Amendment 167A (to Amendment 167)

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (7th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords am 9:00 pm ar 12 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd Chair, Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee), Chair, Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee), Chair, Arbitration Bill [HL] Special Public Bill Committee, Chair, Arbitration Bill [HL] Special Public Bill Committee 9:00, 12 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, I add a few sentences to support what has been said so ably by the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and the noble Lord, Lord Moylan. The case for resentencing is compellingly set out in the Justice Select Committee report. I cannot improve on that, certainly not at this late hour, but there are two points I wish to make.

First, there is no doubt that the sentence was imposed for a huge variety of cases. Some people were sentenced to IPP who would have received a discretionary life sentence, and we do not seem to recognise that. The second thing we do not recognise is what Parliament and the Government have done to contribute to this. I recall looking at a number of cases where people were sentenced when the regime was at its most severe. They had characteristics that were alien to British justice. First, there was an assumption of dangerousness unless the judge disapplied it. Secondly, the judge had no discretion if the person was dangerous to send him to prison. Thirdly, it applied to offences that would be characterised, for offences in the Crown Court, as at a low level—two years. The particular cohort that was most unjustly dealt with were those sentenced between 2005 and 2008, when the law was slightly ameliorated.

Secondly, I recall going to Leeds prison in 2005 where I saw that the state had made no proper provision for what was about to overwhelm the state: that is, a large number of people who, by the terms of the sentence, were given the sentence. Over the ensuing years, there were a vast number of cases where people complained that there were not sufficient resources. Again, this was a failure of the state.

Then, as the noble Lord, Lord Clarke of Nottingham, has made very clear, there was another failure: a failure to deal with this problem by changing the law shortly after 2012. It is very important in looking at this matter to bear in mind our responsibility. It is all Parliament’s responsibility—and the Government’s responsibility for carrying it out. As I said earlier today, it is an enormous tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, that he has accepted his responsibility for the failure. We ought to do the same.

I understand why, at this particular time, with an election pending, there is no realistic prospect of people being bold. I hope very much that the steps that the Lord Chancellor has taken may work—it has taken him a great deal of courage to go that far in reducing the tariff period. I hope that we can persuade the Minister that he will make further changes to ameliorate the injustice, but I am not very optimistic. If none of this works, we have at least laid the groundwork for the incoming Government to face up to this problem and remove what everyone accepts is a stain on the character of British justice.