'Why I support Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill' – MP Sir John Hayes
The new session of Parliament began last week, with the Queen delivering her gracious speech to both Houses in centuries old ceremonial fashion.
Understandably, it was a more subdued affair than normal due to the ongoing pandemic – if any event involving the Imperial State Crown can be dubbed ‘subdued’!
Nonetheless, traditions still made their presence known; including the cellar search that has happened ever since Guy Fawkes was foiled and a hostage MP held in Buckingham Palace lest the Monarch should fail to return. However, such events are always more than ceremonial, with the speech detailing a legislative programme to come.
Speaking of which, former Prime Minister Harold McMillian, when asked what is most likely to blow governments off course, replied “events, dear boy, events”. ‘Super-Mac’s’ words ring true given the unforeseen challenges of the last year. Notwithstanding these ‘events’, last week saw a legislative course charted which aims to tackle head-on the priorities for our post-Covid country.
Amongst the foremost duties of Government is to uphold the integrity of the legal system and ensure justice. In my lifetime, the public sense of what’s right has been often undermined by those preoccupied with the plight of the guilty. Which is why I will be delighted to support the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill to toughen penalties, so ensuring that the most despicable criminals face their just deserts behind bars. Thankfully, the Bill will also grant police the power to clamp down on protests which spill over into vandalism, violence and disorder.
The focus on public order extends to the seas around us.
Given that a resounding vote to take back control of the United Kingdom’s borders was made in the 2016 Brexit referendum, it is time to do just that. A new Border Control Bill will overhaul the UK’s asylum system to both put an end to the shame of illegal channel crossings and better deal with those who land unlawfully on our shores. A fair asylum system acknowledges poor souls who warrant our mercy, but it should not reward those who break the law with impunity.
A just society should be a free society. Too many ‘woke’ zealots and university tsars have taken it upon themselves to police the speech of young people at a time in their lives which ought to be doctrinally daring and intellectually challenging. The Higher Education Bill will place formal, legal requirements on universities and students’ unions, not just to respect, but actively promote freedom of speech on campus. The days of a self-appointed ‘woke’ thought police running rampant must be brought to an end.
A planning bill to fundamentally alter the system and so guarantee that homes are built beautifully is vital. Constituents and others know that this is a cause dear to my heart. There is never an excuse for poor quality, badly designed buildings, soulless identikit housing estates or precious green spaces being consumed while derelict brownfield land remains unused. I am also a member of the Design Body Steering Group advising the Government on these matters.
To be acceptable, planning
reform must mean that all that we build should, in scale and character, be in keeping with the existing built and natural environment; that development should be
regenerative; and that edge and out of town domestic and commercial projects should be curbed or prohibited, as policy levers are used to bring many of the, at least, 750,000 empty homes back into use.
As Parliament, like all else, recovers from the shock of Covid and returns to normal, all these measures must be scrutinised, as the Government’s purpose is tested. What is certain is that our nation’s wellbeing deserves the same effective leadership that’s been shown in dealing with the greatest health crisis in living memory.