Criminal Law (Amendment) (Householder Protection) Bill
Mr Paul Goggins (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office; Wythenshawe and Sale East, Labour)
It is good to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Cook, and I think that you are already guiding us fruitfully in a positive direction.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North has several times made the point that he does not criticise the motivation of the hon. Member for Newark in presenting the Bill. In that spirit of generosity, we should also thank my hon. Friends the Members for Ealing, North and for Leyton and Wanstead for tabling amendments to help to clarify the Bill.
My hon. Friends have been as positive as they can in all that they have said to try to gain clarity about the practical application of the Bill. Of course, we must, in this place, move from a feeling or a philosophical point of view to something that will work in practice. I think that that is what my hon. Friends have sought.
The hon. Member for Newark knows the Government’s position on the Bill. It has been clear from the outset. We are opposed to his Bill—but not because we do not see burglary as an important issue or because we do not understand the fear and terror that people who are burgled feel. Far from it. We are against his Bill because we think that the law is already clear.
We accept, of course, that perhaps public perception of the operation of the law is not as clear as it should be. That is why my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister undertook, before Christmas, to carry out a review and to obtain clear views from those who operate the law—the Crown Prosecution Service and the police—about whether there is a problem with the law and a need for change. Their advice was clear and we are happy that the law is all right as it stands.
I need to make that point now to provide a context for my further remarks. I want to speak positively about my hon. Friends’ amendments, but I do not want that to lead the Committee or the hon. Member for Newark to believe that we have changed our position on the Bill overall.