Two of Brighton and Hove’s three MPs spoke in the debate about the riots in the House of Commons today after Parliament was recalled.
Mike Weatherley, the Conservative MP for Hove, and Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, both put questions to Prime Minister David Cameron.
Simon Kirby, the Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, attended the debate but was not called to speak. He later wrote to constituents.
In the Commons Dr Lucas referred to the Scarman Report, which followed the riots in Brixton and other parts of the country in 1981.
She said: “Violence is always to be condemned, but as the Prime Minister said, seeking to understand violence is a world away from seeking to justify it.
“Indeed, we ought to try to understand it to stop it happening in future.
“Given the growing evidence, from Scarman onwards, that increasing inequality has a role to play in drawing at least some people into violent behaviour, can the Prime Minister reassure the House that comprehensive impact assessments will be undertaken before his government introduce any more policies that increase inequality?”
Mr Cameron said: “Everyone wants to see a fairer and more equal country but I have to say to the honourable lady that young people smashing down windows and stealing televisions is not about inequality.”
Mr Weatherley said: “As chair of the All-Party Group on Retail and Business Crime, I can tell the Prime Minister that retailers’ biggest concern is lenient sentences.
“Will he assure them that sentencing terms will increase, and will he come along to the group’s next meeting on 8 September to advise us of the progress on that since this debate?”
Mr Cameron replied: “I might want to send the Business Secretary, or someone from the Business Department, to that meeting, but my honourable friend makes a very important point that businesses want not only to see the people who perpetrated the looting prosecuted and convicted, but to work even more closely with the police to protect their premises.
“I have heard that from many businesses, and from multiple chains, some of which had their stores attacked in many different places on the same day.”
Mr Kirby said in a letter to constituents: “It is important to play tribute to the police for the difficulties they have faced in recent days as well as the individuals and families who have been so badly affected by recent events.
“It is important now that those who have perpetrated crimes of violence, arson and looting are brought to justice and that the punishment they receive for their crimes matches the severity of the actions they have undertaken.
“People have a right to lead their lives without fear or the threat of intimidation.
“So many people have witnessed those rights being swept aside in recent days.
“Proper punishment which reflects the severity of the crimes undertaken is a way to restore faith in those parts of our way of life.
“It is important also to ensure that each person within the United Kingdom has the ability to excel with the talents that they have and the government’s reforms to schools, training and the overarching policy to stabilise and rebalance the economy should lead to greater opportunities for all citizens from whatever walk of life they come.
“We have an open, democratic system which enables citizens’ view to be heard and therefore there can be no excuse for any further violence or damage to property.
“I hope people from all communities will now join together to find a way forward so that a sense of shared responsibility and mutual respect will emerge in order to take forward our country in a peaceful and harmonious way.”