Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Keith Vaz in Leicester

A couple of appearances by Vaz in the Leicester Mercury for your attention.

It must not happen again - The family of a man who was stabbed to death by a mental health patient said today nobody else should go through the trauma they had suffered.

Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, said he was concerned about an apparent pattern of mental health patients committing violent crimes.

Mr Vaz said: "There is a balance to be drawn between the rights and health of patients and the safety of the community. Clearly in this case the balance was wrong."

Gujarati lessons back as fee row rumbles on - School governors have ordered the reinstatement of extra curricular Gujarati lessons after they were scrapped in a row over unpaid fees.

The governors have received backing from Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, who has offered to settle the row by paying the fee himself.

He said: "I would happily pay £169 myself because the meeting with relevant officials would run into costing much more to council taxpayers."

And oh yes, you guessed it... The game's up - An MP has "named and shamed" a list of computer games he said are encouraging violence. Guess which MP?

Time for an actual debate though, I feel. How about 24 hour drinking? 24-hour drink laws spark MPs' concern solicits opinion from all the parties.

Our Keith: "I think there's a danger in allowing unlimited licences, and I don't think it's good for the moral fabric of society."

Ross Wilmott, Labour leader of the city council: "I don't think we're ready for this yet. The staggering of closing times is sensible but you don't have to have 24-hour licensing for that."

Andrew Robathan, Tory MP for Blaby: "I think 24-hour drinking will exacerbate the problems, and make life even more miserable for residents."

Stephen Dorrell, Tory MP for Charnwood: "I'm not in favour of a one-size-fits-all policy. Different areas have different circumstances and the licensing situation should reflect that."

Edward Garnier, Tory MP for Harborough: "If the Chief Constable has to divert resources to police 24-hour drinking, the law-abiding and sensible citizens of Leicestershire will be the losers."

Alan Duncan, Tory MP for Melton and Rutland: "The idea that the relaxation of licensing laws will lead to the creation of a continental cafe culture doesn't accord with the reality of the binge-drinking culture which is so prevalent in our towns and cities."

David Tredinnick, Tory MP for Bosworth: "When you remove restrictions, the reason for breaking them disappears. I think there's a good chance if we go for this, and there isn't a battle to drink as much as you can before the end of the session, the urge to drink a lot will disappear."

Roman Scuplak, leader of city council's Conservatives: "I expect the licensing committee will have a responsible attitude and will only decide to have a limited degree of relaxation. If that is the case then I think it should be welcomed."

Parmjit Singh Gill, Lib Dem MP for Leicester South: "I support the flexibility to be able to open later. However, binge-drinking is a very serious problem and I'm deeply concerned an already under-resourced police service may have to divert resources."

I don't know how that was for you (which is what the comments are for), but I find my own personal views most closely aligned with the last three, particularly the point made by Scuplak highlighting the role of the licensing committee, which is a bit of a blow. Used to live in his ward and in fact spotted him last weekend in the big Tesco's in Hamilton. I worry that what gets lost in the hysteria is the fact that these are not compulsory 24 hour opening laws.

So you've heard what they have to say, and what Frances, confused would-be Labour voter of Evington thinks, what about you?

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