Responsibility for the issuing of sentencing guidelines rests not with the Government but with the independent Sentencing Guidelines Council. It is for the council to decide on what matters such guidelines should be prepared for the courts.
I thank the Minister for his answer, but I think that many people outside the House will look to it for leadership on the issue of sentencing. Will he give a clear steer to the council that we must never see a repeat of what we saw last month, when a judge was unable to do what he wanted and send a house burglar to prison because of the sentencing guidelines?
Let me caution my hon. Friend slightly against wholly relying on the account of that case that we read in the press. What we ought to know is that the judge was able to give that individual a very significant community sentence. Indeed, he concluded that a prison sentence would probably have been a rather lighter punishment, given all the conditions involved in the community sentence. However, the House will have an opportunity to make its views heard in due course when a sentencing Bill is introduced.