|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Evans: The hon. Gentleman represents a constituency neighbouring mine. Like mine, his has many rural areas. Does he believe that CCTV should be rolled out in some rural areas and not confined to urban areas, and that special constables should be put into rural areas? Crime is as hard for those living in rural areas as it is for those in urban areas.
Mr. Hoyle: I could not agree more. Ribble Valley suffers the same problems as my constituency, although it is important to stress that the Government have played a major part in increasing the use of CCTV. However, the Home Office has a chance to go into villages by allowing town councils, parish councils and borough councils to bid for money that the Government have made directly available rather than getting messed up in different routes and ticking different boxes. Let us make the money available and ensure that the benefits in urban areas are introduced in rural areas.
We need CCTV in my village of Adlington. A robbery took place at the petrol station and the local bank, 200 yd away, was held up with a gun. We are near the city of Manchester, and criminals unfortunately come and take what they perceive to be easy pickings because there are not the same deterrents. I should welcome CCTV in Adlington and in the rural areas of the constituencies of other hon. Members. It should happen sooner rather than later.
Police cells are also important. We should ensure that they are available where crime occurs. Chorley has a population of more than 100,000. It is one of the fastest-growing constituencies in the country, yet we find that no police cell is available. That is absurd, and it must be looked at.
We need to show teeth and ensure that police authorities listen to the Home Office and that we are able to ask questions below chief constable level to find out what is going on in divisional areas. It is important that we are allowed to do that, and the sooner it happens, the better. It is also important that the courts and the police authorities are accountable to the House and that we can get down to the micro level, which is well below that of chief constable.
In fairness to the police, I say that they do a very good job, but they must get away from paperwork, which they spend such a lot of time on. I do not know whether Members have been out with the police to see what happens when they arrest somebody, all the paperwork that they go through and the time that is lost because they have to go to a station that is far away in case the arrest involves a lock-up. We must look at that, save time and let the police get on with the job that they are good atgetting on the streets and being seen. We must have a visible police force once again. That is so important.
We are up against the time limit, but I want quickly to mention that Victim Support does a superb job in Chorley. Also, the armed forces play a major role, so I am very concerned about the Queen's Lancashire Regiment. I do not want to see it merged. We do not have a retention problem, and we certainly do not have a recruitment problem. That proud regiment is one of the oldest, and I want it to remain.
The other problem is council tax. Rate support grant was not enough and Chorley council managed to get only 2.3 per cent. I would have liked it to get more. The county got 5.5 per cent. If we could have put its figure down by just 0.5 per cent., we could have made so much difference to the borough councilit could have extended its warden scheme, which has proved successful.
The other big issue is pensions. I would like all pensioners to benefit from free off-peak travel, and let us extend free TV licences as well. Those are omissions from the Queen's Speech. We must not forget older people: we have done a lot for them, but there is much more that we can do.
I have mentioned the Forensic Science Service, and The Observer on Sunday had a wonderful sub-heading saying, "The Forensic Science Service is a rare public service success story. So New Labour wants to privatise it". We ought to be ashamed of such headlines and articleswe ought to get away from that. We do not need to privatise the service, no matter what people might say. The bottom line is that we can keep it in the public sector. We can ensure that there is money through a true private finance initiative scheme. That is the road forward, and that is the vehicle we ought to use. We ought to ensure that that benefit comes through and that we do not see people losing their jobs and pensions.
John Robertson (Glasgow, Anniesland) (Lab): I apologise for missing part of the debate as I was on Scottish Affairs Committee business. I will definitely try to make it to the summing up, but I will need to miss part of it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton, South (Mr. Tynan) made an excellent speech. I am not going to repeat it, because he must have covered about the whole Queen's Speech. He made a slight attack on the two nationalist parties sitting opposite: the Scottish nationalists and the English nationalists, who are known where I come from as the Tories. They seem to be cuddly people these days. That brings to mind a film I once saw called "Gremlins". The gremlins start off cuddly, but then they get water on them, and they become monsters. I would love to throw water on the Tories to let the people see their true colours, because they have been monsters beforeback in the 1980s and early 1990s, when they were real monsters who destroyed industry in this country and put unemployment up to an unbelievable figure that I hope will never be rivalled. Even if that lot got back into government, they could not manage to get the figure up to the 4 million mark, but I am sure that it will not prevent them from trying.
I want to talk about asylum. I have a problem with taking children from any parentasylum seeker or not. Taking a child from a parent, whether that means a single parent or parents in a family, is abhorrent. I ask the Minister to reiterate what I think I heard the Home Secretary say, which is that children will be treated just as children, that their treatment will have nothing to do
Hon. Members of all parties have referred to the matter in various ways, but I want to attack another part of the problem. I asked myself what I would like the Queen's Speech to contain. One possibility would be the reintroduction of hangingbut only for lawyers: they are the ones I want to string up. I am sorry if that offends anyone, especially among Labour Members. However, the £81.3 million spent on asylum matters in 200001 rose to £174.2 million in 200203.
A lawyer who takes on an asylum seeker is able to claim £800 immediately. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Harris), I have many asylum seekers in my constituency. Half my work load is based on asylum matters, but the asylum seekers I speak to have more than one lawyer as, when I ask who their lawyer is, they produce a variety of cards. If all those lawyers are getting £800and then £1,200 later for judicial reviewit does not take a genius to work out why they all seem very happy to take on such cases. One lawyer in my area closed his business because he refused to take on asylum seekers, but another lawyer opened up the very next day. He made it blatantly clear that he was doing so because he could make a lot of money out of asylum seekers. That is an absolute disgrace, and we must do something about it. Asylum seekers are used by the people who get them into this country, and then they are used again by lawyers, who we might say are not so nice. Therefore, I ask that hanging be available as punishment for lawyers who profit from asylum seekers.
I turn now to the Scotland Act 1998. It may not mean much to members of the English national party, and it clearly does not mean a lot to members of the Scottish National party, who cannot be bothered to attend the debate. This is not the first time that they have slept through Bills; they did the same with the one that introduced the minimum income guarantee some years ago. They are up to their old tricks again, but that does not stop them having a go at Labour Members in this House, who are doing what they are employed to dorepresenting the people of the UK.
I have real problems with an electoral system based on a list, as it is open to much misuse. In Glasgow, 77,040 people voted on their ballot papers for the Labour party, while another party received 34,894 votes. The Labour party secured no seats, but the other party secured three. I do not know how the arithmetic adds up, but there is no point in having two ballot papers in Scotlandone for constituency members and the other for list membersif none of the Labour votes cast in Glasgow is allowed to count. If that is democracy, I am sorry, and I want nothing to do with it. It is time that we changed the system. However, the single transferable vote system being touted by the Scottish Executive does not meet my requirements either. In fact, in the case of the Scottish Parliament and, in particular, the Scottish Executive, it would appear that the tail is wagging the dog these days.
The Liberal party in Scotland would argue that in order to receive the guarantee of STV, it has capitulated on many Bills that it would normally have voted against, but I have to say that the Liberals have caused nothing but trouble by being part of the Executive in Scotland. If I were the First Minister, I would kick them out, and would work in a minority Government. They are absolutely no good.