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Urban Disturbances

Volume 84: debated on Wednesday 23 October 1985

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

We now move to the second debate. which is on an independent judicial inquiry into the recent urban disturbances. I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister. I appeal for short speeches. The average from the Back Benches in the last debate was 10 minutes; that was helpful and appreciated by the House.

7.16 pm

I beg to move,

That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to set up an independent judicial inquiry into the recent urban disturbances and matters relevant thereto.
Ever since the Handsworth disturbances began at 6 pm on the evening of 9 September, the nation has been distressed and alarmed by the spectacle of riot, arson, looting, rape and horrific murder, manifested in a terrible rash from north to south on the map of Britain. In the six weeks since then, millions of words have been written in an effort to comprehend what took place and attempts have been made to discern a pattern. It is true that in Handsworth, Brixton and Tottenham the disturbances took place in inner city areas with considerable black communities, but there were disorders too in places whose character is far from uniform: stoning in Southall, stoning and arson in Toxteth, petrol bombing in Peckham, window smashing in Welshpool, fighting between youths and police in Gloucester, stoning and window smashing in Harrogate, petrol bombing and looting after——

Before my right hon. Friend leaves that point, does he agree that these problems go far wider? In the mining communities, problems are simmering now among youths who have no future and no hope of jobs. If no action is taken in these areas, there will he headlines similar to those which appeared recently in my local newspaper on:3 October:

"Knives and hammers used in battle.
Gang terror on estates".
Those problems will continue in the mining communities unless the Government take some action.

I appreciate what my hon. Friend has said, and I shall seek to deal with those matters because, as he says, they go far wider. For example, the latest riot after a football match in Leicester included looting and, for the first time, petrol bombing.

All these profoundly disquieting events have taken place against the background of a wave of lawlessness throughout the nation. Serious crimes have risen from 2·5 million in 1978 to nearly 3·5 million last year. Offences of criminal damage—the category of crime closest to vandalism—have risen by a devastating 63 per cent. Meanwhile, the crime clear-up rate has fallen nationally to only 35 per cent. Nowhere is crime more loutish and cruel than in the vicious and sadistic attacks on Asians, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Deakins) drew attention so powerfully on Monday.

Society is suffering from a sickness of violence and from a deep failure to understand and accept the origins of that sickness, let alone to cope with it. The wave of crime and disorder is easier to denounce than to cure. Of course, there are those who are ready with simplistic labels and with headlines such as "sheer wickedness". There are those who offer easy explanations, blaming riot on itinerant extremist political agitators. Although some people claim to have seen these sinister persons passing through riot areas with the political equivalent of snow on their boots, no firm evidence is forthcoming. If the revolutionary Communist party, the anarchists or the National Front are involved, an inquiry could provide the evidence.

In the immediate aftermath of Handsworth, the Home Secretary categorised what took place there as
"not a social phenomenon but crimes".
There were dreadful crimes, including two horrible murders, but if there was no social phenomenon, why were the crimes committed in Handsworth and not in the Home Secretary's constituency of Witney?

For her part, the Prime Minister at the Conservative party conference declared that in the 1930s, when unemployment was proportionately higher and virtually unrelieved by benefits, crime levels were not higher, but lower. In fact, very serious disorders took place in the 1930s, involving the unemployed, but if there is a basic difference in the nature of the disturbances now compared with 50 years ago, as I believe there is, ought not the Prime Minister to have had the humility and the self-searching to ask herself why? Would not an inquiry help to find an answer? In her speech, the Prime Minister was sure of the solution. As she put it, all we needed was steadfastly to back the police. She went on:
"If they need more men, more equipment, different equipment, they shall have them."
The Home Secretary sings a different tune. He too, says that he backs the police—that is the easy bit—but when the president of the Police Superintendents Association asked for further resources and told the Home Secretary
"ignore us at your peril,"
the Home Secretary snubbed him with a refusal:
"I see no prospect of a general loosening of the purse strings which would enable us to transform the difficulties which you mention."

I shall not give way, because an enormous number of hon. Members wish to speak and I do not think that it would be fair to them to give way.

When the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Kenneth Newman, asked the Home Secretary last week for an increase in manpower, the Home Secretary did not respond. Instead, he lectured Sir Kenneth about the need to give value for money. The recent Government statement on public expenditure plans provides for a reduction in real terms in total expenditure on the police. The Prime Minister's grandiloquent conference rhetoric had a pretty threadbare look the morning after.

That rhetoric is not only dishonest, but dangerous. Of course, we must all give firm support to the police in their brave and steadfast fulfilment of their proper duties. I state categorically that the police will always have that support from Her Majesty's Opposition and that they will be given that support when we become the Government. This Government will not have our support in their deliberate and cynical inculcation of a cult of the police which has no place in a democratic society. The police deserve our support, but I am sure, as many of them make plain, they realise and accept that in a democracy no one is above criticism, whatever uniform he or she wears.

No, I shall not give way.

Every appointed official must be accountable to the elected authority, which derives from the sovereign people alone. The Scarman inquiry of 1981 was set up under the Police Act 1964. Some 50 pages of the report dealt with the police and with criticisms of the police. How otherwise could the Home Secretary two days ago have claimed with justice that most of the recommendations of Scarman with regard to the police had been accepted and implemented?

We need a proper, co-ordinated inquiry, and not the litter of sectional and unrelated investigations to which the Home Secretary has referred, to vindicate the police, where necessary to assist them and where appropriate to remedy their defects. It is no good having an inquiry into the shooting of Mrs. Groce if we do not set that shooting in the context of police action in Brixton. It is no use having an inquiry into the death of Mrs. Jarrett if we do not set the sorry circumstances of that death against the background of the relations between the police and the community in Tottenham, relations apparently so flawed that rioting took place against the express plea of Mrs. Jarrett's family.

This morning I visited the Broadwater Farm estate and had the privilege of speaking to one of the most remarkable women I have ever met, the magnificent Mrs. Dolly Kiffin, whose extraordinary personality and drive have galvanised admirable and heartening voluntary community action in that urban desert. What she said to me about the period leading up to the riot convinced me absolutely of the need for an inquiry, and convinced me, too, that there is little point in painstaking work to improve police-community relations — painstaking work there undoubtedly has been—if one event, however traumatic, can destroy in a moment the efforts of months and years. As the Sunday Telegraph said in a leading article last week:
"If the same friendly bobbies on the beat who have been practising community policing on weekdays have on Saturday night to turn themselves into riot-quellers hiding behind shields and swinging truncheons, that progress will be swiftly reversed."
On Monday, hon. Members on both sides of the House expressed disquiet about certain police methods and tactics. If a fraction of the anecdotes published in the press are true, they must arouse concern among all who care for the good name of the police. There is the claim of one Brixton woman that a policeman called her a black bastard and that police smashed the glass in her door and shouted repeatedly, "Nigger go home."

There is the claim of another black woman in Brixton, Paula Belsham, that when she was taking a bath one afternoon, her front door was knocked in with a sledgehammer, a gun was held to her temple, and plainclothes police showed her a warrant and threatened to kill her dog with a sledgehammer.

Wait a moment. She claims that she was examined internally with a man present and that her home was ransacked. If that is true, it ought to entail the most stringent discipline. If it is untrue, it ought to be categorically disproved.

As well as criticisms of the police, there are criticisms by the police about the tactics they are made to employ in riots which in their view place them in unnecessary danger and at risk. Chief Superintendent Leslie Stowe, secretary of the Police Superintendents Association, has called for a searching inquiry into the implications for the police of the handling of the Tottenham disturbance. He has stated that Sir Kenneth Newman and the Police Federation also want an inquiry. We need an examination of the use of firearms by the police, of training for their use, of whether the rules are being properly observed, and of whether the rules are right.

The shooting of Mrs. Groce and the killing of five-year-old John Shorthouse are only the latest tragic occurrences which have understandably aroused wide public concern. We need to look again at Lord Scarman's firm recommendation of an early introduction of an independent element in the investigation of complaints. After four years, that recommendation is still ignored—it has not been met by the newly installed police Complaints Authority.

We need an inquiry into the role of firemen in these disturbances. After the serious injury of a fireman in Balham last week, and following attacks on firemen in Handsworth, Brixton and Tottenham, the Fire Brigades Union is threatening to withdraw firemen from the areas where disturbances take place. As arson has become a frequent feature of such disturbances, the Fire Brigades Union is right to warn that the consequence to life and property of such a withdrawal would be horrendous.

It was my privilege, three months ago, to be chief guest at the passing-out parade of police cadets at Bruche in Warrington. It was an impressive and heartening occasion, but it was sad that among the many cadets there was only one black youth and only one Asian. We need an inquiry into the failure of the police to attract black recruits. It is a failure which many believe has its roots in a deep distrust of the police by many black people, and about which we need to know much more. At the demand of the police, in the interests of the police, and in the interests of police-community relations, an inquiry must cover all these matters.

Lord Scarman insisted in his report that the police could not be viewed in isolation. He declared:
"I have sought to identify not only the policing problem specific to the disorders but the social problem of which it is necessarily part. The one cannot be understood or resolved save in the context of the other … it is necessary before attempting an answer to the policing problem to understand the social problem … the disorders in Brixton cannot be fully understood unless they are seen in the context of the complex political, social, and economic factors to which I have briefly referred. In analysing communal disturbances such as those in Brixton and elsewhere, to ignore the existence of these factors is to put the nation in peril."
On the aspects of social and racial disadvantage in Brixton, Lord Scarman said:
"they provide a set of social conditions which create a predisposition towards violent protest. Where deprivation and frustration exist on the scale to be found among young black people of Brixton, the probability of disorder must, therefore, be strong."
It is not only Lord Scarman who makes that connection. An authoratitive report from the Government-funded Economic and Social Research Council, published recently, said:
"Central government policies have had several negative effects: forcing increases in local rates, which, it might be argued, reduce the likelihood of business investment; reducing discretionary funds which local authorities might use for urban development; and, above all, restricting public sector employment which has been the only sector of inner city employment growth in recent years, particularly for disadvantaged urban residents."
The report warns:
"Recession has increased the numbers of those who have been drawn into an under-class of the unemployed and disadvantaged which is still disproportionately found in inner areas."
To do him credit, Lord Whitelaw admitted on Border television last Friday in a discussion about the riots that unemployment was a factor. In our view, it is essential that there is an inquiry into the whole context of unemployment and deprivation, where there has been disturbing deterioration since the Scarman report of 1981.

In an index quoted by the ESRC report. inner Birmingham is listed as the most deprived area in the United Kingdom. It is followed by Liverpool in third place, and Lambeth in 16th. In a Department of the Environment index on deprivation, Haringey features three times among the worst 10.

A simple comparison demonstrates the plight of some of the areas where there have been riots in recent weeks. If we look at unemployment in the relevant parliamentary constituencies as a percentage of the respective electorates, we find that in Tottenham it is 15 per cent., in the three Birmingham constituencies covering Handsworth it is also 15 per cent., and in the relevant Lambeth constituency it is 15 per cent. In the Liverpool, Riverside constituency it is 20 per cent., and in the Whitney division of Oxfordshire it is 4 per cent. Is this stark contrast a social phenomenon, or is it a crime? In Brixton unemployment stands at 33 per cent. In Handsworth it is 35·8 per cent., with a youth unemployment rate of 50·5 per cent. On the Broadwater Farm estate, some 60 per cent. of youths are unemployed.

Lord Scarman repeatedly listed bad housing as a feature of life in Brixton and one of the social conditions that created a predisposition towards violent protest. That was in 1981. In 1985, Lambeth has the worst homelessness problem in London and the second highest number of unfit dwellings. Overcrowding in Handsworth is more than two and a half times the average for Birmingham. A Department of the Environment report on the Broadwater Farm estate says:
"the long-term future of the estate seems bleak. At best the local authority can hope to make it tolerable for the next decade or so but eventually, because the estate is so monolithic and comprises such a large portion of their total housing stock, the possibility of demolition is one what will have to be considered."
It is of this estate that the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects said last week:
"There are similar estates to Broadwater Farm around the country. They can work very well, but they need to be loved and maintained".
Haringey borough council would like to maintain Broadwater Farm, but I should like to quote again from the Department of the Environment report on that estate. It says:
"Unfortunately, with cuts in public expenditure, Haringey have abandoned remedial work on existing estates in order to concentrate scarce funds on rehabilitating acquired property so none of the other physical measures requested by tenants can be undertaken in the foreseeable future."
All the councils with these horrendous problems are running out of money.

On Monday, the Home Secretary boasted of what he claimed to be a tripling of the urban programme. The figures were misleading. They were stated not in real terms, but in cash terms. In real terms, the urban programme is now just £191 million more than it was in 1978–79. During that time the partnership authorities alone have lost not £191 million but more than £2 billion in reduced rate support grant.

Between them, the four authorities of Birmingham, Liverpool, Lambeth and Haringey have gained £15 million in urban programme money, in exchange for which they have lost £476 million in reduced rate support grant. That is not all. The aggregate loss of housing subsidy for those four authorities is a further £90 million. These are some of the most deprived areas in Britain. They are in desperate need of assistance, and yet the Government are draining away their financial lifeblood and insulting them with untrue claims of generosity.

It is no wonder that, in a Government-published document, an independent writer states that, following community efforts to improve Broadwater Farm—how that place needs improving—in the present climate of reduced capital spending, building on improvements of the past few years will be extremely difficult. No wonder Lambeth is scared of losing two more centres, sports facilities, community arts provisions and a training scheme. No wonder a report by the Roman Catholic bishops warns:
"Unless the present trend is reversed, the housing situation of deprived people, deprived groups and deprived areas will decline from scandalous to tragic, even lethal."
For none is the predicament more cruel than for the ethnic minority communities.

With the example of successful Asians in mind, the Home Secretary called last week for Afro-Caribbeans to set up their own businesses, but if simple mortgage lending is anything to go by, there is evidence of discrimination in lending policies against not only Afro-Caribbeans, but against Asians as well. The Commission for Racial Equality says that there is no justification for a state of affairs which puts Asians at such a disadvantage.

For most young Asians as well as Afro-Caribbeans, getting a job, let alone setting up in business, is just a remote dream. In Lambeth, unemployment among black young people is three times the rate for white youth. In Handsworth last year, 18 per cent. of white school leavers, 15·8 per cent. of Asians and 4·9 per cent. of Afro-Caribbeans obtained jobs. In Great Britain as a whole, Afro-Caribbean unemployment is twice that among white people, and among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis it is even worse.

We welcome the announcement by the Minister for Housing, Urban Affairs and Construction of an extra £15 million for programme authorities and another £5·5 million for derelict land reclamation. We welcome also the statement by the Minister of State, Home Office that the ball is bounding towards contract compliance. We wish him well in his struggle against the opposition of his Government colleagues, but it is a great pity that it has taken another bout of riots to elicit these announcements. Encouraging though they are, they do not begin to add up to a genuine response to Lord Scarman's plea for a concerted, better co-ordinated attack on the problems of the inner cities, let alone his insistence on a policy of direct co-ordinated attack on racial disadvantage.

The possibility of an incalculably bleak future is made fearfully vivid in the remarks, reported today, that Prince Charles
"is very worried that when he becomes king there will be no-go areas in the inner cities and the minorities will be alienated from the rest of the country."
Are this Government, some of their members well-meaning but ineffectual, others purblind and stiff-necked, determined to preside over this deterioration in the Queen's realm? Do the Government lack the will, or the compassion, or the patriotism, to insist upon including the whole of our society and all our people in the national commonwealth? Are they resigned to presiding over a Britain in which, as Lord Scarman warned,
"disorder will become a disease endemic in our society"?
At the end of his historic report, Lord Scarman quoted from President Johnson's address to the nation which appears at the beginning of the United States' report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. Lyndon Johnson said:
"The only genuine, long-range solution for what has happened lies in an attack—mounted at every level—upon the conditions that breed despair and violence. All of us know what those conditions are; ignorance, discrimination, slums, poverty, disease, not enough jobs. We should attack these conditions—not because we are frightened by conflict, but because we are fired by conscience. We should attack them because there is simply no other way to achieve a decent and orderly society".
Those are the objectives which will motivate and inspire the Labour Government who will take office after the next general election. On our progress towards achieving those objectives we are ready to be judged.

7.43 pm

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof,

"recognises the crucial importance of the maintenance of public order; applauds the courage and dedication of the police and responsible community leaders in restoring order; and welcomes Her Majesty's Government's commitment to early effective action in the light of the recent urban disturbances."
As the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) said, we are discussing sobering —indeed, shocking—events. It is no good responding to them simply by the wringing of hands. We have to learn the right lessons from what has happened and to act on those lessons. The first immediate responsibility for coping with such events on the ground rests with the police. Secondly, there is a responsibility on the Government to shape policies that are calculated to avert disasters of this kind. There is also a wider responsibility on the part of the community as a whole, including Her Majesty's Opposition. I should like to touch briefly on all three responsibilities.

On Monday last I reported to the House on the work in hand relating to the police and the Government. The work in hand includes criminal investigations into the crimes which were committed and the investigation of incidents involving police officers. Those investigations will be under the independent supervision of the Police Complaints Authority. The work in hand also includes a review of police tactics, an analysis of police needs for equipment and manpower and action to meet those needs. In addition, it includes a further look at the targeting of public money resources in the inner cities to see whether those resources are going to the right places to meet the right needs. All this has been announced and needs to be and is being done.

The question which remains, therefore, between the Government and the Opposition as regards procedure is whether, in addition to and on top of all this work which is in hand, there should be an over-arching judicial inquiry. Having listened to the right hon. Member for Gorton, it seems to me that, to meet his wishes, the scope of that inquiry would have to be very wide indeed.

My colleagues and I have decided against such an over-arching judicial inquiry. As Lord Scarman said, judicial inquiries should be rare. In this case, unlike 1981, the riots in Brixton and Tottenham were triggered by specific action by police officers. A judicial inquiry which did not go into these actions would get short shrift in the areas involved. The right hon. Member for Gorton listed a series of new, to me, unsubstantiated accusations against individual police officers in the context of his appeal for a judicial inquiry. Surely he knows that this is completely wrong. A judicial inquiry which attempted to cover these matters would prejudice completely the possibility of criminal proceedings even if, on investigation, such proceedings proved to be justified. The right hon. Gentleman has not met that point.

When things go wrong we should prefer those who have responsibilities, including responsibilities to this House, to learn the lessons—there are lessons to be learnt—as quickly as possible and to get on with the job, not to wait for the conclusion of a long, judicial inquiry. Therefore, we do not accept the main point of the Opposition's motion.

The Opposition would like greater public spending in the inner city areas, just as they would like greater public spending in almost every other sphere of human activity. They can argue, as the right hon. Gentleman did, about grant penalties and the loss of rate support grant, but what he said confirmed the fact that very large sums of money have been spent. Before one can argue that even larger sums of money should be spent, one has to be sure that the money already spent is going to the right places and that we have the right machinery for distributing it. I am not sure that we have. That is why we must ensure that the resources are properly targeted.

On Monday last I gave some figures relating to the urban programme. The right hon. Member for Gorton accused me of giving them in cash terms. They were perfectly accurate in cash terms. For the urban programme they amounted to an increase of treble in cash, and almost double in real terms. The right hon. Gentleman's figures confirmed that. That is not something of which we need to be ashamed. These are very large sums of money. Since 1979, £150 million in Birmingham and £140 million in Liverpool have been spent on the urban programme alone — [Interruption.] The additional urban programme resources are targeted upon speciic and very pressing needs. The Opposition are interrupting about general local government expenditure which is not targeted on pressing needs in the same way.

I am not giving way, because the right hon. Member for Gorton steadfastly refused to do so.

I shall give an example. In the London borough of Haringey, which the right hon. Member for Gorton cited, expenditure per pupil was the highest of any outer London borough, but the schools inspectorate was severely critical of the standard of education provided within that borough. It said that the problem was not one of additional resources.

I am not giving way.

The more one looks at the reports of the Audit Commission, the more one sees that local government spending is not targeted on specific and pressing need, such as the urban crisis.

I ask the House to be wary of the argument underlying what the right hon. Member for Gorton said—that more spending equals fewer riots. That is too simple by half. It leaves out many factors all too obviously present in the particular incidents that we are discussing. It leaves out the excitement of forming and belonging to a mob, the evident excitement of violence leading to the fearsome crimes that we have seen reported and the greed that leads to looting—not the looting of food shops, but looting that leads to the theft of television sets, video recorders and other things that can be disposed of quickly. To explain all those things in terms of deprivation and suffering is to ignore some basic and ugly facts about human nature.

I refer to the specific points about policing with which the right hon. Member for Gorton dealt. I explained on Monday in reply to a question from the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), what we are doing about manpower and equipment, and the immediate steps that we are taking both in London and in the provinces. I do not intend to repeat that today.

We are rightly committed to providing police forces with men and equipment that they need. The only test is one of need, and that test includes how the police forces are using the existing resources that they have. We shall get on with that work without delay.

The right hon. Member for Gorton admitted that many—indeed most—of Lord Scarman's recommendations on policing have been met. His recommendations dealt with the recruitment of Asian and black police officers, and most police forces are taking active steps in that direction. In June 1982 there were 386 Asian and black police officers. In July 1985 there were 726. That is an increase of 88 per cent. from an admittedly pitifully low base. I am not in the least complacent, as I said to the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland on Monday, about progress on that. However, I am satisfied that the police forces understand the importance of improving on that achievement, and that they are doing their best to do so.

On Monday I was tackled about training, which was another Scarman recommendation. The leader of the Liberal party, the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, (Mr. Steel) tackled me on that. The period of basic training has been increased from a two and-a-half month initial course to a four-month course, including two weeks at the end. The content has been changed. There is much more emphasis on the prevention and handling of disorder and on understanding the character of the city areas that many officers will go on to police.

I should like to say a word about community policing, because that phrase is often the subject of discussion. It is a phrase tossed about by myself and others without a clear definition of its meaning. That leads to misunderstanding, and I should like to say a word about it because I know it is of great interest to some of my hon. Friends.

When we on the Conservative Benches talk about community policing, we are talking not about a policy that ignores or excuses breaches of the law, nor about pacts that withdraw law enforcement in some way from particular areas, but about something much more basic and traditional. We are talking about policemen knowing their patch and understanding the people whom they protect. Police forces in this country are emphatically not an army of occupation. They work with and listen to the citizen. They must do so if they are to do their job.

Yesterday I read an interesting report to his police authority by a chief officer in a big city outside London. He had some difficulty because he found that some officers in his force were employed mainly on keeping in touch with the community and others were employed exclusively on law enforcement. The difficulty was that the first gained a reputation as soft cops and the second as hard cops. The officer changed the system—and he was right to do so. Every police officer on the ground should be in the business of law enforcement and should also be working at understanding the community in which he serves. I do not doubt that the Brixton riots would have been substantially wider and worse had it not been for the hard work put in by the police and the community since 1981.

I should like to take the opportunity, which I have not had before, of paying tribute to the courage and steadiness of many citizens in the inner cities who take the lead in their communities in working for consultation and cooperation with the police. It is not easy for them. I have heard at first hand of some of the difficulties that they face. They suffer harassment and abuse, yet they persevere.

That leads me to the point about the responsibilities of the Opposition. The right hon. Member for Gorton and many of his colleagues have stressed over the years that the desire for public order and success against crime is just as strong in Labour-held areas and on the Labour Benches as elsewhere. They are right in that. Perhaps that desire is stronger because in many respects they represent more of the victims. I accept that. However, in its own interests as well as ours, the Labour party must act to put an end to the activities carried out in its name, which encourage hostility and prejudice to the police. That is not just a point to be tossed about between the two sides. When one goes to London boroughs or parts of Birmingham, one sees that evil in operation on the ground. The Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues must do something about it. The black list is too long.

The GLC is fortunately on its last legs, but its video is part of a campaign conducted throughout the years to portray the police as idle, insensitive, racist and corrupt. In the borough of Hackney, the neighbourhood watch scheme has been obstructed. In the borough of Newham, the council is trying desperately to keep police officers out of schools. In the borough of Lambeth, the neighbourhood watch scheme has been obstructed. There have been attempts to harass and destroy the consultative group that I mentioned. Immediately after the riot, when there was an appalling situation requiring local leadership, Mr. Knight made a statement blaming everything on everyone except the criminals and the louts.

Will the right hon. Gentleman withdraw his remarks about Birmingham?

I have already paid tribute to what the right hon. Member for Gorton said about Birmingham. However, there are people in the Birmingham area who fall into the category that I mentioned.

Finally, I refer to the London borough of Haringey. We have been tolerant. A debate that deals with responsibilities cannot shirk the issue. The words uttered by Mr. Grant would have been thought unspeakable unless he had spoken them. I am not surprised that his own council's work force has been up in arms against what he said. There is a simple pointer that I would put to the Leader of the Opposition. Is Mr. Bernie Grant going to proceed as the official Labour party candidate for Tottenham with the support of the Labour party? May we have a direct answer to that question?

I should be more than glad to respond to the right hon. Gentleman on this and many other subjects, but first I must say that he demeans himself as Home Secretary by opening a debate on a serious issue which has preoccupied millions of people in this country and deliberately diverting the challenges, charges and genuine demands for action by the Government to remove the roots of violence. I shall tell the right hon. Gentleman what will happen. In the Labour party, by due process of selection and election, we choose candidates. For as long as the party sustains that candidate, he remains the candidate. That is the democratic position.

Let us not forget that this is the Home Secretary, after a summer of riot, answering to the House of Commons and choosing to make cheap jibs to divert attention rather than to answer the nation's inquiries. We want answers, and we want them now. I should be pleased to respond to him on other matters if he would respond to the obligations of his task as Home Secretary.

We are debating —[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—an Opposition motion calling for a judicial inquiry. I have explained why, in the Government's judgment, that is a mistake. I have explained in detail the nature of the Government's response to the problem and the steps that we are taking to resolve it.

I have mentioned the responsibility of the community, which includes the Opposition. I have put a direct question to the Leader of the Opposition—[Interruption.] I have discharged my responsibility and I ask him to discharge his. The House will judge whether he gave a direct answer to my question. [Interruption.] So long as he continues to dodge that question, it will be put to him with increasing force and persistence. Until we receive an answer, the right hon. Gentleman's credibility on these matters is nil.

It is natural, as we have observed, that as this is a national problem there are party angles in discussions about it.

I hope that the House will accept that there is no mood on the Conservative Benches and in the Government of sitting back and saying, "Well, perhaps the riots are dying down. Parliamentary debate will soon be over, and we can quietly forget the whole matter and sweep it under the carpet." That is emphatically not our view.

I find what has happened deeply tragic and worrying. The fires which were started in Birmingham and London lit up for us a portrait of our inner cities that we cannot allow to fade from our mind. We must not forget what happened, because it could happen again.

I disagree with the motion moved by the right hon. Member for Gorton calling for a judicial inquiry and I disagree that public expenditure is the answer to the problem. However, I agree with him that most strenuous and imaginative work will now be required. I assure the House that we have no intention of allowing prejudice or complacency to stand in the way.

Order. Many hon. Members are seeking to catch my eye. The briefer the speeches. the fewer the hon. Members who will be disappointed.

8.4 pm

The Home Secretary's predecessor told the House that he would never allow the politicisation of the Home Office, political control of the Home Office or politics to control the Home Secretary's actions. This Home Secretary has proved that his first allegiance is to the Conservative party. He has just repeated word for word the speech that he delivered to the Conservative annual conference. He forgot for one moment that he had come to the House of Commons to debate a major problem and make a policy statement from the Home Office. He used language that he used at the Tory party annual conference, for which he received a standing ovation. His politics and his attitude towards the Home Office are interchangeable.

The Home Secretary misused the education report made by the inspectors about the Haringey authority. Is the Home Secretary aware that the inspectors withdrew the bulk of that report because they said that it was unfair to Haringey as they had not used statistically correct comparisons and, that therefore, their criticism of the Haringey authority was not legitimate? The inspectors apologised to the London borough of Haringey. I expect the Home Secretary to apologise to the borough for using that report when the inspectors had withdrawn their criticism. I give him the opportunity to withdraw his allegations.

I used a summary of the report which had been provided to me. I shall look into what the hon. Gentleman said. If what he said is correct I should not have used it in that way, but let me first check the facts.

I am most grateful for that generous comment. I am sure that the Home Secretary will keep to his word and will consider what I have said about the report.

I wish to associate myself and my colleagues in Haringey with all that my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) said in his powerful speech, especially when he referred to my borough and people such as Dolly Kiffin whom I admire for all the work that she has done and the way in which she has selflessly devoted herself to trying to build something out of the crumbling mass of that concrete jungle called Broadwater Farm. If ever there were a condemnation of social conditions, it is that place.

Let me comment upon the general drift of the argument and say without fear of contradiction that violence is no part of the Labour party's vocabulary. We must accept that. It has often been said, but we must make it clear in every statement we make on behalf of the Labour party.

The Labour party is in no way anti-police. The Labour party looks upon the police as an integral part of our society. Its attitude towards policemen is identical to its attitude towards teachers, public health workers, local authority workers, firemen and all other public sector workers. We often express admiration for some of the things that go on in our democracy for which the police have accepted responsibility. They have the support of the Labour party in carrying out those functions. I hope that we shall end this business of trying to link violence and some other nefarious activities with the leadership of the Labour party. The Labour party rejects violence. It condemns it whether it be on an industrial picket line or in community activity.

It is our responsibility to convince society that there are no short cuts. It is part of our responsibility and part of this debate to convince the police that there are no short cuts in their responsibilities. The responsibility is two-sided. There are no short cuts for the young people in Tottenham or any other part of London. There are no easy remedial actions that they can take to short-cut parliamentary politics, leadership or political activity in Britain.

I have promised not to give way because of the shortness of time. I shall make a few brief comments and then finish.

There are no short cuts on either side. The Labour party rejects any police strategy that is based upon control by violence. We look upon that idea with some horror. Sir Kenneth Newman and the Home Secretary are turning towards the use of gas, bullets and water, which I and many of my colleagues have described as legalised thuggery. They are moving towards the use of such horrendous weapons to control crowds and to implement policies decided by the Government.

There is a connection between the statistical evidence of the Home Office and the police force. I have looked up the arguments made by Home Secretaries, including Labour Home Secretaries, when there were 1 million unemployed. They defended the use of horses as part of police equipment. At that time all the arguments were about the use of horses and the violence that could occur. As we have moved towards more than 3 million unemployed, the arguments have progressed and now include the use of rubber bullets, gas canisters, water cannons and armoured vehicles. All this apparatus seems to relate closely to the pressures building up in society. As unemployment increases, the language of the Home Office becomes more violent and the chief officials of the police force start to argue that of necessity they must have thus additional equipment. No one knows where this exponential curve that is taking shape will end; it is going upwards.

When the police get the bullets and the gas canisters, the next stage must be a paramilitary force. Sir Kenneth Newman wants 3,000 additional men and women in the police force in London. He wants a force similar to the riot police in Paris, which consists of 3,000 policemen in a barracks waiting for the riot to happpen, so that they can move out in their vans with all the equipment. Sir Kenneth wants 3,000 extra men in barracks as a paramilitary force. The escalation of unemployment directly relates to police requirements.

The Home Secretary and Sir Kenneth Newman have abandoned consensus in the policing of London. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan), a former Home Secretary for whom I have the greatest admiration, will know the arguments about consensus. The use of equipment such as gas will introduce the most controversial arguments. However, consensus will not matter. The Home Secretary says that he alone will make the decision. Sir Kenneth will say, "I want this, that or the other and I demand to have it," irrespective of whether there is consensus in the House of Commons for the use of such equipment. I believed that the Home Secretary was responsible to the entire House, and that he was the only democratically elected police authority to whom all Members of Parliament could put questions and from whom they would obtain a fair hearing. However, that is no longer true. He says that he will consult no one about the provision of water cannon, bullets or gas cylinders.

I should say something about what happened in Haringey. First, there have been protests about intimidatory policing, with the collection of evidence by the random searching of houses. There was a protest movement. I will not go into the details of that now, except to say this: following a meeting on the Broadwater Farm estate, the people decided to march on the police station and to picket it. The police then arrived with all their riot gear and said that the crowd had to be contained on the housing estate. That is what caused the confrontation. The police decided to contain people on the estate in order to prevent the picketing of the police station.

Sir Kenneth Newman says that he had already given permission for gas and rubber bullets to he used if necessary. Can one imagine what would have happened if they had been used? The decision to picket the police station was taken at a meeting of 350 black youths, where emotions were running high. They wanted to leave the estate and join a picket outside the police station, but were prevented from doing so. We can imagine the result had they been met by a hail of rubber bullets and gas. We would not be sitting here discussing philosophically a small, contained riot in Tottenham and trying to pick up the pieces. There would have been a national disaster if the police had gassed those young people in order to stop them going to the police station.

We hear protests about stop and search methods, which are mainly directed against black youths. The police in London are worried about their crime clear-up rates, and they wish to search as many houses as possible to find incriminating evidence. Therefore, they pick up youngsters and take them to the police station, while in the meantime another squad of policemen goes to their houses and searches them. I do not wish to debate whether that is a good or bad technique, but simply to point out that that is what the police do. That is what happened on this occasion: Cynthia died as a result of the police searching her house while her son was held at the police station. The black youths who wished to picket the police station complain that that happens thousands of times. Indeed, the figures for stop and search are in the millions. Such methods are part of police intimidation. The bargaining and guilt continue and the relationships between the police and our young people worsen.

I welcome the latest developments with the PCA. I am confident that Roland Moyle, our former colleague, will conduct a fair and independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of my constituent, Cynthia Jarrett. I am convinced that Peter Simpson of the Essex police will ably assist him in reaching a conclusion. That process is no substitute for what we demand. I entirely support the considerable wisdom uttered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton in putting the case for a judicial inquiry. I do not wish to minimise the work that Roland Moyle will do. The nation should clearly understand that the new Police Complaints Authority is now committed to investigate police techniques and methods. Those factors are legitimate considerations in any investigation.

I regret that the present Home Secretary's predecessor would not tell the House that he would debate the code of conduct for London police. We would like to discuss what is in that code of conduct. It is not too late for this Home Secretary to promise the House that hon. Members will be able clearly to debate the code of conduct which the police use as the basis of their moral judgments.

London Members often look enviously at the activities of their Scottish colleagues. There is such a thing as the Scottish Grand Committee. During the transitional period following the GLC's abolition, politics in London will be rebuilt. I should like a police authority created within a London Grand Committee that is charged with responsibility for looking at the Home Office, police work and the many millions of pounds that are spent by the London police. There should be accountability to the House for the money spent and the strategies pursued by the London Metropolitan police. Such a Grand Committee would help to overcome many of the problems faced during the transitional period. I hope that the House will seriously consider this proposal. I ask the Home Secretary to consider this means by which hon. Members, especially London Members, can be involved in the policing of London. This is not a one-way traffic. If we start to build confidence in the future we can ensure that the dreadful events of the past weeks will not recur.

8.23 pm

I am sure that we can all agree that we face serious problems and that many causes, some deep-seated, contribute in their different ways to these disturbances. We have heard about a good many, and I want to mention some more. For far too long there has been far too much talk about rights and far too little talk about responsibilities. I believe, as was stated in the motion that received overwhelming support at our conference in Blackpool, that there must be major changes in much of the current thinking on parental rights and responsibilities, on teaching methods and responsibilities, on social service attitudes, on personal selfishness and on attitudes to crime and punishment before we can return to the decent law-abiding society which the overwhelming majority of our constituents, including the overwhelming majority of the unemployed and the poorest in our society, long to see, and look to us to give to them.

In view of the doom and gloom that has been expressed tonight it is well to remember that the picture is not all black—far from it.

Not in the right hon. and learned Gentleman's constituency.

That is a very cheap remark, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not make any more like it.

No, I will not.

Millions of young parents, many of them unemployed, and most with very limited means, and thousands of young teachers, deserve the warmest thanks and congratulations of all of us for managing to maintain moral values and decent standards in the face of every difficulty with which they are presented, thereby giving us the millions of super young people that we have in this country. But alas, far too many of our young people do not receive those same advantages — on the contrary, they are set the most dreadful example by people who should know better—to the great loss of those young people and our country.

Of course we must tackle those underlying factors but that is long term. My chief concern at the moment is how we shall gain time for ourselves to do that. We are assailed by such a combination of sheer villainy on an unprecedented scale exploiting every grievance, real and supposed, and a deliberate, skilled, organised and dedicated attack on our very way of life that, unless we face up to and beat those evils, we shall have little hope of having the time or opportunity to achieve our long-term aims and needs.

How is this to be done? The people are entitled to look to all in government—local and central—to do all in their power. They will know that they can have complete confidence in the Government's desire and determination to do that, as was made so clear by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary again this evening. Those in local government have a special responsibility too, especially because of their relationships and responsibilities in connection with policing.

The public will also look to the House of Commons. Now that we are witnessing a savagery of a kind that the House could never have had in mind in previous debates on punishment, the public may well expect that we should again debate whether existing punishments are adequate.

I want to spend my few minutes on the question of what each of us, both here and outside the House, can do as individuals. Of all the dos and don'ts that spring to mind, I am going to take just four—one "don't" and three "dos."

My "don't" is this. Do not let this become a battle of race or colour. In particular, do not let it become, much less make it become, as much of this debate might make it, a battle of race or colour. In particular, do not let it become a battle between black people and the police. That is the very thing that the troublemakers want. Whether or not it is done deliberately to provoke us, it is difficult sometimes for us white people who have always lived here to stomach the kind of thing that we have to listen to from such as Mr. Grant of Harringey. But it is not just black people stirring it up. There are white racists as well as black racists, and we have to resist all the efforts of all of them to stir up trouble between black and white, and particularly between black people and the police. To do otherwise would be to do exactly what is wanted by the troublemakers, and worse than that it would be wickedly unfair to the thousands of black people living thoroughly decent family lives as an integral part of this nation of ours.

I am glad to hear that the hon. Lady approves of that. She might not like my other points as much.

My first "do" is that every one of us ought to give total support to the police. They are the thin and only line standing between us and these evils. They do so with courage, skill, patience and dedication. Of course they are not all perfect—which of us is? Of course they must be accountable, and to their undying credit they readily accept that. Indeed, I do not know of any group more anxious and active to find its rotten apples and to get rid of them.

Of course, the need to fight what I have been talking about has increased the difficulty of the police in controlling ordinary crime, and they have attracted more criticism for that. If anybody ever doubted the seriousness of the problem or of what the police are now called upon to do, he should think again and again on the recent troubles at Brixton, Handsworth and Tottenham, not in general terms, but reminding himself of the atrocities that were actually committed in those places in the past four or five weeks.

It is worth reminding ourselves also of what happened at our conference in Blackpool, which shows us the pass to which we have come. We were exercising the most fundamental right of democracy to meet and talk. That is the very essence of democracy. But the Conservative party could not do it without hundreds of police officers to protect it. It brought home to those who were there, and particlarly vividly to me—more than I had appreciated before—what a terrible task the police have, and what a wonderful job they do. I am glad to pay my tribute to all the police officers who were in Blackpool, not just for the wonderful job that they did, but for their unfailing courtesy and helpfulness when they must have wished us anywhere else. That is much more typical of the policing of this country from one end to the other than the selective stories that we have heard in this debate.

My second "do" is do let us remind ourselves over and again that crime is crime. Yes, there are serious problems to be solved, about the nature of which the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) and others have spoken. It should be no surprise to hon. Members to know that I happen to think that the people who suffer from those problems have much more chance of finding the solution under my Government than under any other Government. But that is another matter.

The nature of the crimes that we have experienced in recent weeks cannot be explained away as due to, much less excused because of, bad conditions or unemployment. That is an insult to the millions who suffer one or other, but yet maintain their honesty, very often better than many who are better off than they are.

It is totally unacceptable for anybody, much less a political leader, to say of such savagery as was committed in Tottenham:
"The police were given a bloody good hiding. They deserved it."
If there is no way of dealing with that sort of thing now, perhaps we should think of introducing some way.

My third and last "do" is this. The time has come when we must all be prepared to be involved, not by taking the law into our hands, nor yet just by talking, but by giving active support to those who have the duty of enforcing law and order and of protecting us.

There must be many people knowingly shielding the villains of Handsworth and Tottenham.

I mean what I say. There must be many people who know the people who committed the crimes there, but who will not come forward and give evidence. They are thus shielding villains—villains so evil as to use children to commit their filthy crimes. They are doing this either because they want to shield such people, or because they are too frightened to come forward and help.

I am a fan of western films. In many of those films there comes a moment when the townsfolk realise that they have to stop telling the sheriff that he is paid to do the job and give him a hand in doing it, even at the risk of personal danger to themselves. I believe that that moment has come for us and our country.

8.34 pm

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) made a powerful case for a judicial inquiry covering a very wide range of topics. The point on which he failed to convince me was that anything very much would happen if such an inquiry took place and clear recommendations emerged from it.

After all, Lord Scarman conducted a major inquiry into the disorders of 1981. As the right hon. Member for Gorton reminded us, Lord Scarman made it quite clear that the root causes of the disorders were to be found in social problems. The report states:
"while good policing can help diminish tension and avoid disorder, it cannot remove the causes of social stress where these are to be found, as those in Brixton and elsewhere are, deeply embedded in fundamental economic and social conditions".
I think that few people would disagree that very little has improved since then. The conditions about which Lord Scarman spoke in 1981 are certainly no better, and in many cases they are a good deal worse. That is why Lord Scarman's recommendations went far wider than issues of public order and policing.

Ironically, most of Lord Scarman's recommendations on policing and public order have been acted upon in full or in part, but all too many of his recommendations on social issues are still collecting dust on departmental shelves.

On education, for example, Lord Scarman called for more places for the under-fives in inner city areas, more training for teachers in the needs of ethnic minority children and improved English teaching for those children. He also called for much closer links between schools and parents in the inner cities. So far as I can discover, however, the only response from the Department of Education and Science has been the publication of two consultative documents. There has been no positive action to encourage developments of that kind in the inner cities, and the resources that inner city education authorities need to undertake such an imaginative approach to the education needs there have certainly not been forthcoming.

On housing, Lord Scarman called for a major rehabilitation programme. All hon. Members who represent inner city constituencies know how desperately that is needed. We all have experience of the appalling run-down council estates where the lifts do not work, where the walls are covered with graffiti, where many flats are boarded up and where those still inhabited are riddled with damp and condensation. We all know the picture. One of the most interesting descriptions of that type of experience came from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who, on 26 February this year, said:
"It is only when you visit these areas … that you begin to wonder how it is possible that people are able to live in such inhuman conditions."
If we are talking about the problems of the inner cities, we must focus on those housing issues.

Another interesting recommendation by Lord Scarman was that the major rehabilitation programme for inner city housing should involve tenants and local people, and he was absolutely right. We all have experience of councils undertaking ill-thought-out so-called improvement schemes without consulting the tenants, when very often the people who know best how to improve life on a council estate are those who live there 24 hours a day.

What has been done in the four years or so since Lord Scarman reported? Additional resources have certainly not been provided for housing in the inner cities. As we all know, capital allocations have been substantially cut and the inner cities have suffered more than most from the reductions. When we put these points to Ministers they acknowledge the problems of the rundown council estates, but they seem to pin all their faith on the ability of privatisation to solve the problems. They seem to believe that private developers will miraculously come along, rather like the marines, to improve rundown council estates and to restore them to an acceptable condition. I accept that there are some good examples of private developers improving unpopular council estates. but they are drops in the ocean compared with the size of the problem that has to be faced. This is another major area where the Government have not lived up to Lord Scarman's recommendations.

The House will recall that Lord Scarman highlighted the problem of unemployment. We can all argue about the extent to which unemployment is an ingredient in the recipe of disorder, but surely we are all agreed that it plays a part. The size of the part we may debate, but we must all recognise that it is an important issue. That is exactly what Lord Scarman said. He reported that unemployment is
"a major factor in the complex pattern of conditions which lies at the root of the disorders in Brixton and elsewhere."
That is a clear judgment with which we can all agree.

Some interesting figures have been provided quite recently by the Department of the Comptroller and Auditor General which examines the impact of the urban programme. The figures show that between 1971 and 1981 unemployment in England and Wales rose from 5 per cent. to 9·6 per cent. However, unemployment in the Birmingham inner area rose in those years from 8·9 per cent. to 24·2 per cent. Over the same period, unemployment in Liverpool rose from 12·1 per cent. to 22·6 per cent. In the Manchester-Salford inner area it shot up from 9·9 per cent. to 20·4 per cent. The Newcastle-Gateshead figures are 10·4 per cent. rising to 20 per cent. We all know that unemployment has become a hell of a lot worse since 1981. Most of us who know the inner cities can point to areas where unemployment is 25 per cent. or more. It is therefore a major cause of the problems that we are discussing.

It is understandable that Lord Scarman took the view that much of the unemployment problem was way beyond his scope. We must accept that. It will take a change in Government attitudes and policies seriously to tackle the unemployment problem. Lord Scarman suggested that help to set up black businesses would be of major assistance in alleviating the problem. Only now are we beginning to see one or two tentative movements in that direction in Handsworth and Deptford. Nothing like enough imagination is being shown on that score.

Irrespective of whether we get a public inquiry of the sort for which the Labour party is calling, the first priority must be to re-examine Lord Scarman's recommendations to see where they are still relevant and to ensure that they are implemented. Secondly, we need to reverse the damaging financial cuts which have caused so much unhappiness in inner city areas. I do not dispute that urban aid is welcome, even though there has been no detectable clear strategy behind the way in which urban aid grants have been made. However, as others have said, urban aid is subject to cuts. There has been a cut of 13 per cent. in real terms in urban aid over the past two years.

In any case. the benefit of urban aid is more than undermined by the cuts in rate support grant. Between 1979–80 and 1983–84, inner London gained £261 million from the urban aid programme, which was extremely welcome. However, over the same period it lost £865 million in reduced rate support grant. That was in addition to a sizeable chunk of the £791 million which London lost in housing subsidies. Manchester gained £2 million between 1980–81 and 1983–84 from the urban aid programme, but it lost £21 million in housing subsidies and £36 million in RSG. The Government's policy of giving something with one hand while taking a great deal more away with the other is a major cause of our inner city problems.

The Audit Commission recently observed that operating on out-of-date rateable values has been a major problem for the old and decaying industrial areas in our inner cities. In the view of the commission, Government grants for cities such as Liverpool and Sheffield would be about £15 million more in each case if we were operating on up-to-date rateable values. For an inner London borough, such as Lambeth, the loss would be of the order of £10 million because of working on out-of-date rateable values.

We need to concentrate spending on the needy, depressed, inner areas, but I take clearly the Home Secretary's point that we have to get value for money. I accept that not all the spending that we have undertaken in the past has produced value for money. There again, Lord Scarman had interesting things to say. He said that we needed a co-ordinated approach by Government, not the sort of situation that we have in London where the Department of Health and Social Security is busy running down the Health Service, closing hospitals and reducing the standards of health care at the same time as we are trying to tackle problems of deprivation. We need not only to co-ordinate the approach, but to involve local people. If we are to have developments of which people can feel proud and in which they can feel involved, we must have the participation of those local people right from the start.

We need to do much more to develop public-private partnerships, with public authorities, whether Government or local, developing partnership schemes with private enterprise. That is the only way in which we are going to regenerate our old, inner urban areas and create new jobs.

There are some good examples. The docklands scheme is one of them. But we are not doing anything like enough. We need a great deal more imagination in that area.

On the basis of my experience, I suggest to the House that there is a great deal of despair, frustration and downright cynicism in the inner cities. The comment that I hear most frequently from my constituents is that nobody cares. "Look at the state of the place," they say, "nobody cares about us." If we are to tackle that feeling of despair and exclusion, it will take a good deal more than a wide-ranging public inquiry. It is going to need swift, effective action that people can see on the ground. Sadly, I detect very few signs that we will get it from this Government.

8.46 pm

Many people want to take part in this short but important debate, although from much of what we have heard one would think that it was a debate about the police and that the police were more or less on trial. The problem is not so much whether the police are on trial; it is the people of this country who are virtually on trial over what they see as the important problems that we all face.

It is no good going back and asking whether we should have let great and growing ethnic minority groups come into this country. That is in the past. It is a sterile debate. People are here who were not of the ethnic majority's persuasion but they are here and they have come into many of the cities for obvious reasons. Birmingham is one of those cities. It is not sensible to talk about people going home, wherever home may be, and to forget that for many people this is their home. It is no good telling those first-generation British people to go home, because they are home. My family came from France 250 years ago. To me, the idea of going home to France is appalling. I do not even care much for the French. I look upon myself very much as a Birmingham man.

People say things which damage the chances of our all solving the problem. Having said, however, that we must accept ethnic minorities, as we do willingly, because they are here, I think that many people play on being part of an ethnic minority. If they are not willing to be absorbed, they ought surely to be genuinely involved in the host community. If we are not careful, people will come to look upon themselves in the end as having ethnic majority groups and other bizarre ideas. 'We have to be willing to live together and mix together.

How is that to be done? In what has happened in Birmingham, in Bradford, in Leicester or in parts of London, the great difficulty is the vast problems that previous generations have left to us all. Once good and gracious homes are now slums. Those of us who have been involved in public life for a number of years have seen jerry-built homes that have become slums in the lifetime of many hon. Members. I could take hon. Members to flats and houses in Birmingham that were built in the past 30 years and have become bigger slums than some of the Victorian homes in which people are still living.

It is no good simply saying that the problem is a matter of policing. His Royal Highness Prince Charles told an oddball architect, Mr. Rod Hackney, whom, we are told, secretly dined with the Prince, that he is concerned. We are all concerned. It is not the job of the Prince to say that he is compiling a report and that he will cut through the red tape. His Royal Highness does not help by saying that he is going to run this country. He will not inherit anything if he thinks that he will cut through the red tape.

We must bring home to people the problems that we face as elected representatives. I believe that a report that is due out soon will show that £20 billion needs to be spent on renovation to bring homes up to standard. We all have to face that fact. We cannot put it to one side and say that we shall deal with it tomorrow. With each day, each week and each year that passes, the cost of £20 billion will grow.

Too many people have spoken about violence. I leave that to those who are expert on the police and on the motives behind the violence. I speak about some of the other problems that people face. It is no good reducing the problems to blaming a Conservative Government or a Labour Government. There has been a natural pulling apart of this country from one generation to another, certainly since the war. The south has got better and richer, and the midlands and north have got worse and poorer. The reasons include the changing techniques of industry and the developing motorways system, but it is a fact.

It would be good for the south and particularly good for the midlands and the north, including cities such as Liverpool, if the Government stopped the encroachment on the green belt. Even in Birmingham people talk about silicon valleys being built in some of the few green areas left between Coventry and Birmingham. They forget that there are hundreds of derelict acres all around.

The Government should try to sweep away those derelict areas and give people a chance of building businesses and homes where there is the land and the need. Why do we go on giving in to builders who always want to build where it is easy? Why do we always give building permission in the south of England? Builders will always go where building is easy.

If Governments have any chance, it is in the inner areas. We should sweep away the derelict areas and make them better. I have seen it done in Birmingham and I urge the Government at least to make sure that, if we cannot narrow the divide between the south and the rest, it does not get worse.

I do not support the idea of another commission, whether under Saint Scarman, Saint Bob Geldof or any of the other people who become fads of the day. We do not need a wise man, however wise he may be, ferreting among the facts. We are here to face the problems, and we know what those problems are. Questions should be asked. In New York and Chicago, areas known to me and to other hon. Members, where they have worse housing and unemployment, they manage to do something about ethnic clashes. We should examine what happens there. Why can New York get 20 per cent. coloured policemen and we can get only 1 per cent. or 1·5 per cent.?

We can all learn something; the West Indians and the ethnic British should take note of the wonderful way in which Asian and Jewish families in the main look after and understand their own families. In faiths and religions where people respect their families and have a sense of self-discipline, there are not riots and problems. Families, black or white, who abandon their old and their young tend to get into disputes.

We do not want one report after another. We know the problem. Those of us who represent cities see the decay as we walk through them. We have to make not a cruel but a calculated decision: are we to let the inner cities decay? If we are not, the country has to make a decision. My decision would be for homes, renovation and the future of the people and not for cuts in taxation.

8.56 pm

About 15 years ago, in a report that was submitted by me to the then Minister for Housing and Local Government before the Department of the Environment came into existence, the following words were used:

"The hearts of our cities are sick. If something is not done soon in Government and local government and in other institutions to cure that sickness the whole of our society will become ill."
That report was produced in 1970. It is now 1985.

Since 1970 there has been report after report, and there have been inquiries and inner city studies. The largest range of studies into inner city problems centred on Birmingham, Liverpool and London. Action was taken as part of the studies. They were not paper exercises. Then there was the Scarman report of 1981. In 1982 an inquiry by the Select Committee on the Environment began into what had taken place since the inner city studies and the Scarman report of 1981. That investigation was interrupted by the 1983 general election and was not taken up again.

One thing became clear during that unfinished investigation which I chaired—that, apart from policing, the major recommendations of Scarman with regard to coordinating Government and local government departments and actions —concerting and integrating policies and departments to tackle urban renewal in inner city areas—had not been acted upon.

I have in my hand some correspondence which, as chairman, I had then with Ministers. I am glad to see that one of those Ministers has come into the Chamber. This is correspondence that I had on behalf of the committee with the Secretaries of State for Employment, the Environment, Education and Science, Trade and Industry and Social Services on the basis of the Scarman recommendation. We sought to find out what had happened apart from words inside Government Departments. Although much may have been happening, nothing—I choose my words advisedly—had happened to implement the recommendation of Lord Scarman on coordinating and concerting Government action. I am quite prepared to send to each Minister copies of this correspondence which took place from 1982 to 1983. I will ask them the same questions as we asked then. At that time we did not get satisfactory answers and unfortunately we could not pursue the matter because the election brought an end to that inquiry.

The Minister, who has left us for a short while, ended his remarks in the same way as he ended some of his answers to questions on Monday, by saying that we should not sweep this debate aside but had to learn the lessons and start acting upon them. We said that time and time again in 1981. Members of all political parties have been uttering similar words about inner cities or what we now call inner city problems for many years, but little has been done effectively to carry out what Lord Scarman and others like him recommended.

The first lesson is to bring back to the inner cities the resources which this Government removed. Those resources were inadequate in 1979. The Government cannot keep on talking pious language about the problems of homeless families in their thousands, of decaying houses and decaying estates, and then go away and not be prepared to put in the resources to deal with those problems.

That sort of action does not require a major investigation or a great deal of thought. There should be action not only on housing but on hospitals, schools, colleges and the environment. That is going to cost money, and over the last five or six years this Government have removed thousands of millions of pounds from those areas. Little has been done about Scarman. In the wake of the horror that we have experienced in recent weeks, even though it is four or five years after Scarman, at least the Government should take decisions now to do something. But what have we got? We have an exercise going on in Government about whether they are going to cut expenditure or somehow, perhaps, hold it at its present reduced level.

The Government cannot have it both ways. It has to be said bluntly and rudely that to do that is sheer hypocrisy. The Government are lying to the House, to the country and to the people of Tottenham, Handsworth and Liverpool and to people in all the other major cities where we have yet to experience—one says this fearfully—the worst. We have already experienced that in some of our towns. The Government cannot keep saying, "We have to do something about it. We have to be imaginative," when at the same time they are taking away resources and debating this week whether more resources will be taken away or perhaps, if we are lucky, they will keep the level of resources as it is. Perhaps we will get the odd £5 million to increase derelict land grant, but there are hundreds of such schemes in town halls and the Department of the Environment which would stimulate private investment. The Department knows that. It knows that that one area of expenditure alone could bring in millions of pounds of private finance if the Department were prepared radically to increase that budget heading.

It is not enough to put more money back in. I return to the point that Scarman rammed home and which everybody has busily quoted since but done little about. It is how the money is spent—the methods employed by the Government, local authorities and major financial institutions which should be involved in inner cities. Ministers know that Scarman's central recommendation on social policy and administrative policy has not been dealt with. Nearly five years have passed and nothing has been done. I have it on record in these documents and others which have been published and in answers to oral questions.

Unless the Government are prepared to set an example by establishing a genuinely integrated machinery for the renewal of whole areas of our cities—to emulate what was done in the new towns and in some of the expanded towns such as Swindon and Wilmslow and what has been started with the Glasgow eastern area renewal scheme— to turn inner city renewal programmes into effective policies, we shall argue about this matter in five years' time, more horrors having taken place.

It is not enough to get a nice kindly response tonight or any other night. We must pursue what we started in the Select Committee. We must probe what is going on inside government, expose the failures and make recommendations which the House can press on the Government If we do not do that we shall have more horrors. It is not a case of having a partisan battle. No party can claim to have tackled urban renewal as it should have been tackled. No party can claim to have all of the answers, but we cannot wait until we have all the answers and all the understanding—we shall never get there. We must do something now about renewing our cities and be prepared to put resources into them. The first step should be the restoration of at least the £2 billion which has been taken out in the past five years.

It is a shame and a disgrace that the Home Secretary had to be the Minister who led on this debate. I am not being flippant. The matter does not really lie with the Home Office. The Government should have brought forward the debate themselves and given the responsibility to one of two Ministers; either the Prime Minister, who does not appear to give a damn about what is going on in the innards of our cities, or the Secretary of State for the Environment, who is supposed to be the lead Minister. God knows what he is leading. Nothing. We must have action, not because we want partisan battles and the opportunity to build up for another big debate to knock ourselves around but because unless something is done, society will fall apart. It is as serious as that.

9.10 pm

In our national life there are occasions when one brutal and dramatic tragedy comes leaping out of the headlines and shakes the whole nation to its core. Such an occasion was the riot at Broadwater Farm. I went to the constituency of the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) with the police. Having seen, sadly, a number of riots, both in this country and in northern Ireland, what distinguished Tottenham from all that had gone before was that guns and machetes were used in an English city against the police by rioters, that a police officer was hacked to death, that an army of liquor and perhaps drug-crazed youths held themselves against the police lines in a semi-organised fashion and, finally, that some local councillors afterwards refused to condemn this.

These new and, to me, quite terrifying elements demand that every one of us in public life should stop looking to the conventional wisdom of judicial inquiries and —the new buzz word—"community policing" to restore peace in our cities. Instead we need to face squarely the appalling truth that, unless steps are taken now to help the police to deal more effectively with riots—that is, with fewer casualties to themselves and with less looting and burning of their neighbourhoods—our country will find itself on the road to urban anarchy.

In this context I welcome, as did the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) the lead that the Prime Minister gave in Blackpool. I am glad, as he was, to quote her words precisely. She said:
"If the police need more men, more equipment, different equipment, they shall have them. We do not economise on protecting life and property."
I do not think that these words represent quite a blank cheque, as The Times described it. However, they mean that if the police can demonstrate to the satisfaction of my right hon. Friend that to uphold the law and to maintain the Queen's peace they need more resources than are at present available to them, the Government as a whole, including my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will ask this House to provide them. I propose, therefore, to set out in my speech a shopping list of police needs, to which I trust that my hon. Friend the Minister of State who is to reply will be able to respond positively.

Before doing so, I want to make three comments about what I saw on the Broadwater estate. First, it is a travesty to suggest that all the burning, looting and murder were no more than a spontaneous reaction to the death of Mrs. Jarrett. They were no such thing. Long before that incident—indeed, while the admirable Dolly Kiffin was away in Jamaica on holiday—drug traffickers had moved on to that estate. So had a number—I cannot put a figure to it — of what I can only describe as militant insurrectionaries.

In the 10 days before the incident, hundreds of milk bottles had been stolen. Many of them had been filled with petrol and at least two had been thrown off a high building to test whether they would work. There were also several incidents of attacks on the police in the week preceding Mrs. Jarrett's heart attack. I do not say—it would be mad to say it—that the violence was pre-planned. I do say, on the advice of the police who were there, that there is significant evidence of some organisation and, at the time of the rioting, of some measure of control.

My second point about that riot is that a majority of the ordinary people in the estate and the surrounding streets were, if anything. glad to see the police. Having knocked on several doors and talked to several people, black as well as brown and white, I was impressed by what they said about having been subjected for many years to something close to a reign of terror. They claimed that what one of them described as "rat-packs" of youngsters had been assaulting people, damaging property and exchanging drugs regularly. Many elderly people, black as well as brown and white, were frightened. Many told me that they were glad to see the police, and criticised them—rightly in my view—for having held back too long in tackling the problem of crime and drugs in the area.

My third point must touch upon Mr. Bernie Grant. He refused to condemn the rioters and even suggested:
"Maybe it was a policeman who stabbed another policeman."
By that single terrible remark, although he has since tried to obfuscate it, Mr. Grant has proved himself unfit for public office. It is no good asking him to resign. The Leader of the Opposition has made his position clear on that. On behalf of the police I want to say that the name of PC Keith Blakelock, who met his death while protecting the lives of others on Broadwater Farm, will be remembered by the ordinary people of Haringey long after Mr. Bernie Grant has faded into oblivion.

Unfortunately, Mr. Grant is not alone in his attacks on the police. Indeed, the police in general and the Metropolitan police in particular have been subjected over the past few years to a politically motivated hate campaign. While the House was debating the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, some councils in London issued tens of thousands of leaflets portraying the police as racialists and oppressors. While the Committee on Safety of Medicines was debating whether to allow Depo Provera, a new contraceptive jab, to be available through the National Health Service, certain women's organisations, partly financed by the ratepayers of London, put out pamphlets suggesting that white doctors, backed by the police, would use it
"to solve the immigrant problem by rendering black females infertile."
Other militants daubed areas of south London with propaganda that claimed falsely that it was the police who set fire to the house in New Cross where some black youngsters were burned.

Against that background, is it any wonder that some young black people were conditioned by such political extremism into hating the police? I make this charge—that those who, for their own reasons, cynically and deliberately stirred up hatred against the police were accessories to the manufacture of petrol bombs and accomplices to the arson and looting, and murder of a police officer on the Broadwater estate.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will understand if I do not give way. I want to be brief as others wish to speak.

The first point in my shopping list concerns manpower. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will accept this. In my judgment, the police need more men. Nationally, they require about 6,000 extra police officers, of whom approximately 3,000 more need to be in London. I recognise that the Government have honoured their commitment to maintain the Edmund-Davies pay standards and that as a result there has been a substantial increase in police manpower since 1978. The increase must be seen against a background of an enormous growth in police commitment, including crime, to which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary referred. and severe restrictions in overtime and recruiting that have been imposed by some local authorities.

I wish to refer my right hon. Friend to the monthly return of strengths and vacancies in police forces as at 31 July this year. Greater Manchester has suffered a reduction of 176 officers since the beginning of 1984. Merseyside shows a net loss of 23 officers in the same period, west Yorkshire 110 and the west Midlands 152. The worst affected force is the Metropolitan police. Since 1979, its book strength has increased but, unfortunately, there has been a shift of emphasis which has reduced the number of police officers on the streets.

I believe it right to give my right hon. Friend the reasons for that. The new royalty and diplomatic protection department has been established, taking 700 officers, and the introduction of the district support unit has taken 750 more officers. There has been a loss of regular working on rest days which has reduced the force by 1,200 officers. A reduction in overtime hours has reduced the force by 1,300 officers. The cash limits on overtime imposed this year reduced the effective street manpower by a further 833 officers. The result is that the police do not have the manpower in London to contain riots on the scale that we are discussing, and at the same time to discharge all the other duties that the House lays upon them. That is why I say to my right hon. Friend that if he wishes to deal with the riots he must address himself to the issue of police manpower. I hope that he will go to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor with the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and see that there is a net increase in available manpower in our large cities.

I wish to conclude with a word about community policing. Of course the police should operate, as far as they can, by consent. They must be accountable, and indeed they are accountable, to the law, their chief officers, the discipline code and the independent Police Complaints Authority.

It is deception to believe that, when riots and picketing of the kind we saw earlier this year are happening, somehow the bobby on the beat —"Dixon of Dock Green" —can cope with the challenge to him. The police response to the kind of problems that we face today must be an arsenal of different responses at different levels. It is the rioter and the criminal who will set the level of police response.

No one can deny that community policing has its place, but I hope that my right hon. Friend and all Members of the House will not assume that that buzz word is the solution to our problem. It is not. The police need support, manpower and equipment. Above all, they require an understanding of their duties and the backing of all parties on both sides of the House.

9.24 pm

We are on narrow ground in this debate—narrow in respect of time and narrow in respect of the subject marked out by the motion. Those outside may have been surprised that the usual channels managed to limit to so short a space a subject which bulks so large in the minds of the people of this country.

We are invited to demand an independent judicial inquiry. I do not believe that that is what we need. I believe what we need is for those who are in office, who are in positions of authority and responsibility, to acknowledge the truths —some of them appalling, some of them embarrassing—which are known and understood by the people who live in those cities. I mean no disrespect to the judiciary when I say that I fear that an independent judicial inquiry might make it easier rather than harder for those truths to continue to be evaded as they have successfully been so far.

On 20 September, immediately after the events in Handsworth, I addressed two questions to the Prime Minister. They are questions which have not yet been answered, but which will have to be answered. In that speech, I again referred to the projection, in my view irrefutable, that in the foreseeable future not less than one third of the population of inner London will be new Commonwealth and Pakistan ethnic, and that this will apply to major cities throughout the length and breadth of England. I asked the Prime Minister whether she accepted that projection. If she accepted it, or if she replaced it by an alternative which she regarded as more accurate, what sort of a Britain, and what sort of a London, did she believe there would be?

I do not complain that I received no instantaneous reply. At the time, the Prime Minister was in Amman, engaged in seeking to bring peace to another troubled area of the world. I took it as a courtesy—it was perhaps also wisdom on her part—that she did not attempt to answer off the cuff. But the answer is still outstanding. What I cannot believe is that when a challenge of that sort is addressed to the Prime Minister, advice upon the answer to it is not obtained by the officials concerned. Nor can I believe that if the advice obtained was adverse to the proposition I put to the Prime Minister, that answer would not have been given speedily and with maximum publicity. Indeed, there are all kinds of people in possession of the relevant facts who, had they been disposed or able to challenge my projection, would have been only too delighted to do so.

I suspect that the answer the Prime Minister got was not just that she could not challenge my projection. The answer she more probably got was that the true projection was higher than the one which I had put to her and that, therefore, she would be wise to leave it alone.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) drew attention to the profound change that has taken place in the composition of the population in inner London, in his city and mine, and in other cities. He did not draw attention to the fact that this phenomenon is not static, but dynamic. It marches on. What we have seen so far in terms of the transformation of the population, like what we have seen so far in terms of urban violence, is nothing to what we know is to come. This knowledge, which is not hidden from ordinary people who live in those places, overshadows those cities and inner London.

What is to be done? The first thing to be done is that the people on the Front Bench — members of the Government — must admit the facts. They must come before the people of this country and say, "You are not just facing"—as the hon. Member for Selly Oak invited us to face—"the existing situation; you are facing a further transformation of which the present has given you relatively little notion." Having said that, the Government must answer the second question that I addressed to the Prime Minister: if that is the transformation which she is unable to deny lies ahead, what sort of a Britain does she think it will be?

We do not require judicial inquiries. We require truthfulness and honesty from those who sit in the seats of power. That is what the people of this country want. They have been cheated of it so far, but in the end they will have it.

9.29 pm

The rejection of the mores of our society expressed as inner city violence has implications that are far too grave for the partisan point scoring that we have heard from some Labour Members. There should be no disagreement in this fount of democracy about the fact that the police—the protectors of our freedom —have a right to expect from us unequivocal support for them in the execution of their lawful duties, just as we have the right to expect from them continuing courage, tolerance, fairness and the use of the minimum force necessary.

Much has been said about the deprivation in areas in which the riots have occurred. Equally, it has been pointed out that much has been and is being done. Certainly, those who feel rejected by society will tend to reject the rules of that society. Consequently, a decayed environment, poor employment prospects, drugs and a feeling of being seen to belong to a sub-class because of colour will provoke alienation. At times, this alienation has been enhanced by a few heavy-handed or racially prejudiced police, and to ignore that is to do a considerable disservice to our otherwise superb police forces. At times, this alienation has been entrenched through those apologists for crime who are too embarrassed to admit that there are bad blacks just as there are bad whites. All too frequently, these sores of disadvantage are further infected by those who, for financial gain through crime or political advantage through mayhem, hope to manipulate understandable complaint into vicious carnage.

Environment, unemployment and colour alone do not explain why the riots have been confined to areas that are predominantly black, for do not those from the Indian subcontinent suffer the same disadvantages? Perhaps there is something culturally different—I introduce this subject with some diffidence—that explains this phenomenon and explains why Asians argue when West Indians would fight. While those from the Indian sub-continent set great store by education and, despite difficulties, build trading empires, I cannot name one equivalent West Indian concern.

If cultural differences are a partial explanation of why a minority of blacks find difficulty in sharing our majority values, then to make black ghettos of our inner cities only enhances the lack of shared values and encourages a different set of standards to those the majority hold.

If black people are to be convinced that this country is their country, all levels of Government must do all they can to encourage black people to disperse throughout the country so that every black person can learn that it is in his adherence to our values that his greatest opportunities lie.

9.33 pm

The public will find it difficult to understand, when they realise tomorrow that, after next Tuesday, the House of Commons will not sit for a whole week, that hon. Members have been given less than three hours to debate this crucial subject. There is no reason why Parliament, instead of proroguing next Wednesday, could not prorogue next Thursday so that we could have a full day's debate on this important issue. It is within the Government's gift to make that arrangement.

I regret the Home Secretary's speech. I would have expected that speech from his predecessor, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman will come to regret making it. We shall pursue him about his remarks on Birmingham. He cannot make such an allegation without giving the specifics, given the record of the present Birmingham city council.

By and large, inner-city life is unknown to Conservative Members. The honourable exception tonight was the only speech that really got to the meat of this debate, which came from the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark). Visiting an inner-city area, as many hon. Members have, is not the same as living inside it. It is not enough to go on a day trip to an area that has suffered from a disturbance to understand the issues. The areas are microcosms of economic decline, deprivation, and disintegration — factors that are found in many areas in the United Kingdom.

Our local and national government structures are not adequate to deal with the problem. All that those who live in the inner cities demand is that they have a quality of life—however measured—and a standard of employment, housing, health care, mortality rate and perinatal mortality rate that is at least equal to the average of their fellow citizens in the rest of the United Kingdom. We have to bring about structures in government and set up organisations and posts whose task is to raise the quality of life in inner city areas to at least that level.

We have to find out why there are differences between inner cities and other areas and why there are differences between the mass unemployment of today and that of the 1930s. A beginning towards that is an overall judicial review, as called for by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman).

Only a small part of my constituency is affected by the troubles in Birmingham. Indeed, they affected a small part of three constituencies—those of Ladywood, Small Heath and Perry Barr. In the Handsworth-Lozells-Soho corner of Birmingham, where 56,000 people live, we are told that 300 people rioted. We know from the addresses given to the courts that a vast number of those people were not local but came from way outside the area.

The people of the area want to restore it. The post office reopened last week in a chemist's shop. Only yesterday, the new market started to operate. Many traders lost out. Some 39 shops were burnt out in a stretch of road no more than 200 yards long. Little damage was done to homes—only four were damaged. The people are determined to rebuild their lives and their community, which were so badly devastated on the night of Monday 9 September.

It is invidious to mention names, but I want to pay tribute to two people. I have to single out the elected chairman of the Lozells trading association. Many people sought to divide those traders on ethnic grounds. They are a mixture. The oldest trader in the street is white and has been there for over 36 years. There are also AfroCaribbeans and Asians and they did not have an organisation before the troubles. They now have one, and I pay tribute to its chairman, Basil Clarke, for the tireless effort that he has put in to help the traders whose premises disappeared overnight and to ensure that they continue to want to trade, stay in business and serve the community rather than disappear to other parts of the country, which it would be easy and understandable for them to do. Mr. Clarke has shown remarkable leadership and organisational skills in the past few weeks. As many have before, he has come up against all the inadequacies of the Riot (Damages) Act, to which I referred on Monday when I questioned the Home Secretary about his statement.

Another problem is the inadequacies of insurance companies when the Riot (Damages) Act is brought into operation, because they want the Government and the public purse to pick up the tab. Only one person in that area has received any help from his insurance company—the rest are just standing on the side hoping that the Home Office and the county council will pick up the tab. However, the Riot (Damages) Act does not cover anything like the damage that took place. It does not include consequential loss, damage to vehicles or many of the other losses that people suffered.

The other person whom I have to mention is Dick Knowles, the leader of the city council, who has responded to the problem and has seen to it that his council has responded to it in the best traditions of local government. He knows when something is right or wrong and has said what he thinks. For that, he deserves our thanks and those of my constituents and the rest of Birmingham.

However, Birmingham city council is under attack from the Government. The councillors have fought with great courage to defend jobs and services, and to do that—not to increase them—it has had to put up the rates by 43 per cent. this year. Not for them the ranting at mass public meetings but the courage to try to put back the resources taken away by the Government, as the figures given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton show. They have had to set up their own inquiry to try to find out what really happened on Monday 9 September and Tuesday 10 September when the Home Secretary visited the area.

My constituents, like those of many of my colleagues, suffer from the obscenity of unemployment. It is now creeping into the stockbroker belts and we are beginning to hear a few whinges from Conservative Members, but it cannot be denied that mass unemployment has been used as a major tool of economic policy. It has been used to curb incomes — in the past four years we have had an incomes policy born out of mass unemployment—and it has been used to curb the power of working people to defend and advance themselves. But just as not all those arrested for crime are the same colour, not all are unemployed. That is clear from the jobs and occupations that have been stated.

Nor do I suppose for one moment that every rioter was a drug user or pusher, but just as drugs are used as currency in our prisons as a price to be collected when it is thought appropriate, what happened on the streets of my constituency and those of my colleagues this year in respect of cocaine and heroin cannot be divorced from what happened on 9 September. And if there is any humming and hah-ing about what I have said about the prisons, let the Minister do as I did at 7 o'clock last Friday morning and spend a couple of hours with the prison officers at Winson Green to get the facts of the situation. It cannot be claimed, however, that throwing petrol bombs and fighting firemen is fighting unemployment. That is unacceptable to everyone and it is simply not true.

In many cities in this country there are big empty barrels making a lot of noise as community leaders but the people say that those people are not their leaders because they did not elect them. There must be a review of all the organisations and operations, whether they be in local government, community relations councils or elsewhere, to give people confidence that there are enough people from the various religious and ethnic backgrounds, and so on, to speak up for them and to exercise genuine leadership born of the ballot box.

Community policing has been mentioned. When I drive through central London and see a policeman or traffic warden walk past a Rolls-Royce parked on a double yellow line, I suppose that that is community policing. Every hon. Member must have seen that kind of community policing. Community policing should not turn a blind eye to crime. Community policing certainly failed my constituents and those of my colleagues on 9 September. Indeed, policing of any kind failed our constituents. If that were not so, the Riot (Damages) Act would not now be in operation.

My constituents will not tolerate the seeking of scapegoats among the local superintendents. Both Superintendent Love and Superintendent Burton care about the area that they police and about their officers. They come to virtually every public meeting that I and my colleagues attend, whatever the time and however short the notice, and they must not be made scapegoats. The police cannot solve the problems of inner urban decay and the social conditions that we have allowed to come about in this country.

Money schemes for the inner cities must certainly be considered by the Home Secretary, but the money must stay in the area to create employment for local people. Nothing is nore upsetting than visiting people whose homes are being done up and made to look nice under the envelope schemes by outside contractors when the skills are available in those very houses to carry out the work. Urgent action must be taken. I know that that will mean cutting across normal arrangements, but allowances must be made for that.

Time is not on our side. If anyone wants confirmation of that, it is necessary only to read the reported words of the heir to the throne today. The inner cities are areas of tension, poverty and decline but there is a vibrancy of life within them which is missing from the outer suburbs. I feel sorry for some of my outer suburb constituents because they do not experience the joyful aspects of inner city life. There is a greater attendance for religious worship in our inner city areas than in the outer suburbs. I speak for a constituency within a large city and not for rural areas.

We shall utterly fail those we have the privilege to represent if we do not condemn arson, looting, murder and rape. It is even worse if we wait to see the colour of those who have been arrested before we decide to speak. That is what happened after 9 September in Birmingham and my constituents know that that is so.

We owe our constituents the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the disturbances, and I am not satisfied so far that that will be made available so that we can ascertain how to prevent a recurrence of what has happened over the past few weeks. The passing of the motion is a way to begin to get at the truth.

9.42 pm

On 9 and 10 October in my constituency there were riots, and with the pall of smoke there was a pall of sadness. So many people had spent so much time over the years to ensure that we did not have such a problem. In spite of so many efforts, that was the result.

I have the privilege of living in a constituency which has an inner city area but which stretches to the outside of the city. I hear members saying that the inner urban programme does not meet the demands of the inner areas. If we increase expenditure in the inner urban areas, how shall we contain the resentment that is being fuelled already on the council estates in the peripheries of our cities throughout the country? How shall we be able to answer the argument, "Why is it that so many areas in our inner cities are getting so much when we are getting so little?"

The rate support grant for Leicester this year is £14 million but the inner urban grant for a comparatively small area in the centre of the city is £5·5 million, which is about one third of the rate support grant. That additional money is being poured into a central area. More has been spent on housing grants for private houses in that central are a over the past three years than ever before. There has been more spent on improving housing and transport and on achieving a better standard of living for those who live within it than ever before. The only thing that has become worse is behaviour.

There are problems in our inner city areas because some of the money that is allocated to them is being misdirected. It is finding its way to organisations that are being used to foment our problems. It is being used to stir up the problems instead of solving them. Witness the Highfields and Belgrave law centre, which is funded by public money. This week it put out a pamphlet saying, "Stop the police harassment," alleging that the police, following the riots, were arresting only young Afro-Caribbeans. It is a scandalous lie. There is not a word of truth in it. The police are arresting those whom they have reason to believe have committed serious criminal offences and it is their plain and bounden duty to do just that, without fear or favour, without affection or ill will. When public money is being directed towards a law centre that is assisting in stirring up racial tension and disorder of this nature, it is a scandal.

It goes on to say that the police believe that all Afro-Caribbeans are thieves and muggers. How can we encourage people from the ethnic minorities to join the police force if poison of that sort is being injected into the body politic at public expense? The pamphlet continues without shame to say that if a person is in trouble or stopped by the police, he or she should see a solicitor, and it gives a number. The solicitor employed by this organisation is Mr. Keith Vass, the prospective parliamentary Labour candidate for Leicester, East. That is the authentic voice of Socialism which those of us who have had experience of inner city politics, whether in Camden or Leicester, have heard at first hand all too often.

When I hear the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) ask what is the future in our inner cities, the future that I see is one where more people are united than divided, a future where what people have in common is greater than whan separates them. In Leicester, where 25 per cent. of my constituents are Asian, a huge sector of the economy has been built by Asians. It is owned by Asians. It is worked for by Asians. That is the future that we in Leicester face.

9.51 pm

Time is incredibly short for what ought to be a much longer debate on this most serious subject. I want to say a few words about the trigger events which I hope a judicial inquiry would look at. One of the questions which people are asking in the minority communities in particular is the degree to which the police, consciously or unconsciously, use different standards of behaviour for members of different communities. For instance, if a black man is driving a BMW he is likely to be a thief or a drug dealer. Is that the underlying assumption that the police make? Whereas if a white man is driving a BMW he is likely to be an official in the Department of Trade or a member of a respectable profession. That is what some people believe about the way the police behave. Another question is whether, if a black single parent had shot a policeman by mistake, the subsequent inquiry would be carried out with the delicacy and secrecy with which the present inquiry is being carried out.

These are the sort of questions that are being put. They demand answers, answers which should be given as part of an open inquiry, as my local consultative committee emphasised strongly in a letter to the Home Secretary.

The Home Secretary will be utterly failing in his duty if he thinks that the response to what has happened in Brixton, Handsworth and Haringey should be simply an increase in police power or a change in policing methods. The person who ought really to be replying to this debate tonight is the Prime Minister, so that she might explain the violent harvest of bitter fruit which she has sown over the past six years. It is impossible to divorce the catastrophic cuts in housing, the catastrophic increase in unemployment and the catastrophic cuts in all sorts of services in the constituency and borough that I represent from what has happened in that area, where deep hatred, disillusion, despair and alienation lie beneath the surface and are the cause of these riots.

If the Government do not recognise that, they will simply find that year after year the smouldering volcanoes of our inner cities will explode again in the face of a Government that seem to me neither to care about nor to understand at the highest level the causes of these problems.

9.54 pm

The House has had a frank and, at times, angry debate, but that is fully understood because of the enormity of the problems and crises that have affected some parts of our inner cities.

The hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) started the contributions of those who have personal experience from their constituencies. I fully understand some of the points that he raised, but I must take issue with him when he says that the police are acceptable but goes on to describe their tactics in terms of legalised thuggery. We cannot do that, and we must recognise that fact.

However, I respect what the hon. Gentleman said about the independence of the Police Complaints Authority. We are determined to ensure that it works, to the betterment of inquiries and to the satisfaction of the public in the rebuilding of confidence.

I compliment my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Southport (Sir I. Percival) on stirring people to get involved in the rehabilitation that must take place. The hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) was right to say that there should be a re-examination of the Scarman report. I assure him that that is being done to ensure that every possible lesson is learnt from that, because we base our case significantly on the exposure given by that report to so many of the underlying causes that hon. Members on both sides have mentioned.

The right hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Freeson) laid the responsibility firmly at the door of housing and I respect his views on that matter, but housing is only one of the many issues involved. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) reminded us in an extremely courageous speech that there are many facets to these problems. He was right to mention that it must not just be assumed that unemployment or colour are direct or contributing causes. The hon. Gentleman will be interested to know that of the 362 people arrested at Handsworth, 108 were white and 182 were Afro-Caribbean. The hon. Gentleman may know that 131 were employed and 182 were unemployed. In Brixton, 90 whites and 140 Afro-Caribbeans were arrested. Of those arrested. 106 were employed and 126 were unemployed. There are balances to be struck.

In Tottenham, the numbers charged were few, totalling 34, and three were white and 14 were Afro-Caribbean. Seven were local residents and 11 came from outside the area. People coming from outside were a feature of these events.

The events were horrendous and that is why my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has rightly said that this is not a time for a public judicial inquiry. It is a time for concerted action. The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) will recognise that the Opposition's call for a judicial inquiry typifies their view of events affecting public order. Last year, during the mining dispute, when public order was last under threat, the calls for an inquiry from Labour Members were continual, day in. day out. and were in contrast to the absence of condemnation of the defeat of public order that was nearly achieved by the NUM.

The rule of law is indivisible. It is no use trying to find some excuse for criminal behaviour. Excuses must not be found. Mitigating circumstances do not exist. We cannot condone or qualify culpability. That must be dealt with properly. The rule of law cannot be fudged and we cannot condone breaches in the interests of political considerations.

Our amendment stands four square for the maintenance of public order without qualification and four square behind the police in the execution of their duty. These are the same police who, night after night, sustained the right to work during the miners' strike, and, day after day, continued to serve the communities in which they were located. They are the same police who spend hour after hour surveying the drug trafficker and still get called out in the middle of the night to accidents, large or small.

The House adds almost monthly to the load of legislation on our police, yet they do not object—certainly not often. However, they do object when they are made the fall guys for the sins of others or when their operational independence and impartiality are threatened by political control. The clamour from the boroughs of Lambeth and Haringey is for more political control of the police.

In Britain today discipline is a dirty word. It has long since ebbed from millions of homes and it has been dragged from thousands of schools. The police stand as the main bastion of discipline and responsibility in our society. Our main task is to rebuild in the affected areas that confidence which all law-abiding citizens in Britain enjoy—peace under the rule of law. Our police will he in the van of that endeavour. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 191, Noes 292.

Division No. 298]

[10 pm


Abse, LeoBagier, Gordon A. T.
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Alton, DavidBarnett, Guy
Anderson, DonaldBeckett, Mrs Margaret
Archer, Rt Hon PeterBeith, A. J.
Ashdown, PaddyBell, Stuart
Ashley, Rt Hon JackBenn, Tony
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Bermingham, Gerald

Bidwell, SydneyHome Robertson, John
Boothroyd, Miss BettyHowells, Geraint
Boyes, RolandHoyle, Douglas
Bray, Dr JeremyHughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Janner, Hon Greville
Bruce, MalcolmJohn, Brynmor
Buchan, NormanJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Caborn, RichardKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Callaghan, Rt Hon J.Kennedy, Charles
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Campbell, IanKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Campbell-Savours, DaleKirkwood, Archy
Canavan, DennisLambie, David
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)Lamond, James
Cartwright, JohnLeadbitter, Ted
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Leighton, Ronald
Clarke, ThomasLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Clay, RobertLivsey, Richard
Clwyd, Mrs AnnLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Cohen, HarryLoyden, Edward
Coleman, DonaldMcCartney, Hugh
Conlan, BernardMcDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Corbyn, JeremyMcKelvey, William
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Craigen, J. M.McNamara, Kevin
Crowther, StanMcTaggart, Robert
Cunliffe, LawrenceMadden, Max
Cunningham, Dr JohnMarek, Dr John
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)Martin, Michael
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Deakins, EricMaynard, Miss Joan
Dixon, DonaldMeacher, Michael
Dobson, FrankMeadowcroft, Michael
Dormand, JackMichie, William
Douglas, DickMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Dubs, AlfredMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Eadie, AlexMorris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Eastham, KenMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)Nellist, David
Ellis, RaymondOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Evans, John (St. Helens N)O'Brien, William
Ewing, HarryPark, George
Fatchett, DerekPavitt, Laurie
Faulds, AndrewPendry, Tom
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Penhaligon, David
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)Pike, Peter
Fisher, MarkPowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Flannery, MartinPrescott, John
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelRedmond, M.
Foster, DerekRichardson, Ms Jo
Foulkes, GeorgeRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Fraser, J. (Norwood)Robertson, George
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Freud, ClementRogers, Allan
George, BruceRooker, J. W.
Godman, Dr NormanRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Golding, JohnRowlands, Ted
Gould, BryanSedgemore, Brian
Gourlay, HarrySheerman, Barry
Hamilton, James (M'well N)Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hancock, Mr. MichaelShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Hardy, PeterSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Harman, Ms HarrietSkinner, Dennis
Harrison, Rt Hon WalterSmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Hart, Rt Hon Dame JudithSnape, Peter
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoySoley, Clive
Haynes, FrankSpearing, Nigel
Healey, Rt Hon DenisSteel, Rt Hon David
Heffer, Eric S.Stott, Roger
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Strang, Gavin
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)Straw, Jack

Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)White, James
Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)Williams, Rt Hon A.
Thorne, Stan (Preston)Winnick, David
Tinn, JamesWoodall, Alec
Torney, TomYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Wallace, James
Wardell, Gareth (Gower)Tellers for the Ayes:
Wareing, RobertMr. John McWilliam and Mr. Robin Corbett.
Weetch, Ken
Welsh, Michael


Aitken, Jonathandu Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelDunn, Robert
Amess, DavidDurant, Tony
Ancram, MichaelDykes, Hugh
Aspinwall, JackEdwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Eggar, Tim
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Emery, Sir Peter
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)Evennett, David
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Eyre, Sir Reginald
Baldry, TonyFallon, Michael
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Farr, Sir John
Batiste, SpencerFavell, Anthony
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyFinsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Beggs, RoyFletcher, Alexander
Bellingham, HenryFookes, Miss Janet
Bendall, VivianForman, Nigel
Best, KeithForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnForth, Eric
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnFox, Marcus
Blackburn, JohnFraser, Peter (Angus East)
Body, RichardFreeman, Roger
Bonsor, Sir NicholasFry, Peter
Boscawen, Hon RobertGale, Roger
Bottomley, PeterGardiner, George (Reigate)
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Boyson, Dr RhodesGower, Sir Raymond
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGreenway, Harry
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGregory, Conal
Brinton, TimGriffiths, Sir Eldon
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonGrist, Ian
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Ground, Patrick
Bruinvels, PeterGrylls, Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.Gummer, Rt Hon John S
Buck, Sir AntonyHamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Budgen, NickHannam, John
Bulmer, EsmondHaselhurst, Alan
Burt, AlistairHawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Butcher, JohnHayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Butler, Hon AdamHeddle, John
Butterfill, JohnHickmet, Richard
Carlisle, John (N Luton)Hicks, Robert
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)Hirst, Michael
Carttiss, MichaelHogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cash, WilliamHolland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Chalker, Mrs LyndaHolt, Richard
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHordern, Sir Peter
Chapman, SydneyHowell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Chope, ChristopherHowell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hunt, David (Wirral)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Cockeram, EricHunter, Andrew
Colvin, MichaelHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Conway, DerekIrving, Charles
Coombs, SimonJenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Cope, JohnJessel, Toby
Cormack, PatrickJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Corrie, JohnJones, Robert (W Herts)
Couchman, JamesJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Critchley, JulianKey, Robert
Crouch, DavidKing, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaKnight, Greg (Derby N)
Dickens, GeoffreyKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Dicks, TerryKnowles, Michael
Dorrell, StephenKnox, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Lamont, Norman
Dover, DenLawrence, Ivan

Lawson, Rt Hon NigelRost, Peter
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkRowe, Andrew
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lightbown, DavidRyder, Richard
Lilley, PeterSackville, Hon Thomas
Lloyd, Ian (Havant)Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Lord, MichaelSayeed, Jonathan
Lyell, NicholasScott, Nicholas
McCrindle, RobertShaw, Giles (Pudsey)
McCurley, Mrs AnnaShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnShelton, William (Streatham)
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Maclean, David JohnShersby, Michael
McQuarrie, AlbertSilvester, Fred
Major, JohnSims, Roger
Malins, HumfreySkeet, T. H. H.
Malone, GeraldSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maples, JohnSmyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)
Marland, PaulSoames, Hon Nicholas
Marlow, AntonySpeed, Keith
Mather, CarolSpeller, Tony
Mawhinney, Dr BrianSpence, John
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinSpencer, Derek
Mayhew, Sir PatrickSpicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Mellor, DavidSquire, Robin
Merchant, PiersStanbrook, Ivor
Meyer, Sir AnthonyStanley, John
Miller, Hal (B'grove)Steen, Anthony
Mills, Iain (Meriden)Stern, Michael
Miscampbell, NormanStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Mitchell, David (NW Hants)Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Moate, RogerStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Monro, Sir HectorStewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Montgomery, Sir FergusStradling Thomas, Sir John
Moore, JohnSumberg, David
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)Tapsell, Sir Peter
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)Taylor, John (Solihull)
Moynihan, Hon C.Temple-Morris, Peter
Mudd, DavidThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Murphy, ChristopherThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Neale, GerrardThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Needham, RichardThurnham, Peter
Nelson, AnthonyTownend, John (Bridlington)
Neubert, MichaelTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Newton, TonyTrippier, David
Nicholls, PatrickTrotter, Neville
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.Twinn, Dr Ian
Ottaway, Richardvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Page, Sir John (Harrow W)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Viggers, Peter
Parris, MatthewWaddington, David
Patten, Christopher (Bath)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)Waldegrave, Hon William
Pawsey, JamesWalden, George
Percival, Rt Hon Sir IanWalker, Bill (T'side N)
Pollock, AlexanderWalters, Dennis
Porter, BarryWard, John
Portillo, MichaelWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)Warren, Kenneth
Powell, William (Corby)Watson, John
Powley, JohnWatts, John
Price, Sir DavidWells, Bowen (Hertford)
Prior, Rt Hon JamesWells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Proctor, K. HarveyWheeler, John
Pym, Rt Hon FrancisWhitfield, John
Raffan, KeithWhitney, Raymond
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyWinterton, Mrs Ann
Rathbone, TimWolfson, Mark
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)Wood, Timothy
Renton, TimWoodcock, Michael
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonYeo, Tim
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Rifkind, MalcolmYounger, Rt Hon George
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Tellers for the Noes:
Roe, Mrs MarionMr. Ian Lang and Mr. Francis Maude.
Rossi, Sir Hugh

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Questions on amendments) and agreed to.


That this House recognises the crucial importance of the maintenance of public order; applauds the courage and dedication of the police and responsible community leaders in restoring order; and welcomes Her Majesty's Government's commitment to early effective action in the light of the recent urban disturbances.