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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

I thank you for your direction, Mr Deputy Speaker. I shall focus my remarks. In April 2002, the National Audit Office showed that £28.4 million was spent on the dome’s maintenance in the year after it was closed. For just one year of maintaining the dome, we could elect someone who represents our views; for one year of maintaining the dome, we could let local people have a say over how their area is policed; and for one year of the dome, we could replace bureaucratic accountability to Whitehall with local accountability to the people. We will therefore take no lectures from Labour on how to spend £28 million. It is far better to spend it on reconnecting the public to the police than on Tony Blair’s Teflon-coated, flattened mushroom.

The Opposition object to delaying the election to November 2012. I am glad that it has been delayed to 15 November, not 5 November. Having a one-off election at the beginning of the cycle of elections for PCCs is a good idea because it will remove the charge of making them political. There will be no other elections on that day, so the first time that the PCCs are elected, no one will be able to claim that they were motivated to vote in a council vote or in a party political way. I support the delay on the grounds that it will make the first elections of these important PCCs non-political in the public’s eyes. Afterwards, they will revert to the same date as the council elections, thereby saving £50 million over four years.

In conclusion, policing is a monopoly service. The people cannot choose their force. This public service has to answer to someone, and we think that local people should have the power to do something about the problems that blight their towns and city centres. We are determined to rebuild the link between the people and the police forces that serve them, which is why these reforms are right for the people, right for the police and right for the times.