I am not going to give way, because my time is almost up, and I want other people to have the chance to speak.
I want to place on record my continued interest in seeing male and female offenders treated equally by the courts, not only for sentencing purposes, but in all aspects of the criminal justice system. It is increasingly accepted that women are treated more leniently than men. For every single category of offence, a man is more likely than a woman to be sent to prison. In the interests of equality, this matter needs to be looked at. However, we should look after women in the criminal justice system by abolishing sharia councils, which discriminate against them terribly, although the Government sit idly by and allow that to continue, which is an absolute disgrace.
Finally, on a more positive note, I am delighted to support the Secretary of State when she said in a speech last month:
“the wrong way to address the problem would be to shorten sentences or to release offenders earlier. That would be reckless and endanger the public. And it would restrict the freedom of the independent judiciary to choose the most appropriate sentence for each offender.”
I could not agree more. She is certainly on the right lines. If she sticks to that kind of principle, she will be doing okay. I hope to be able to support the Bill by strengthening it in its remaining stages.