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Clause 1 — Police and crime commissioners

Part of Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 12th September 2011.

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Photo of Aidan Burley Aidan Burley Conservative, Cannock Chase 7:30 pm, 12th September 2011

The hon. Lady speaks for her part of Staffordshire and I speak for mine. I can tell her that people in my constituency do not feel that they have ample opportunity to influence the policing priorities in their area, they do not know what the police authority is, they do not know how to contact it and they do not know how to get involved in all these bureaucratic panels and committees that the hon. Member for Bradford East rattled off.

The Opposition’s latest form of direct accountability is not a million miles from what we are proposing—directly elected chairs of authorities. That is the Labour party’s proposal. It was an idea proposed in an amendment by the shadow Minister in Committee. I was on the Committee and remember him pushing it to a vote. In my view, that would be the worst of all worlds, because we would have an individual with a mandate but unable to deliver it because he could be outvoted routinely by a committee of appointees. This model would cost more and not produce the single focus of a police and crime commissioner.

Many Labour Members have made the point today about the cost of delaying the elections. I think that we should start by reflecting on some wise words:

“We’ve got to go further in demonstrating value for money and delivering efficiency. We are investing a lot of money in public services, it’s got to deliver results”.

That was the now shadow Home Secretary in an interview with The Daily Telegraph in January 2008, when she was Chief Secretary to the Treasury. I could not agree with her more. In fact, I also agree fully with the next quote from the interview:

Margaret Thatcher did talk about, you know, the housewife adding up the sums. Every family recognises the need to make sure that you can manage each month.”

Quite right too! I am glad that she and I agree with Lady Thatcher.

As so often with Labour, however, when it comes to public spending, it is a case of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Its NHS national IT programme had a budget of £2.3 billion, but has now cost £12.6 billion—an overspend of 450%. Its pensions transformation programme at the Department for Work and Pensions had a budget of £429 million, but the current cost is £598 million—an overspend of 39%. Its A46 improvement programme had a budget of £157 million, but the current cost is

£220 million—a 40% overspend. But worst of all was the cost of the millennium dome. It cost £789 million to build and £28 million a year to maintain.