One police force where crime has not fallen happens to be that of Devon and Cornwall where, as I recall, the hon. Gentleman is a Member of Parliament. I may be wrong, but I think he is a Member of Parliament in Devon and Cornwall, and that is one area where crime has not fallen. When he stood on his election manifesto for 3,000 extra police officers at the last election, did he think that three years later he would go back to Devon and Cornwall police with a higher crime rate and 415 fewer officers? I do not think so.
Let me continue. The Government are scrapping antisocial behaviour orders and putting at risk crime-fighting tools such as the European arrest warrant. Yesterday in Committee we had a debate about the European arrest warrant and the Minister—who stood on a manifesto saying that he wished to keep that warrant—could not tell me which aspects of it he intended to opt back in to because he was fettered by nine Conservative Members. He has sold his soul to Government positions.
The Minister knows that the Labour party would have cut 12% from police budgets—I am honest about that. We would have cut £1 billion over the three-year period, including the year of this grant, because that is what we said we would do. During a debate before the general election, I recall the Minister debating police numbers with me. On
“People like to see a visible police presence in their communities…I am genuinely astonished that the Conservatives want to make drastic cuts to budgets”.
In the same debate, the Minister spoke about his Conservative council in Somerset:
“The Conservative cut in funding for the police was kept secret before the county council elections in June.”
He promised 3,000 police officers but he is now promoting a 20% cut to the budget. His proposal cannot get much more secret than that.
In response to a debate that set the tone for this three-year budget, the then hon. Member for Chesterfield, who lost his seat at the general election to my hon. Friend Toby Perkins, said:
“Such cuts, should they snowball and continue in the next year or two, will be a tragedy.”—[Hansard, 3 February 2010; Vol. 505, c. 340.]
That was the then hon. Member for Chesterfield speaking from the Liberal Democrat Front Bench. I expect that the Minister will not listen to me and I accept that. We have had honest debates and I have seen more of him in the past three weeks than I have seen of my wife because we have spent lots of time in Committee.