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Earlier the right hon. Lady intervened on her right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh and referred to the issues around knife crime. May I take this opportunity to commend her predecessor in her constituency, Nick de Bois, who did a great deal in relation to knife crime and ensured that further legislation was passed in this House in that regard? On the issue of police community support officers, of course we value them, but the decision is an operational one for chief constables as to how they balance their budgets and ensure the differentiation. The sort of comments that we are hearing now about PCSOs have been heard before. For example, in 2010 the chief constable of Lancashire, Chief Constable Finnigan, said that with huge regret he had told all 427 PCSOs in the force that they might lose their jobs as a result of budget cuts. Did they? No, they did not.
Police reform is working, and crime is falling. This Government have achieved something that no other Government have achieved: we have proved that it is possible to improve services, and maintain public trust and confidence, while saving money for the taxpayer. We must not forget why those savings are necessary. The right hon. Member for Leigh mentioned the deficit and yes, we did inherit a structural deficit, high taxes, record debt and unreformed public services. I hope I do not have to remind the right hon. Gentleman, who was Chief Secretary to the Treasury when the 2007 spending review was decided—a document that continued this country’s course down that fateful path of profligacy.