HC Deb 01 July 1999 vol 334 c430
29. Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

If he will make a statement on the number of appeals against lenient sentences in the latest year for which figures are available. [87908]

The Solicitor-General

In 1998 in England and Wales, 94 individual references were made to the Court of Appeal and 88.1 per cent. of the references heard resulted in an increased sentence. Eleven cases have yet to be heard. This year, as of the end of June, 54 cases have been referred to the Court of Appeal. Of the 12 cases that have been heard, the sentence was increased in 10 cases.

Mr. Bercow

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for that informative reply. Does he have any plans to extend the number of offences in respect of which lenient sentences can be referred to the Court of Appeal—and if not, why not?

The Solicitor-General

In our manifesto, we undertook to look into that matter, and we have done a great deal of preliminary work. I hope that an announcement will be made in the fairly near future. The previous Government made two minor extensions to the Criminal Justice Act 1988, but experience has shown that not many references have been made. Most of those that arise are for truly serious offences, but statistics demonstrate that more references are being made now than in the past. We take the matter seriously.