Ian Lucas (PPS (Mr Liam Byrne, Minister of State), Home Office; Wrexham, Labour)
If my hon. Friend will allow, and in view of the time constraints, I shall stick to the debate at hand.
I would like to see fewer people in prison, and that should be the aim of a civilised criminal justice system. The problem is that Governments do not send people to prison: courts do. One of the central difficulties of penal policy is a constant tension between Government and the courts. It is probably magistrates courts rather than Crown courts that send young and other offenders to prison for short sentences.
I am a former solicitor and I have practised in the criminal courts, albeit some time ago, and in my experience courts are reluctant to send people to prison, and Opposition Members who have more recent experience accept that. So why are more people going to prison?