HC Deb 22 April 1991 vol 189 cc767-8
35. Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Attorney-General what is the present average delay between (a) date of conviction, (b) granting of leave to appeal and (c) determination of the appeal in criminal cases in England and Wales; and if he has any plans to speed up the appeal process.

The Solicitor-General

Based on a sample of cases heard by the Court of Appeal in March this year, the average time between the lodging of a notice of appeal and decision by the single judge was just over 12 weeks, and from the grant of leave to appeal to final decision by the full court was just over 20 weeks.

Mr. Hughes

I am grateful to the Solicitor-General. I am sure that he realises that one of the greatest causes of complaint by those who are ultimately acquitted is the length of time they are held while the various steps in the process allowing them to appeal are taken. Is there anything that he and his colleagues can do to try to make sure that if an appeal is put in it goes to the front of the queue and that the period for the intervening stages before it can be reduced, possibly by half?

The Solicitor-General

The Lord Chancellor keeps the state of business in the court under constant review and the court itself tries to put cases where the sentences are shorter, and therefore there is a risk of a person serving the sentence before an appeal against conviction can be heard, to the front of the queue and so to order its affairs that cases do not result in injustice.