Speaking in the House of Commons, Sir George voiced concerns about the money available for funding the police service in Hampshire. (See below) He was not wholly re-assured by the reply from the Leader of the House.
Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): I also welcome the debate on Sessional Orders and Parliament square, some 11 months after I first asked for it.
Will the Leader of the House now find time for a debate on police authority funding? Many hon. Members on both sides of the House spent yesterday talking to their police authorities. Hampshire constabulary and others are deeply concerned that the resources available to the Home Office will not even fund a standstill budget next year. The opportunity of getting the council tax payer to fund the difference is not available because of capping. Does he want to fight a possible general election against a background of reduced police authority funding? Can we help him avoid that by debating it soon?
Mr. Hain: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his first remark. Perhaps I did not make this clear to the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton), but let me reassure the right hon. Gentleman that there will be a free vote on all House matters, as there always is.
On police authority funding, there is no question of cuts. The Government have put record investment into policing. Police numbers are now at an historic high. Some 12,500 extra police officers have been recruited since we came into power. Any blips or difficulties in the process of settling individual police authority budgets in the coming year should be seen against that background of continued substantial increase in police funding.