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Home Department

Volume 202: debated on Thursday 23 January 1992

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Crime

1.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the number of crimes committed in 1991.

A total of 5.1 million notifiable offences were recorded by the police in the 12 months to the end of September 1991, the latest period for which firm figures are available.

Does not that answer confirm that the increase in crime in the past 12 years has been greater both in proportion and in number than the increase in crime over the previous 12 centuries? Will not the millions of victims of crime feel that the 1979 Conservative law and order policies are humbug? Do not the upholders of law have daily experience of the fact that the greedy society so desired by Conservative Members must inevitably be a bad one?

The Home Office research and statistics department is excellent and produces very good figures, but unfortunately we do not have on record the figures for 12 centuries ago. However, I advise the hon. Gentleman that crime has increased throughout the western world during the past half century. The hon. Gentleman should first reflect on the fact that, in his own area of South Yorkshire, the figures to which I have referred show that the incidence of sexual and violent crimes has been going down, not up. He should further refer to and reflect upon the continuous Labour search for excuses for crime rather than for the introduction of any sensible policies to deal with crime. In the end, it is down to a person's individual choice whether to be bad and to commit crime. That cannot be blamed on social factors.

Would my right hon. Friend care to estimate what percentage of those interesting crime figures are the result of members of the Labour party asking people to break the law?

I referred earlier to the excellence of the Home Office research and statistics department when I explained that we do not keep crime figures for the past 12 centuries. My hon. Friend has raised an interesting thought; perhaps I should ask the Department to look into it.

Why has crime in this country risen by an average of 6 per cent. per year since the war, but by 18 per cent.—three times the usual average—in the past two years?

Being assaulted by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) on such issues is rather like being attacked by a bread and butter pudding. It looks very substantial on the surface, but when one looks below the surface, one finds nothing of any substance. The right hon. Gentleman's question contains its own answer. If the right hon. Gentleman would only himself address the causes of crime, he would realise that they would certainly not be solved by the suggestion made at the Labour party press conference this morning—that we should empty our prisons to pay for more police. That is what was said by the Labour party which in 1979 left the police forces of this country 8,000 under strength.

Order. I will not take a point of order. However, as we shall have to live with each other for the next few months in an electioneering atmosphere, I refer hon. Members to "Erskine May" on moderation in language.

Public Order Act 1986

3.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to meet the chief constable of Essex to discuss proper implementation of section 39 of the Public Order Act 1986 in the Thurrock parliamentary constituency.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
(Mr. Peter Lloyd)

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend has no such plans. The implementation of section 39 is an operational matter for the chief constable.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the ever-increasing frustration and anger among hundreds of my constituents in Grays, Tilbury and South Ockendon, who almost on a weekly basis have to put up with large invasions of mobile itinerants on land near where they live? At the very best, the itinerants create a great deal of filth and rubbish, which the landowner or the council has to clear up. At the worst, they have an unfortunate impact on the local crime figures. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is a disgrace that chief constables across the country have declared a policy of not invoking section 39 if a civil remedy is available to the landowner? Does he agree that the law should be changed so that the police have a duty rather than just a power to act under section 39?

I am aware that a great many people suffer a great many problems because travellers, illegal trespassers and wandering folk settle on land. Section 39, however, is specifically designed to deal with aggravated trespass. It is not designed to undermine the Caravan Sites Act 1968, which requires local authorities to provide official gipsy sites for those who normally resort to the area. If a local authority does what it is supposed to do under those Acts, it has access to the criminal law to deal speedily and effectively with those who settle unlawfully on land.

I hear what my hon. Friend says, but does he understand that there is a particular problem with certain councils, such as Avon county council? In the 23 years that that council has been in existence, it has not complied with the 1968 Act. As a consequence, section 39 is useless because the council will not move people off its land. Therefore, it is essential that people who live around the land, and are thus directly affected, should be protected under section 39 so that they can use the law to move people on.

My hon. Friend makes the point: it is his local authority's duty to comply with the 1968 Act and not for the chief constable to bend section 39 of the 1986 Act.

Sunday Trading

4.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a further statement on the operation of the Sunday trading laws.

It remains uncertain whether the Sunday trading provisions of the Shops Act 1950 continue to form part of our law. But as my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General explained in answer to a private notice question from my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) on 27 November 1991, those provisions are not therefore suspended. Parliament has placed the primary responsibility for their enforcement on local authorities and it is for them to decide their own course of action.

For our part, we intend to bring forward proposals for reform of the Sunday trading law once the legal position is clear.

Does the Minister recall telling the House that the four criteria for the reform of Sunday trading were that it should be practicable, enforceable, and acceptable to the country and that it should command the support of the House? Yesterday the ten-minute Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) was overwhelmingly given its First Reading with a majority of 200, with all-party support. Does not the Minister think that it is time to ensure that that Bill is put on the statute book to safeguard what Churchill once described as the greatest of British institutions?

I understand the anxiety of the House about the state of Sunday trading. I read the ten-minute Bill yesterday. I apologise for not being on the Front Bench for the debate. The result was interesting and certainly one which I shall study carefully. However, it would be foolish to introduce legislation before we know the outcome of the European Court of Justice declaration.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the Government's position puts all the responsibility as to whether to prosecute on local authorities? Many authorities find that enormously expensive. Are the Government prepared to put up money to assist local authorities if they decide to prosecute in the interests of what they believe ought to be the law, and in fact is the law?

It has never been the case that central Government would indemnify local authorities for expenditure when they are already given money through the revenue support grant to enable them to undertake their responsibilities, and that is not a way forward. Nevertheless, local authorities may enforce the law as it stands.

Is not the Minister passing the buck? There is widespread concern and strong opinion throughout the country that the Government are handling this issue most inappropriately. When will the Government take decisive action and end the hell of a mess in that section of industry?

I understand the hon. Gentleman's frustration, but it is not so easy as Opposition Members keep asserting. If legislation were introduced at this point it is possible that it would fall foul of the decision by the European Court of Justice and thus be impracticable and a waste of public funds.

While accepting that the tremendous European complication about this cannot just be wished away, will my right hon. Friend take note of yesterday's vote and appreciate that a significant number of Conservative Members voted for that Bill. A factor for some of us in so doing was the fact that we have been saddened and sickened at the supermarkets' attitudes in exploiting the European difficulty. When studying possible reforms and changes in the law, will she consider that the decision to open on Sunday is taken not by local supermarket managers but nationally by their boards, and that if there is any change in the law they should be the ones to be prosecuted?

The Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten), was on the Front Bench yesterday and has reported to me the content of the ten-minute Bill and the vote. I fully understand the considerable cross-party support for what was said in the ten-minute Bill, but it is important that we wait a few months to see where the European Court comes down. It will not take long and the Government will then be able to take all those factors into account. One would hope that major retailers will be clear in their minds about their activities and the consequences that may accrue.

How many of the major companies that broke the law at Christmas and were not prosecuted are contributors to Conservative party funds?

The last time I debated Sunday trading with the hon. Gentleman, he made the perfectly ludicrous suggestion that his party would have a conference on the matter—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer!"] It does not seem to me that there is any need for me to answer his silly question on the subject.

Murder (Provocation)

5.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the law relating to provocation as it affects cases of murder.

rose—[Interruption.]

I am aware of concerns that have been expressed about this aspect of the law. The defences to murder have been reviewed on several occasions, most recently in 1989 by the House of Lords Select Committee on Murder and Life Imprisonment. There has been no recommendation to change the rule that provocation applies only where the defendant acts with a sudden and temporary loss of self-control. Any change must not make it easier for a defendant to escape conviction for murder in cases where there is a planned or revenge killing.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his interest in the subject. Is he aware that among women serving life sentences in Bullwood Hall women's prison for murdering their husbands there are several whose lack of command of English meant that they were not aware that there was anywhere that they could run to, that some women who had tried to run away from extreme brutality were dragged back by their families, and that some were terrified of leaving their children with a brutal partner, and that therefore they had to wait until they could do something about it and were driven to commit murder? Technically, they did not qualify for the defence of provocation, but their cases are heart-rending and should evoke a change in attitude towards the type of defence that women in those circumstances can claim.

My hon. Friend has been to see me about this matter with a group of colleagues. I am sure that she will appreciate that I cannot comment on individual cases, particularly those among the ones that she has mentioned that might come before me.

I understand the concern that has been expressed in the House and in the country about this. However, I cannot condone, as a response to violence, the killing of the person who does that violence. There is concern about the law in this area and I believe that the arguments on it are finely balanced. Before we rush into changes to the homicide law, we must ensure that such changes do not do more harm than good. I assure the House that I shall keep this matter under the most careful review.

I welcome the fact that the Home Secretary received a deputation and undertook to consider taking on my Bill. I accept that the right hon. Gentleman could not go any further at that time, but is he aware that his argument that a change in the defence of provocation might allow for revenge killings is wrong and invalid because juries would not accept it in the case of revenge killings? Will he bear it in mind that the law as it stands does great injustice and that many women are suffering life sentences that they should not be suffering? Will the Home Secretary think again, please?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which he presented his case to me, although I hope that he did not take away from our meeting any belief that I was totally persuaded by the argument that he put forward. The House of Lords Select Committee looked into this matter just two years ago. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will recall that the Committee recommended that the defences of provocation and diminished responsibility and the offence of infanticide should be retained.

This is an important matter, particularly as it affects violence, and violence more perpetrated on the woman than on the man. One must not open up the possibility for either partner in a marriage or a relationship to murder their partner, not as a result of a sudden, temporary loss of control, but as a result of a careful, well thought out and premeditated plan. That is why the balance of the argument in this matter is so fine.

Europol

6.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he next expects to meet his European Community counterparts to discuss further progress in the Europol proposals.

Outline proposals for the establishment of Europol were approved at the meeting of the European Council in Maastricht in December 1991. Those proposals are now being developed and the United Kingdom has been in the forefront of police co-operation in Europe to combat the growing evil of international crime. Officials from all member states will be meeting regularly to develop the proposals and I shall be meeting my counterparts in June to review progress.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that encouraging response and for the work that he and his colleagues are doing on this. Does my right hon. Friend accept that to some extent there is a link between ever closer co-operation among police forces and Community arrangements with Interpol? The public should be spared some of the more bureaucratic checks and delays at ports and airports that will occur, for example, at Dover and elsewhere, when there are too many uniformed officials stopping people unnecessarily. There is a certain linkage, although there are many difficulties. As we are only a year away from the start of the single market, will my right hon. Friend reassure the public that unnecessary bureaucratic delays will not occur at our ports and airports, to the annoyance of the public?

That goes rather wide of the question. I should make it absolutely clear that from 1 January 1993 we shall continue to maintain our frontier controls, particularly on matters of international crime, drugs and immigration. One does not want to occasion unnecessary delay in exercising those controls, but they must be sufficiently firm and rigorous to ensure that criminals who try to get into the country are detected and that illegal immigrants are similarly detected and prevented from entering the country.

Is the Home Secretary aware that there is considerable concern that the sort of co-operation that exists regarding the police is not subject to proper democratic scrutiny? Will he ensure that all discussions that take place are opened up for us to criticise and assist?

As far as the police are concerned, I and my fellow Ministers are answerable to the House. There is a good co-operation between the British police and police forces on the continent because more and more crime—particularly drugs crime—crosses frontiers. A vast amount of drugs are coming into Europe from north Africa, from central Asia through the Balkans, and from South America. It is important that we work closely with our European partners on this. For example, we have 30 drugs liaison officers—British police and Customs officers—in more than 19 countries. The key factor is the exchange of information to deal with international crime.

Traffic Wardens

7.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what encouragement he is giving police forces to recruit and use traffic wardens for traffic control duties, particularly to meet seasonal needs.

The recruitment of traffic wardens is the responsibility of individual police authorities and their deployment is an operational matter for individual chief officers.

I thank my hon. Friend for that information. Can he give some information about the way in which the Government can encourage the greater recruitment of traffic wardens up to full complement in police forces and encourage the better use of those wardens so that they make the best possible contribution to the maintenance of traffic flow and the release of police officers for the control of crime?

The Home Office funds 51 per cent. of traffic warden service costs through the police grant. As my hon. Friend no doubt knows, under the Road Traffic Act 1991, local authorities will be able to seek power to recruit and deploy their own parking attendants in designated areas, and any fines levied go to local authorities to help defray the costs of that service.

Bail Offenders

9.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he intends to take to deal with repeated offenders who commit crimes while still on bail; and if he will make a statement.

We are examining carefully the evidence from a number of recent studies by the police and others of the extent of offending on bail, and considering, in consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers and others, what further action might reduce offending by people released on bail. We will announce our conclusions in February.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that more could be done in the first instance to prevent offences? Is he aware of the excellent work being done by Crime Concern? Will he produce his White Paper on the subject soon? Is he aware that one Bolton youth was arrested 30 times last year for car crimes?

The answer to the first of those three points is that the Home Secretary will shortly be publishing his promised and much looked forward to paper on criminal prevention. The answer to the second is that I agree that Crime Concern, which enjoys all-party support in the House, does excellent work. The answer to the third is that the Criminal Justice Act 1991 introduced new guidelines which can be passed from the magistrates to the social services to ensure that from October this year juveniles can be remanded in custody under certain conditions not previously available to the courts.

Is the Minister aware that not only juveniles but adults are committing crimes while on bail and that many crimes now being committed by adults while on bail involve firearms? Does he agree that it is time we had a real clampdown on the possession of firearms throughout society, remembering that the problem will not be cured unless the Home Office takes strenuous action in relation to the legal as well as the illegal holding of firearms?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the recent rise in the number of crimes involving firearms. There were about 9,000 last year, of which about only 4 per cent. involved replica firearms. We have the toughest sentences available in any country in western Europe for the carrying of firearms. Carrying a firearm in the commission of a crime can attract up to a life sentence. New sentences became available to the courts with the passage of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, and quite right too.

May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the delegation that I led to the Lord Chancellor to consider the problem of bail bandits and light sentencing by Crown courts, and to the concern in my constituency that the Hampshire police authority is short changing the Isle of Wight in terms of the number of constables on the beat?

The answer to my hon. Friend's last point is that when the Secretary of State made his announcement about the additional real 1,000 police coming on stream this year, he said that 80 per cent. of them should go straight on to the beat. The answer to his first point is that it is absolutely clear that a number of people who break their bail conditions are remanded in custody when they are brought back to the court; but that happens in only about six out of 10 cases, and in four out of 10 cases when those who break their bail conditions are brought back to the court, it seems that they are no longer remanded in custody but are again let out on bail.

On the subject of repeated offences, will the junior Minister now say why crime has risen on average by 6 per cent. each year since the war but rose by 18 per cent. last year?

There are a number of reasons for crime. You, Mr. Speaker, would not permit me to give a full answer to the right hon. Gentleman's question, which reminds me of a minute that I sent out, when I went to the Home Office in 1987, to the then permanent secretary. It simply said, "Please, what causes crime?" Reasonably enough, I have never had an answer. The decisions of individual men and women to commit bad acts is what causes crime. It is no good the Labour party seeking again and again—as it did this morning—excuses for why people offend. Rather, it should look for ways of dealing with those people when they have offended and ways of preventing offending.

Has my right hon. Friend had a chance yet to read the excellent report submitted to him by the chief constable of Northumbria about the problem of constant reoffending on bail? Is he aware that that problem is made worse by a small hard core of young criminals who offend again and again, but that that is not always known to the justices? What action does my right hon. Friend intend to take?

As I said in answer to the main question, in the announcement that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I will make in February, we shall be able to give a fuller answer than I can give now. We have in the Home Office a copy of the very helpful report by the chief constable of Northumbria and we have also been greatly assisted by the work of the members of the Police Federation, who have co-operated in the analysis of the serious problem of offending on bail.

Life Imprisonment

10.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on the guidelines for the period of imprisonment to be served before prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment will be released on licence.

The main considerations in deciding whether to release such a prisoner are whether he or she has been detained long enough to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence for the offence and whether the potential risk to the public is judged to be acceptable.

The Minister will be aware of my concern about the period of imprisonment served by persons who murder members of the security forces. A clear disparity exists between the guideline in England and Wales of 20-plus years' imprisonment and the practice in Northern Ireland of about 13 years' imprisonment before murderers of soldiers and policemen are released. Does the Minister agree that if that issue came before the European Court of Human Rights, under the reasoning in the Dudgeon case, the court would almost certainly hold that it is contrary to the anti-discrimination article in the convention to have two different regimes operating within one country? Would it not, be advisable, therefore, to have a uniform regime—which need not necessarily be the same as either existing regime—rather than wait until such a system is imposed on us?

What the European Court of Justice may decide is a matter of pure speculation. In essence, the matter is for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in some classes of cases, retribution and deterrence are never satisfactory? In the case of terrorist crimes, it is about time that we had a sentence of indefinite imprisonment until terrorism ends.

My hon. Friend is right. We regard murders committed in this country by terrorists as deserving a minimum of 20 years' imprisonment for those people. That marks the public's revulsion at acts of gratuitous violence against innocent victims. No matter for how long a period lifers are detained, the Home Secretary will release those people only if he considers that it is safe to do so.

Parliamentary Representation

11.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received about the level of parliamentary representation from England; and if he will make a statement.

In the past 12 months, we have received four letters on this subject from hon. Members. A private Member's motion was debated in the House on 8 March 1991.

I wish to put two propositions to my right hon. Friend: first, the English are under-represented in the House; and, secondly, the Scots are over-represented here. If my right hon. Friend agrees with either or both contentions, what will the Government do about that?

Occasionally, when I am ironing, I consider the possibility of having a constituency which is called Mitcham, Morden and Mole Valley. That is not, however, a possibility, because my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) represents an area a little bit down the road in the county of Surrey. I am told that the same considerations of constituency difficulty, demography and geography would apply to rearranging the constituencies within Scotland. It is for that reason, I believe, that the Government have decided that we should maintain the present system.

Is the Minister aware that the hon. Member for Dartford—[Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) will pay attention for a moment. Is the Minister aware that the hon. Gentleman is quite right to worry about the level of representation in England because every time a Tory is defeated in Scotland he flees the country, comes down here and tries to get a Tory seat? I refer, for example, to the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor), Ian Sproat, Michael Ancram, and Gerry Malone. The problem for the hon. Member for Dartford is that, once he has been defeated at the next election, he will be replaced as a candidate by the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth).

The hon. Gentleman might reflect on the fact that those Scotsmen who come down here to represent English constituencies are the best of the Scotsmen, who choose to come down here to represent one of the 523 constituencies in this country.

My right hon. Friend will know that there has been a large influx of people into Dorset, including many people from Scotland and from Wales. If my hon. Friend will look at the recommendations already coming from the Boundary Commission, she will see that it recommends that there should be eight rather than seven seats in Dorset. That would have some benefit in the forthcoming election if she could push it through. I wonder whether she can.

The whole House will be very relieved to know that such a matter is not entirely in a Minister's hands. I understand that, if that change occurs, the Conservative party will certainly benefit by an extra constituency.

Does the Minister accept that when the wishes of the people of Scotland are reflected in the decision to set up a Scottish parliament, it will indeed make sense to reduce the representation of Scots in the House? Does she recognise that the inequity and injustice done to her party through, for example, no Conservative Members of Parliament being returned in 12 Glasgow constituencies would be redressed by the granting of proportional representation throughout the United Kingdom?

I am not persuaded by the hon. Gentleman's arguments that to have proportional representation would necessarily persuade Glaswegians to vote Conservative. I hope that the Government's policies will persuade Glaswegians to think carefully about whether to vote Conservative in the next general election.

Seriously, as the Boundary Commission proceeds with its report over the next 10 years, would not it be correct to ensure that all parts of the United Kingdom had the same proportion of representatives? That would solve the whole problem.

As my hon. Friend knows, this matter has been discussed quite recently within both the Government and the Home Affairs Select Committee. Equitable representation is very hard to achieve. When the Boundary Commission looks at these matters over every 10 years or so, demography and demographic conditions have to be considered, and it is less easy than it appears on paper simply to provide consistency in terms of the demographic relationship of the people living in the country and the number of Members representing them in the House. Inevitably, it would mean that there would be more and more people coming into the House to represent constituencies unless some kind of control were exercised.

I think that the Minister is saying that the Government's view is that the basis of representation should remain the same—in which case, I am glad. Will she tell some of her hon. Friends that a recent independent study has shown that if the basis of representation in Scotland were equated with that in England, the Conservative party in Scotland would cease to be an endangered species and become an extinct species? Some of the remarks made by Conservative Members show the foresight and planning of the dodo.

I suspect that these matters will be discussed on a number of occasions in the future, but the Opposition should not be too complacent about the attitudes and voting patterns of those north of the border for ever and a day.

Vehicle Security

12.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from motor car manufacturers regarding their intentions to improve motor car security.

14.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on initiatives taken to improve vehicle security.

I have had three meetings with car manufacturers. I will be meeting them again in March. I have urged manufacturers to fit to all new cars dead-locks, immobilisation devices and visible identification numbers. I am pleased that they have responded very positively.

Car crime, principally by young males, accounts for nearly 30 per cent. of all recorded crime. Our major crime prevention campaign this year will be against car crime, and the courts will soon have available the additional penalties under the Aggravated Vehicle-Taking Bill.

I am grateful for that reply. When the Home Secretary meets the car manufacturers in March, will he impress on them the seriousness of the situation and consider compelling them to fit such devices as standard, bearing in mind that, last weekend alone, £100,000 worth of damage was caused by car theft in my constituency?

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's support. When I first met the car manufacturers, they did not appear to be taking the matter very seriously at all, but my last meeting with them revealed that they are now much more prepared to make their cars more secure. I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman. Whether we can make it compulsory for cars to be fitted with such devices is a matter for the European Commission. My Department and the Secretary of State for Transport have already made submissions to the Commission that a standard high level of security—as high as we have in Britain—should be enforced across Europe.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his initiative in talking to the manufacturers about improved vehicle security. Will he tell the House what support he has had for his additional measure, the Aggravated Vehicle-Taking Bill, which will surely go a long way towards stopping the theft of motor vehicles? Will he assure the House that he has had the unreserved support of the Opposition during the passage of that Bill?

Regrettably, we did not receive very much support because, in Committee, the Opposition voted against the major proposals in the Bill. That is the trouble with the Labour party: one has to distinguish between its rhetoric and reality when it comes to law and order. This morning, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said that he wanted to see more policemen on the beat, yet when he was a member of the last Labour Cabinet he cut the number of policemen and left the police force under strength.

Will the Home Secretary confirm that he is about to launch a £5 million campaign involving the glitzy television commercials that have been his trademark in every office of state that he has held? Is not it a fact that he never learns from experience? Last year, his May campaign—national crime prevention week—cost £4.5 million, yet the three-months' figures for crime following that expenditure showed an upsurge in crime. When will the Government spend less on advertising and more on the police and crime prevention?

We have increased expenditure on crime prevention and the police much more than the previous Labour Government, who cut it by 3 per cent. I can confirm, however, that on 11 February I shall announce a major campaign—car crime prevention year. It will be a highly successful campaign and will cost £5 million. It will be supported by BMW, Citroen, Ford, Honda, Peugeot, Renault, Rover, Toyota, Vauxhall, Volkswagen and Volvo and most of the major insurance companies in Britain. They are uniting with us to reduce crime.

The hon. Gentleman again raised the question of law and order. I shall be only too pleased to fight the next election on the basis of the record on law and order and to show that we have a very much better record than the last Labour Government.

In reply to the main question, my right hon. Friend said that he had had discussions with motor vehicle manufacturers. Has he had any discussions with motor vehicle insurers? Many criteria are used to determine motor vehicle insurance premiums. Should not anti-theft devices be one of them? As someone who has recently paid an enormously increased premium, I think that that would be an excellent idea.

I met the insurance companies of Britain on three occasions. In October, they issued a new set of tariffs which provide that a car owner who suffers a loss has to make a larger contribution and introduce the principle and concept of a premium reduction for certain security devices.

Order. Before we proceed to Prime Minister's Questions, may I remind the House of what I said on Tuesday? Questions on matters of policy should relate to policy options available to the Prime Minister. They should not consist of invitations to comment directly on the policies of other parties in the House, for which the Prime Minister has no responsibility.