Ken Clarke: No row about criminal rehabilitation plans

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke today denied there was any Cabinet rift over his sentencing proposals which could see thousands fewer offenders jailed.







Mr Clarke said he was "used to tough times" and has "never had a popular policy to implement in my life".



But he insisted there were no conflicts between him and Prime Minister David Cameron or Home Secretary Theresa May over the plans, which focus on rehabilitation as a way to cut reoffending rates, saying he had "totally cross-Cabinet support".



Mrs May echoed the mantra of her predecessor Lord Howard, who has described the proposals as "fatally flawed", yesterday as she told MPs: "Prison works but it must be made to work better."



But today Mr Clarke said: "I looked at what she said and she said exactly the same things.



"Prison is the right punishment for serious criminals. Prison does give some relief from crime whilst they're inside.



"Prison at the moment is not succeeding in getting reoffending rates down from where they are, which is why we have rehabilitation.



"There isn't actually any disagreement."



Giving evidence to the Commons justice select committee, Mr Clarke went on: "The Government is run on particularly collective lines.



"All the policy, including the documents I'm consulting on, including the announcements I've made on the court system, on legal aid and on sentencing, have been cleared by all my colleagues.



"Discussed in Cabinet meetings, discussed with the Prime Minister, all of them.



"I have not been producing this from isolation in the Ministry of Justice."



He added that the "mainstream of the policy" was not attracting "any great resistance" and he was not aware of "any great criticism" on the focus on cutting reoffending



"Of course there's criticism of some parts," he said.



It "tends to be rather theoretical criticism", he added, that "the gist of this, which we estimate will lead to a reduction in the prison population, is somehow flawed because it will lead to a reduction in the prison population".



Yesterday, Lord Howard said the focus on reoffending was "like solving only one side of a Rubik's Cube".



Writing in The Times, he said the Green Paper makes only "a couple of cursory nods" to the idea that a prison sentence "protects the public and provides peace of mind".



But he said: "This is totally inconsistent with Mr Clarke's persistent denial that the rise in the prison population that has taken place since 1993 has anything to do with the near-halving in crime that has taken place over the same period.



"It is a pity that so many worthy proposals in the Green Paper should be marred by what can only be described as a flawed ideology that has led to the wrong prescription for the future of our criminal justice system."



Under the proposals, judges would be given more discretion over sentences, foreign nationals could escape jail as long as they leave the UK forever, young offenders could have their slates wiped clean when they reach 18 so they are not hindered by a criminal record and those who plead guilty early could have their sentences halved.



The Government's plans immediately came under fire from Tory backbenchers worried criminals would avoid being sent to prison.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss