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I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. I would be grateful if it caused his officials to ponder—and perhaps to take account of the views of the judges.
I shall make two points. First, on career criminals, I do not think the Minister is right. In the end, it comes down to definitions. In my client’s case, the offences covered 12 months or thereabouts, and although there were a number of counts there was only one indictment. I would be inclined not to regard a person who committed offences over a 12-month period as a career criminal. I would take a different view if we were dealing with a man who had committed offences over two, three or four years. That would be different, but my case dealt with a range of offences, quite narrow in compass, within a certain time frame. One needs to consider whether the provision catches people who are not career criminals. That is my view.
Secondly—it is a small point about section 10(6) of the 2002 Act—there is a settled authority on the matter. The courts are not entitled to disregard the process, or indeed the sums, simply on the basis that is unfair. Once they have embarked upon the process, it has to grind through. They cannot simply say that the overall effect is unfair and not do anything.
I hope that we will give further thought to the matter. I recognise that people like my client are not the immediate source of compassion or sympathy. We are dealing with proven criminals. However, injustice can be done even to proven criminals and it is the business of this House to try not to do so. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.