Last night I was honoured to speak in support of the King's Speech in the debate on crime and justice. In case you missed it, the full video and text of my speech are below.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh), against whom I had the privilege of standing in 2015, when I was resoundingly defeated. That shows the quality of her work and the way in which she goes about things in this place, and I pay tribute to her.
It is a privilege to speak in this debate on the King’s Speech, because I genuinely believe that crime and sentencing is one of this Government’s key successes in the past 13 years. This Government have delivered on reducing crime and making sure that we back our police on the streets of our country. Crime is down by 50%, from 9.5 million recorded cases in 2010 to 4.3 million today. That is a real success story, and I welcome the Lord Chancellor’s approach to offering rehabilitation to the offenders who would genuinely benefit from it, while making sure that we have tougher sentences for those who deserve to be behind bars for longer. We have more police on our streets now, with 584 in Hampshire alone, which means more crimes being solved in my constituency.
Before I talk about the impact on Eastleigh, let me say gently that this afternoon we have had the same old Labour party, with Labour Members constantly carping about what we have not done but offering no alternative vision for this country. Members opposite can criticise me, but, when I was a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Home Office, the shadow Home Secretary would constantly stand up to say that we had not gone far enough but would never say what she would do. The only thing that Opposition Members have done is vote consistently against this Government’s plans for tougher sentences, more police and sorting out our immigration system. The British public will see that when Opposition Members have to put themselves up at the ballot box in a year’s time and they will be found wanting.
I want to talk about this King’s Speech and what the Government’s record on crime and sentencing has done for my constituents. As well as the focus on rehabilitation and tougher sentences, we have, through the work of this Government and our excellent Conservative police and crime commissioner, Donna Jones, recruited 582 more police. She has plans for more because, through devolution, the Government have given her the ability to channel funds into recruiting even more police. That has been enabled by a clear commitment by this Government and Prime Minister—and the last two Prime Ministers, actually—to ensure we have more police on the streets than we had when we took over in 2010.
After a three-year campaign, I am delighted that Donna Jones has listened to me and secured a new police station in Eastleigh town centre to tackle antisocial behaviour and crime—with a focus on local crime, which is blighting many of our town centres—that is fully accessible to my constituents, with a front desk, and CID and investigatory facilities in the building. That shows this Government’s action to give people and PCCs the accountability and services they want, and giving PCCs that power delivers for the people we represent.
Although there are a lot of good things in the King’s Speech and there is much to celebrate, I want to tackle the Minister on an issue that has been a consistent driver for many colleagues in Hampshire and for me in Eastleigh: a fairer funding formula for Hampshire police. Many hon. Members think Hampshire is a leafy county, as it is in many parts, but Eastleigh town centre is not leafy; it is a working-class, ex-railway town that has specific issues with crime. Southampton and Portsmouth, two ex-industrial cities, also suffer with specific issues of crime.
We simply do not get funded enough to deliver on the number of police we need in certain localities, such as Southampton and Eastleigh. We have had promises from various policing Ministers that they would look into this, but they have not done so. When the responsibilities are handed out to the new Ministers in the Department, I ask the Minister responsible for policing to look at that again and meet me to discuss how we increase that funding.
I fundamentally believe that this is a good King’s Speech, and that the Government have a proud record to defend on tackling crime for our constituents. As I said earlier—[Interruption.] The shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham), can shout at me, but I say to him again: the people of this country have seen a Government who have tackled
and reduced crime and delivered more police on the streets, while the Labour party has done what it always does, which is to offer no alternative plan and to vote against the strong actions we have taken. It is the same old Labour party—that is what it always does.