HC Deb 20 January 2003 vol 398 cc15-6
10. Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury)

If he will make a statement on the financial settlement to Gloucestershire constabulary for the forthcoming financial year.[91432]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Michael Wills)

My right hon. Friend the Police Minister announced the provisional police funding settlement for English police authorities on 5 December 2002. Gloucestershire police authority is provisionally set to receive a general grant of £57 million—an increase of 3 per cent. Gloucestershire is also provisionally set to receive up to £2.33 million through the crimefighting fund, £780,000 in rural grant, and £190,000 towards the cost of the airwave communications system. Gloucestershire is therefore provisionally set to receive an increase of 3.5 per cent. We expect to announce the final funding settlement on 5 February.

Mr. Robertson

I am grateful to the Minister for that detailed response. However, I had a one-and-a-half hour meeting with the chief constable on Friday and he said that the money for Gloucestershire is sufficient to cover only the increase in pay that has been awarded and the increase in national insurance that the Government have forced on the authority. The chief constable asked me to ask the Minister how on earth he can be expected to finance the extra work in the national policing plan.

Why did the Minister state in a written answer to me on 30 October that he intended to provide sufficient resources to support Gloucestershire … in maintaining stable levels of service", [Official Report, 30 October 2002; Vol. 391, c. 845W.] when cuts will have to made in the force unless there is a 55 per cent. increase in the local precept?

Mr. Wills

The hon. Gentleman has missed out a statistic in his full and detailed question. Gloucestershire police are at record numbers. I remind him that in the last five years of Conservative Government, the number of police officers in Gloucestershire declined by 41. Under this Government, there are 50 more police officers than in 1997. The extra money is being spent on more police officers to fight and reduce the fear of crime. The Conservative Government signally failed to do that.

Mr. Parmjit Dhanda (Gloucester)

May I reassure my hon. Friend that the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson) omitted more than one statistic? On 23 December, £180,000 was announced for providing video interview and rape examination suites in Gloucestershire. Our current police force comprises 1,183 officers, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows. That is far more police than we ever had in Gloucestershire previously. When the Conservative party was in power—

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is not for the Minister to reply to such matters.

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