BUSINESS QUESTION – SENTENCING & AWARDS – 17 March 2005

Dr Julian Lewis: Does the Leader of the House share my profound disappointment at the likelihood that the Parliament will end without a single statement or debate led by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster?

In the absence of that, may we have a statement from a Law Officer or a Constitutional Affairs Minister on the more serious subject of sentencing policy and some of the awards made by courts? Does the Right Hon. Gentleman share my astonishment and dismay at the 18-month sentence that was passed on two louts who threw a boy from a bridge to his death by drowning in a river? Does he also share my dismay about the £567,000 award – 50 times more than the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority could award to the family of a murder victim – that a court made to a boy who had trespassed on factory premises, fallen and suffered a brain injury? Does it not sometimes appear that the law has gone mad in this country?

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Peter Hain): Many members of the public would share the hon. Gentleman's view and we need to keep the matter under review. The two cases that he mentioned were of course different, and different schemes were involved. However, he may find an echo of his views not only among his constituents but many others throughout the country.]