§ 5. Mr. Chris Bryant (Rhondda)
What recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary about the recruitment of police officers in Wales. 
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Don Touhig)
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales regularly meets the Home Secretary to discuss a range of issues including the recruitment of police officers in Wales. He also met the four Welsh chief constables earlier this year and there was broad agreement on recruitment policy.
§ Mr. Bryant
May I take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend—I think that I am the first person to do so today—on both his new post and, more important, his excellent result at the general election? Does he agree that one of the major problems that faces all valley communities in south Wales is drug-related crime? Will he join me in congratulating projects such as DARE—Drugs Awareness Resistance Education—in the Rhondda, which is pioneering because it uses police officers to provide primary school education that will provide an answer for the future in drug prevention?
§ Mr. Touhig
I thank my hon. Friend on two accounts—his congratulations on my appointment and on my re-election. He did not do too badly in the Rhondda either, pushing the nationalists well back. I am aware of the DARE project, which is an American anti-drugs initiative. It aims to offer educational programmes in the classroom to prevent and reduce drug use and violence among children and young people. The emphasis is on providing information, developing decision making, building self-esteem and offering healthy alternative life styles. I pay tribute to the South Wales police force, and in particular to the officers in the Rhondda who are participating in the scheme, and I wish it every success.
§ Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion)
Does the Minister feel that league tables have helped the morale, recruitment and retention of teachers in Wales, and does he expect them to do the same for the police in Wales?
§ Mr. Touhig
It is important that we measure the performance of all public services. That is the only way to bring about any improvement. I have no doubt, as a former adviser to the Police Federation, that police morale in Wales is very good, because we are putting in record funding to recruit a record number of bobbies. The answer to many of our problems in the south Wales valleys and throughout Wales is to put more bobbies on the beat, and that is what we are doing.
§ Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North)
What discussions has my hon. Friend had with the Home Secretary about ending the practice of accommodating asylum seekers in the remand wing of Cardiff jail, which is causing a great deal of concern to voluntary groups, the Churches, the National Assembly and many MPs?
§ Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)
When the Minister talks about putting more bobbies on the beat, what consideration has he given to the recruitment of more special constables in Wales? When I stay with the excellent Mrs. Meirwen Pughe at her guest house, Dolffanog Fach in Talyllyn, I am very conscious of the fact that there are not many police officers. The last Labour Government lost 6,000 police officers in Wales and in England. What is the Minister doing to encourage the recruitment of more specials?
§ Mr. Touhig
Since March 1997, an extra 271 police officers have been recruited in Wales and 6,863 officers are serving in Wales. In addition, there has been a record increase in funding for the police service in Wales. Nearly £390 million has gone into the settlement this year: £56 million extra for Dyfed-Powys, £75 million for Gwent, £82 million for North Wales and £176 million for South Wales. The use of that funding is, of course, at the disposal of the chief constable of each police authority, and I know of a number who are recruiting specials, but I particularly welcome the fact that more bobbies are on the beat, and we are providing the funding to make that possible.