Amendment 292P

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - Committee (11th Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 24th November 2021.

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Photo of Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd Chair, Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee), Chair, Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee) 6:45 pm, 24th November 2021

May I add a more hopeful note? It has been wonderful to see this Government bring forward Professor Ormerod’s work on the Sentencing Code and bring it on to the statute book, and in this Bill—this is a good point—the code is being amended rather than there being any new proliferation of legislation. So one ought to say thank you for that.

However, the Sentencing Code shows the problem. I do not know how often the Minister looks at it but it is a fiendishly complicated set of sentences that we have accumulated over the years. Although we have seen a lot of criticism of the 2003 Act, I would say in its defence that an awful lot of thought was given to it. It may not have been quite right, and there was one area which has gone badly wrong. As I complimented one side, I now compliment the other: when we looked at the 2012 reforms to sentencing, a huge amount of thought went into that. A lot of sentences that were thought to be apposite were brought forward or modified, but at least there was some thinking.

We have now reached a stage where we need—on, I hope a nonpartisan basis—to think again. Is it too complicated? The answer must be yes. Have we got the sentencing regime right in terms of its outcomes and, equally importantly, its cost and whether the money can be spent better? There can be no better mechanism for that than a royal commission. I would hope that the initial thoughts of those who drafted the manifesto could be taken forward, at least in that respect. I would hope, though maybe I am being optimistic, that when it was all laid out what an awful state our sentencing regime is in, logic would prevail and we would see some reform. However, that is just an expression of hope by a person who is not a politician.