Clause 13 - Interpretation

Part of Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 15th February 2001.

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Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire 2:45 pm, 15th February 2001

I am concerned about areas such as Wiltshire, where half the British Army is based. A large part is based in my constituency. I am pleased to say that the soldiers in my constituency are, to a man, well behaved and unlikely to commit any of the offences in clause 1. However, by definition, the 19 to 21-year-old testosterone-fuelled, drunken—I break off there, because I should not say that soldiers are like that. They will ring me up this afternoon to tell me how unfair I was to them.

However, there is a possibility that those who serve in the armed forces might be liable to commit offences under clause 1. I am concerned about areas such as Wiltshire, where the police are badly under strength because they cannot recruit enough officers. Currently, there are 35 too few in Wiltshire, and I am sure that the situation is similar in other military areas. If the new powers are introduced, Wiltshire constabulary will be under severe pressure if military personnel offend and the MOD police and regimental police are not given powers to issue fixed penalty notices. Will the Minister consult his colleagues in the Ministry of Defence about whether the military police would be interested in such a role, which might bring public order benefits to areas such as mine?