David Gauke: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his questions. In the context of wanting to support the victims, he was right to focus on the areas that he did, and I am grateful to him for not pressing me further on either the facts or the legal advice. It is right that the victims be treated with concern and sympathy and that all due processes be followed. We need to understand precisely what happened in...
David Gauke: My hon. Friend makes a good point. We understand the full implications of greater transparency in Parole Board decisions and what those implications might involve. It is not my desire that as a matter of course offenders should take cases where, for example, Parole Board panels have taken the firm line, based on the evidence in front of them, that they should not be released. We need to...
David Gauke: I can well understand why the right hon. Gentleman raises this issue. It is a matter for the CPS and Metropolitan police, however, and there is nothing I can say to inform the House this morning on that point.
David Gauke: My hon. Friend raises an important point. There are different systems in place for the statutory victims versus others, but sometimes, as in this case, there will be many people who essentially are victims but not in respect of any convictions—in this case, Worboys’s convictions—and we need to ensure that the system works for them as well.
David Gauke: The intention is to look at what can be done to increase transparency, and I will, of course, come back to the House with more detailed proposals once the review has been completed.
David Gauke: As my hon. Friend will be aware, accountability for decisions on prosecutions is not an area that falls within my responsibilities. However, I very much understand and sympathise with her point, and I know that this is an issue on which the Attorney General is very focused.
David Gauke: The hon. Gentleman has put his point, which is a very fair one, on the record. To some extent, I refer to my earlier answer, but clearly with regard to whether there is a public interest case in bringing further prosecutions, that is no doubt something that both the Metropolitan police and the Crown Prosecution Service will want to consider.
David Gauke: Yes, my hon. Friend makes a very good point. As a society, the direction that we have gone in more generally has been towards greater transparency. As Professor Nick Hardwick was one of the first to make that point, there is clearly a case in this context for the Parole Board as well.
David Gauke: With regard to the facts of a particular case, that is exactly what Dame Glenys Stacey will be investigating. I have no doubt that she will make public her conclusions. It is very important that victims are involved. I know that in this case they are involved, as I said earlier, in making representations in terms of licensing conditions. It is right that due and appropriate weight is given...
David Gauke: The numbers of reoffences are put into the public domain. Clearly, that is one of the tests of the effectiveness of the Parole Board. It is clearly a matter of priority for all of us that people who are dangerous are not released. The test for a Parole Board panel in the context of one of these IPP prisoners is an assessment of their risk to the public, and that is what the Parole Board must...
David Gauke: All I can say is that since being newly appointed, I am receiving advice on what we can do to make progress on this matter. I hope to be able to update the House in due course, but I do agree with the hon. Lady that the victims are vital in the system.
David Gauke: Well, even though the review has been broadened, and even though we are looking more widely not just at transparency but at whether there should be an opportunity for the Parole Board to look again at decisions, that review will report by Easter. Obviously, the timing will depend on precisely what it recommends, but I am keen to make progress as quickly as possible.
David Gauke: I know that both the Home Secretary and the Attorney General have been very focused on this case. I hope that the hon. Lady will understand that my focus has been on the immediate issues, which relate not only to the consideration of judicial review but to the issues of transparency and support for victims. Of course there are questions that probably do need to be asked about how the IPP...
David Gauke: Yes, I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. Without dwelling on the details of the reasons that I have already set out, I have given very long, close and serious consideration to my options.
David Gauke: In the context of legal aid generally, the hon. Lady will be aware that there is currently a review of that. I do not intend to say any more on that until that review has been completed.
David Gauke: In terms of the action that may be brought by victims on this, I do want to be very careful in my remarks. As I have said, just because I am not taking action does not mean that others cannot, because these legal cases can depend precisely on the position that they are in. It is the case that legal aid generally remains available for advice, assistance and representation in relation to...
David Gauke: Yes, clearly the direction we are moving in is towards greater transparency. There are some details that we need to master and fully understand, but the direction of travel is clear.
David Gauke: This is clearly going to be a broad review of how the Parole Board works, and the importance of particular expert evidence will be part of the process of considering how it operates.
David Gauke: I would certainly be interested to receive more information from my hon. Friend when looking at how the victim contact scheme works. If there are other examples where questions have been raised, the review will clearly need to take them into account.
David Gauke: Frankly, different views have been put to me on how the victim contact scheme worked in this particular case. There is conflicting evidence. It is absolutely right that we have the review by Dame Glenys Stacey so that we can properly understand what happened and what lessons can be learned.