HC Deb 12 July 1993 vol 228 c664
30. Mr. Garnier

To ask the Attorney-General how many cases have been referred to the Court of Appeal on grounds of leniency of sentences in the past 12 months.

The Solicitor-General

In the 12 months to 30 June 1993, the Attorney-General applied to the Court of Appeal for leave to refer 33 sentences for review, including five in Northern Ireland. Of the 19 references so far determined by the court, 16 have resulted in an increased sentence.

Mr. Garnier

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that the Court of Appeal's judgments in those referred cases have already been of considerable assistance to sentencers at first instance? In the spirit of open government, will he publish the letters that he received from Opposition Members who voted against the Criminal Justice Act 1991, which included that power, so that we may know that those who voted against it now seek to make use of it?

The Solicitor-General

That power is now widely accepted as important and necessary and we often see it referred to by judges in their sentencing remarks. I shall resist the temptation that my hon. Friend has extended to me but, on Second Reading in 1988, an Opposition Member described that power as "sheer cruelty". He appears to have a poor memory because, only a short time ago, he wrote to my right hon. and learned Friend asking him to refer the sentence in the Newport case to the Court of Appeal and invite it to pass a severe sentence. However, following our usual custom of confidentiality, I shall spare his blushes and shall not publish his letter.