New Clause 6 - Maximum and minimum sentences

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 13th October 2011.

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Photo of Elfyn Llwyd Elfyn Llwyd Shadow PC Spokesperson (Wales), Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader, Shadow PC Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 3:45 pm, 13th October 2011

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

It is nice to see you back in the Chair this afternoon, Mr Sheridan. I shall not delay the Committee unduly, because the new clause is self-explanatory. It would place a duty on courts to state the maximum, as well as the minimum, time that shall be served when someone is sentenced for a determinate term. Such a measure would give courts greater freedom to impose the sentences they deem fit and to have regard to the individual circumstances of each case. The stated minimum term would have to be less than half, but no less than one third of the maximum sentence. It will undoubtedly incentivise individuals, and I think it will become clear to the public as well. I concede, however, that if this system were introduced, on average, sentences would be 10% longer. That would add about 6,000 to the daily prison population over a parliamentary term. Surely, in this case, public protection should and must trump cost or political point scoring. I do not want to press the new clause to a vote, because I do not need to do so. I say that, because I am utterly convinced that the Government will accept it, because when they were in opposition it was one of their central policies. In their election manifesto, it had a prominent position. I am sure that the Minister will accept the amendment with open arms.