Dominic Grieve: You Ask The Questions

The shadow Home Secretary answers your questions, such as 'Are you just keeping the seat warm for a more illustrious figure?' and 'What was your most expensive expenses claim?'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

David Icke, Miss Great Britain, and the National Front – not exactly political heavyweights, and hardly a great debate. So what exactly was the point of David Davis's campaign? And did you support it? JONATHAN CHALMERS, Perth

David Davis took a principled decision to fight a by-election to highlight the growing erosion of civil liberties under Labour and I support that. While the Government didn't have the courage to fight on this issue he was still able to get his message across. It was noticeable when I went to campaign for him that a lot of people supporting all main parties appreciated and endorsed what he was doing.

You used to believe the 7/7 bombers' actions were 'totally explicable'. Do you still? OMAR KHATIB, London

I said they were explicable because the level of anger and alienation which I had encountered when meeting some younger British Muslims seemed to me to provide the ideal preconditions for violence. I never said and never believed they were justified in their actions. But if we want to stop terrorist violence we have to understand the forces that motivate it. The bombers were from Britain, not outer space.

I've never heard of you. Aren't you just keeping the seat warm for a more illustrious figure? GARETH CARR, Aberystwyth

I will keep this job as long as David Cameron wants me to.

You strengthened Conservative opposition to 42 days, saying it would definitely be repealed. Was that a slip-up or a deliberate adjustment? What should the limit be? Benedict Yates, via email

I said we would repeal 42 days on the basis of the evidence available. We will keep our position under review and consider any evidence that may emerge.

Does your appointment make the Shadow Cabinet less libertarian than David Davis? STEPHEN CARTER, Market Harborough

As shadow Attorney General I worked extremely closely with David Davis especially in the area of security and the surveillance society. Given that our views are essentially the same on most things I do not believe the Shadow Cabinet has become either more or less libertarian as a result of my appointment.

You're one of the few Conservatives to have supported the Human Rights Act. As shadow Home Secretary, do you feel any differently? CAROL STUART, Brighton

I'm a believer in human rights as is my party. The opportunity to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill or Rights will both protect human rights and have much more resonance with the public.

Last summer you publicly contradicted David Cameron and David Willetts on grammar schools. How will you feel if another front-bencher contradicts one of your policies? IAIN HAMILTON, Port William

No I didn't. I wrote an article for a local paper setting out correctly the party's policies on grammar schools with reference to my constituency, which has two.

You say you won't allow any immigration from new European member states. But in an economic slowdown, aren't they all going back anyway? JENNIFER WARREN, London

Labour has lost control of immigration. It claimed up to 13,000 people a year would arrive from accession states – the truth is more than 700,000 have arrived since 2004. We will put in place restrictions so we can control the level of immigration so it can be of benefit to the country without placing burdens on public service provision and social cohesion.

Lots of Conservative MPs can't believe you were appointed shadow Home Secretary. They don't think you're tough enough for it. How are you going to win them round? LINDSAY WOOLF, London

My job is not to present myself as a tough individual – that type of crude image management is what Labour have been obsessed with over the past 10 years and it has done nothing to improve our security. My job is to deliver smart and effective policies that will improve our security, enhance our quality of life and sustain the freedom under the law we enjoy from the endeavour of earlier generations.

Shadow Home Secretary is one of the most important jobs in the Shadow Cabinet. How can you possibly have time to combine it with being shadow Attorney General? ANGELA SHARP, Bristol

As shadow AG I worked extremely closely with the home affairs team anyway. I believe it is possible to combine the two, at least in opposition but it certainly adds to the workload.

Figures released last week suggest that crime, including violent crime, is actually falling, despite all the fuss about knives. Will you admit that Britain is a safer place to live than it was 10 years ago, or are you just another political opportunist? GRAHAME BLACK, Runcorn

No – while we have publicly welcomed the fact that violent crime has started to fall after 10 years of increase the fact is it is from a very high base. The Government's own statistics show that violent crime has increased by nearly 80 per cent under Labour.

Ever-increasing prison numbers don't seem to be reducing crime. So what's the Conservative solution? DAVID IRELE, London

Chronic overcrowding and emergency early release means offenders cannot settle and be given rehabilitation. We would provide extra prison places to relieve overcrowding so that offenders can undergo effective rehabilitation and we can start reducing reoffending rates which have shot up under Labour. We will create accountability by transforming prisons into Prison and Rehabilitation Trusts and paying them by results, awarding a premium if they prevent prisoners from reoffending.

Is David Davis wrong to call for a return of the rope for some criminals? JAY LORIMER, Retford

That was David Davis's personal view and he is entitled to it. I don't believe a return to capital punishment is justified or would be effective.

What are married tiffs like when you're both barristers? JULIETTE MCCARTHY, Crewe

The muscular strength that they give to the jaw lasts the rest of one's life.

Is there any evidence that Etonocracy is an effective method of government? (And yes, I know you went to Westminster.) FIONA JOSLIN, Northampton

It is important to have people from all backgrounds in government but I think people are more concerned about where their politicians are taking the country rather than where they are coming from.

Why did you vote against outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation? DARREN LIPMANN, Oxford

I didn't. We had some interesting debate and votes on the detail and particularly the difficult area of reconciling the prevention of such discrimination and the right to manifest one's religion. I've always supported the principle of this legislation.

David Cameron says you might raise taxes. Nick Clegg says the Liberal Democrats will reduce them. What's going on? FRANK ADAMS, Basildon

Stability is the most important thing. George Osborne has promised the Conservatives will design a new system to ensure that government puts aside money in the good years to prepare for the tough times, and lives within its means.

In these tough economic times, and given the environmental impact of air travel, where are you going on holiday? Have you considered Southwold? RICHARD COOKSON, Southwold

I will be holidaying in France and exceptionally this year in the Caribbean – which will enable me to do some scuba diving in warmer waters than usual.

What was your most expensive expenses claim in the last year? KATIE CHOTE, Chester

I think the single biggest costs item for which I claim expenses are for staff salaries. In relation to personal expenses it will be the rent on my second home. We have published in full the expenses claimed by virtually the entire party for the last three months and will continue to do so.

How do you feel about Conservative backbenchers who won't release the details of their expenses, like the Wintertons? Do they have something to hide? LUKE NUTTALL, Oldham

Virtually the entire party have published in full details of their expenses over the past three months and will continue to do so. What individual backbenchers decide to do at present is matter for them individually.

A far higher proportion of Conservative than Lib Dem or Labour MPs are sceptical about global warming. You might have a modern face, but admit it – you're still the dinosaur party at heart, aren't you? DANIEL HARDIE, Southampton

No. Tackling climate change is a clear part of our vision and one of the changes the next Conservative government wants to achieve. Under Labour, carbon emissions have actually risen. We need to make Britain safer and greener which is why we have policies to switch to more renewable energy and make our energy supply more secure.

Are you selling your shares in companies that invest in Zimbabwe? If not, why not? RACHEL PITTMAN-SMART, via email

I have shares in a number of blue-chip multinational companies like Shell that have business in Zimbabwe. David Cameron has said he expects any company involved in Zimbabwe to operate to the highest ethical standards and I endorse that view. If evidence emerges that any of these companies are not maintaining the highest standards or if it becomes clear that withdrawal of their activities from Zimbabwe is essential in the interests of its people, and this is our government's view, I would review the position.

You chased down a vandal and had him arrested. You threw a yob off the Tube after he hit someone. And you followed a trail of blood to find the man who burgled you. Would you recommend being a have-a-go hero? NEIL TERRY, Crawley

I am certainly not a "have a go hero" and I don't like the term. Getting involved does not necessarily mean having to physically intervene. We have a responsibility as citizens to uphold the law and prevent crime. It can mean not walking on by but calling the police. One thing I am particularly concerned with is that too many people are afraid to get involved and act reasonably in case they end up on the wrong side of the law on unjustified and often trivial allegations of using excessive force. This is something I wish to see better addressed than it is at present.