§ Lord Gainford
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What decision has been reached about the recommendation from the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice that the present system of sentence discounts should be more clearly articulated, with earlier pleas attracting higher discounts.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)
My right honourable friend has decided to accept the Royal Commission's recommendation that the courts' existing practice of giving credit for early guilty pleas in the form of discounts on sentence should be more clearly articulated, by putting it on a statutory basis. My right honourable friend therefore intends to table an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill, requiring those passing sentence to take account of the timing and other circumstances of a plea of guilty, and, where a discount is given, to indicate the fact. In so doing, my right honourable friend has taken into account that early pleas of guilty not only save valuable court time, but also spare the victims of crime the anxiety which many feel at the prospect of describing their ordeal in evidence.