FULL TEXT: Ed Miliband's Statement On UK Riots
Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Opposition, speaking in Parliament today, said:
Can I thank the Prime Minister for his statement and can I thank him for his decision to suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that Parliament was recalled.
Whatever we disagree on week by week, month by month, today we stand united, condemning the violence and vandalism we have seen on our streets.
The victims are the innocent people:
Who live in many of our cities;
Who have seen their homes and businesses destroyed;
Their communities damaged;
And their confidence about their own safety undermined.
There can be no excuses, no justification.
This behaviour has disgusted us all.
It cannot be allowed to stand.
We will not allow it to stand.
I want to join the Prime Minister in mourning the loss of life we have seen, including those killed in London and Birmingham.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have died.
With Tariq Jahan whose son was murdered.
We stand with him.
He is the true face of Britain.
The Britain we are proud of.
I want to also thank our brave policemen and women throughout this country for the work they have been doing on our behalf.
And all of the emergency services.
We salute them for their courage, their dedication and their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way to keep our communities safe.
Thanks to them a degree of order has been re-established on our streets.
But from all sides of this House we know what the public want, and are entitled to.
A return to normality, as well as order.
Normality does not mean shops having to shut at 3pm because they fear looting.
Normality does not mean rushing home because you are scared to be on the streets.
Normality does not mean feeling fearful in your own home.
They want to have back the most fundamental of liberties: the ability to go about their business and lead their lives with security and without fear.
They have a right to expect it.
And we have a responsibility to make it happen.
To do this, Parliament needs to do its job.
Uniting against the violence.
And being the place where we examine and debate, frankly, all of the issues involved:
How we have got where we are;
What it says about Britain;
And what the response should be.
First, on policing.
Can the Prime Minister confirm that the additional operational costs the police are now facing will be funded from the Treasury reserve, and not place additional pressure on already stretched budgets?
Can he also confirm that the increased presence on our streets will remain in place as long as it takes, even beyond the weekend, until the police can be confident that the trouble will not recur?
The events of the last few days have been a stark reminder to us all that police on the streets make our communities safer, and make the public feel safer.
Given the absolute priority the public attach to a visible and active police presence, does the Prime Minister understand that they will not think it is right that he goes ahead with the cuts to police numbers he is planning?
Will he now think again?
Secondly, on criminal justice.
The public are clear that they want to see swift, effective and tough action to send a message about the penalties and punishment that follow from the violence we have seen.
We must see swift progress from charge to trial in these cases.
Can the Prime Minister confirm that there is the capacity within the courts and among our prosecutors to deal with cases swiftly, not just for first appearance but throughout the trial process?
It is right the Crown Prosecution Service is taking into account the aggravating circumstances within which the horrendous criminal acts we have seen in recent days took place.
Does the Prime Minister agree that magistrates and judges need to have those circumstances at the front of their mind so that those found guilty of this disgraceful behaviour receive the tough sentences they deserve and the public expect?
The Prime Minister mentioned the importance of CCTV in catching those responsible.
So will he undertake to look again at his proposals on CCTV to make sure they in no way hinder bringing criminals to justice?
Thirdly, we need all of our cities back on their feet and operating as normal.
That work began with the thousands of volunteers who reclaimed our streets and showed the true spirit of those cities and our country.
I welcome what the Prime Minister said on a range of support being provided.
Can he reassure us that the help that is provided will be genuinely needs-based without an arbitrary cap?
And can he assure us that these funds will flow straightaway so that people can get on with rebuilding their lives and communities?
Fourth, on the deeper lessons we need to learn.
The Prime Minister said in 2006 “Understanding the background, the reasons, the causes. It doesn’t mean excusing crime but it will help us to tackle it”.
To seek to explain is not to seek to excuse.
Of course these are acts of individual criminality.
But we have a duty to ask ourselves why there are people who feel they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, from wanton vandalism and looting.
We cannot afford to let this pass, to calm the situation down, only to find ourselves in this position again in the future.
These issues cannot be laid at the door of a single cause or a single government.
The causes are complex.
Simplistic responses will not provide the answer.
We can only tackle these solutions by hearing from our communities.
What the decent people I met on the streets of London and Manchester told me, and will tell the Prime Minister, is that they want their voice to be heard.
They want us to go out and listen to them.
And before saying we know all the answers, or have simple solutions, we should all do so.
Can the Prime Minister explain how those in areas affected will have their voice heard?
Will the Prime Minister agree that there must be a full independent commission of inquiry, swiftly looking at what has happened in recent days, and what lessons we need to learn.
Not an inquiry sitting in Whitehall hearing evidence from academic experts but reaching out and listening to those affected by these terrible events.
They deserve and need to be heard.
We need to look at and act on all the issues that matter:
The responsibility we need from top to bottom in our society, including parental responsibility.
The take what you can culture, that needs to change from the benefits office to the boardroom.
A sustained effort to tackle the gangs in our cities, something we knew about before these riots.
And of course, Mr Speaker, questions of hope and aspiration.
The provision of opportunities to get on in life which don't involve illegality and wrongdoing.
When we talk about responsibility, we must not forget ours: above all, to the vast majority of law abiding young people.
They are a generation worried about their prospects and we cannot afford to fail them.
We cannot afford to have the next generation believe that they are going to do worse that the last.
They should be able to do better.
That is the promise of Britain.
Let me say in conclusion:
Successful societies are built on an ethic of hard work, compassion, solidarity, and looking after each other.
Ours must be one society.
We must all bear our share of responsibility for it.
It is right that we came back to debate these issues.
It is right that public order must be paramount.
But it is also imperative that even after order and normality are restored, we do not ignore the lessons we must learn.
We cannot afford to move on and forget.
For all the people who have been in fear this week, for those who have lost loved ones, homes, and businesses, we owe a duty to ensure no repeat of what we have seen.
This is our responsibility to the victims.
It is our responsibility to the country.
And we on this side will play our part in making it happen.