[1st Allocated Day]

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:23 pm on 15th March 2021.

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Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Shadow Minister (Education) 8:23 pm, 15th March 2021

We will try to get back to some sense of reality after the nonsense we have just heard.

This is a really important and wide-ranging Bill, and there are many aspects that I and my colleagues welcome. I start by paying tribute to my hon. Friends the Members for Halifax (Holly Lynch) and for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) for their success in securing the “protect the protectors” aspects of this Bill; my right hon. Friend John Spellar for securing reform of the Disclosure and Barring Service; and my hon. Friend Stephanie Peacock for her work that has led to the dangerous driving reforms. All those things and more deserve support. It is a testament to the Home Secretary’s insatiable desire for conflict that a Bill that contains so many measures campaigned for and fought for by Labour MPs should still be impossible to support.

What a missed opportunity this Bill is. There is nothing that will make a significant difference on the issue of violence against women and nothing on victim support, despite what we have just heard from Lee Anderson about the Tories being a party that supports victims. Indeed, it considers protecting statues a greater priority than protecting rape victims. The events of this weekend have brought into sharp relief where a civilised society must allow protest and support our police to keep our streets safe from criminals, not instruct them to arrest peaceful and grieving women.

We can easily see why this division is a political strategy of Conservative Members. Listening to speeches like that of the hon. Gentleman, it is very clear that they want to introduce elements that we will all agree with, and then introduce one or two elements that we cannot possibly agree with in order to say that we are preventing the good parts of this Bill. It is absolute cheap politics, and it is the politics of division. This is a Government who have frozen police pay, cut police numbers, and let criminals off the hook due to backlogs in the courts and overcrowding in our prisons. There can be no doubt but that they are no friends of the police.

Before I finish, I want to take a moment on someone who is a friend of the police—the police and crime commissioner for Derbyshire, Hardyal Dhindsa. I was extremely proud that my county, Derbyshire, where less than 5% of residents are BAME, was the first area to elect a BAME police and crime commissioner. Five years on, we are even prouder. Hardyal promised he would set up a programme in every village and town in the county. Not only has he done that, but he has met residents right across our county, while fiercely fighting the corner of our dedicated police both in Government and in the media. He has never forgotten who he is there to represent, and if the police get it wrong, as they did when Derbyshire police published pictures of dog walkers in the Peak or fined people walking five miles from home, he has been quick to be the voice of the people, not hidden away from a difficult situation. I hope he gets people’s support on 6 May.