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Lord Renton: My Lords, if I may interrupt, it is under that provision that the noble Lord has mentioned that there must be three months in any event.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, of course; that is why I said three to 12 months. I am not seeking to disguise that: I thought I had actually drawn attention to it. Three months to 12 months is the span which the magistrates have. It is a well-known conventional device in other contexts--for instance, probation orders, which have a maximum term which the magistrates can impose.

One needs to look at what happens in community sentences at the moment. If a court sentences to a community disposition at the moment the fine detail is not set down by the sentence in court. It is actually dealt with by probation officers and social workers on the ground. I repeat to your Lordships, because it is a point of some virtue, that the flexibility offered to the youth offender panel, in other words, the final forum of disposition, is infinitely variable and infinitely flexible to deal with every circumstance and every offender.

As the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, pointed out, it is quite right that we have here a different approach. We believe that, after careful thought, we have got it right. That does not mean that we are undoubtedly correct, but I believe that we are. We are saying to magistrates that unless it is custody or an absolute discharge they are given the power of three to 12 months. After that the restorative contract that is designed fundamentally to avoid reoffending lies with the panel which will have the fullest possible opportunity to change human behaviour in young people. I hope that I have dealt with the objections of principle and detail. I cannot leave this matter without rejoicing at the new prospect, to me, of a bucketful of angst. The words of the noble Viscount very much remind me of wet Sunday afternoons in North Wales for which no better description than "a bucketful of angst" has ever been known.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, since the noble Lord makes that comment about North Wales (from where I come), is he seriously saying that to oppose mandatory sentences and to seek to uphold the discretion of the court is a deeply conservative attitude; and, if so, in what way?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, obviously I have not succeeded in what I seek to say. What is truly, deeply and depressingly conservative is simply to have a slogan, attach it to a staff and to believe that that disposes of all rational alternatives. That is what is

23 Mar 1999 : Column 1168

deeply conservative. Simply to say that mandatory sentences are wrong without looking at this very careful construction is, if not conservative, extremely blinkered.

Lord Windlesham: My Lords, this has been a long debate in which 16 noble Lords from all parts of the House have spoken. We have been discussing the amendment for about an hour. This shows that on a substantial issue of public importance noble Lords can make short speeches in which they are able to display the strength of their views. In view of the closing words of the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Williams, perhaps those on this side of the House would feel more comfortable if he substituted "conventional" for "conservative". I believe that that was the burden of the message that he wished to convey, and we should like there to be no misunderstanding about it.

This has been a non-party debate, as demonstrated by the divergent expressions of opinion from each part of the House. If it is not invidious to do so, and the noble Lord, Lord Williams, did the same, may I remark on the respect with which we listened to the views of the former Lord Chief Justice the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lane, and the Chairman of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, the noble Viscount, Lord Runciman. Both speak with unrivalled authority, and are wholly independent of any other speaker or party. I suggest that the force of their views should be taken into account when I ask noble Lords to express their opinion.

As was indicated earlier by my noble friends Lord Renton and Lord Campbell of Alloway, when this issue was raised by myself at Report stage there was a short exchange to the effect that Third Reading was the appropriate time for the matter to be discussed in greater detail. That has happened today and now noble Lords have the opportunity in the Lobbies to decide how it should be resolved.

4.34 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 149; Not-Contents, 144.

Division No. 1


Addington, L.
Addison, V.
Anelay of St. Johns, B.
Annaly, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Biffen, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bowness, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Broadbridge, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Bruntisfield, L.
Buckinghamshire, E.
Burnham, L. [Teller.]
Butterworth, L.
Byford, B.
Cadman, L.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Chesham, L.
Clanwilliam, E.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Coleraine, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Cowdrey of Tonbridge, L.
Cox, B.
Crickhowell, L.
Cross, V.
Davidson, V.
Denbigh, E.
Dickinson, L.
Donegall, M.
Downshire, M.
Elles, B.
Ferrers, E.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gage, V.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glenarthur, L.
Glentoran, L.
Gormanston, V.
Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller.]
Higgins, L.
Hogg, B.
Holderness, L.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hooper, B.
Hooson, L.
Hothfield, L.
Howe, E.
Hylton, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Ilchester, E.
Ironside, L.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lane, L.
Lauderdale, E.
Lincoln, Bp.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Liverpool, E.
Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, E.
Long, V.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Luke, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
McNally, L.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Merrivale, L.
Middleton, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Moore of Wolvercote, L.
Morris, L.
Mountevans, L.
Moynihan, L.
Munster, E.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Napier and Ettrick, L.
Newall, L.
Norrie, L.
Northesk, E.
Nunburnholme, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pender, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Poole, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Renwick, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Romney, E.
Runciman of Doxford, V.
Russell, E.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Sandford, L.
Sandwich, E.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shuttleworth, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Sudeley, L.
Swansea, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Trenchard, V.
Tugendhat, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wilcox, B.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Windlesham, L.
Wynford, L.
Young, B.


Ackner, L.
Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Bramall, L.
Brentford, V.
Brightman, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carter, L.
Chorley, L.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
David, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Exmouth, V.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gainsborough, E.
Gilbert, L.
Glanusk, L.
Glenamara, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hacking, L.
Haddington, E.
Hanworth, V.
Hardie, L.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennet, L.
Kintore, E.
Kirkhill, L.
Levy, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marsh, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Monson, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Oliver of Aylmerton, L.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Orme, L.
Palmer, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B. [Teller.]
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Richard, L.
Rowallan, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Sewel, L.
Shannon, E.
Shepherd, L.
Sheppard of Liverpool, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stair, E.
Stallard, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Thurlow, L.
Tomlinson, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warner, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Wharton, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

23 Mar 1999 : Column 1170

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