment, would it be acceptable for my right hon. Friend's Department to send some sort of guideline to the chief constable acknowledging that it would not expect him to incur expenditure overnight on changing badges and logos, and that it fully understands that it could take several years for the proposal to come into effect?My right hon. Friend replied that he would draw our remarks to the force's attention, but:The Home Office has no constitutional right to send a guideline to that effect."—[Official Report, Standing Committee F, 18 March 1997; c. 279–282.]He accepted that his neutrality was based on the clear understanding that there would be no immediate requirement to spend money on effecting the change.
It is important to recognise that the name Humberside is still synonymous with the hated county of Humberside. I simply took the opportunity presented by the Police Bill. I would never have dreamed of introducing such legislation on its own. It is rare that the House gets an opportunity to table amendments that affect a locality. If I had not taken advantage of this opportunity, I might have had to wait another five or 10 years. The chief constable does not want to change the name, because he is concerned about the growing demand in the old South Humberside area for our area to be policed by the Lincolnshire force.
The hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe said that the consultation showed no demand for our constituencies to be taken over by the Lincolnshire force. Let me remind him that there is a growing demand in the old south Humberside area for the Lincolnshire police to take over policing because Humberside appears low down the crime ranking order relative to Lincolnshire. We often have undue problems with the Humber bridge, which is the single link between the two halves of the police area. If the majority of my constituents had their way, they would be policed by the Lincolnshire police. The chief constable is worried that the Home Secretary of the day may decide to ensure that the police authority and local government areas are more closely matched. That is why he overstates the case on cost grounds.
There is a case to be made, and it is the responsibility of Parliament—not the chief constable, the local authorities or the parish councils—to take legislative decisions about such matters and to test them in the Lobbies, if the hon. Gentleman chooses to press his amendment. It is rare for us to disagree on local issues. We have had, and I am sure that we will continue to have, a very good working relationship. I am sorry that it has temporarily broken down.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)
I have been in the House for a long time but I have never known an occasion when, on a matter affecting the title of a county or area that he or she represented with another hon. Member, the Member who had the bright idea of changing a name did not inform colleagues directly—
§ Mr. McNamara
Not through the Order Paper.
932 Secondly, I am surprised that a matter that affects the whole area was not referred to the local authorities, the parish councils or even to the police authority. The action of the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) was discourteous to his colleagues. We can live with that, because we are used to such things. More important is the cavalier way in which he has treated the people who he claims to represent in Humberside.
Fortunately, at the general election, the Labour candidate in his seat will to be able to say that the hon. Gentleman is the man who would profligately spend £1 million on changing a name—£250,000 a letter. That is the equivalent of 20 policemen. He is prepared to watch the money go, just like that. That says much for his concern for the safety and security of his constituents. Fortunately, he will not have that responsibility in future.
The hon. Gentleman is prepared to play with their physical safety and that of their homes and of the roads by being prepared to spend £1 million to satisfy a childish phobia about a name. He says, "I hate the name, I want it expunged." What sort of stupid arrogant attitude is that? What a waste of public money.
The Government say that they are neutral, but they are prepared to allow £1 million to be wasted. The same Government could not give me £300,000 under the safer city initiative to protect the safety and security of people who live in high-rise flats in my constituency. They could not give me that, but they can give £1 million for the foolish idea of the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes.
§ Mr. Brown
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman, who is normally a mild, meek and gentlemanly character, has got so carried away. I want to give him a breather. I challenge the hon. Gentleman about the figure of £1 million. The chief constable would be profligate to spend £1 million overnight to effect the name change, but he has no need. My exchanges with the Minister showed that only out of petty mindedness could the chief constable be profligate enough to do that. I would not expect him to spend £1 million.
§ Mr. McNamara
I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but that is not what he means. He is really saying that he is prepared to spend that money over several years. He is prepared to allow the money to be spent, whether at once or over a period, on a foolish scheme. He says that I am usually mild, courteous, gentle and kind, that I kiss my wife and do not kick the dog. That is all true, but I get angry when something concerns the physical safety of my constituents, and the security of their homes is put at risk by hare-brained schemes.
The one thing that makes me even angrier is the Government's attitude. Time and time again we have applied for schemes to protect my constituents and those of my hon. Friends in Hull and had them turned down. Then Ministers turn round and say, "Here, take £1 million—£250,000 a letter—to get rid of the 'side' out of 'Humberside'." We shall be left with the Humber police force. What a glorious idea that is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) has shown.
933 The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes says that he wants his part of Lincolnshire to be policed by Lincolnshire police authority. I understand his wanting to go into Lincolnshire. As far as I am concerned, Lincolnshire is more than welcome to the hon. Gentleman. Yet both banks of the Humber have common interests, in terms of effective policing, as we have had on such things as drug smuggling and so many other issues. Humberside police force has expertise on such matters as drug smuggling because of the maritime nature of the area and the nature of the ports on both sides of the Humber, down the Trent and up the Ouse.
Humberside police force protects not only our citizens in Humberside but the citizens of the greater part of the country. Some of the greatest attempts to import dangerous drugs occur in Hull and other Humberside ports. The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes wants to break up and spoil that expertise when it is just beginning to get on top of drug smuggling. Why? Because he does not like the name "Humberside." He would spend £1 million on changing it. For goodness sake, Madam Deputy Speaker, I know that we are supposed to be demob happy, but this is demob lunacy.
§ Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)
Some people who do not represent my part of the world— you represent Plymouth, Drake with great distinction, Madam Deputy Speaker—may wonder why people are getting so worked up in this debate. The issue is of great importance locally. For those who are not familiar with it, it goes back to 1974 when the Government led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath), whom I was delighted to see in the Chamber a moment ago, decided to tear away from the rest of Lincolnshire parts of north Lincolnshire, including Scunthorpe, Grimsby, Glanford and Brigg. That caused enormous ill feeling. Unofficial local referendums were conducted and massively subscribed to because the Government led by my right hon. Friend, whom I now see entering the Chamber, did not allow an official referendum on the issue. The people of Lincolnshire wanted to be one, but they were not consulted.
After almost 20 years of campaigning by people like my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), the county of Humberside has finally been abolished and people can once again say with pride, even if they live in Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Brigg, Glanford or wherever, that they live in Lincolnshire. To them it is an important issue.
This is not simply an unimportant debate about a name. People in Lincolnshire feel strongly about it. That is why, as a member of the Standing Committee which considered the Police Bill, I tabled my own variant of the amendment proposed today by my hon. Friend. I proposed that we should change the name of the Humberside police force to North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire police force. That is what people want deep in their hearts.
People who live in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Hull think of themselves as belonging either to Lincolnshire or to Yorkshire. That is the reality. I was told by my 934 hon. Friends and by my right hon. Friend the Minister that it was not possible to proceed that far. It is important to local people.
§ Mr. McNamara
The hon. Gentleman chose the names of two unitary authorities and left out the other two. He is as stupid as his hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Leigh
That was an unworthy intervention. The hon. Gentleman and I enjoy good relations on other matters. People who live in Hull know perfectly well that they live in east Yorkshire. People who live in Scunthorpe or Grimsby know that they live in Lincolnshire. That is the fact of the case. That was the reason for my amendment, but it was not accepted.
The campaign of my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes has met with success. The county of Humberside has been abolished. He is now rightly pressing to have all other public bodies expunge the name from their titles.
Listening to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), one would think that people do not attach importance to this issue. They do. I constantly received letters from people in the north part of Lincolnshire before the Post Office changed its rules who were angry that, although they lived in Lincolnshire, they had to put "Humberside" in their address. They did not like it. A name is important. People in Lincolnshire want that fact acknowledged.
My hon. Friend's amendment is important for another reason. I have talked about the symbolic importance of a name, but as my hon. Friend says, this goes further. Last week I had a long conversation with the chief constable of Lincolnshire. I cannot repeat what he said in private, but there is mystification as to why the two police authorities in north Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire have not been amalgamated. It is a serious point.
I represent villages in the northern part of Lincolnshire just south of the old county boundary between South Humberside and Lincolnshire. I receive complaints from people in places such as Keelby about the long police response time when an incident takes place. I am sure that people on the other side of the old boundary make the same complaint. The nearest headquarters is Gainsborough or perhaps Market Rasen. How much more sensible it would be to have a unified police authority. We should have created a unified police authority from the north Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire forces.
Lincolnshire police authority has performed superbly in the past 20 years. The chief constable told me that, before reorganisation, about two thirds of the crime in the county was committed in what is now Lincolnshire and one third was committed in South Humberside. The position is now reversed. Two thirds of crime in the county is now recorded in the former South Humberside and one third is committed in south Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire constabulary has a superb record of performing a comprehensive service within its budget.
§ Mr. Morley
The hon. Gentleman digresses from the argument about policing, which was considered and rejected. Humberside has a major drugs problem associated with the Humber ports. It makes sense to have an estuary-wide police force. There is a logical argument for that. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that people 935 should be consulted about changing the name and that the cost should be considered? I have a suspicion that, if people in north Lincolnshire had realised that the local government reorganisation would mean a 28 per cent. increase in their council tax, they might have had second thoughts. People ought to be consulted on whether they want to pay £1 million to change the name of the local police authority.
§ Mr. Leigh
We all know that the figure of £1 million is grossly inflated. The letter from the chief constable is absurd. The change will not cost £1 million. As my right hon. Friend the Minister and my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes have said, the change could be phased in over a considerable time.
I can now draw my remarks to a conclusion. This is not simply a little campaign by my hon. Friend in which local people take no interest. He is not simply trying to get a few headlines in the Grimsby Evening Telegraph. It is nothing to do with any of that. It is important. If it was not important, why has my hon. Friend been able to show me a sheaf of letters from organisations such as the Great North Eastern Railway, the Benefits Agency, the Post Office and the Lincolnshire ambulance service, all saying that they are changing their name? Indeed, the Rural Development Commission is actually changing its name to the very name that I suggested in my amendment— North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire. As far as I know the Rural Development Commission is a serious and well-respected body. It obviously considers the matter important, but it has not said that it will cost it £1 million to change its name. The chief constable is using absurd arguments.
Local people attach importance to this matter. My hon. Friend's amendment does not go far enough, but I appreciate that mine cannot get through tonight, so I am happy to support my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Maclean
I am pleased to respond to this short and slightly heated debate. From the Government's point of view, there are only two principal issues here. In Committee yesterday, I said that I would not attempt to impose the Government's view of what the area should be called—I did not consider it my duty to do so, nor was it appropriate. I said that I would be happy to take the Committee's opinion on the matter and leave it to a free vote in Committee. That is what happened, and I shall return to that subject in a moment.
The other point I wish to make relates to cost. If I thought for a single moment that the cost of a change of name from Humberside to Humber, as was decided in Committee yesterday, would cost £1 million—either next year or over ten years—I would have had to tell my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) that I was sorry, but the Government could not remain neutral because that was an excessive cost, up with which we would not put.
§ Mr. McNamara
Has the right hon. Gentleman discussed this matter and the costings with the police authority or the chief constable?
§ Mr. Maclean
The chief constable, as I said yesterday, has said that he does not wish the name to be changed, 936 and he has sent a letter making that view clear. Attached to the letter is a document headed, "Areas incurring implementation costs." These areas lead him to conclude that the cost could be £1 million and they include vehicle livery for the whole fleet; writing off existing stock; and marketing the new name.
I accept that, if the name was changed, whatever it was changed to, the cap badge would have to change in due course—I do not, however, accept that uniforms would have to change—and as official notepaper was replaced, it too would have to change. However, I do not accept for one moment that existing stock bearing any name needs to be written off at all—that would be an appalling waste, and I would not contemplate such action. Nor would I accept that a single penny of taxpayers' money should be spent by any police authority on marketing a new name. I know what marketing costs from when the Home Office has attempted anti-crime drives. It would be easy to spend £1 million on marketing a new name—it is possible to spend £5 million on marketing a new corporate identity without seeing any great benefit from doing so.
There is only one way in which costs could rise to £1 million and that is if a decision was taken overnight to spend an awful lot of money on a new corporate identity, marketing a new name, writing off all existing stocks and changing overnight. I have said that an authority could do that if it wished, but I would not intend any of the generous increase in funding that we have given Humberside police over the years to be spent on such action. I made that clear in Committee yesterday.
I listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) said. We have allocated sufficient extra funds to Humberside and we intend to continue the programme of allocating money for extra bobbies. Humberside, which has increased the number of its officers over the years to 2,042, can now recruit an extra 85 officers because of the extra funding promised by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Last year, we allowed Humberside police a budget increase of more than 5 per cent.; this year, it could increase by 3.8 per cent. We have put in that funding, and I want all of it to be spent on fighting crime. That is what it is all about.
I made it clear in Committee that, if the change went through, I would not want any money to be wasted on marketing a new name or corporate identity; and it would be scandalous if the costs of a change of name reached a fraction of £1 million, let alone £1 million.
§ Mr. Morley
To balance its budget this year, Humberside police took £750,000 from its reserves in order to solve its funding problems and meet its commitments. The Minister may quibble about the figures, but I have confidence in the chief constable of Humberside. Whatever the real figures are and however much is spent on changing the name, that represents money being diverted from fighting crime and protecting the interests of the people of Humberside. How can the Minister justify that?
§ Mr. Maclean
If that is how he feels, the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) should have voted against the amendment yesterday in the free vote in Committee.
937 Humberside has been generously funded; there can be no quibble about that. If it took money from reserves, that is because the 5 per cent. increase last year allowed it to build up generous balances.
The crucial and fundamental point is this: yesterday in Committee I made it absolutely clear that the Government were neutral on this issue. I warned my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes that I could not support his amendment and said that I would vote against him; I warned him that he would probably lose. If my hon. Friend had lost in Committee yesterday, the Government would not be coming here today with an amendment to reverse a free vote in Committee—that would be intolerable.
Similarly, I do not propose to reverse an amendment that yesterday went through on a free vote, with no one voting against it. I am content to advise my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench and in the Government that, although we had a free vote on the issue yesterday in which members of the Government abstained, the Government will not try to overturn tonight an amendment that was passed by a free vote. We will support the Bill as it stands.
§ Mr. Michael
The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) demonstrated the foolishness of trying to be too clever with his amendment yesterday, but the Minister has compounded that by making himself look ridiculous today. This is a local issue, and it should be decided by local opinion. Yesterday, I thought the Minister agreed with that point.
I am surprised that the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes has not learnt the importance of listening to local people, but in the debate he made clear his absurd obsession with grinding the name of Humberside into oblivion, irrespective of the impact on policing or whether £1 million might be taken out of the police budget. That money should be spent on preventing, fighting and detecting crime in the constituencies of my hon. Friends the Members for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) and for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). The hon. Gentleman is not interested in that—he is interested only in the name.
§ Mr. Michael Brown
I cannot believe my ears. The hon. Gentleman served on the Committee and yesterday had the opportunity to defeat me. If he and all Opposition Members had voted against my amendment, I would have lost. Why did he not vote against me?
§ Mr. Michael
It is perfectly clear, and I shall come to that question in a moment. The hon. Gentleman tabled amendments, and in the course of the debate I asked the Minister, who had not referred to any consultations undertaken by his Department, to tell us about any such consultations and about the wishes of the local police authority and others. The Minister did not answer that question—he did not tell us the views of the local police authority. He said, in a low-key manner:The chief constable certainly sees no need for change; nor does Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary recommend that any change is essential.''—[Official Report, Standing Committee F, 18 March 1997; c. 282.]After we emerged from the Committee, I saw a letter that had been sent to the deputy Leader of the Opposition expressing the chief constable's opposition. It was not the 938 gentle opposition that the Minister had suggested, but strong and passionate opposition of the sort that has been illustrated by my hon. Friends tonight. The chief constable wrote:Such a change could only have perceived symbolic advantage, particularly when there are other agencies continuing to use 'Humberside' as part of their title … Not only is change unnecessary, but to implement it would cost in the region of a million pounds.That is why my hon. Friends have come today to say on behalf of their constituents that they believe that £1 million expenditure would be more beneficial to their constituency if it was spent on crime prevention and on policing in their areas, rather than on a change of name.
§ Mr. Maclean
Obviously, the Labour party is in a blind panic tonight. Having agreed with, and not opposed, my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes yesterday and said nothing in Committee, letting an amendment go through on the nod, why does the hon. Gentleman oppose it tonight?
§ Mr. Michael
Because I am able to answer the question that I asked the Minister, which he was unable to answer in Committee. The Minister abrogated his responsibility by not consulting on the amendment in Committee and maintained his neutrality there but, ridiculously, he says that tonight he will not give the House the choice, but will vote to spend £1 million on a change of name over a period, instead of allowing that £1 million to be spent on policing local communities in Humberside.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 106, Noes 271.941
|Division No. 99]||[7.10 pm|
|Adams, Mrs Irene||Fatchett, Derek|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Faulds, Andrew|
|Alton, David||Flynn, Paul|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Foster, Don (Bath)|
|Austin-Walker, John||Gerrard, Neil|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Godman, Dr Norman A|
|Barnes, Harry||Gordon, Ms Mildred|
|Beith, Rt Hon A J||Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)|
|Bennett, Andrew F||Grocott, Bruce|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Gunnell, John|
|Betts, Clive||Hardy, Peter|
|Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)||Harvey, Nick|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Hill, Keith (Streatham)|
|Callaghan, Jim||Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Campbell-Savours, D N||Howarth, George (Knowsley N)|
|Carlile, Alex (Montgomery)||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Hughes, Simon (Southward)|
|Church, Ms Judith||Hutton, John|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Janner, Greville|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Jowell, Ms Tessa|
|Corbett, Robin||Kennedy, Mrs Jane (Broadgreen)|
|Corston, Ms Jean||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|Cousins, Jim||Lloyd, Tony (Stretf'd)|
|Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try SE)||Llwyd, Elfyn|
|Davidson, Ian||Lynne, Ms Liz|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)||McCartney, Ian (Makerf'ld)|
|Dewar, Rt Hon Donald||McCrea, Rev William|
|Dobson, Frank||Macdonald, Calum|
|Dowd, Jim||McGrady, Eddie|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Mackinlay, Andrew|
|Eagle, Ms Angela||Maclennan, Robert|
|McWilliam, John||Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)|
|Maddock, Mrs Diana||Rooker, Jeff|
|Martlew, Eric||Ross, William (E Lond'y)|
|Michael, Alun||Sheerman, Barry|
|Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)||Simpson, Alan|
|Milburn, Alan||Skinner, Dennis|
|Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Morgan, Rhodri||Snape, Peter|
|Mowlam, Ms Marjorie||Spearing, Nigel|
|Mudie, George||Straw, Jack|
|Mullin Chris||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Taylor, Metthew (Truro)|
|O'Brien, William (Normanton)||Touhig, Don|
|O'Hara, Edward||Tyler, Paul|
|Olner, Bill||Wallace, James|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Winnick, David|
|Paisley, Rev Ian||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Pickthall, Colin||Wright, Dr Tony|
|Pike, Peter L|
|Pope, Greg||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Prentice, Mrs Bridget (Lewisham E)||Mr. Kevin McNamara and Mr. Elliot Morley.|
|Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)||Colvin, Michael|
|Aitken, Rt Hon Jonathan||Congdon, David|
|Alexander, Richard||Conway, Derek|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)||Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F)|
|Allason, Rupert (Torbay)||Coombs, Simon (Swindon)|
|Amess, David||Cope, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Ancram, Rt Hon Michael||Couchman, James|
|Arbuthnot, James||Curry, Rt Hon David|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Davies, Quentin (Stamf'd)|
|Ashby, David||Davis, Rt Hon David (Boothferry)|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Robert||Day, Stephen|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)||Devlin, Tim|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen|
|Baldry, Tony||Douglas-Hamilton, Rt Hon Lord James|
|Banks, Matthew (Southport)|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Dover, Den|
|Bates, Michael||Duncan, Alan|
|Beggs, Roy||Duncan Smith, Iain|
|Bellingham, Henry||Dunn, Bob|
|Bendall, Vivian||Durant, Sir Anthony|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Dykes, Hugh|
|Body, Sir Richard||Eggar, Rt Hon Tim|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Elletson, Harold|
|Booth, Hartley||Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter|
|Boswell, Tim||Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'ld)|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia||Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)|
|Bowis, John||Evans, Nigel (Ribble V)|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes||Evans, Roger (Monmouth)|
|Brandreth, Gyles||Fabricant, Michael|
|Brazier, Julian||Fenner, Dame Peggy|
|Bright, Sir Graham||Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg Cl'thorpes)||Fishburn, Dudley|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Forman, Nigel|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling)|
|Budgen, Nicholas||Forth, Rt Hon Eric|
|Burns, Simon||Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman|
|Burt, Alistair||Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)|
|Butcher, John||Fox, Rt Hon Sir Marcus (Shipley)|
|Butler, Peter||Freeman, Rt Hon Roger|
|Butterfill, John||French, Douglas|
|Carlisle, John (Luton N)||Fry, Sir Peter|
|Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n)||Gale, Roger|
|Carrington, Matthew||Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan|
|Carttiss, Michael||Garnier, Edward|
|Cash, William||Gill, Christopher|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Gillan, Mrs Cheryl|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)||Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair|
|Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles|
|Clappison, James||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochf'd)||Gorst, Sir John|
|Coe, Sebastian||Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)|
|Greenway, John (Ryedale)||Moss, Malcolm|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Needham, Rt Hon Richard|
|Grylls, Sir Michael||Nelson, Anthony|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John||Neubert, Sir Michael|
|Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald||Newton, Rt Hon Tony|
|Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Hannam, Sir John||Norris, Steve|
|Hargreaves, Andrew||Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley|
|Harris, David||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Haselhurst, Sir Alan||Page, Richard|
|Hawkins, Nick||Paice, James|
|Hawksley, Warren||Patnick, Sir Irvine|
|Hayes, Jerry||Patten, Rt Hon John|
|Heald, Oliver||Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward||Pawsey, James|
|Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hendry, Charles||Pickles, Eric|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence||Porter, David|
|Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test)||Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (Grantham)||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Horam, John||Rathbone, Tim|
|Howard, Rt Hon Michael||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildf'd)||Renton, Rt Hon Tim|
|Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)||Richards, Rod|
|Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)||Riddick, Graham|
|Hunter, Andrew||Robathan, Andrew|
|Jack, Rt Hon Michael||Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn|
|Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N)||Robertson, Raymond S (Ab'd'n S)|
|Jessel, Toby||Robinson, Mark (Somerton)|
|Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela|
|Jones, Robert B (W Herts)||Sackville, Tom|
|Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine||Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy|
|Key, Robert||Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Kirkhope, Timothy||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Knapman, Roger||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Knight, Rt Hon Greg (Derby N)||Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian|
|Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)||Shepherd, Sir Colin (Heref'd)|
|Knox, Sir David||Shersby, Sir Michael|
|Kynoch, George||Sims, Sir Roger|
|Lait, Mrs Jacqui||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Lamont, Rt Hon Norman||Smith, Tim (Beaconsf'ld)|
|Lang, Rt Hon Ian||Speed, Sir Keith|
|Lawrence, Sir Ivan||Spencer, Sir Derek|
|Legg, Barry||Spicer, Sir Jim (W Dorset)|
|Leigh, Edward||Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark||Spink, Dr Robert|
|Lester, Sir Jim (Broxtowe)||Spring, Richard|
|Lidington, David||Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)|
|Lilley, Rt Hon Peter||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)||Steen, Anthony|
|Lord, Michael||Stephen, Michael|
|Luff, Peter||Stem, Michael|
|Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas||Stewart, Allan|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Streeter, Gary|
|MacKay, Andrew||Sumberg, David|
|Maclean, Rt Hon David||Sweeney, Walter|
|Maitland, Lady Olga||Sykes, John|
|Major, Rt Hon John||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Malone, Gerald||Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangf'd)|
|Mans, Keith||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Marland, Paul||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Marlow, Tony||Thomason, Roy|
|Marshall, John (Hendon S)||Thompson, Sir Donald (Calder V)|
|Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Mates, Michael||Townsend, Sir Cyril (Bexl'yh'th)|
|Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian||Tracey, Richard|
|Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick||Trend, Michael|
|Merchant, Piers||Trotter, Neville|
|Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Moate, Sir Roger||Waldegrave, Rt Hon William|
|Monro, Rt Hon Sir Hector||Walden, George|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Walker, A Cecil (Belfast N)|
|Waller, Gary||Willetts, David|
|Ward, John||Wilshire, David|
|Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Waterson, Nigel||Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesf'ld)|
|Watts, John||Wolfson, Mark|
|Wells, Bowen||Wood, Timothy|
|Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John||Yeo, Tim|
|Whitney, Sir Raymond||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Wiggin, Sir Jerry||Mr. Richard Ottaway and Mr. Patrick McLoughlin.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.