In a series of blog entries in January and February 2010, BBC Home Editor Mark Easton looked at the Conservative Party's use of crime statistics to justify their claim that violent crime had risen dramatically during the Labour government. Easton highlighted that fact that a new recording standard had been introduced for police recorded crime in April 2002, and official statistics contained notices that recorded crime figures before and after that date were not directly comparable. In spite of this, the Conservative party compared figures from 1988/9 to those of 2008/9.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling repeatedly defended the use of these statistics, including in response to a letter from the Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar, who wrote that he "must take issue" with Grayling's statements about violent crime statistics. Grayling's defense included noting that the police recorded crime figures were the best available, and citing examples where other parties and the media had made similar comparisons. Easton responded by noting that suitable figures for the period were available from the British Crime Survey (BCS) (which did not show the purported leap in crime rates), and that the examples of others making similar comparisons did not hold up, or included sufficiently prominent caveats about the comparisons.
Following this, Grayling asked the House of Commons Library to make a comparison between the two methods of collecting police recorded crime. This resulted in an adjustment which allowed comparison of the figures, and which the Conservative Party claimed showed that violent crime had risen by 44% in a decade under Labour. Correspondence from the UK Statistics Authority shows that Sir Michael Scholar noted that the adjustment "certainly provides a more accurate comparison than can be made through the unqualified use of published numbers". However, he also notes that for issues where there are several sets of data that attempt to measure the same phenomenon and which appear to point in different directions, "the selective quotation of one without regard to the other could prove misleading, and a balanced presentation of an inevitably complex case would refer to all available statistics".
Correspondence from the UK Statistics Authority is available on their website.
Mandatory Work Activity
In January 2013, in a debate following his announcement of a new government policy on offender rehabilitation, Mr Grayling was challenged by Sadiq Khan on the evidence base for the new policy, particularly with respect to the use of payment-by-results (PBR) where a first pilot had been completed in Peterborough, but two subsequent pilots had been halted. Responding to this point, Mr Grayling said:
- "The right hon. Gentleman mentioned pilots. The last Government were obsessed with pilots. Sometimes those in government just have to believe in something and do it, but the last Government set out a pilot timetable under which it would have taken about eight years to get from the beginning of the process to the point of evaluation and then beyond. Sometimes we just have to believe something is right and do it, and I assure Members that if they went to Peterborough to see what is being done there, they would think it was the right thing to do."
When questioned again on this by Diana Johnson, Mr Grayling said:
- "I simply invite the hon. Lady to look at the work done in Peterborough and by voluntary sector organisations to mentor offenders. Sometimes when we look at something, we can say, “That is the right thing to do.” That is what we are doing."
And again by Nick Smith, he said:
- "I sat through a decade in opposition watching the previous Government so often piloting something, with nothing ever happening. The number of pilots that the Labour Government went through in office was endless. There is something in the work that is being done in Peterborough and the voluntary sector that I want to capture now, not in a decade's time."
In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Chris Grayling voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 20 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, in keeping with scientific and medical consensus, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill.
Mr Grayling voted for Nadine Dorries’s amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill on 7 September 2011, which was ultimately defeated by 368 to 118 votes. This amendment would have stopped BPAS and Marie Stopes from providing counselling for women with unwanted pregnancies and allowed ‘independent’ counselling including that provided by faith-based organisations.
In February 2015 Chris Grayling voted against allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease. If allowed, mitochondrial donation would be regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) meaning that there would be ongoing assessment of the safety and efficacy of such procedures. An October 2014 briefing report by the HFEA, which had been investigating the issue for three years, stated that there was no evidence to show that mitochondrial donation was unsafe. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed. The majority of MPs voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation.
In 2006, MPs were asked three questions by the Rough Guide's Mark Ellingham on how seriously they took climate change as politicians and as responsible, active citizens. Chris Grayling replied:
- "1: Extremely important. We have a duty to protect the environment for the sake of our children and of future generations. We have no option but to take action to curb carbon dioxide emissions.
- 2: Britain cannot halt climate change alone but if we do not set an example then how can we expect others to do the same. We are looking at a range of policy options that will impact on the problem. In my own area, transport, we have set a clear direction for our policy work towards the reduction of average emissions from new cars from 170 g/km now to 100g/kn in 2022, and for all cars by 2030. We will set out in detail how we aim to achieve this, and I hope the Government will adopt a similar strategy."
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