The evidence we heard yesterday from the chief constable was that she was called in and, out of the blue, the police and crime commissioner said that he would dismiss and humiliate her. That is an extraordinary, menacing and bullying attitude. Are police and crime commissioners the Government’s stupidest policy?
For the first time, democracy has been introduced into the policing of this country, and that must be desirable. I also heard the evidence, and no doubt the Home Affairs Committee will be reporting in due course.
Was it the Prime Minister’s conception when he set up the office of police and crime commissioner that a fine chief constable such as the one in Gwent should have a career cut short by a vindictive bully who told her to resign or he would humiliate her?
The point of having police and crime commissioners is to make sure there is proper accountability and that police constables have to account to a local person. That is why a number of former Labour Members of Parliament stood for the post. In some cases, such as that of John Prescott, the people of his region saw sense and rejected him.
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): Will the Prime Minister seek to change the rules of this House so that the names of the fallen can be honoured by being read out in this Chamber—the same Chamber that sent them to their deaths? What lasting achievements have there been in Afghanistan that justify £37 billion of taxpayers’ money and 444 deaths?
The Prime Minister: We do read out the names of those who have fallen, and we rightly pay tribute to them because they have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country and our security. The hon. Gentleman asked what this has achieved, and the point I make is that before 2001 Afghanistan was a haven for terrorists who were plotting actively to do harm to people in this country and elsewhere, but since 2001—he can ask the security services about this himself if he wants—there have not been major, serious plots hatched in Afghanistan and carried out against us. That is a big and important achievement, but we also have to look at the capacity Afghanistan has today to continue to deliver that. When I first visited Afghanistan in 2006, there were no Afghan security forces in Helmand province; they did not exist. They have been built from scratch. I do not think we honour those who have paid this price by talking down, in any way, the extraordinary achievements that we have seen there. That is not to say that things are perfect—of course they are not—and it is not to say that there is not more that needs to be done, but on the ledger of Britain’s engagement in Afghanistan, we should correctly identify the good points as well as the difficulties that still remain.