Opposition day debate – Knife Crime

Posted on June 14th, 2011 in Parliamentary News

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): I thank the hon. Gentleman for his warm words about the Select Committee report and for the tone of the motion. In giving evidence to the Select Committee, he went out of his way to stress the importance of cross-party approaches, which also includes the voluntary sector. Does he agree that only by parties working together and raising the issue above party politics will we truly find a solution to knife crime?

Chris Grayling: That is right. There will be times when we debate issues on a party basis, but not because we have different objectives. We all share the objective of reducing crime and knife crime and of restoring stability to communities affected by it. There may be times when we disagree over methods or be critical of Ministers because we think they have got it wrong. That is right and proper, but organisations and individuals out there are looking to this House for a grown-up and mature debate. It is right and proper that with an issue as serious as this one we take a step back from time to time and have a grown-up discussion of the kind that the right hon. Gentleman rightly started in his Home Affairs Committee.

Before I get to the heart of the debate, I want to make one important point. There is no arms race going on among all children in the United Kingdom, nor are all seven-year-olds carrying knives for their elders. There is an acute gang problem in some parts of the country, particularly in inner-city areas and most significantly in parts of London, but the vast majority of young people are decent, law-abiding citizens, getting on with their lives, taking their exams, working on a Saturday morning and having fun on a Saturday night. We must not allow a serious and important debate to create the sense that young people are a problem today.


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