HC Deb 08 November 1976 vol 919 cc12-3W
35. Mr. Sims

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the Government's policy on length of prison sentences, in view of the remarks made to the Magistrates' Association by the Lord Chancellor on 15th October.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

The choice of sentence, within the limits of the powers conferred by Parliament, is a matter for the discretion of the courts and not one of Government policy in the sense in which that term is usually understood. In addressing the annual meeting of the Magistrates' Association in his capacity as President of the Association, my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor, with my full support, put forward for consideration the view that prison sentences within the range of the powers of magistrates' courts must realistically be seen as primarily deterrent in purpose, and that the deterrent effect of such sentences may well be achieved within quite a short period.

The full text of my noble and learned Friend's address has been placed in the Library of the House.