Clause 28

Part of Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 7:15 pm ar 20 Tachwedd 2007.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Shadow Minister (Justice) 7:15, 20 Tachwedd 2007

The amendments are perhaps not ones that I would have tabled, but they are not sufficiently egregious as to require being voted against.

In the context of clause 28, will the Minister agree with me that we should cease the practice that has grown up over the last few years of the Attorney-General, or some other Government Minister, inviting a colleague to table a written parliamentary question calling for a list to be published of individual judges who have been the subject of unduly lenient appeals? I hope that the Minister knows that, once or twice a year, articles appear in several of the tabloids in which individual judges are picked out and subjected to personal criticism—often there are photographs of them. She will be able to imagine the sort of headlines that go with such stories. They are based on written parliamentary questions from Government members to the Minister. She knows the procedure—the planted question. They are designed to cause difficulties, among other things, for those judges.

Nobody knows why a judge in any given case passes a particular sentence, apart from the judge themselves, those listening in court to his or her sentencing remarks, and the Court of Appeal, which will have listened to the arguments of the Attorney-General when the case of the unduly lenient appeal was advanced. If we are to have a system under which judges’ unduly limited sentences are to be appealed—the Conservatives introduced that system when they were in Government—let us leave it at that. However, we should not resort to the organised public abuse of individual judges.