Tim Montgomerie files his fourth report from Israel. Yesterday’s report can be read here.
At yesterday’s PMQs David Cameron again focused on crime and Labour’s terrible record. The latest example of Home Office incompetence and ineffectiveness was the fact that 53 prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment, including murderers and rapists, have been released on licence since 2000. The statistic had come to light because of a parliamentary question put down by David Davies, Monmouth’s Conservative MP.
David Davies is a member of our Israel trip and spent much of yesterday on his mobile phone (he’s pictured below on a bridge over the River Jordan being interviewed by Radio Five Live). The message he gave to broadcasters all over Britain was essentially the same… "Members of the public are being led to believe that once caught and found guilty, criminals are being sent to prison to serve out the whole of their sentence. They are being misled." ‘Life should mean life’ he said.
The coverage earnt yesterday was testimony to the value of parliamentary questions and to the impact that a determined backbencher can have. You don’t have to get to Shadow Home Secretary David Davis’ position to have the kind of impact that David Davies is having – although a Midlands radio station did think their interviewee was John Reid’s opposite number.
Later this month David is going to launch SAFER – a campaign to Stop All Further Early Releases. I have offered ConservativeHome’s help in giving SAFER a web presence.
Also on the Israel trip is the MP for the Forest of Dean, Mark Harper. Not to be outdone by David Davies, his neighbouring MP over the Welsh border, Mark tabled his own parliamentary question. It revealed, as reported in today’s Telegraph and on BBC Online, that a murderer had been on the run since December 1998 after walking out of Leyhill open prison. 400 prisoners have escaped from Leyhill since 1999. Three murderers plus nine robbers and burglars are still uncaptured. Eight people escaped last year and are still at large. Mark, a frontbench defence spokesman, is pictured on the right – he’s not actually looking for escaped prisoners but was surveying Hezbollah terrorist positions in Lebanon.
Mark tabled his question before coming to Israel but he was able to use his PDA to write a press release from the Israel-Lebanon border and then conduct a range of interviews with media in his constituency and national newspapers like the Daily Mail. “It is outrageous," he said, "that these killers were able to just stroll out of
prison. Those that pose a threat to the public need to be kept in
secure prisons, not ones where they can simply up sticks and leave
whenever they want. How are we expected to have faith in a criminal
justice system that allows our most dangerous criminals back on to the
streets so easily?"
I will file my final diary entry tomorrow and will attempt to summarise what we have learnt about the Israel-Palestine situation over the last few days.