Lammy Review

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:33 pm on 30th June 2020.

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice 1:33 pm, 30th June 2020

In this country, we have two major political parties with different visions of our past and our future, but on some matters of political importance, it is right for us to work across the partisan divide to achieve lasting change. It was in that spirit of good faith that David Cameron asked me to complete an independent review into the disproportionality in the criminal justice system. It was with the same good faith and in the hope of forging political consensus that I completed it.

I was disappointed to hear the Prime Minister break that consensus last week when he claimed that 16 of the recommendations I made in the Lammy review had been, and I quote, “implemented”, when in fact the majority of them had not. Inadvertently, he misled the House, and it is a shame he is not answering this urgent question himself.

There is a huge difference between implementing my recommendations and, as the Minister has said at the Dispatch Box today, completing the actions the Government committed to following my recommendations. In fact, I think the Minister said that they have completed 11 of those recommendations. Last week, it was 16. I hope that he recognises it is important on a matter such as this to give the public clear information. When he returns to his feet, I hope he will correct the record properly.

Recommendation 13, for example, was that

“all sentencing remarks in the Crown Court should be published in audio and/or written form.”

As the Government admit, that has not happened. They have done all that they said they would do on that recommendation, but frankly, that is nothing. They have not implemented it. In fact, they have rejected it. It is the same story for recommendations 8, 18, 19 and 35. They committed to not implementing my recommendations, and it is wrong to pretend anything else. Language matters and, as the Black Lives Matter movement makes its voice heard about systemic injustice here and abroad, the very least the Government could do is be honest about their actions.

Last week, the Prime Minister broke the consensus around my review; now I am asking the Minister to correct the record so that we can win it back. History is littered with examples of what happens if we abandon good faith. Without good faith, people get angry. Without good faith, people take to the streets. Without good faith, people give up hope.

The truth is that many of the injustices that I highlighted in my review have since got worse. When I completed the review, 41% of children in prison came from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background—and now the proportion is 51%. The proportion of all stop and searches on black people has increased by 69% over five years. The average custodial sentence for a black person is almost 10 years longer than that for a white person. To recognise the pain of these injustices, the Government need to go further than my review went, not cover up for the recommendations they ignored. Change will happen only when we look in the mirror honestly. Change will happen only when we tell the truth. Change will happen only when we recognise that black lives matter. Do not take the community involved for fools.