Policing (Peterborough and Cambridgeshire)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:53 pm on 20th February 2008.

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Photo of David Howarth David Howarth Shadow Solicitor General, Ministry of Justice 2:53 pm, 20th February 2008

I am very glad to accept that clarification, but it should also be said, on behalf of the chief constable, that the chief constable was saying not that migrants cause more crime, but that there is an extra cost for the authorities in dealing with incidents involving them, both as accused people and as victims—it is important to stress that—and those costs in terms of interpretation and the translation of documents are important.

For me, the issue is more about the division of finance between national and local government. The hon. Gentleman mentioned that in passing, but for me it is a very important point. Overall, migration into this country has an economic benefit for this country. The question is where that benefit goes in terms of levels of government and who bears the costs associated with a rising population. On the whole, the tax revenues from income tax, national insurance, profits of companies and VAT come to national Government. Some, in the form of council tax, comes to local government, but not much, especially if not many new dwellings are built in the process and it is just that the use of existing dwellings is being intensified.

The revenues, the benefits from migration and population growth, tend to go to national Government. Population growth or migration mainly involves young, active, employed people, who do not cost national Government very much. They do not use the health service much. They do not claim much in the way of benefits and they are not pensioners. What costs there are tend to fall on local services, including, in this case, the police. That is the core of the problem. It is not just about sorting out which bits of local government get which funding. It is about the balance of funding, the balance of cost and benefit, between national and local government. That is at the heart of the problem and that is what the Government have to sort out.