Dr Julian Lewis: The statement was excellent. My right hon. Friend is clearly revelling in an area of policy in which he has a great deal of expertise. One aspect of which I did not hear mention was the concept of punishment. Some offences, particularly the sort we are dealing with in this context, are absolutely heinous. It baffles the public as to why, for example, someone who led a home invasion in the New Forest that resulted in the burning alive of an entire family, although not until after the woman had been repeatedly raped, should be considered for release at the end of what is admittedly a long sentence. Most people would feel that people forfeit their right to liberty when they commit offences of that gravity. Where does punishment fit into all this?
[The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Dominic Raab): I totally understand the point that my right hon. Friend makes. In truth, parole is about risk and, rightly, public protection. Either the tariff or the overall sentence should deal with the element of punishment, rather than parole. Nevertheless, my right hon. Friend makes an important point. He will know that whether it was Harper’s law, Tony’s law or the wider reforms to sentencing that we are making in the PCSC Bill, we have strengthened sentencing, in the teeth of opposition from Opposition Members.
In fairness, I do need to draw a distinction in respect of the reforms I have set out: they are really about public protection and the amorphous concept of risk in these cases. That itself also goes to the issue of public confidence in relation to the tariff and the punishment element that my right hon. Friend mentioned. Both are important, but with parole we focus on risk. I say that because I want to be clear that we are not adding another sentence on top of a sentence. The question, from the point at which an offender becomes eligible for parole, is whether they satisfy the statutory criteria. Is it safe to release them, or do they present an ongoing risk to public protection? That is the core focus of the reforms I have announced today, but I heed my right hon. Friend’s wider point.]