Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 20th February 1992.

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Photo of Mr Gerry Bermingham Mr Gerry Bermingham , St Helens South 3:31 pm, 20th February 1992

I know not whether the Leader of the House heard the Radio 4 programme this morning concerning Mr. Payne, who was convicted of murder 20 or more years ago and who has served increasingly lengthy periods in prison although he has always denied the offence. On that programme, it was said that instances of interference by political appointees, either the Secretary of State for the Home Department or the Minister of State, in the decisions of the Parole Board have risen from 3 per cent. to 30 per cent. over the past five to 10 years. Bearing in mind the liberty of the citizen, will the Leader of the House arrange for an urgent debate on whether decisions on life sentences should be made by Parole Board officials or whether they should be made by the Secretary of State of the day or his officials? Often the liberty of the individual is denied for no reason at all.