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Baroness Masham of Ilton: I should like to thank all supporters of the amendment for their very strong support. I also thank the Minister for his response. However, I must point out to the noble Lord that, when we were looking at secure accommodation, we found that some very serious offenders are now housed in secure accommodation provided by local authorities, while less serious offenders--for example, young girls--are in prison. The situation really does seem upside down and extraordinary. Before we reach the Report stage, I hope that the Minister will review the situation because it seems to be entirely wrong.

When we visited New Hall prison, which is near Wakefield, we found that the girls were being locked up at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. That is really very damaging for young teenagers who, as we all know, can be very difficult. Indeed, the complete lock-up takes place at 5 p.m. That is not a healthy situation. Bearing in mind what the Minister said and, indeed, the strong support expressed by Members of the Committee, I shall carefully consider what is going to happen. It is possible that we may have to divide on the matter on Report if we do not receive a satisfactory solution. Indeed, that will put emphasis on the whole matter when it goes to the other place. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Hylton: Before we leave this part of the Bill, I should like to ask the Minister whether he can say how the Government envisage the training component of detention and training orders will actually be organised in practice. Can the Minister say how it will be done, given the fact that there are likely only to be small numbers of people undergoing these orders in individual places? Who will provide the training; in other words, what type of personnel will be involved?

One should also bear in mind at this stage that those young people becoming the subject of such orders are likely, as the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, said when speaking to the last amendment, to be highly vulnerable, whether they are girls or boys. Indeed, many of them will have come out of care, will have been excluded from their previous schools and may have a history and a record of suffering sexual abuse. So they will be difficult people to teach and train. I wonder who will be found to undertake this particularly demanding job.

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Further, can the Minister tell the Committee where the training will be delivered? Will it be in the place of custody? If not, I can foresee there will be problems escorting people to and from the training. These are all questions to which, as far as I know, we have not yet had an explanation from the Government in the course of the Bill. I apologise that on this occasion I have not given the Minister prior notice of this point.

5 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The noble Baroness has dealt most graciously with this important matter. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, is quite right. Normally, we try to arrange these matters in correspondence. I am perfectly happy to do that. Part of the answer to his question is that it is intended that a sentence plan will be drawn up at sentence with a member of the YOT scheme. Progress in custody and afterwards will be monitored. On release there will be supervision. It seems to me that that is not as full an answer as I ought to be able to give the noble Lord. Will he allow me to write to him with fuller responses to his detailed questions, as we have done in the past?

Lord Hylton: If the noble Lord is kind enough to write to me, will he also place a copy of his letter in the Library?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I shall certainly do that as soon as I can.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 62 agreed to.

Clause 63 agreed to.

Clause 64 [Breaches of supervision requirements]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 249:

Page 52, line 2, at end insert--
("( ) An offender detained in pursuance of an order under subsection (3) above shall be deemed to be in legal custody; and a fine imposed under that subsection shall be deemed, for the purposes of any enactment, to be a sum adjudged to be paid by a conviction.").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 249 I wish to speak also to the amendments grouped with it, Amendments Nos. 250, 251, 252, 253, 254 and 255.

Amendments Nos. 249 to 255 are technical amendments to ensure the smooth functioning of the detention and training order and the transitional arrangements for the secure training order. They clarify that those detained under provisions relating to either order are deemed to be in legal custody. The amendments also provide that a fine imposed for breach of supervision requirements of either order will be treated as a fine imposed on conviction. Normal court powers to deal with fine defaults will apply to those fines. The Bill as it stands includes no power to enforce the fine should the offender or the parent default. The amendments are intended to rectify this omission.

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Amendment No. 250 extends the powers currently available to the courts to deal with defaults of other fines to fines imposed for a breach of supervision requirements imposed under a detention and training order. There is no power at present.

Amendments Nos. 251 to 254 amend Clause 91(2) which sets out the modifications which may be made by an order under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and in Section 4 of the 1994 Act. Subsection (7) of Section 2 provides that a person detained elsewhere than in a secure training centre because accommodation there is not immediately available, under subsection (2), or because he has been transferred elsewhere because of special circumstances, under subsection (4), is also deemed to be in legal custody. Amendments Nos. 251 to 254 ensure that subsection (7) applies to both those situations while an order under Clause 91 is in force and that subsection (5), which defines those who may provide accommodation, continues to apply to transfer under subsection (4).

Amendment No. 255--the final amendment in this group--provides an additional transitory provision governing the period before Clause 60 of this Bill relating to detention and training orders is enacted. This new subsection (4A), inserted in Section 4 of the 1994 Act, which deals with breach of supervision requirements for secure training orders, provides that a fine imposed under subsection (3)(b) of Section 4, for breach of requirements, shall be deemed to be a sum adjudged to be paid by conviction. With that explanation of these technical amendments, I beg to move.

Lord Henley: The noble Lord helpfully wrote to me about a number of government amendments that he was proposing to table. Unfortunately my filing system--if I can call it that--broke down this morning and I am not clear that he wrote to me about these amendments. I suspect that he did not. I have, though, listened carefully to what he has had to say about them. As far as I can make out, I have no objections. Can he confirm that they formed part of the group of amendments about which he wrote to me, a copy of the letter, I imagine, having also been sent to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My best recollection is that they were contained in what was, I think, a rather lengthy letter. I shall check that and if they were not, I shall write again. If they were, I shall resend the letter.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 64, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 65 [Offences during currency of order]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 250:

Page 52, line 29, at end insert--
("( ) A person detained in pursuance of an order under subsection (2) above shall be deemed to be in legal custody.").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Clause 65, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 91 [Transitory provisions]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 251 to 255:

Page 74, line 28, leave out second ("that") and insert ("the 1994").
Page 74, line 31, leave out ("subsections") and insert ("subsection").
Page 75, leave out lines 1 to 3 and insert--
("(b) in subsection (5) of that section, for the words "subsections (2)(a)(ii) and (4)(b) apply" there were substituted the words "subsection (4)(b) applies";").
Page 75, line 11, leave out ("subsection (8)") and insert ("subsections (7) and (8)").
Page 75, line 11, at end insert--
("( ) In relation to any time before the commencement of section 60 above, section 4 of the 1994 Act shall have effect as if after subsection (4) there were inserted the following subsection--
"(4A) A fine imposed under subsection (3)(b) above shall be deemed, for the purposes of any enactment, to be a sum adjudged to be paid by a conviction."").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to these amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 91, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Ackner moved Amendment No. 256:

Before Clause 66, insert the following new clause--

Standing Advisory Council on Criminal Justice and the Penal System

(" .--(1) There shall be constituted a body to be known as the Standing Advisory Council on Criminal Justice and the Penal System ("the Advisory Council") for the purpose of--
(a) advising the Secretary of State on the adequacy and effectiveness of the criminal law and procedure of the criminal courts;
(b) advising the Secretary of State on such aspects of the penal system as he may from time to time refer to it; and
(c) at the request of the sentencing Advisory Panel referred to in section 67 below, providing such advice and assistance as may enable the panel the better to discharge its functions.
(2) The Advisory Council shall consist of--
(a) a chairman appointed by the Secretary of State, after consultation with the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, from among the members of the Advisory Council; and
(b) such other members, not exceeding eighteen in number, as the Secretary of State may appoint having regard to qualifications referred to in subsection (3).
(3) At least two-thirds of the members of the Advisory Council shall be persons who appear to the Secretary of State to possess knowledge or experience of any aspect of the criminal justice system or the penal system including, in particular, the prosecution of offenders and their care and treatment in prison and the community.
(4) The members of the Advisory Council shall hold and vacate office in accordance with the terms of their respective appointments and shall, on ceasing to hold office, be eligible for re-appointment, but any such member may at any time, by notice addressed to the Secretary of State, resign his office.
(5) The Secretary of State may, out of moneys provided by Parliament, pay the members of the Advisory Council such remuneration and such allowances as may be determined by the Secretary of State with the consent of the Treasury.
(6) The Secretary of State shall provide the Advisory Council with such officers and such accommodation as may be appropriate.

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(7) The Advisory Council shall make annual reports to the Secretary of State with respect to its functions, and the Secretary of State shall lay any such report before each House of Parliament.
(8) The Advisory Council shall separately report to the Secretary of State on any matter referred to it, or sanctioned by the Secretary of State for advice; and the Secretary of State shall publish any such report.").

The noble and learned Lord said: Since I do not claim pride of parentage in this amendment, which provides for the setting up of a standing advisory council on criminal justice and the penal system, I think I can say without immodesty that it is a very important amendment, as indeed is demonstrated by those who have added their names in its support.

The aetiology of the amendment is of some significance. The 10th April 1995 was the centenary of the report of the Gladstone Committee on Prisons. The crucial contribution which that committee made to penal thinking was its insistence that the reformation of prisoners should become one of the primary aims of the prison system. It argued that,

    "the present system, while admirable for cohersion or oppression, is excessively deficient in the reformatory side".

The committee proposed that prisoners' treatment,

    "should be more effectively designed to maintain, stimulate or awaken the higher susceptibilities of prisoners, to develop their moral instincts, to train them in orderly and industrial habits, and whenever possible to turn them out of prison, better men and women, both physically and morally, than when they came in".

To mark this centenary there was sent to The Times a letter under the joint signatures of Professor Sean McConville, Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, the noble Lord, Lord Allen of Abbeydale, Professor Anthony Bottoms, the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, Sir Ralph Gibson, John Harding, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Llanfairwaterdine, Professor Terence Morris, Brendan O'Connor Friel, and the noble Lord, Lord Runcie. It stated among other things:

    "We think the time is right for an overview, on the scale of the Gladstone enquiry, to propound a sound authoritative penal philosophy for the 20th Century".

The letter went on to say:

    "Over the last two decades the United States has shown the tragic and counter-productive results of mixing competitive party politics in such policy debates and thereby inflaming public opinion. This is a field where the national interest demands that bipartisanship should be striven for, even while legitimate party differences are debated".

The letter stressed that it was essential to provide a mechanism to address these important issues--criminal and penal policy--dispassionately, authoritatively and constructively.

In the debate on the Address on 19th May 1997 I invited the Government to make provision for a comprehensive reassessment of a rational penal policy and thereby to restore much-needed public confidence in the system. In a subsequent debate I repeated the invitation. I was accordingly delighted to learn that my

3 Mar 1998 : Column 1128

noble and learned friend the Lord Chief Justice, on two occasions in two lectures, subsequently endorsed my suggestion. His last comment was made at the conclusion of the annual lecture of the Prison Reform Trust given by him last June. He said:

    "If a revived Advisory Council were able, with the benefit of intensive world-wide research and consultation, to reach authoritative conclusions which commanded the respect of public and the professional opinion, and if those conclusions were given legislative effect, this Parliament would earn an assured place in the history of this country".

Of course I accept that crime is a complex phenomenon and that there is no "quick fix". The various parts of the criminal justice system--the police, prosecution, the court, the Probation Service and Prison Service--often address quite different agendas, and this was acknowledged by the establishment of the Criminal Justice Consultative Council in order to reconcile the potentially conflicting aims of these disparate agencies. I accept, of course, that the public are impatient, indeed angry and frightened, at rising crime and want results from the police and the criminal justice system. But the public require to be far better informed than they are at present. They need to know that there is no realistic prospect with the present degree of overcrowding in prisons and the continuing cutback in prison budgets, of prisoners at the end of their sentence being either better equipped or better motivated to lead an honest life than when they began their sentence. On the contrary, the reverse is often the case. The public ought to know that if the present harsh sentencing regime continues it is expected by the Home Office to give a prison population of nearly 83,000 for the year 2005. That is virtually double what it was some five years ago. It will involve crippling expenditure for new prisons, additional staff and associated expenses.

On 18th February, last month, during a debate on life prisoners and release procedures, I learned from an admirable speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Linklater of Butterstone, that not only have we more than 3,500 lifers in our system at the moment but they represent more than the entire lifer population of Europe put together. Why is that, and why do we have a higher proportion of our population behind bars than any other nation in Western Europe? We have 120 prisoners for every 100,000 people in the general population compared with 89 in France, 84 in Germany and 65 in Sweden. Have other European countries more effective community-based alternatives to incarceration? How have other countries gained public acceptance of alternative strategies to traditional imprisonment? Is there in Europe a more balanced approach to sentencing; and, if so, how has that been achieved? These and other questions need careful research, and I submit that this can only be successful by an authoritative and dispassionate body of the kind we recommend.

In conclusion, in case it should be suggested that criminal policy has been now removed from competitive party politics, let me remind your Lordships of Amendment No. 218A, which was

3 Mar 1998 : Column 1129

moved by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, only a week ago. It related to Section 2(5) of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997, which provides for mandatory life sentences on second conviction of certain violent and sexual offences. What was sought by the amendment was very modest. It was to remove paragraph (d), which provided that Section 18 offences of wounding or causing grievous bodily harm with intent should not trigger the mandatory life sentence. The noble Lord explained that while some Section 18 offences were very serious indeed, and rightly carried up to a maximum of a life sentence on first conviction, at the other end of the scale is a large cluster of relatively minor incidents. He explained that the most cursory scrutiny of some recent Section 18 appeal cases revealed sentences as low as six months upheld on appeal. He emphasised the absurdity of a judge being obliged to impose a sentence of life imprisonment and then explaining, as he is bound to do, that the tariff--the period to be served for retribution and deterrence--was only a few months.

The noble Lord was in good company in saying that it was absurd. At Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, put it in this way:

    "it is nonsensical to invite a High Court judge to say, 'I am sentencing you to life imprisonment. By the way, you can expect to serve 18 months'. That is a perversion of the system. It will bring the whole system into disrepute".--[Official Report, 27/1/97; col. 1063.]

The fact that the noble Lord's case was unanswerable was made doubly clear by the fact that the self-same amendment had been moved by the Government when in Opposition, and indeed by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn. Quite unabashed, he resisted the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, saying in terms, that he did not resile from anything he had said in the past. The very idea of mandatory life sentences had been condemned when in opposition by the present noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and by the noble Lord who is currently the Leader of the House. Crime is one of the most difficult and complex problems confronting the Government. The advisory council proposed could give valuable assistance in solving it. I beg to move.

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