Home Secretary Theresa May has told MPs that recent rioting in England is symptomatic of a "a wider malaise" including worklessness, illiteracy, and drug abuse.
After a rare recall of Parliament was agreed by Commons Speaker John Bercow at the request of Prime Minister David Cameron, Mrs May opened a Commons debate on 11 August 2011 on the riots.
Mrs May emphasised the importance of personal responsibility.
"The only cause of a crime is a criminal," she said. "Everybody, no matter what their background or circumstances, has the freedom to choose between right and wrong.
"Those who make the wrong decision, who engage in criminality, must be identified, arrested and punished - and we will make sure that happens."
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "It was a disgrace to see literally thousands of British citizens, many of them not yet even old enough to vote, ripping through our urban fabric.
"But standing against them now are not just thousands of British police officers but millions of British people who love their cities and their towns and who support their communities and the rule of law."
David Lammy, the Labour MP whose Tottenham constituency was the first to be hit by riots, demanded a public inquiry into the Metropolitan Police's handling of the violence.