Granada Debate: 'The government was right to act quickly on crumbling concrete in schools'

Making the 'difficult decision' to close schools affected by Reinforced Aerated Autoclave Concrete (Raac) was the right thing to do, an MP has said.

Conservative MP for Warrington South, Andy Carter, said people would be questioning why the government had not done anything if they had not.

Speaking on September's Granada Debate, he added: "I think it's absolutely right that the government took action the moment they found out about some of the issues that had been generated from a recent report.

"If they'd have left it I think quite rightly people would be saying - 'well why are we not taking action immediately?'

"The Education secretary took the difficult decision and has said very clearly that pupils' safety must be the priority and that's absolutely the right thing to do."

The government has faced fierce criticism over its handling of the crisis with many questioning the timing of the announcement to close some schools just days before the start of a new school year.

Peter Dowd, Labour MP for Bootle, said that he believes the Raac issue is one of many problems a potential future Labour government could have to resolve.

“After 13 years it’s not just crumbling schools but crumbling infrastructure right across the country," he said.

“Whether that be hospitals, whether that be roads.

“After the next election we've got a huge challenge for maybe 15 years in terms of investment in our public services and trying to get the economy in the shape that actually enables us to do that. We are going to inherit a pretty grim situation.”

The panel also discussed the announcement from the prime minister of new powers that would see criminals forced into court for sentencing hearings.

Rishi Sunak says he will change the law so judges can compel defendants to attend and hear from their victims about the impact of their crimes.

It comes after a number of murderers including Lucy Letby and the killer of Olivia Pratt-Korbell, Thomas Cashman, refused to face the courtroom. Bootle MP Peter Dowd opened the discussion with his own experience of attending court following the tragic loss of his daughter in a hit-and-run incident.

He said: “I think it was crucial as part of that whole justice process.

“It's really important that when people commit a crime and are found guilty of committing that crime through due process that they face up to their responsibilities.

“If that means actually being required to be in court to hear the impact that their actions have had on families, parents, children or whoever the victim might be, it's really important that they listen to that.

“The idea that you're able to duck out of that responsibility is not appropriate so I fully support these proposals and they get my 100% backing.”

Andy Carter, who also sits as a volunteer magistrate alongside his work as an MP, said: “The foundations of the British justice system is that justice is seen to be done, and as part of that process it is important that people that have been found guilty come to court and hear their sentencing.

“As a lay magistrate I have dealt with situations where people in the dock are disruptive and it is very  difficult.

"But I'm in agreement with Peter -  the rules should be that you come to court.

“If you can't get them into court because they're going to disrupt it then they should hear the sentence in the cell.

“The message should be very clear to them this is what you've done and this is the consequence - and you should listen to that.”

September's edition concluded with a look ahead to the Conservative and Labour party conferences due to be held in the North West in October.