Constitutional Affairs Committee

Press notice No. 28 of Session 2006-07

             24 May 2007


The Constitutional Affairs Committee today launched an inquiry entitled Towards Effective Sentencing. This inquiry was originally launched by the Home Affairs Committee on 6 February 2007. Following the recent Machinery of Government changes, on 9 May, the Department for Constitutional Affairs became the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The Committee’s remit therefore covers all the areas for which the MoJ has responsibility including sentencing.

The Terms of Reference for the inquiry are as follows:

• What are the main drivers for the current size of the prison population?

• What solutions are there to counter the current trend towards higher numbers of people being imprisoned?

• To what extent are prisons occupied by people who should not be there?

• What should be done about people in prison for whom more constructive options than custody may be appropriate (i.e. alternatives to remand in custody, restorative justice, prosecutorial diversion etc)?

• What approach should be taken to vulnerable people in custody (i.e. some women, young people, and those suffering from mental health and addiction problems)?

• To what extent is the traditional approach to sentencing sustainable (i.e. to take no account of the extent to which prison resources are available) or should resources be part of judges' thinking when sentencing?

• If so, how should this be done? Should there be specific legislation to cover this?

Please note: All evidence previously submitted to the Home Affairs Committee has been  passed onto the Constitutional Affairs Committee in connection with this inquiry, and is subject to the same terms and conditions. Please do not submit duplicate submissions in response to this Press Notice.


The Committee will hold its first evidence session for its inquiry Towards Effective Sentencing.

Details of the oral evidence session are as follows:

Tuesday 5 June in The Grimond Room, Portcullis House

At 4.45pm: Rt Hon David Hanson MP, Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

A transcript of the session will be available (within 5 days) on the Reports and Publications page of the Committee’s website:

Call for evidence:

Written evidence should if possible be in Word or rich text format-not PDF format-and sent by e-mail to The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions must address the terms of reference. They should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum and should be no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include an executive summary. Further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere, though previously published work can be referred to in a submission and submitted as supplementary material. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THAT COMMITTEES ARE NOT ABLE TO INVESTIGATE INDIVIDUAL CASES.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter or e-mail.

1. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon Alan Beith MP (Chairman), David Howarth MP, Siân James MP, Mr Piara S Khabra MP, Jessica Morden MP, Julie Morgan MP, Robert Neill MP, Mr Andrew Tyrie MP, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Jeremy Wright MP

Further Information:

Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges Palmer 020 7219 0724 email:

Specific Committee Information: Tel 020 7219 8196/ 8198, email:

Committee Website:

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:

Select Committee Calendar:

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474).  Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on