[Sir Julian Lewis rose –
The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Alex Chalk): At the death, I will give way.]
Sir Julian Lewis: I detected that my right hon. and learned Friend had reached the closing part of his peroration, so I wanted to ask him to address one concern that I have about the policing of demonstrations. As it happens, I think the police made the right call about 11 November, given the law as it stands. What concerns me is that three weeks earlier, on 21 October, a planned demonstration in Golders Green to pray for Israel and the Jewish people was called off after the police advised that it would be subject to intimidation or violence from people who were representing it as a threat against Muslims holding a demonstration for Palestine seven miles away. Does it not concern my right hon. and learned Friend that a peaceful demonstration should be called off in the face of intimidation, and is it not a matter of concern that the people who made the online threats that led the police to give that advice have not, as far as I have learned, been in any way questioned, sought or prosecuted?
[Alex Chalk: As always, my right hon. Friend has made an extremely powerful point. On the basis of what he has said, that does seem troubling. I do not know all the details, of course, but the fundamental point is that anyone in our community, whether they are Jewish or otherwise, should be able to practise their faith without let or hindrance. I am grateful to him for raising that. If there are measures that need to be followed up to protect our vulnerable communities, they should be.
The Criminal Justice Bill focuses on the evidence – the evidence of what works and the evidence of what keeps the British people safe. Sometimes that will mean people being locked up for longer, and we make no apology for that. Sometimes it will mean ensuring that those who are capable of being redeemed are being redeemed. That is how we drive down reoffending, and that is how we protect the British people. I commend the Government’s programme to the House.]