Public Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 15th June 2020.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 4:45 pm, 15th June 2020

I thank the Home Secretary for advance sight of her statement.

I am on record as a vigorous defender of free speech and the right to peaceful assembly, but the violence and racist behaviour we saw at the weekend was totally unacceptable, and the desecration of PC Palmer’s memorial was appalling. I commend the police on their bravery and restraint.

We are still in the middle of a public health crisis and people should not be taking part in mass gatherings, because it is not safe: it puts health at risk and potentially puts lives at risk, given the threat we are all still facing from the virus. That said, it is very important that we do not let this reprehensible public disorder and the debate about statues distract us from the most important issue: the inequalities suffered by black and minority ethnic people in modern Britain.

We were starkly reminded of these inequalities at the weekend when the third anniversary of the Grenfell fire passed, still with no justice for the victims, and when “Channel 4 News” revealed the Government’s suppression of reporting about the true extent of the disproportionate impact of covid-19 on black and minority ethnic communities. The Prime Minister has announced yet another review, but what we need is not another review but action on the recommendations of the many other reviews that have already reported.

I would have thought that a review such as that announced by the Prime Minister is the Home Secretary’s remit, so why is the Prime Minister announcing public policy from behind a paywall in The Daily Telegraph rather than doing so on the Floor of the House? When will this House get to debate the terms of the review and the way in which it is to be conducted? What is stopping the Government implementing the recommendations of the “Windrush lessons learned” review without further delay? When will the full findings of the Public Health England report be put into the public domain, and will the Government implement the recommendations of Professor Kevin Fenton? Finally, what is stopping the Home Secretary getting rid of policies such as no recourse to public funds, which we know impact adversely and disproportionately on black and minority ethnic children?