Policing (Peterborough and Cambridgeshire)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:44 pm on 20th February 2008.

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Crime Reduction) 3:44 pm, 20th February 2008

It seems to be a perfectly reasonable suggestion to ask that forum meeting in July to look at that issue. What may be appropriate is for each hon. Member here today to talk to the chief constable in their area—in particular, Cambridgeshire Members should talk to the chief constable of Cambridgeshire, Julie Spence—and ask them whether they feel that it is appropriate to make particular contributions to the forum. I suggest that the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington makes a suggestion to his chief constable to see whether they will take that issue to the forum.

I want to go through a few other issues. First, I want to discuss funding for Cambridgeshire. Total Government grants to Cambridgeshire increased by more than £30 million between 1997-98 and 2007-08, which is a cash rise of 52 per cent. or a rise of 19 per cent. in real terms. Having said that, I know that the hon. Members here will be keen to look to the future. Under the terms of the provisional funding settlement, which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced on 6 December last year, Cambridgeshire's general grant will increase, as hon. Members will know, by 3 per cent. next year and for each of the next two years.

I know that Cambridgeshire still has concerns about the fact that the funding formula is still not fully implemented. Of course, in an ideal world we would make all payments strictly in accordance with the needs-based formula, but that would leave some forces in dire financial straits. In the most extreme case, one force would lose 10 per cent. of its budget. Although hon. Members are keen to secure additional resources for their own forces, including Cambridgeshire, we would not want to be in a position where other parts of the country experienced dramatic cuts in policing provision. If that happened, we would be in a situation where other hon. Members would be arguing against changes that were having an adverse effect on their own forces. Indeed, I understand this argument very well, since Nottinghamshire, which is the force for my local area, suffers from exactly the same problem as Cambridgeshire with regard to the application of the funding formula.