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Sentence Referrals

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Solicitor-General on how many occasions in each of the last five years for which figures are available her Department was unable to complete the usual procedures in handling requests for referral of a sentence to the Court of Appeal on the grounds of undue lenience within the required time limit. [53396]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 2 May 2002]: The Attorney and I have been able to consider and take a decision in all cases received at his office within the time limit.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Solicitor-General what deadlines and time limits exist on the referral of sentences to the Court of Appeal on the grounds of undue lenience; and if she will make a statement. [53397]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 2 May 2002]: The Attorney-General has the power (under section 35 and 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988) to refer a sentence for a specified category of offences, to the Court of Appeal for review, if it appears to be not merely lenient but unduly so. Schedule 3 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 specifies that notice of an application for leave to refer a case to the Court of Appeal shall be given to the Registrar of Criminal Appeals within 28 days from the day on which the sentence, or the last of the sentences, in the case was passed. This period cannot be extended.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on the procedure undertaken by her Department upon receipt of a request to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal on the grounds of undue lenience. [53398]

Solicitor General: [holding answer 2 May 2002]: The Attorney receives requests to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal on the grounds of undue lenience from two sources.

The first source is the prosecuting authority (such as the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office etc.), which conducted the case against the offender. The written request is accompanied by various documents. These invariably include, but are not limited to, the following:





The Attorney gives due consideration to the information and takes into account Counsel's advice. He is however not bound to follow the advice Counsel offers.

The Attorney also receives requests for referral to the Court of Appeal from members of the public and also Members of this House. In such circumstances the relevant prosecutorial authority is approached and is required to provide the above stated documents.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Solicitor-General how many requests to refer sentences to the Court of Appeal on the grounds of undue lenience her Department

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has received in each of the last five years for which records are available from (a) the CPS and (b) other sources. [53445]

Solicitor General: [holding answer 2 May 2002]: Relevant records are only available for the year 2000 onwards. The following figures are available. These figures represent the number of offenders whose cases were referred to the Attorney General's office on the grounds of undue leniency:

YearCPSOther sources
200013627
200122649

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Solicitor-General how many sentences have been referred to the Court of Appeal on the grounds of undue lenience following representations from (a) the CPS and (b) other sources in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [53444]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 2 May 2002]: Relevant records are only available for the year 2000 onwards. The following figures are available. These figures represent the number of offenders whose cases were referred to the Court of Appeal.

CPSOther sources
2000876
200113618

Dublin Monaghan Bombing

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Solicitor-General what funds have been set aside to conduct a defence in proceedings brought by families of victims of the Dublin Monaghan bombing. [53514]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 2 May 2002]: No funds have been set aside to conduct a defence of proceedings brought by families of the Dublin Monaghan bombing. In the event that proceedings are commenced, then the Department responsible for defending the action will be billed after the event in the normal way in respect of any work done. No proceedings are currently on foot.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Solicitor-General what solicitors he has appointed to represent the Government in proceedings brought by families of victims of the Dublin Monaghan bombing. [53513]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 2 May 2002]: In the event that any proceedings are issued, the British Government will be represented by the Treasury Solicitor instructing local (Dublin) agents as necessary.

Sovereign Immunity

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Solicitor-General in how many Northern Ireland conflict-related cases sovereign immunity has been sought since 1980; what reasons were given in each case; and what rulings were subsequently made by each court or tribunal. [53512]

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The Solicitor-General [holding answer 2 May 2002]: From the research that has been possible in the time available, I am aware of three cases in which a claim of sovereign immunity has been made or intimated in Northern Ireland conflict-related cases.

The cases are:


Sovereign immunity is an elementary principle of international law which states that in general an independent sovereign state may not be sued in the courts of a foreign state against its will and without its consent. One factor of relevance is which is the most convenient forum for the claim to be heard, and it is noteworthy from the McGovern case that Ms McGovern was able successfully to pursue her claim in the Courts of Northern Ireland.

PRIME MINISTER

Sellafield

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Prime Minister how many pieces of correspondence in connection with the Irish Government campaign with regard to Sellafield he has received; what recent discussions he has had with the Government of the Irish Republic on this matter; and if he will make a statement. [53950]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) in the House on 1 May 2002, Official Report, column 941.

Ministerial Visits

Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on (a) security issues and (b) nuclear weapons in respect of his visit to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in January; and what representations he has received regarding the state of intergovernmental relations in the sub-continent. [54212]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 11 January 2002, Official Report, column 1034W.

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We remain deeply concerned by the continuing tensions between India and Pakistan. We have called on Pakistan to ensure an end to cross-border terrorism, and on both sides to resume a dialogue so that a lasting solution can be found to the issues between them.

Gibraltar

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Prime Minister what meetings he plans to hold with the Prime Minister of Spain to discuss the future of Gibraltar within the Brussels process; and what discussions he has had with the Prime Minister of Spain about Gibraltar since the European Council's meeting at Barcelona. [54602]

The Prime Minister: I talk to the Spanish Prime Minister frequently on a range of EU and foreign policy issues, and I look forward to seeing him at our next planned meetings on 17 and 20 May. I have not discussed Gibraltar with Mr. Aznar since the European Council in Barcelona.


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