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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Henley and Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, for the tone that they have adopted. I personally think it is much more fruitful if we can, together, recognise that we share common aims. In particular, the Crime and Disorder Bill contains a good deal of detailed material. If amendments are put forward which are designed to be helpful, I shall welcome them. We do not claim the monopoly on wisdom.

It is self-evident that not every idea in the Statement and the White Paper is new. The Home Secretary is intent upon drawing forward and together various strands. We do not claim to be the author of every single

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idea. Some of the ideas have been discussed by people in the youth justice field for a very long time. The truth is, the discussion must come to an end and we must focus our resources on what we can do. No one in your Lordships' House would pretend that the youth justice system--the way we treat young offenders and the way we seek to stop them becoming the adult recidivists of tomorrow--is at all effective.

The total cost of the White Paper measures to be taken forward in the Crime and Disorder Bill will be about £22 million. The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, is quite right to say that the local child curfew is expected to operate within existing resources. It is permissive-- I should express that a little more gently: it is a matter for local choice and option. One would expect local authorities to use their resources as they think appropriate since not all local authorities have the same problem. We prefer to leave it to local authorities, since some have particular problems concerning young children while others do not experience the same problems.

The noble Lord, Lord Henley, asked me three distinct questions. Again, I am grateful to him, as always, for offering me the opportunity to write to him. There will be a need for further primary legislation beyond the Crime and Disorder Bill. That relates to a question put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers. "Shortly" means before the Christmas Recess. The noble Lord, Lord Henley, has the decency to smile because he often used to say, "shortly", followed by, "This Government are not complacent". I shall omit that statement, and say that "shortly" means before the Christmas Recess.

As regards secure accommodation, the previous government had made plans--I do not say that in any carping sense--which have not yet been fulfilled for reasons that may well be understandable. We shall consult carefully with local authorities, recognising that they have problems with resources. There are resources implications if we are to have secure accommodation in the local authority context rather than in the context of secure establishments, which are sometimes hundreds of miles away from a child's home. We bear in mind the important need for many young offenders, even if they have to leave their families, to remain in reasonable contact with the local community as far as is reasonably possible.

I have no up-to-date details on Colchester--not even the most assiduous and inventive official had thought that I might be asked that particular question. I shall take up the opportunity so courteously offered to me and write to the noble Lord.

The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, is quite right to say that we must knit together those various themes--inferior housing, neglect of the inner cities, one-parent families and poverty. I do not believe that anyone with experience in that field could possibly dissent from what he said. That is why we regard the different schemes such as Welfare to Work as extremely important. It is not simply welfare to work for parents, but welfare to work for young offenders coming out of prison. That was part of the context that I tried to explain to the House in relation to the tagging system for the final two-month period of short-term sentences.

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The question of remand places is extremely important. It seems to us that there are two distinct aspects. First, there is the deeply worrying problem of 15 to 16-year olds being remanded inappropriately; secondly, there is the counter side to that particular coin: some young offenders are undoubtedly being released into the community when they should not be. That is not a draconian or pre-Dickensian view. It is no favour to a child to let him out to run up a longer charge sheet, eventually to be dealt with inadequately and to gain a lasting impression that the law means nothing and the victim is of no account.

There is a philosophic underpinning to all that has been thought about by the Home Secretary and his colleagues for some time. We cannot simply have piecemeal remedies for what is a fundamental blight on our society. The noble Lord invited me to comment earlier about the problems of inadequates in prison, and prison being treated, for some, simply as a dump or dustbin. They are let out into society no better than when they went into detention, and quite often a good deal worse. We must adopt a fundamental approach in order to attend to youth justice and see to it that children do not just drift into crime.

The reason that specifics were included in the Statement, which did not include the aspects to which the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, referred, is that, statistically, it is plain--and a very dismal thought--that one can predict with a reasonable degree of scientific accuracy which children will become offenders on the indicators that we all know so well. The Home Secretary's Statement was pointing to those indicators as something to which we must attend. They are well-known to anyone who has had experience of Home Office affairs for some time.

Therefore, generally, I repeat that I welcome the offer of co-operation. I assure your Lordships that when amendments are put forward, whether they are probing or intended to reconstruct particular clauses, your Lordships will not find from me the response "Resist, resist, resist", if there is merit and value in the amendments put forward.

6.17 p.m.

Lord Murray of Epping Forest: My Lords, I very much welcome the Statement of fundamental change that we have heard this afternoon, and in particular the extremely positive emphasis on alternatives to custody in which offenders and their families will be forced to face up to what is happening to them and to change, and be given an incentive to change in their own self-interest. As the Minister said, the present system has failed in terms of recidivism, and it must be given to few Front Bench spokesmen to bring forward a programme which simultaneously offers hope to young people and saves a great deal of money, at least in the longer term, for the Government.

I therefore express the hope that the Government will be able to find, from the £43 million referred to earlier, at least a modest amount in order to build on the existing scheme to which reference was made. For example, the scheme run in East Kilbride by NCH Action for

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Children has produced significant reductions in recidivism and has sent some youngsters back into that very deprived community with at least the intention and hope of leading a better life in future. I hope that possibly 5 per cent. or 10 per cent. of that £43 million will be made available to local authorities and voluntary organisations in order to extend the provisions emphasised by the noble Lord and offer some help to youngsters and to the rest of us.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am grateful for those comments by my noble friend Lord Murray of Epping Forest. On a number of earlier occasions, he and I have discussed those topics on an informal basis. I must say that the £43 million is dedicated to dealing with the prison population and its present inexorable rise. Therefore it is not available for the ameliorative schemes that my noble friend mentioned. But if we are to save money in the Prison Service, which I believe is possible at some stage in the future, although not immediately, then of course the Home Secretary is determined to produce, in so far as he is able, within the usual budgetary constraints, money that is properly directed. There is no doubt at all that money properly directed means stopping offending, preventing offending and checking offending in its early stages.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I welcome the general thrust of the Statement and, in particular, what it says about reparation and rehabilitation orders. Will the Government study with care the recent report from the Howard League concerning juvenile girls in custody or in prison; that is, people in their teens under the age of 18? Will the Government also look at the whole question of crimes committed either by young persons who are in care or when they leave care?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I take the point made by the noble Lord absolutely. I have read the Howard League report to which he referred, and in the context of reparation your Lordships will remember that the noble Lord, Lord Henley, asked me for specific details of the Thames Valley scheme. I replied to the noble Lord so recently that that communication will not yet have reached his desk. Nevertheless, I hope that I have given him full details.

Reparation is extremely important because it has at least two aspects: one is practical and one is moral. The moral component is that the offender must recognise, not simply by the parroted plea of guilty, but much more fundamentally that he or she has done a deep wrong. It seems to us that contact with victims in a controlled and civilised way--and I stress contact where victims wish it--is of enormous value not only to the victim but to the offender. It has certainly worked extremely well on the pilot basis in Thames Valley.

One cannot fail to be concerned about the dismal life that so many children in care have. I have conducted investigations myself and reported on abuse in a children's home. No one who has even looked at the headline conclusions of Sir William Utting can think that we have discharged our duty properly over these

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many years. There is no doubt at all that the problem identified by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, is very real and one which partly reflects a proposition that is self-evident; namely, that children who are away from their parents need a good deal of care, sensitivity and trained attention, which so often has not been the case.

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