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Closed Circuit Television

Volume 301: debated on Monday 24 November 1997

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12.

If he will make a statement on the introduction of CCTV cameras into smaller towns and public places; and if he will make a statement. [15788]

I strongly support the use of closed circuit television—CCTV. I can announce today that the Government will support CCTV in the next financial year with a further CCTV challenge competition. In total, £9 million will be spent on CCTV in 1998–99. Although a large proportion of that expenditure was already committed by the previous Administration, I expect to be able to spend at least £1 million on new schemes. Full details will be issued in bidding guidance soon, but I intend to give priority to imaginative and innovative schemes that expand the boundaries of CCTV use.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that CCTV helps police and local authority strategies to combat crime? Does he accept that, under the former Government, the small, former urban authorities, of which there are four in my constituency—Ossett, Horbury, Normanton and Stanley—were left out and let down? Can he assure me those smaller authorities will now be considered by a Labour Government?

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the success of CCTV, especially when linked to other approaches to reducing and preventing crime. In the bidding process, we will look for innovative schemes, not necessarily those in major town and city centres. In places where there is a critical mass of CCTV, it is possible to link smaller towns or out-of-town areas to the same monitoring system and that is often extremely valuable.

I welcome the Minister's announcement that he will follow our support for CCTV. Does he agree that the £1 million that he intends to add to the spending that the previous Government announced is pitiable? If CCTV is to be useful, it must be a national scheme, in Conservative as well as in Labour areas, and £1 million will go nowhere.

It is interesting that Opposition Members wish to spend money now that they are in opposition and not in government. Immediately before the election, the previous Government spent money that they did not have. Some £8 million of next year's finances was allocated by the Ministers who left office in May and that has left us with limited flexibility, but we will do the best with what we have.