2 Dec 2005 : Column 497

House of Commons

Friday 2 December 2005

The House met at half-past Nine o'clock


The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker, pursuant to the Standing Order.

[Sylvia Heal in the Chair]

9.33 am

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I beg to move, That the House sit in private.

Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 163 (Motions to sit in private):—

The House proceeded to a Division.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the No Lobby.

The House having divided: Ayes 0, Noes 37.

Division No. 114


Tellers for the Ayes:Mr. Eric Forth and Mr. Mark Harper


Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Anderson, Janet
Austin, Mr. Ian
Baldry, Tony
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Bryant, Chris
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Conway, Derek
Cook, Frank
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Featherstone, Lynne
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Gale, Mr. Roger
Gray, Mr. James
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Luff, Peter
Maclean, rh David
Mactaggart, Fiona
Marris, Rob
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mercer, Patrick
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pearson, Ian
Randall, Mr. John
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Touhig, Mr. Don

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Parmjit Dhanda and
Mr. Tom Watson

Question accordingly negatived.

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2 Dec 2005 : Column 498

Points of Order

9.50 am

Mr. Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can you help me? Yesterday, at business questions, the Deputy Leader of the House stated that there would be no opportunity to debate the police restructuring proposals before Christmas, yet on Wednesday the Home Secretary, when challenged at a regional newspapers lunch by Ian Mean, the editor of The Citizen, said that the House would have three opportunities before the Christmas recess to debate those proposals. I have written to the Home Secretary but have not yet had a reply, and I gave his office notice that I would raise this point of order. Could you help me, Madam Deputy Speaker, in letting me know how I can progress the matter to make sure that the record is corrected?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): The hon. Gentleman will recall that Mr. Speaker suggested that the matter should be pursued through the usual channels, so I advise him to do just that.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, and very much in that context. Are you aware of any contact between the Home Secretary and the Government Chief Whip, so that the Chief Whip can deliver what the Home Secretary has apparently promised us? It would be helpful to the House if we could be reassured that undertakings apparently given outside this place by the Home Secretary to provide debating time will be delivered as promised.

Madam Deputy Speaker: I regret to inform the right hon. Gentleman that I am unable to reassure him on that point.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire) (Con): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Has it been brought to your attention that of the first 3,000 people who replied to the consultation undertaken by West Mercia police, 88 per cent. want the status quo on the area and strategic force—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. That is not a point of order for the Chair.
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Orders of the Day

Criminal Law (Amendment) (Protection of Property) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

9.52 am

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York) (Con): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce the Bill. In doing so, I pay tribute to my illustrious predecessors, not least my hon. Friends the Members for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) and for Newark (Patrick Mercer), who set the scene for the measure. I also pay tribute to the work of my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham), who has joined me today to lend his support for my attempt to take the Bill to its next stage. He has done much work for his constituent, Tony Martin, whose case was probably the one that instigated our attempts. I pay tribute to my three colleagues.

I am delighted to tell the House that I enjoy the support of the whole Conservative parliamentary party, and there is much support for the measure in the country. It has indeed proved to be the people's choice. Seldom in one's parliamentary career does one have the opportunity to make a difference to people's lives and I feel that this is my moment—my parliamentary moment. Normally, I do not win on the lottery, either the national lottery or the lottery of life—

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): That is because the hon. Lady does not buy a ticket.

Miss McIntosh: I knew there must be a reason. However, I am delighted to have secured fifth place in the ballot for private Members' Bills.

I want to explain why we need a change in the law. The law is not clear and we need a deterrent to show burglars why they will meet more force and resistance than may have been the case hitherto. Undoubtedly, fear of crime, and of burglary in particular, is increasing and the violence used by burglars is increasing, too. Only this week, on 30 November, The Birmingham Post reported that a shop assistant had been shot twice in the face during a robbery in Birmingham and that he could lose his eye. The report stated that the father of two, Imran Shah, who is only 21 years old

The time has come to redress the balance.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con): My hon. Friend may remember that about three years ago in my store in Swansea I confronted a shoplifter who attacked me. Had I used force to retaliate and if he had fallen backwards and sustained head injuries, I might have found myself in court facing charges of using disproportionate force to protect myself. Is not the problem in such cases that when someone is confronted by a burglar the last thing that they should be thinking
2 Dec 2005 : Column 500
about is whether they will end up in court? They need to protect themselves, and the Bill will allow them to do that.

Miss McIntosh: I bow in admiration of the heroic efforts of my hon. Friend. He has illustrated the problem more graphically than most Members could do.

Chris Bryant: I am glad that the hon. Lady is bowing in admiration and praise to the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans). However, I think I am correct in saying that in the example he gave the shop was open and the hon. Lady, too, referred to an incident in a shop that was open. In neither case had trespass occurred, so her Bill would have been of no use whatever.

Miss McIntosh: I am tempted to ask whether we are boxer shorts or briefs today.

Two successive Metropolitan Police Commissioners, Sir John Stevens and Sir Ian Blair, have said that this change in the law is needed. Sir John Stevens said that

Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab) rose—

Chris Bryant rose—

Miss McIntosh: I want to make some progress.

Mr. Dismore: Will the hon. Lady give way?

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