Emergency Services Network: NAO Report

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons on 10th June 2019.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy)

What assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the May 2019 NAO report entitled “Progress delivering the Emergency Services Network”.

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Home Department

Frankly, we welcome all scrutiny of the emergency services network. It remains an extremely ambitious and very challenging programme, but our intent remains the same: to make sure that our emergency workers have access to the best available communications network. We still believe that the benefits are there.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy)

I have been raising this issue since 2013, when it became apparent that the Home Office was prioritising cost-cutting over the resilience of the communication network that enables our police officers, fire officers and ambulance crews to save lives. This is years late and billions overspent, so when are we going to have a proper plan to deliver this essential network? Will the Minister compensate police forces for the extra they are having to spend because of his incompetence?

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Home Department

Our plans have been set out and will continue to be available for scrutiny. The funding of forces will be dealt with through the spending review, but I push back on the hon. Lady’s premise. This has not been primarily just about reducing the costs of the Airwave contract, although that is real. It is also about making sure that 300,000 emergency workers have access to the most resilient, most modern emergency communications network. That is exactly what we intend to deliver.