HC Deb 12 May 1982 vol 23 cc763-4

'In section 67(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 (computation of sentences of imprisonment passed in England and Wales) after the word "arose" there shall be inserted the words "or by reason of his having been so committed and having been concurrently detained otherwise than by order of a court".'—[Mr. Mayhew.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.12 pm
The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Patrick Mayhew)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

This new clause gives effect to our undertaking to remove an anomaly in the counting of periods spent in custody on remand towards the length of prison sentences. We had this in mind before the introduction of this Bill and the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) prompted discussion of the point in Standing Committee.

The anomaly arises in this way. Section 67 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 provides for periods spent on remand in custody by order of a court before trial or sentence to go towards reducing the length of any prison sentence imposed. However, the terms of section 67 mean that if the prisoner is subject at the same time to remand in custody and to detention under other powers, for example, those under the Immigration Act 1971, the period on remand covered by such detention does not automatically count towards a reduction of sentence. That anomaly, which arises simply from the restricted wording of section 67, has been dealt with up to now case by case by the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy where appropriate. That is a cumbersome and unsatisfactory method of dealing with the problem and in accordance with the commitment that I gave in Committee, we now bring forward this clause by way of an amendment to section 67 to ensure that remand time, whatever other detention may be in force concurrently with it, always automatically reduces the sentence imposed. I commend the new clause to the House.

Mr. Robert Kilroy-Silk (Ormskirk)

I welcome this new clause, which provides that time spent in custody on remand by a defendant who has been recommended for deportation should count towards any later custodial sentence. It brings the law into line with what happens in all other cases of defendants remanded into custody.

As the Minister has pointed out, the new clause has been brought forward today following the assurance that he gave me in Committee, in response to a similar clause that I had tabled. I recognise the anomaly and I am pleased to see that the Minister has also recognised and tried to eliminate it. I warmly welcome the fulfilment of the commitment that he gave in Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time and added to the sill.

4.15 pm
Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I did not raise this point at the beginning of the debate on the Bill because I realised that Mr. Speaker was leaving the Chair and that it might be confusing. I should be grateful if you would allow me to do so now. On the Order Paper you will find new clause 41, tabled by me yesterday, which relates to the appointment of special coroners. Since that clause was tabled only yesterday, it would, of course, be unheard of for it to have been selected for discussion today. However, may I draw to your attention that recent events in the past week make that subject matter especially important? If time permits, may I ask that consideration should be given to including that new clause in the list of those that might be discussed at a later stage?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I am not responsible for selecting the new clauses that are debated on Report. However, I should warn him that, after a quick consideration of his new clause, I believe that it is out of order. I shall examine the matter and speak to the hon. Gentleman about it later.

Forward to