§ Mr. David Hunt
Several, but this is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. Llwyd
In the light of the recent review announced by the Home Secretary, will the Secretary of State confirm the need to ensure local control and accountability of Welsh police forces? Will he also confirm that, if it were offered, he would support overall control of Welsh policing being transferred to the Welsh Office?
§ Mr. Hunt
On the first point, my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has already told the House of his intention that half the membership of the new police authorities should be locally elected members. He will be dealing with the details of the constitution and functions of the police authorities in his White Paper later this year.
With regard to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, that matter is always kept under review. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is always looking at the whole question of devolution of further powers to Wales. Indeed, training matters were transferred to Wales last year. Next week, the university of Wales, higher education and the arts will transfer to Cardiff from Whitehall.
§ Mr. Roger Evans
Will my right hon. Friend note, and convey to my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, the degree of concern in Gwent at initial suggestions that the Gwent constabulary might be singled out for amalgamation purely on grounds of size? That force has an excellent record and there are many similar-sized police forces, such as those in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Dorset, which also have happier records than some of the larger forces in metropolitan English areas.
§ Mr. Hunt
I am impressed with all that I have seen of the Gwent constabulary. As my hon. Friend knows, I recently visited the Gwent constabulary. I am impressed with the way in which it conducts policing. As my right hon. and learned Friend made absolutely clear in his statement to the House, we are moving away from the consideration of any question of structure and amalgamations and concentrating on the more efficient policing policies. Those policies will be made clear to the House when my right hon. and learned Friend publishes his White Paper later this year.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson
Can the Secretary of State confirm that the intense speculation that the number of police forces in Wales would be reduced from four to three will not go ahead? Is not it absurd that it was even mooted to do so without this being under his direction?
§ Mr. Hunt
I was concerned at some of the stories that I was reading in the press which bore no relation to discussions going on within government. I was, therefore, pleased that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary made it absolutely clear that there was no substance to the stories and that the most important thing is to concentrate on the ways in which policing in Wales can be made more efficient and more effective.