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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:30 pm on 19th July 2001.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Lord Privy Seal 12:30 pm, 19th July 2001

I cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's comments on the publication of crime statistics. Annual crime figures have repeatedly been produced in public when they are ready and are available for debate by the public as well as by Parliament. They have not been released in a statement to the House. As Leader of the House, I do not think that it would be possible to manage business if we had to have a statement for every annual publication of statistics.

On the substantive issue, let us not lose sight of the fact that the figures show that overall crime is down by 2.5 per cent., burglary is down by 8 per cent and vehicle crime is down by 7 per cent. It is true, as the hon. Gentleman says, that violent crime is up. It is up by 3 per cent., which is a lot less than the trend over previous years. Although any increase is too much, the trend is down. I hope that our efforts to reduce violent crime will achieve a decline, as there is in other crimes at the present time.

Obviously, if there is a serious situation in Northern Ireland, the recall of Parliament is an option for the Government, and Members can call for it. However, it would be a very unusual Leader of the House who gave a guarantee that the House would be recalled before it even adjourned.