I will be brief. I want to urge the Minister to preside over a system where the courts are blind to the gender of a defendant and blind to their race or their sexuality. I was brought up with the belief that everybody was equal before the law, and that is the system that I want the Minister to preside over. It quite clearly is not the case at the moment. For every single category of offence—every single one, according to the Ministry of Justice’s own figures—a woman is less likely to be sent to prison than a man, is likely to be sent to prison for a shorter period and will spend less of their sentence in prison.
We have today a “belief in equality only when it suits” brigade. They do not want equality in sentencing or how the courts deal with people. They want to plead for special circumstances. All the things that Kate Green said at the outset about women in prison with trauma, mental health problems, domestic abuse or self-harm issues apply to many male prisoners in exactly the same way. This is not unique to female prisoners. Many male prisoners have exactly the same troubled backgrounds. She also talked about children—when sentencing, the impact on children should be considered when sentencing mothers. What about considering the impact of sentencing fathers on those children? Men have children too. Many women, it has to be said, have already had their kids taken off them before they are sent to prison because they are unfit to be mothers, according to the Ministry of Justice.