Conservatives in Harrogate: Tories find no praise for 'liberal do-gooders'

PARENTS, schools, poverty, unemployment, lack of morals, the Government, liberal do-gooders, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Baroness Thatcher, the devil - the number of MPs' reasons for crime were as large as the problem itself.

And if the causes of Britain's current scourge were not varied enough, the solutions coming thick and fast in yesterday's Commons debate certainly were: the Church, approved homes, the police, the Government, Baroness Thatcher, hanging, flogging and castration. While Michael Jack, a Home Office minister, sought to argue that the country was not 'in the grip of a strange new phenomenon' and fear of crime was far worse than the problem itself, one Tory backbencher maintained that there would not be any fear if villains were simply blasted away.

The problem might be eased now that Sir Anthony has had second thoughts about a sequel to the film Silence of the Lambs, in which he played a psychopathic killer, because the actor was apparently concerned about the influence of violence on screens. He was to be congratulated, Graham Riddick, Tory MP for Colne Valley, said.

Liberal do-gooders, social workers and Home Office advisers were certainly not to be praised, said Warren Hawksley, Conservative MP for Halesowen and Stourbridge, adding that the crime wave was their fault.

But the final solution rested with David Evans, Conservative MP for Welwyn and Hatfield, who said that the prisoners who rioted at Strangeways jail should have been given 10 minutes to get off the roof or be 'picked off' by marksmen. And if inmates were not killed for protesting they should at least be lashed, rapists castrated and murderers hanged.

'I would give the criminal rights - the right to be birched, the right to be flogged, the right to be castrated, the right to have a damn good hiding,' he said.

It was too much for Labour's Tony Banks: 'You make Iran's ruler Ayatollah Khomeini look like a bleeding heart liberal.

'You could have touched on some other punishments such as stoning to death for adultery. But if that punishment were to be applied there would be an awful lot of by-elections in this country.'

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