HC Deb 14 October 1991 vol 196 cc15-6
33. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Attorney-General how many appeals he has initiated on the grounds of possible leniency of sentence; and how many have been successful.

The Attorney-General

Since 1 February 1989, I have referred 52 cases to the Court of Appeal. Twenty nine of them have so far been determined and 24 of them resulted in sharply increased sentences. Additionally, I have referred three cases to the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland. Two have been determined and in each a substantially heavier sentence has resulted.

Mr. Marshall

May I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on the use that he has made of the powers? Does he accept that the consequences go much wider than those 30 or so cases, as the Court of Appeal has established a tariff to help the judges with sentencing future criminals? Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that that experience underlines the sheer irresponsibility of those who opposed the introduction of the power?

The Attorney-General

I do agree with my hon. Friend and I know that he takes a great interest in these matters. The Court of Appeal has used this power, which I have had since February two years ago, to lay down guidelines for the assistance of judges. I will now be referring fewer cases because those guidelines are being acted upon and they are inducing much greater consistency. I also agree with the last part of my hon. Friend's sentence— [Interruption.] I am sorry, with the last part of his question—my hon. Friend is not known for unduly lenient sentences. The provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 1988 were strongly opposed by the Opposition. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) described them as wrong in principle and said that they had been introduced for political purposes. It would be interesting to know whether the Labour party would repeal them now.

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