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Schedule 17 — Knives and offensive weapons: minor and consequential amendments

Part of Devolved Administrations (Armed Forces Covenant Reports) – in the House of Commons at 6:52 pm on 2nd November 2011.

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Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Conservative, Enfield, Southgate 6:52 pm, 2nd November 2011

As we look forward to Christmas and see today the Third Reading of a criminal justice Bill, I am reminded of previous Government Bills that ended up as Christmas tree Bills with baubles being hung on them at any given opportunity as they went through Parliament. I am sure that as this Bill goes to the other place, Ministers will want to ensure that further baubles are not hung on it in the form of extra pieces of law that take the fancy of noble Lords, as well as any little elves.

I am particularly grateful for two important baubles in clauses 113 and 114—the significant victory for victims of crime concerning knife crime and serious injury by dangerous driving. One could look at the bottom of those provisions and see “Made in Enfield” on them. Six years ago, the Galli-Atkinson family in my constituency came to me after the sad loss of their daughter, who was the victim of a road crash in 1997. They told me about the impact on them of losing their loved one through the actions of a dangerous driver. They had campaigned vigorously for changes in dangerous driving legislation and increases in penalties, but when they came to me there was unfinished business with a gap in legislation. That led to my tabling an amendment in 2006 to try to plug that gap by ensuring that there is a specific offence of serious injury by dangerous driving, and that is now in the Bill.

I am sure that the whole House welcomes the fact that we now have a maximum sentence of five years for such offences. That deals with issues such as the very recent incident involving Rachel Jones, who is aged 13. She was crossing a road when she was hit by a car driven dangerously at 98 mph by Carl Smith, who was unlicensed and drunk—an all too familiar story, sadly, across this country. Rachel was left with severe brain damage, and she will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She has no movement in the right side of her body. Her mum, Sheri Ozdemir, described Smith’s two-year jail sentence as “a joke”. Thanks to the Bill, there need be no more jokes like that; such offences will be taken seriously and will attract a five-year sentence.

Clause 114 deals with knife crime. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend Nick de Bois for championing this issue locally and nationally, and raising awareness in Enfield and elsewhere of the prevalence of knife crime—