CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

BUSINESS QUESTION – EARLY RELEASE SCHEMES – 18 October 2007

[Mr Richard Bacon: Does the Leader of the House agree that there are far too many fat Members of Parliament? Speaking as one of them – I feel that I should declare my interest – I welcome the recent report in the Financial Times about proposals to refurbish the House, which include replacing the shooting range with a swimming pool. Will she consider the matter soon, and make a statement?

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman):  ... All hon. Members will have an opportunity to comment on the proposal, as there will be a debate in Westminster Hall later this afternoon on issues that come within the purview of the House of Commons Commission. We want to make sure that all workplaces and neighbourhoods have good exercise and healthy eating facilities. We in the Palace of Westminster are really rather ahead of the game in that respect. ...]

Dr Julian Lewis: Having managed to lose well over a stone since 1 August without so much as dipping a big toe into a swimming pool, may I express some frustration that the highly successful House of Commons shooting team is continually picked on by politically correct people on both sides of the House whenever they want an easy target, especially as we beat the House of Lords every year?

On a more serious note, may I ask the Leader of the House whether she heard on the news yesterday about the couple who tortured their child to death by holding the toddler's limbs over a red-hot cooking plate again and again? They have been sentenced respectively to 12 and six years in prison. Does she agree that if the court sees fit to put monsters like that away for 12 and six years, it is quite wrong that they should be released, as they will be under existing Government policy, after only six and three years? May we have a debate on early release schemes?

[Ms Harman: The House has discussed on numerous occasions the law and practice surrounding the release of prisoners. Of course, sentencing in an individual case is a matter for a judge. If there is a view that a sentence is unduly lenient, the Law Officers can refer the case to the Court of Appeal. The House sets the legislative framework and we debate that at the time at which we pass the relevant laws.]