§ 39. Mr. Anthony Coombs
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received regarding the minimum sentencing of offenders convicted of child homicide; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Patten
We receive many letters about sentencing policy, some of which propose the introduction of minimum sentences. There is a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for murder. In exercising discretion over the release of offenders sentenced to life imprisonment, my right hon. Friend follows his predecessor's policy under which sexual or sadistic murderers of children can expect to serve at least 20 years in custody. The maximum penalty for manslaughter of infanticide is also life imprisonment; the circumstances of such offences vary considerably, and statutory minimum sentences would be an unjustifiable interference with judicial discretion.