The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker, pursuant to the Standing Order.
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?
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.
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
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 momentmy parliamentary moment. Normally, I do not win on the lottery, either the national lottery or the lottery of life
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
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
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about is whether they will end up in court? They need to protect themselves, and the Bill will allow them to do that.
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.
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