Shadow home secretary Ed Balls has attacked the government's plans for elected police commissioners, suggesting that it is a "risky experiment" to push them through in spite of cuts to police budgets and an on-going terrorist threat.
His comments came during second reading of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill on 13 December 2010, as ministers sought to calm fears that the plans could see extremists being elected as police and crime commissioners, with the power to hire and fire chief constables in England and Wales and set annual police budgets.
Mr Balls said MPs were being asked to support a "risky experiment in police accountability" and accused the coalition government of failing to conduct a proper consultation into the reforms.
"It is a flawed reform, it will waste millions, it will do nothing to reduce crime," he said.
In response to concerns raised by Labour's David Hanson, Home Secretary Theresa May told MPs that the government did not plan to exclude candidates who might be considered extremists.
"I see no reason not to trust the British public. We do trust the public and we trust democracy," Mrs May said.
"The British public have shown over the years that they are perfectly capable of stopping extremists where they should be stopped and that is at the ballot box."