First, I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his appointment as Opposition Front-Bench spokesman on home affairs. However, may I offer him some friendly—not to say comradely—advice? When he produces such figures, he should remember who set the budgets for the Metropolitan police. The budget for the Metropolitan police service for 1997–98 was set in January 1997, when the Conservative party was in power—that is on the record. If we take account of the fact that the Conservatives set the budget for 1997–98, about which we could do nothing on entering office, we see that, over the six years from 1992 to 1998, there was a 2.060 reduction in the strength of one single police service, namely the Metropolitan police service.
I am concerned about the decline in numbers of police officers which has taken place since 1992 and which has continued under the present Government, but I will take no lectures whatever from the Conservative Opposition, not least because of the dramatic and unacceptable changes in police numbers that they forced on the Metropolitan police when they were in office.