Mr Speaker, you are right to be confident because I am.
There may now be more people behind bars to whom the judges might have given, on the evidence, community sentences. We may now as a society pay more in taxes to keep locked up people whom it would be better not to lock up, so we may not be able to use the money that is currently spent on prisons in other ways, such as for spending on police or youth services.
All that does not look like a good outcome from the message sent by mandatory sentences, so why are we repeating the mistake? What evidence are Ministers using to introduce more mandatory sentences? What happens if the person was coming home from the shops and he or she was holding his mum or dad’s shopping bags when stopped and searched? Surely it is for judges to act on the basis of fact, not for Parliament to second-guess it. We do not think that mandatory sentences are the right approach, and I hope that the other place will deal with the matter.