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Column 179

Stevenson, George

Stott, Roger

Strang, Dr. Gavin

Straw, Jack

Sutcliffe, Gerry

Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)

Taylor, Matthew (Truro)

Timms, Stephen

Touhig, Don

Turner, Dennis

Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold

Wallace, James

Walley, Joan

Wardell, Gareth (Gower)

Wareing, Robert N

Welsh, Andrew

Wicks, Malcolm

Wigley, Dafydd

Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)

Wilson, Brian

Winnick, David

Wise, Audrey

Worthington, Tony

Wray, Jimmy

Wright, Dr Tony

Young, David (Bolton SE)

Tellers for the Noes: Mr. Joe Benton and Mr. John Cummings.


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Question accordingly agreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to amendment No. 30: Mr. Alistair Burt, Mr. Tom Clarke, Mr. Piers Merchant, Mr. Gordon McMaster and Mr. Richard Ottaway; Three to be the quorum of the Committee.--[ Dr. Liam Fox .] To withdraw immediately.

PROCEEDS OF CRIME (SCOTLAND) BILL

[ LORDS ]

Read a Second Time.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Sessional Order [19 December], That the Bill be not committed.--[ Dr. Liam Fox. ]

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith and agreed to.

Bill read the Third Time, and passed.


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Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Bill [Lords] Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.--[ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

8.25 pm

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow): I have no wish to hold up the House, but I have an important question about clause 18, in part II, entitled

"Sporting events: control of alcohol etc".

It has been suggested that the sanction contained in the clause should not apply to sporting events

"at which all the participants take part without financial or material reward".

I must remind the Minister of a recent cricket match in Glasgow where there was something of a stramash. It was suggested by a number of witnesses to that unholy incident that those involved were decidedly under the influence of alcohol.

I do not want to force a Division--I suspect that I would not be very popular if I did so--but, because of the increasing habit of drinking alcohol at amateur as well as professional events, the Minister should think again about clause 18(2).

8.26 pm

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord JamesDouglas-Hamilton): I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his remarks. We are making certain inquiries into the recent boxing match and the disgraceful scenes of violence and intimidation that took place there. The hon. Gentleman will have read in the press today that the police have been making inquiries and have followed up on them.

We are investigating the matter, but the Bill is purely a consolidation measure. It does not change the law, but we are not ruling out further changes in the future depending on the results of our inquiries.

8.26 pm

Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton): May I concur with the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman)? As the Minister said, however, the Bill is merely a consolidation measure. The Bill is welcomed by the Opposition because it will make the law more manageable and accessible. I am also sure that it will be welcomed by public and professional bodies because of that. Although we could dispute individual aspects of the Bill, I do not think that this is the right forum for such a discussion. We welcome the consolidation measure.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Sessional Order [19 December], That the Bill be not committed.--[ Dr. Liam Fox .]

Question agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed .


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Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Bill [Lords]

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed , That the Bill be now read a Second time.--[ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

8.28 pm

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow): On the whole the Opposition welcome the Bill, which is a consolidation measure. However, I must draw the Minister's attention to the serious concern felt at the failure of the Crown to use measures that could be taken under the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993. I refer to section 33, which allows the employment of a commissioner in court cases involving the cross-examination of child witnesses. That means that a child can give evidence on commission. Many of us are concerned, however, that screens are being used instead of closed circuit television or the employment of a commissioner. Although I accept the Bill readily, the Government still have much to do to offer protection to child witnesses and other vulnerable witnesses in our courts.

8.29 pm

Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr): I too acknowledge that the Bill is likely to have a fairly swift passage tonight, but I wish to record some dissent with respect to part III, which refers to bail.

I understood that several significant changes would be introduced in the way in which bail would be applied from our courts. I believe that the Bill makes some amendment, but it certainly does not go as far as I was led to understand during the passage of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill earlier this year.

I should therefore like an undertaking from my right hon. Friend the Minister that, perhaps in the not too distant future, bail in Scotland will once again be considered and perhaps some more stringent criteria applied.

8.30 pm

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord JamesDouglas-Hamilton): First, in response to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman), I am well aware of his great concern and efforts on behalf of children and the need to safeguard them. He


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specifically mentioned evidence on commission, closed circuit television and the use of screens, and he obviously believes that children should be given more protection.

I will make inquiries about the up-to-date position. I will draw to the attention of the Lord Advocate the arguments that the hon. Gentleman made and ask for a full letter to be sent to him. To my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) I can say that the Bill merely consolidates existing law. I am well aware of his desire to tighten up on bail. We have severely tightened up on bail already. The Act will be reviewed in due course in the light of experience. No doubt we can return to it in future if there is a further need, just as we returned to the issue of knives when my hon. Friend so successfully piloted a Bill on to the statute book. Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 61 (Committal of Bills) ,

That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House.-- [Dr. Liam Fox.]

Question agreed to.

Bill immediately considered in Committee .

Clauses 1 to 86 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 87

Non-availability of judge

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: I beg to move amendment No. 1, in clause 87, page 63, line 43, leave out `(1)(c)' and insert `(1)(b)(ii) or (3)(b)'.

Clause 87 consolidates section 128 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975 as amended by section 30 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1995. The consolidation failed to reproduce the amendment made at subsection (3) of section 30 of the 1995 Act, which is consequential on the change made earlier in section 30. The amendment is purely consolidation, and I am able to advise the House that Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills, is content that it is pure consolidation, and will not change the character of the Bill. Without the amendment, the consolidation would be inaccurate.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 87, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clauses 88 to 309 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 1 to 10 agreed to.

Bill, as amended, reported; as amended, considered; read the Third time, and passed.


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Criminal Procedure (Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Bill [Lords]

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed , That the Bill be read a Second time.-- [Lord James Douglas-Hamilton]

8.34 pm

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow): On clauses 2 and 3, many of us are deeply worried about what appear to be the over-lenient penalties imposed on people convicted in our High Court of the most serious and violent crimes against the person. I am not alone. I do not think that I am allowed to mention the name of the specific judge, but one High Court judge has been remarkably lenient in the way in which he has treated certain people convicted of horrific crimes.

Perhaps the Minister cannot do it with this Bill, but I hope that he and the Lord Advocate will issue guidelines to sheriffs and High Court judges concerning the need to inflict condign punishment, especially on those convicted of violent crimes against the person. 8.35 pm

Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr): I support what the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) said. The feelings that he expressed are felt throughout the land. There are great anxieties about inconsistencies and perhaps there are great anxieties about those who judge the judges. Who are they? Should we perhaps consider that in future? I suggest that, given the example quoted by the hon. Gentleman, that should be the case.

8.36 pm

Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton): I wish to make a few comments to back up what my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) and the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) said.

On clause 3, I wonder whether the Government have considered the issue of a sentencing commission. We have had inconsistencies in sentencing. In the summer months, one young person was sentenced to gaol for more than two years for stealing £5 from a football pools company


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and the next day a young person was given a community service order for badly beating up a 78-year-old pensioner. That type of inconsistency cannot be allowed.

The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) wrote to me with regard to those cases, saying that he was writing to the Lord Advocate about the matter. The response that the hon. Member for Eastwood received from the Lord Advocate was insufficiently serious in view of the position. That gives the impression that, whether it be the judges or those in charge of the judges, as the hon. Member for Ayr said, a vacuum exists between them and the rest of the community. We urge the Minister to consider that seriously. Perhaps eventually he will be really radical and decide that there should be a judicial committee to appoint judges, which would involve lay people as well, so that the committee can be seen to be acting in the interests of the entire community.

8.37 pm

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord JamesDouglas-Hamilton): First, with regard to guidelines, I will ask theLaw Officer, the Lord Advocate, to write to my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) and to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman). We have made it clear that we want more honesty in sentencing, that we intend to consult in due course before legislation is considered and that we wish sentences to approximate more closely to what the court passes.

As hon. Members will appreciate, the judiciary is independent of the Government. Those matters will be borne in mind. As I mentioned, it is a consolidation measure.

Question put and agreed to .

Bill accordingly read a Second time .

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Sessional Order [ 19 December ], That the Bill be not committed.--[ Dr. Liam Fox. ]

Question agreed to .

Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.


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