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 Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 1:33 pm, 30th June 2020

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his remarks. Let me be clear: we say that 16 recommendations have been implemented. The point I was making about 11 is that there is agreement between the parties, so to speak, that 11 of those 16 have been implemented, or partially implemented—that is in the right hon. Gentleman’s letter. There is a dispute about the other five, to which I shall come in a moment.

In 2017, after this excellent report was produced, the Government could have said in respect of recommendation 13—to which the right hon. Gentleman refers and which, by the way, requires that all transcripts of sentencing hearings should be printed and published—“Do you know what, Mr Lammy? That is simply not feasible. We are just going to turn our face against that.” But instead, the Government looked behind the intention of that recommendation, and the intention—as set out in the text of the report, by the way—was to increase transparency. I will explain in a moment what then happened, but I wish to deal with this point first. In December 2017, the Government said in their response that they would not be able to implement every last word—in fact, the expression used was “to the letter”, in paragraph 8, if the right hon. Gentleman wants to look at it.

In respect of recommendation 13, to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, what in fact have the Government said? The report from 2020—which, by the way, runs to some 80 pages, setting out what the Government have done in respect of each of the recommendations—talks about recommendation 13, and if he wants to find it, it is at page 60. I remind everyone of what recommendation 13 says:

“As part of the court modernisation programme, all sentencing remarks in the Crown Court should be published in audio and/or written form. This would build trust by making justice more transparent and comprehensible for victims, witnesses and offenders.”

We said that transcripts for everything would be a gargantuan expense, and that money would have to come out of the legal aid budget and so on. We said that

“the costs are prohibitive at this time”,

but that the

Ministry of Justice has however produced a four-part guide to support defendants as they move through the Criminal Justice System from charge to case completion, available online and in Courts. MoJ want to ensure that people are given the help they need to understand the Court process and the consequences of their own decisions, as well as those made by the Court. The guide includes information on sentencing”.

In other words, we implemented the spirit of the recommendation.