New Home Secretary John Reid has come under fire for planning a giant merged police force in the West Midlands - while his local force is being broken up to create smaller bodies in touch with local communities.

Dr Reid is overseeing the creation of a regional superforce, covering five million people, which will involve merging four existing constabularies.

But the Government's police reforms only apply to England and Wales. In Scotland, where Dr Reid is an MP, things are moving in the opposite direction.

West Midlands MPs highlighted the contradiction in a House of Commons debate, as they backed calls by Paul West, chief constable of West Mercia Police, for the Home Office to think again about the plans.

The merger processes were initiated by Charles Clarke, the former Home Secretary who was replaced last week, but the Home Office has indicated Dr Reid intends to see the policy through.

Owen Paterson (Con North Shropshire) said: "The Home Secretary represents a Scottish seat, and has no remit for policing in Scotland.

"Interestingly, a vigorous debate took place in the Labour Party in Scotland . . . the breaking up of Strathclyde Police is being discussed where the Home Secretary has no remit.

"Then the Home Secretary comes down to England and tells our constituents, who massively oppose larger police forces, that they may be given them.

"What is the Home Secretary's real opinion? On his home patch, his own party is debating the breaking up of a very large police force. Now he has come down here - he has only been in power over the past few days - and I should like to know his real views."

John Maples (Con Stratford) said the chief constable of the merged force would inevitably neglect rural areas.

He said: "He will be as far from rural Warwickshire, or rural Staffordshire, or rural Shrop-shire, both in his head and geographically, as it is possible to be.

"He is going to say, 'Gee, they don't have any problems in south Warwickshire. Crime there is half the rate it is in Wolverhampton. I am worrying about Wolverhampton'."

Conservatives called for referendums giving local residents the chance to reveal whether they supported police mergers.

But the idea was rejected by Home Office Minister Liam Byrne, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill.

He said: "There is the report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate that says that the current structure of forces does not provide sufficient resilience or protective services to deal with level two crime."

He added: "If Her Majesty's Inspectorate has set out an argument that the current structure of 43 forces is insufficient to provide robust, effective and resilient protective services, it is surely incumbent on the Government to respond."

West Midlands and Staffordshire Police support the move.