Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am on the side of the Minister in this matter. I do not believe that non-lawyers have anything to apologise for in taking part in debates of this kind. We represent a far larger number of people than do lawyers and we have a political and public position to uphold.
Perhaps a non-lawyer may intervene briefly to try to establish what common ground there is and what it is we are arguing about. We are not arguing about the mandatory life sentence. That issue is not before the House today. There are two views on the matter, but it is part of the law and it has to be accepted. I do not believe that we are even arguing about the merits or otherwise of the amendment that was carried last Monday. There can also be two views on that issue. It was carried by the House, and in my view the Government behaved perfectly honourably by seeking to clean up the amendment to make it acceptable in legislative terms to go to another place. Though I very much respect the views of the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, on these matters, nevertheless the issue decided last Monday is not before us today.
We are speaking today about a marginal issue. The issue is whether, in one type of case onlya mandatory life sentence where there has been no appeal against sentencethere should be an opportunity for the state (it does not matter whether it is the Attorney-General or the Home Secretary in this sense) to appeal against too lenient a sentence. I am very much opposed to excessive
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sentences and I am rather opposed to the idea of appeals against sentences on the ground that the state believes that they are too lenient. I am encouraged in that view by the description given by noble and learned Lords of the lottery that existed in the Court of Appeal a number of years ago. I did not quite understand the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bridge, but I believe that he described it as a rule of terror. That horrifies me. I would hate to think that any amendment would take us back to that. But whatever we may think about it, that issue is not before the House today.
The question before the House today is whether we are completing the object of the amendment which was carried last week by extending it to the power of the Attorney-General to appeal to achieve a more stringent or longer sentence. In pure logic, not emotion, I do not believe that there is an answer to the case put by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner. I do not believe that when he moved his amendment he had thought it out adequately, nor do I believe that he was prepared for the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Monson. I do not believe that it was implicit in what was said in that lengthy debate; but in logic, if that was what was carried last week, we have to carry something on the lines of what the noble and learned Lord has said today.
Lord Bridge of Harwich: My Lords, I should like to correct a mishearing of what I said. The phrase that I used in reference Lord Goddard's regime was that he used the power to increase sentences in terrorem to discourage appellants. If one appealed, one was in danger of having one's sentence increased.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I do not understand that. Is that a reign of terror or not?
Lord Bridge of Harwich: One uses the power in terrorem to discourage people from appealing. Perhaps it is a technical legal expression.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It sounds bad enough to me.
The Deputy Speaker (The Earl of Listowel): The Question is that this amendment be agreed to. As many as are of that opinion will say Content.
Noble Lords: Content.
The Deputy Speaker: To the contrary, Not-Content?
Noble Lords: Not-Content.
Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone: My Lords, I believe that we are discussing the amendment proposed by my noble friend Lady Blatch, which I understand not to be opposed in any way. The words Not-Content which emerged from the Benches behind meI speak not in terrorempossibly resulted from a misunderstanding.
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, I apologise. I believe that we are now terrified.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I believe that, as we have spoken so much about the amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, the House has become rather emotionally attached to voting upon it. The amendment
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that is before the House now is my Amendment No. 1. Therefore, I should call "Content" rather than "Not-Content".
Lord Ackner: My Lords, I took some instruction with regard to this matter. I understand the position to be quite simply that, having moved an amendment to the amendment
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 2:
Recommendation in case of life sentence for murder
After Clause 3, insert the following new clause:
(". After section 11 of the 1968 Act insert
"Appeal against recommendationAppeal against recommendation in case of life sentence for murder.
11A.(1) Where under section 1(2) of the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 a court has made a recommendation to the Secretary of State as to the minimum period which should elapse before he orders the release on licence of a person convicted of murder, the person may appeal to the Court of Appeal against the recommendation.
(2) Subject to subsection (3) below, an appeal under this section lies only with the leave of the Court of Appeal.
(3) If the court which made the recommendation grants a certificate that the case is fit for appeal under this section, an appeal under this section lies without the leave of the Court of Appeal.
(4) On an appeal under this section the Court of Appeal, if they consider that a different recommendation should be made, may
(a) quash the recommendation; and
(b) in place of it declare the period which they recommend to the Secretary of State as the minimum period which should elapse before he orders the appellant's release on licence."").
Division No. 1
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move.
Lord Ackner moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 2, Amendment No. 3:
Line 9, after ("person") insert ("(or the Attorney General if he considers that the recommendation substantially underestimates the gravity of the offence or the danger to the public of such release)").
The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships have heard full argument and submissions on this amendment. On the substantive issue which we debated last Monday I quoted Justice referring in its briefing papers to the substantive amendment as being a modest but useful step towards justice. What I propose in this amendment is a minor consequential amendment. It should follow the consequences of the amendment which was passed by your Lordships last Monday. I beg to move.
On Question, Whether Amendment No. 3, as an amendment to Amendment No. 2, shall be agreed to?
Their Lordships divided: Contents, 99; Not-Contents, 111.
Ackner, L. [Teller.]
Bridge of Harwich, L. [Teller.]
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Hailsham of Saint
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Kenwood, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Allen of Abbeydale, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
De Freyne, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Gray of Contin, L.
Inglewood, L. [Teller.]
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Macleod of Borve, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment No. 3, as an amendment to Amendment No. 2, disagreed to accordingly.
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[Amendment No. 4, as an amendment to Amendment No. 2, not moved.]
On Question, Amendment No. 2 agreed to.
Clause 14 [General provisions about references]:
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): My Lords, I call Amendment No. 5.