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It is a pleasure to follow Ian Paisley who, up until his outburst on me, I considered an hon. Friend—I agree with many of his political positions. He said he would go on to speak about policing in Northern Ireland, and I believe I was perfectly entitled to question whether or not that was in order, particularly because I have been sitting in the Chamber from the beginning of the debate waiting to speak, and because the debate relates to the police grant in England and Wales. That is not to decry our fantastic Union—it is always a pleasure and delight to hear about Northern Ireland—but I am sorry he interpreted my attempts to bring him back to order in such a manner. I am sure we will still be friends.
I shall speak to the report as it relates to England and Wales, and my police force in Humberside, which serves the East Riding of Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire. I speak on the police grant debate most years. I have always abstained on the budget because of my concern, as previous Ministers have heard, about the scale of the reductions. I fully understand and support the need for reductions, but I am concerned about their scale, particularly as they come at the same time as a change in officers’ terms and conditions, which has had an impact on morale. I shall say more about that later.
I tend to say something about the Labour position every year in such debates. In 2007, police numbers were falling in my area—they fell by 137. [Interruption.]It would be nice if I could hear myself. There seems to be some noise coming from the Government Back Benches.