About 100, 000 offences of violence against the person were recorded by the police in England and Wales in 1981, which was just over twice as many as in 1971.
In view of the increasing rise in crimes of violence, despite the welcome increase in police numbers, and the suffering of victims, are the Government willing to reconsider with an open mind the introduction of stronger deterrents as a means of curbing crime—even for a trial period—including the introduction of capital punishment, corporal punishment and mandatory sentences?
There is to be a debate on the introduction of corporal punishment in Committee on the Criminal Justice Bill. I am looking forward to that debate with keen anticipation. One reads that the House may have a similar opportunity in respect of capital punishment.
Does the Minister agree that neither capital nor corporal punishment has ever been an effective deterrent? Does he accept that the real cause of the increase in serious crime is the Government's economic policy and the failure of the Metropolitan Police, for example, to catch criminals? Is he aware that they cleared up fewer crimes last year than in 1972 or in any year when the Labour Government were in office? Surely that raises serious questions about the policy and practices of the Metropolitan Police, their inability to obtain the confidence of the public and, therefore, the information on which they rely for catching and convicting criminals?
I do not want to anticipate my powerful speech on corporal punishment in Committee. However, I must take issue with the hon. Gentleman yet again—I have been doing so for two months in Committee—on what he says about the Metropolitan Police, who face enormously complex, often dangerous, and difficult tasks. I believe that they deserve the support of the House and the community, not endless criticism.