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Lord Renton: My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, I wonder whether she will kindly confirm that the Home Secretary is answerable to both Houses of Parliament for the various decisions which she has mentioned.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I can confirm that. I can also confirm that he is subject to judicial review which is yet another check and balance in the system.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Ackner: My Lords, he is only subject to judicial review not by way of an appeal process but if he has acted wholly irrationally in the decision which he has reached. I shall be brief. I have only a few points to make. There has been a risk of this modest amendment being diverted on the basis of re-arguing the question of the wisdom of the mandatory life sentence. This amendment neither touches nor concerns that matter at all, as the noble Baroness has frankly accepted. It leaves the Home Secretary's discretion entirely intact. He can do what he wishes. What it does do is to produce a more open system so that some of the anomalies between the two types of life sentences do not exist.

With regard to the question which was posed to me as to whether with this amendment the Court of Appeal would have the power to increase the recommendation made by the trial judge, I would have thought the answer is clearly yes. But the procedure which would be adopted would no doubt be by process of the Attorney-General seeking to move the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) as he does in other cases where it is alleged there has been under-sentencing. That is the procedure that I would assume would occur. I hope that answers the question.

With regard to the adoption of what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, I would only say this. He raised specifically the question about openness, and that is what determined his attitude. He asked the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice—as is stated in Hansard—

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell, was anxious that the private letter should cease. He is now supporting it. Back came the answer—again at col. 1480—

    "Most certainly; I am sorry if that has not been made clear. I thought that I had sufficiently referred many times to openness rather than to a situation behind closed doors. It is precisely to get rid of the behind the scenes letter from, first of all, the trial judge and then, secondly, the Lord Chief Justice that this measure should in my submission be supported by the Committee".

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell, then said—again at col. 1480—

    "I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord. The views of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice as to the type of practice directions that will be given will be recorded in Hansard. It is on that basis of implementation that this amendment is supported".

That is a total U-turn, but fellow feeling makes us wondrous wise and this may be another example of a difficult brief.

23 Jun 1995 : Column 554

I end by saying that the House has had the benefit of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales saying in terms that this amendment to the process to which it is directed would make that process more "effective, more open and more fair". His submissions have been supported by a former Lord Chief Justice, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lane, and they have also been supported by the former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, my noble and learned friend Lord Lowry. His Christian name is so well known that I almost forgot his surname. In these circumstances I have no hesitation in inviting your Lordships to prefer the course of justice to that of convenience, which are the rival contestants in this case. Accordingly, I commend the amendment to the House.

4.49 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 142; Not-Contents, 126.

Division No. 1


Ackner, L. [Teller.]
Addington, L.
Airedale, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Barnett, L.
Beloff, L.
Blackstone, B.
Bridge of Harwich, L.
Bridges, L.
Brightman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Craigavon, V.
Dahrendorf, L.
David, B.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Derwent, L.
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Donaldson of Lymington, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Ezra, L.
Falkender, B.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Glasgow, E.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grey, E.
Hacking, L.
Halsbury, E.
Hamwee, B.
Hanworth, V.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harrowby, E.
Haskel, L.
Hayter, L.
Healey, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hoffmann, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hood, V.
Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Howell, L.
Hunt of Tanworth, L.
Hylton, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Ilchester, E.
Jauncey of Tullichettle, L.
Jay, L.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennet, L.
Kinloss, Ly.
Lane, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lincoln, Bp.
Lloyd of Berwick, L.
Lockwood, B.
Longford, E.
Lowry, L. [Teller.]
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McNair, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Marsh, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Mayhew, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Monson, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Mustill, L.
Nelson, E.
Nicol, B.
Ogmore, L.
Oliver of Aylmerton, L.
Peston, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Rathcavan, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Richard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E.
Sainsbury, L.
Sandwich, E.
Seear, B.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Shaughnessy, L.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Slynn of Hadley, L.
Stallard, L.
Stedman, B.
Steyn, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Strafford, E.
Taylor of Gosforth, L.
Templeman, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Wallace of Coslany, L.
Waverley, V.
Weatherill, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
White, B.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Windlesham, L.
Woolf, L.
Wyatt of Weeford, L.
Young of Dartington, L.


Aberdare, L.
Addison, V.
Ailsa, M.
Aldington, L.
Allen of Abbeydale, L.
Annaly, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Astor, V.
Balfour, E.
Barber, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Borthwick, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Butterworth, L.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnock, L.
Carrington, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L.
Clanwilliam, E.
Cochrane of Cults, L.
Cockfield, L.
Courtown, E.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Cumberlege, B.
Davidson, V.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Ellenborough, L.
Elles, B.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fitt, L.
Foley, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gainford, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greenhill of Harrow, L.
Hambro, L.
Harlech, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Henley, L.
Hives, L.
Hogg, B.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hothfield, L.
Howe, E.
Inglewood, L. [Teller.]
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L.
Kimball, L.
Kingsland, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lauderdale, E.
Layton, L.
Lindsay, E.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Long, V.
Lucas, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Macleod of Borve, B.
Manton, L.
Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Melville, V.
Merrivale, L.
Mersey, V.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Milverton, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Mountevans, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Munster, E.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Newall, L.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Orkney, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Romney, E.
St. Davids, V.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Shannon, E.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Skidelsky, L.
Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Sudeley, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Ullswater, V.
Vivian, L.
Whitelaw, V.
Wise, L.
Young, B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

23 Jun 1995 : Column 556

4.59 p.m.

Lord Bridge of Harwich moved Amendment No. 2:

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