HC Deb 23 July 1998 vol 316 cc617-9W
Mr. Gordon Marsden

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what level of special grant to Lancashire Constabulary has been authorised to assist with the cost of policing at the Labour Party Conference in 1998; and how the level was calculated; [51396]

(2) what representations he has received from Lancashire Constabulary on the cost of policing the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool in 1998; [51395]

(3) what charges have been levied by Lancashire Constabulary on political parties to meet the costs of policing party conferences in each year since 1995. [51403]

Mr. Michael

There is no question of any police force levying a charge on political parties to meet the costs of policing a national conference. The power to assist with these costs is quite recent, having been provided for in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

The power to pay special grant to police authorities for the policing of party conferences was set out in the Police and Magistrates' Courts Act 1994. No clear criteria for payment was set down, but we are now trying to develop an appropriate and coherent approach.

The costs of policing party conferences at Blackpool since 1995, as estimated by Lancashire Constabulary, are set out in the table.

Year Labour Party Conservative Party
1995 1662,000
1996 2,620,000
1997 2,245,000
1Lancashire were only able to provide information on additional costs for 1995

The Lancashire Police Authority was given a special grant of £750,000 towards the additional costs of policing the Conservative Party Conference in 1997. For 1998–99, we have authorised a payment of grant of up to £750,000 as a contribution to the costs of safeguarding national security at this year's Labour Party Conference in Blackpool. A similar sum is being made available to Dorset Police Authority in respect of this year's Conservative Party Conference. Only £1.5 million was available for allocation between Dorset and Lancashire forces this year. As both forces were expecting to incur similar additional costs, we decided that the grant should be divided equally between them.

I met members of the Lancashire Police Authority in January about the funding settlement for 1998–99 when they expressed concern at the level of the special grant available for policing party conferences and I have recently met representatives of the Dorset Police Authority to discuss similar issues. I have asked for the views of the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities about the future allocation of this grant, with a view to determining a fair way of assisting police with the activities which are related to the main party conferences. The views of Lancashire and Dorset will be borne in mind at that stage.

Mr. Gordon Marsden

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what public funds have been made available to political parties to assist with the cost of (a) the policing and (b) other security measures at party conferences in Blackpool in (i) 1996, (ii) 1997 and (iii) 1998. [51402]

Mr. Straw

(a) No public funds have been paid to political parties in respect of policing costs at party conferences.

  • (b)
  • 1996: £529,000.00
  • 1997: £575,268.92
  • 1998: None as yet.

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