HC Deb 13 December 1990 vol 182 cc1104-5
16. Mr. Hind

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to introduce a sentencing council; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Patten

The Government's plans are set out in the Criminal Justice Bill, which will provide a coherent framework for consistency in sentencing. Those proposals build on the valuable work of the Court of Appeal and, most importantly, respect the independence of the judiciary.

Mr. Hind

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the plans announced by the Labour party for a sentencing council and for some form of court inspectorate cut across the constitutional pillars of our democracy, in which the Executive and judiciary carry out separate functions, and the judiciary protects the man in the street?

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend must be referring to the speech made yesterday by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), in which he regurgitated the ideas of the 1960s and 1970s, suggesting that courts are not there for punishment and introducing the most violent attack on the independence of the judiciary. The right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition are producing the ideas of terminally tired Labourism. They are a pair of politically beached whales.

Miss Lestor

Will the right hon. Gentleman—[Interruption.] Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the whole House and the country have been shocked by the suicide of 15-year-old Philip Knight, who was locked up for 23 hours a day in an adult prison, Swansea, where his suicidal tendencies and misery were clearly not identified? Does he further agree that we need a review of remand policies to make it clear that young people should not be put in adult prisons?

Mr. Patten

I thought that I was leaving on rather a good exit line, but I am pleased to have been brought back by the hon. Lady to answer that extremely important question. Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department issued new guidance to the prison service. Either before Christmas or shortly after, I hope to be able to make further announcements about the better provision of remand for boys aged 15 and 16.