We do not intend to oppose this clause just for the sake of opposing it. There was full debate in Committee, and I take this opportunity to express our gratitude for the manner in which Government Members worked with the Opposition in pursuing many of the points that were made.
Clauses 2 to 5 deal mainly with custodial sentences on young service offenders, and incorporate advances made in the Criminal Justice Act 1988 in protecting young people, both before a verdict is given and after the offence has been proven.
We welcome the spirit and the detail of the clauses, which in civilian life have resulted in a reduction of custodial sentencing of young people, and have achieved a balance between giving good guidance to courts martial and standing civilian courts, while allowing both to exercise discretion.
We think it proper that an obligation should be placed on military courts, as it is on their civilian counterparts, to explain as fully as possible to young offenders why a particular sentence is being passed. We regard the clauses as a constructive move forward in the discipline Acts and have no hesitation in supporting them.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his remarks. It is certainly the case that we are trying to tie in armed forces legislation with that which applies in civilian life. The House has already legislated in respect of offences committed by young people, and we are attempting to bring the sentencing provisions in the armed forces more into line with that.