HC Deb 26 July 1951 vol 491 c628
40. Mr. S. Silverman

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the case of Rexv. Sedgwick, reported in Volume 34 of the Criminal Appeal Reports, in which the Lord Chief Justice prescribes that in cases of preventive detention the minimum sentence shall be seven years, except in the case of old men who might otherwise die in prison, whereas Section 21 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, prescribes that such minimum period shall be five years; and whether he will introduce amending legislation so as to give effect to the views of the Lord Chief Justice.

Mr. Ede

Amending legislation is not required to enable courts in the exercise of their discretion to give effect to the views expressed by the Lord Chief Justice in the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Mr. Silverman

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that until there is such amending legislation the maximum period prescribed by the law, as passed by Parliament, is five years and not seven, and, further, that courts of competent jurisdiction, despite the Lord Chief Justice's dictum in the reported case, are quite entitled, in a proper case, to pass sentences of five or six years?

Mr. Ede

The courts are bound in their discretion by the laws passed by Parliament.