§ 31. Mr. John Marshall
To ask the Attorney-General how often he has appealed against the leniency of sentences since he was granted that power.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Derek Spencer)
Since 1 February 1989, when the power to seek leave to appeal against an unduly lenient sentence came into effect, 103 references have been made to the Court of Appeal, including nine references to the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland. As at last Friday, 69 references have been determined. In 56 of those the original sentence has been increased—more than 80 per cent.
§ Mr. Marshall
Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that the Court of Appeal and the Attorney-General have combined to create entirely acceptable sentences that can be applied in future sentencing policy? Does he agree also that the high success rate emphasises the extreme folly of those who opposed the introduction of the new power by this House?
§ The Solicitor-General
My hon. Friend is right. We hear a great deal from the Labour party about justice, but let us examine the Opposition's record when the provisions passed through the House. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said that they were "wrong in principle", had been introduced for political purposes, and would imposepolitical influence and political pressure on sentencing."— [Official Report, 18 January 1988; Vol. 125, c. 692.]That was an astonishing complaint because the letters that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General receives asking for cases to be referred include a considerable number from Labour Members. Have they changed their policy in the meantime?