With permission, Mr Speaker, I shall answer questions 2 and 16 together.
Police and crime commissioners have brought direct accountability and localism to policing in this country, and, as we have seen in London, incorporating the role of the PCC in mayoral devolution has worked really well, especially under this excellent London Mayor.
I have to say that I have received no request for the grouping of questions 2 and 16, but we will see what we can do if the Minister continues to smile nicely.
No; the police and crime commissioners are doing an excellent job. They bring accountability. The only bid to incorporate the PCC role at the moment is the bid from Manchester, and I look forward to seeing it working on the ground.
How will these arrangements work in the north-east of England, which has one economic zone—incorporating Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear—but two police authorities and two police and crime commissioners? Does the Home Office propose to merge the police authorities and their commissioners or to transfer their functions to a new individual?
It is entirely up to the local community to decide what it wants. If we look at other parts of the country, we can see that West Mercia and Warwickshire are working closely together. If the police authorities in the right hon. Gentleman’s area wanted to merge, they would need to put their business plan to us. It is not only the big cities that could come together; such proposals could involve rural areas as well.
Does the Minister recognise that the police and crime commissioners can work only within the resources and policy frameworks that are set nationally? Will he take this opportunity to support community policing and to reject the ridiculous suggestion from Tom Winsor that the police should ignore offences such as shoplifting and antisocial behaviour?
We will make sure that local communities decide what sort of policing goes on in their area, and PCCs have the role of making sure that is happening. There are excellent Labour and Conservative PCCs around the country, and I cannot understand why the Labour party wants to get rid of its own people who are doing a good job.