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Noble Lords: No!

Lord Williams of Mostyn: --that I am tempted to say that £100 million is a mere bagatelle and that £25,000 is nothing. I cannot do that. We must direct our resources in the most productive way possible. We must attend to drug and alcohol abuse. It is a shock to know how prevalent hard drug use is among young people. Such drugs are readily available, and we deceive ourselves when we say that it will not be our child next.

I should like to deal with questions raised by the noble Baroness and the noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, about the "Panorama" programme on methadone. Some of your Lordships will be aware that last year the Department of Health published a report on the review of treatment services. It concluded that methadone

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programmes had a valuable role in some cases. We intend to set up a drugs tsar, if that is the right word. Doubtless I shall be in trouble tomorrow. This drugs chieftain--I bear in mind what happened to the last tsar, and I shall now be in even greater trouble tomorrow--will have as one of his or her duties an urgent review of our present strategy and will make recommendations. I can assure both the noble Baroness and the noble Viscount that that will include a review of treatment provision, including the provision of methadone.

This man or woman is to lead the fight against drugs and co-ordinate effective treatment programmes. A number of noble Lords, not least my noble friend Lord Graham of Edmonton, urged the necessity for cohesion and co-ordination. I agree entirely. I am happy to be able to state in this context that the Home Secretary will chair a ministerial group to deal with issues of this nature. They cannot be divided into individual departmental responsibilities. Welfare to work has already begun to be co-ordinated. As a matter of record, not speculation, the Chancellor in another place this afternoon announced that his Budget, if brought into law, would allocate £3.5 billion over the life of this Parliament, including £500 million from the reserve, to welfare to work projects. That means that we expect 250,000 young people to have the opportunity for skills training and work.

I firmly believe--it is a belief based on a reasonable practical experience--that what most people want as assistance to a decent life is security, order and the opportunity to work. There is virtually no one in our society who, if given a free and informed choice, would choose not to work. Work, apart from its moral component, gives structure to the day, dignity to the life and the ability that everyone wants to better himself or herself. This is not a party political point. If it takes even half that number to work, I believe that it will be an invaluable benefit to all who live in our country.

The earlier that young people offend, the worse their prospects. Therefore, we want to trigger intervention as early as possible in a potential offending career. I agree entirely with what has been said, not least by the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, who has had so much experience of these matters over many years, that delays in the criminal justice youth system have become a cancer. The system has become much more important than the offence, the offender or victim. There is no doubt that the system is being manipulated so that delay is at the centre of it all. I deliberately mix my metaphors when I state that curiously delay is the dynamo that controls the engine. We are determined that young offenders should be dealt with promptly, efficiently and effectively. It is much better for them, for the victims and for the state of our civil society.

We want partnerships. I am most gratified to have the support of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, and that of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester on the approach that we wish to develop. We intend to place a responsibility on local authorities together with the police to develop statutory partnerships. Those partnerships will have as their declared aim the improvement of community safety and the prevention of crime. Your Lordships have given

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many examples to which I have listened with great interest. There are many examples of local people coming together and jointly tackling crime and disorder. The noble Lord, Lord Gisborough, provided a number of useful examples. But that is presently insufficient. They are isolated examples. In many areas the foundations to which the noble Lord referred have simply not been laid and it is too hit and miss.

Therefore, we propose to impose this duty on authorities and hope that they recognise it will be to the public benefit. I also hope that they will shoulder the burden willingly--for burden it will be. We want that responsibility to be the co-ordination of a framework that involves all those who have relevant input. That does not involve simply the police or the local authorities but the business community. I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Elton. Although I am not aware of his specific example, I am aware of others. My noble friend Lord Judd spoke of voluntary organisations. One has in mind the Churches and other organisations that have been mentioned by noble Lords. Their work and purpose will be required to be complementary, mutually supportive and--this is a fundamental point--wholly focused on local problems. We believe that local initiatives and co-operation are the key to crime prevention and dealing with juvenile crime. Not all areas are the same, as a number of noble Lords have pointed out.

I hope that your Lordships agree that a certain amount of reflective thought has gone into these proposals which will be more fully set out in a White Paper to be published later this year. A crime and disorder Bill is intended to be introduced later this year. The courts will be given new powers, one of which will be a community safety order. That will be made on the application of the police and local authority and it will be addressed to a named individual. Many, many people who suffer from crime are themselves poor and disadvantaged. If one is poor one is more likely to be burgled. If one is poor and burgled it is much worse than if one is wealthy and insured. Although the distress may be the same, the well off can recover if they are insured. If one car is stolen another one may be available. A large section of our fellow citizens live on inner city estates, although we should not overlook rural crime and its problems. We find it difficult to understand or even contemplate the distress and fear that people suffer. I refer to old people who live on their own and isolated single parents without their own transport and substantial financial resources. That should not be overlooked. Community safety orders will be available to be directed to those by way of prohibition who have put innocent people in distress or fear in what should be the sanctuary and sanctum of their homes.

Those named in the orders will be told what they cannot do and where they must not go. It will be based on the balance of probabilities which is the civil law test, because it will be a civil injunction rather than a criminal penalty. However, if there are breaches of such orders there will be firm penalties. We want consistency in sentencing of young offenders as well as adult offenders. We have promised in the manifesto that we shall invite the Court of Appeal to set down sentencing

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guidelines beyond the work that it has already done. We propose to extend the powers of the Attorney to appeal unduly lenient sentences.

We fund independent crime prevention organisations. Crime Concern receives £750,000 a year towards its running costs.

I do not deal specifically, because I do not have the time in my allotted span of 20 minutes, with the many organisations which have given support, both moral and financial, to the sort of initiatives that were spoken of earlier. To deal with the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Elton, that I was somewhat startled when he said that those policies were coming too late, some of the activities which are supported relate to quite a young age. I took his rebuke in the gentle way in which it was put--Kickstart is for seven to 15 year-olds, which is pretty young; Crucial Crew is another one for nine to 11 year-olds; SPLASH activity programmes--entirely the point made by the noble Lord--are intended to keep young people out of trouble in the long school holidays when parents may be away; there is nothing to do; and the temptation to do something by way of taking and driving away or simple burglaries, becomes very, very powerful indeed. We have those schemes.

I have had to say, and I cannot repeat it with any more persuasive apology, because I cannot open my book of postal orders and donate them, that I hope your Lordships will take from me the Government's deeply felt commitment, in conjunction with many others from many other parts of the political spectrum, to attack this problem at its core to see whether we cannot be more successful in the future than all governments have been in the past.

Questions were asked about diet in prisons. The noble Earl was kind enough to forewarn me of the matter and so I have my reply reasonably composed and ready. There was a study by Dr. Jonathan Brostof from University College Hospital. It had some financial support from the Home Office. It was carried out on a sample of 100 juvenile offenders. It came to the conclusion that bad diet was not connected to delinquency. However, in answer to the noble Earl's second point about the ethical suitability of providing prisoners with different diets, there are two other studies at Aylesbury and Deerbolt young offender institutions. Deerbolt--this takes up the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Kitchener--showed nutritional deficiencies and/or high toxic metal levels in all those who were tested. The Aylesbury study is continuing to look at the question that the noble Earl raised as to whether nutritional supplements are likely to reduce violence and disciplinary incidents in young offender institutions.

I can feel the eyes of the former Chief Whip boring into my back, because the one thing I have learned in your Lordships' House is that when the Clock says "19" it really means "20". I hope that I have been able to assure your Lordships of at least the following; first, we are genuinely grateful that your Lordships have had this opportunity to debate the issue--too short in fact if I think back to the time spent on the referendums Bill last night, which might perhaps have been shaved slightly so that we might have had more opportunities

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to discuss these pressing questions. Secondly, we are determined--I believe that we have a good, fair wind of public support from all sections of the community; thirdly, we do not regard it as a party political interest. I repeat, to treat it as such is demeaning, and, ultimately, likely to be wholly non-productive. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Elton, once more. He has laboured a long time in this vineyard as we all know so well.

6.23 p.m.

Lord Elton: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for that wind up and indeed for all he has said. I often wonder whether it would not be better if Ministers spoke at the beginning of debates and gave their answers first, because one's debate would be so much more relevant. We have the White Paper coming, and we can make good the deficiency then.

I, too, am under constraint of time. At the beginning there were many issues, such as the final warning, which I wanted to raise but which I had to leave out, and we must leave that for a later time. If I were to thank every participant in the debate, as I would wish, and give them 20 seconds each, I would have to take seven minutes, which is longer than many of them have spoken. So I must thank them collectively.

However, I single out the noble Lord, Lord Evans, and congratulate him on his considerable success, and his emphasis on the need to prevent crime rather than to punish it, to make punishment unnecessary. I congratulate the right reverend Prelate not just on his attention to parenting--something I have supported since the recommendation of my report on discipline in schools in 1984--but on the priority he gives to alternatives to custody.

We have ranged through the dietary with the noble Earls, Lord Kitchener and Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, to the financial. I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, about the gap between different departments. In my experience in government, where it lies with one department to apply a cost-saving solution and the savings from that solution lie with a different department, it does not get applied. If the Minister can do anything to get the savings from a reduction in juvenile offending reflected into the Home Office, which would save staggering amounts in the Prison Service, that is something his co-ordinating committee could well do.

I shall not detain your Lordships longer, except to thank the noble Earl, Lord Longford, not just for his kind remarks but for his emphasis on the necessity of early treatment--Kickstart is a good example of that.

This is a vast problem. One dimension of it is moral or religious. It depends upon a change of heart in the community, which can start in the schools and the churches. Another part of it is financial. There is, I repeat, a vast sleeping army ready to help the Minister and his government in aims which we all share if they can only be given--"kickstart" is a good word--a small amount of money each to start their little football team, jazz band, painting club, mountaineering expedition, white water rafting, debating society, graffiti-expunging

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crew, or whatever it may be. That should be done centrally. It is a large amount of money. The money at the moment is being spent far less profitably on punishment than it could on prevention. Leaving that thought in your Lordships' mind, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

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