Criminals will no longer get time off their prison sentence simply for pleading guilty when the evidence is stacked against them, under reforms unveiled yesterday.
John Reid, the Home Secretary, also announced that prisoners jailed for life would lose the right automatically to be considered for parole half way through their sentence.
The latest reforms were the second in a series of announcements designed to restore public confidence in the Home Office.
Earlier this week, Dr Reid announced plans to move senior officials and sack hundreds of managers, diverting the money into front line services.
Next week, Immigration Minister Liam Byrne (Hodge Hill) will unveil a shake-up of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.
Dr Reid also confirmed plans to build 8,000 new prison places.
But reforms to the criminal justice system will not include repealing or reforming the Human Rights Act, he said. Instead, Ministers will devise a range of schemes to make existing laws work better.
Two major planks of sentencing policy, introduced only last year, will be reformed under Dr Reid's proposals.
Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which came into force last April, prisoners can be released halfway through a life term.
A report published by Dr Reid yesterday admitted : "We believe it is wrong to automatically apply this principle to 'halving' the sentence tariffs for dangerous offenders."
The same Act created the Sentencing Guidelines Council which introduced rules for judges to say an offender who pleads guilty at an early stage should get a one third discount on their sentence.
But the report said: "We want judges to have more discretion, so that they no longer have to reduce the minimum sentence they impose by up to a third."
Dr Reid also revealed that the Government is to increase the maximum penalty for carrying a knife in a public place or school from two to four years.
This is unlikely to satisfy campaigners, who have called for a mandatory five-year jail term for those caught carrying a knife without reasonable excuse.
The action plan also proposed:
* New powers for probation officers to increase an offend-er's punishment.
* A new National Enforcement Service to clamp down on people who fail to pay court fines or comply with orders.
* New summary powers for police and others to deal with low-level offending and anti-social behaviour.
* Removing 500,000 cases from the courts system by moving crimes such as TV licence-dodging and minor motoring offences out of the courtroom to be dealt with in a bulk processing centre.
The Home Secretary insisted his action plan was not just a knee-jerk response to recent controversies.
"It is not a headline-grabbing document, it is a substantial document which is looking at some of the real problems that are of concern to real people in the real world," he said.
Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, backed the plans.
He said: "Tough sentences for the most serious and prolific offenders is one of a range of factors that can help deter criminality."
But Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of probation union Napo, attacked many of Dr Reid's proposals.
He said: "The system does not need yet more legislative changes, it needs a period of stability."