HC Deb 21 October 1976 vol 917 cc1643-4
10. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are his latest plans for tackling urban deprivation in the remaining 1970s.

Mr. John

Our Department is responsible for a number of programmes relevant to the problems of urban deprivation. We intend to ensure that these are developed and used as fully as public expenditure constraints permit.

Mr. Lane

In addition to making clearer the respective responsibilities of the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for the Environment, would it not be helpful if we had a White Paper or Green Paper explaining the whole of the Government's strategy on deprivation and disadvantage? Does the hon. Gentleman agree that such an explanation is now overdue?

Mr. John

The overlap of responsibilities is quite clear. We are responsible for specific programmes, such as the urban programme, the CCPs and the CDPs. My right hon. Friend is responsible for chairing a committee that is considering the problem of inner cities and deprivation. In due course the Government will make their views known.

Mr. Heffer

As there needs to be a comprehensive approach to the whole question, are discussions being held not only with the Department of the Environment but with the Department of Industry and other Departments that can make a contribution to solving the problem of deprivation in the inner city areas?

Mr. John

Yes. My hon. Friend should know that the committee consists of representatives of both Departments.

Mr. Forman

As one of the most disturbing symptoms of urban deprivation in recent years has been the alarming increase in mugging, especially within the area that is the responsibility of the Metropolitan Police, will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that he will try to take action to encourage the implementation of stiffer sentences for those convicted of these crimes and, equally, provide better job prospects for the young people who are so often involved in these matters?

Mr. John

My right hon. Friend was speaking to the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police yesterday about that subject, among others. The factors that the hon. Gentleman mentions are some of those involved. However, the more that we look into questions of crime prevention the less we think that any simplistic solution, such as stiffer sentences, will bring a cure to the problem.

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