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Tuesday 8 November 2011

Who says they're a soft touch on sentencing?

There was more than a titter when it emerged in the House of Commons just now that according to the Government’s proposals on abolishing indeterminate sentences for public protection (IPPs) someone will be in line for a mandatory life term if sentenced for using a nuclear weapon – the second time.

Presumably after the first offence the culprit will be given a probation officer and told to pick up litter in Victoria Gardens.

The issue emerged in a comment from the gnarled Scottish Labour MP Stephen McCabe during Justice Questions with Ken Clarke. McCabe went on: “Allowing for all the Lord Chancellor’s wisdom and guile wouldn’t it be an awful lot smarter to hold someone indefinitely the first time they committed that offence?”

IPPs were introduced in 2005 for a whole range of violent and sexual offences, but are now being abolished by the Government in favour of letting judges use their discretion.

Ken Clarke responded in as dry a voice as he could: “The Government takes a serious view of the use of nuclear weapons.”

On an aside – earlier in the session Labour justice spokesman Sadiq Kahn claimed the Chief Inspector of Prisons had taken a dim view of Government policy and thought “there should be a rocket put up this Justice Secretary’s backside”.

Hopefully the aforesaid inspector won’t be encouraged by the fact that if he makes it a nuclear one he might get away with it on the first strike.

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The exchange between Scottish Labour MP Stephen McCabe and Justice Secretary Ken Clarke reflects a nuanced debate on the abolition of Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs). Clarke's dry humor about the government's view on nuclear weapons adds a touch of wit to a serious discussion. Sadiq Kahn's colorful remark about the Chief Inspector of Prisons injects a dose of levity into the session. Overall, the blog captures the blend of gravity and humor in the political discourse.
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