HC Deb 26 July 2000 vol 354 cc1099-101
5. Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

What discussions he has had with the First Secretary on the subject of the comprehensive spending review in relation to Home Office matters in Wales. [130881]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Paul Murphy)

I meet the First Secretary regularly to discuss a range of issues.

Last Wednesday's announcement by the Home Secretary of an extra £1.6 billion for police funding in England and Wales for the next three years is very good news. It represents an average annual increase in police funding of 7 per cent. and a further 4,000 recruits for England and Wales, bringing the total to 9,000 extra recruits over the next three years. The fire services too will receive a substantial increase.

Mr. Hughes

Has the Secretary of State seen the report in today's Western Mail that, of almost £7 million allocated by the Home Office to deal with domestic violence in England and Wales, this month Wales was allocated only £31,000, even though there were 15,000 reported incidents of domestic violence in Wales last year? Has the Secretary of State taken that up with the Home Secretary, and are those figures correct? If they are, and if the Secretary of State has not made representations, will he talk to the Home Secretary urgently so that resources that the community clearly feels are needed can be provided to deal with domestic violence in Wales?

Mr. Murphy

I accept the hon. Gentleman's point and the importance of these matters, especially given the news in the past few days about the terrible events in Barry. The hon. Gentleman may rest assured that I shall, of course, raise the matter with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mrs. Jackie Lawrence (Preseli Pembrokeshire)

May I welcome the extra money that was given to Wales last week for rural policing, especially the £1.3 million that is being given to Dyfed-Powys police in my area? Does the Secretary of State welcome, as I do, the fact that that will enable the new chief constable, Terry Grange, to carry out plans to increase police numbers and open new police stations in the Dyfed-Powys area? Does that not contrast clearly with the position of the previous Government, who flatly refused to allow Dyfed police to take on a further 72 officers?

Mr. Murphy

I very much agree with my hon. Friend. Dyfed-Powys received a considerable increase, as did north Wales, which received £770,000 extra, and my own county of Gwent, which received £103,000, which effectively means that there will be an extra 5,000 recruits in addition to the usual 11,000. Wales will get extra 223 police officers, distributed throughout Dyfed-Powys, Gwent, north Wales and south Wales. On top of that, last week's announcement means that we shall have even more police recruits.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)

Does the Secretary of State predict a rise or fall in crime in Wales next year?

Mr. Murphy

It is not for me to predict anything. However, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the latest statistics show that recorded crime in Wales fell by 2.5 per cent last year, against a 3.8 per cent. rise in England and Wales as a whole. The largest fall in crime was in south Wales, where there was a reduction of 5.8 per cent.

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