Saturday, January 15, 2005


Three current news items follow. Morality is forgotten in the new Britain:


Wishy washy penalties now reduced even further

"Jail sentences are to be linked to whether there are enough prison places - for the first time in British history - under government proposals that provoked outrage last night. Judges will be expected to consider the state of prisons and the numbers already in them when deciding if a criminal should be jailed or given a community sentence.

The move, long supported by Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, was part of a Bill that included plans for a huge increase in the maximum fines magistrates can impose. Magistrates will be able to impose a maximum fine of 15,000 pounds compared with the current 5,000 pounds. A new system of day fines will be created which will link an offender's punishment to disposable income as well as the seriousness of the offence. The Bill also allows lie-detector tests to be used on sex offenders who have been released from jail on licence.

The plans to link the sentences handed to criminals to the availability of prison spaces is intended to prevent overcrowding in jails and keep the prison population below the government ceiling of 80,000.

Last night the Opposition said that it was an attempt by the Government to overcome its failure to build enough new prison places to meet a predicted rise in jail population. David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, condemned the move unveiled by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, in the Management of Offenders and Sentencing Bill. He said: "For the first time in British history, sentencing will be decided by economics rather than the merit of an individual case. "It is a disgraceful violation of our criminal justice system and will lead to thousands of criminals getting shorter sentences, or no sentence at all, because the Government has failed to provide enough prison places."

.... the Opposition said that it was an admission that the Government's prison policy had failed. "They have failed to provide more prison places despite the fact that our prisons are bursting at the seams," Mr Davis said. "Those who deserve to be in prison should be in prison - sentencing should be determined by the crime, not by the number of prison places available. It will be the British public who will suffer as a result of this Government's irresponsible policies....."

More here. And for a very embarrassing question about it all, see England Project.

And note that the prison shortage is NOT due to a shortage of money

Another announcement by the same government on the same day:

"Standing in the middle of the African bush yesterday, Gordon Brown said that Britain will pay an extra 1 billion pounds to help poor countries to get rid of their debt. The Chancellor said that the Government would pay 10 per cent of the cost of poor countries' debt to the World Bank, starting today with Tanzania, his second stop in his week-long tour of the continent. Britain would extend this promise to 70 of the world's most indebted countries for the next ten years, which the Treasury estimates at 1.1 billion pounds."


How surprising!

Patricia Hewitt, Trade and Industry Secretary, was forced into an embarrassing climbdown yesterday as an agency she controls agreed, in an out-of-court settlement, to review her controversial decision to water down new anti-bribery rules. In a decision that has landed the taxpayer with up to œ275,000 in legal costs, the agency that underwrites British exports to the developing world bowed to the demands of an anti-corruption campaigner and agreed to consult human rights and other non-corporate groups before finalising Ms Hewitt's changes....

Susan Hawley, research analyst for The Corner House, who brought the case, said: "This case is about ensuring that the coterie of ECGD's customers do not get to dictate the anti-bribery law." Ms Hawley said that she had proof that linked sustained lobbying from Rolls-Royce, BAE and Airbus to Ms Hewitt's decision to water down the new anti-bribery rules. Ms Hawley sent a letter to the DTI last night demanding the right to publish this evidence ahead of the public consultation. Ms Hawley plans to pursue the matter in the High Court if the Government refuses.

Ms Hewitt's revised policy, introduced on November 8, required British exporters to give anti-bribery undertakings in deals only on behalf of those companies it controlled. Under the previous policy, introduced on May 1, exporters to developing countries had to vouch for all affiliates in the deal, increasing the scope for corruption, according to opponents......

More here

No comments: