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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, let us try to understand the amendments and see whether there is so much between us. By changing the word "accommodation" to "supervision", Amendment No. 14 would have the effect of preventing local boards from providing hostels. I do not think that that is what the noble Baroness wants to do.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, that is not so.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, that is the effect of the change in the wording. Amendment No. 15 would arguably restrict the role of local boards to those currently on bail or serving a sentence. Perhaps it is not the intention of the noble Baroness to achieve either of those two objectives.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, can the noble Lord tell me who would be referred to a hostel for whom there would be no degree of supervision?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I shall pause to think about that. If the noble Baroness will bear with me, we are trying to resolve practical matters in a practical way. That should be done in a fair-handed way.

There is perhaps a misunderstanding in the noble Baroness's approach. The noble Baroness said that in Committee I had used the word "supervision" throughout my commentary in responding to her points. That is perfectly true. But our argument in part is that one does not need to have all of these words in the Bill for the issue of supervision to be very much at the heart of the way in which the service is delivered locally. That is an important point.

31 Oct 2000 : Column 829

Perhaps I may return to the thread of my argument. Were we to accept Amendment No. 15, it would remove the ability to work with the small number of dangerous offenders who are no longer under sentence but where it is in the interests of protecting the public for them to be supervised on a voluntary basis by the Probation Service. I realise that the noble Baroness is troubled by the provision, but I am referring to a group in respect of which we feel that it is most important for such supervision to be put in place--because of the voluntary basis on which such people would be placed in a hostel.

Hostels form an important part of the armoury available to the Probation Service for helping to reduce reoffending and to protect the public. All residents in hostels will be subject to the hostel regime, which will include strict curfew conditions and a prohibition on alcohol. Those are important restrictions. Hostels do not concern only accommodation, but the inclusion of the word "accommodation" is necessary.

The noble Baroness appears to want to strike the word "accommodation" from the Bill. If we remove it, hostels would take on a very different meaning. Surely the noble Baroness understands that that would be the case. It is necessary to include the word to enable the Probation Service to provide hostels and to carry out this valuable work. However, the use of the word would not mean that such hostels could be used for anyone who is homeless. Hostels are used for a particular purpose. For that reason, we oppose Amendment No. 14.

If the noble Baroness is confused--I am sure that sometimes it can happen--about the purpose of hostels, perhaps she would reflect on that point.

As I said earlier, we oppose Amendment No. 15, which would remove the ability to use hostel accommodation for a small number of dangerous offenders no longer on licence. In general, hostels accommodate three types of person: those remanded while still on bail; those serving community sentences; and those released from prison on licence. However, as I have said, they will also be used for a small number of dangerous offenders who have been released from prison, having reached the end of their sentence, but who still present a danger to the public.

The Government believe that it is right to protect the public by accommodating such offenders on a voluntary basis for a period in approved hostels. Hostel regimes, with their curfews and their structured regimes, offer a better opportunity to reduce the risk of reoffending and public harm than if those offenders were simply to be left to their own devices in the community.

Were noble Lords to accept Amendments Nos. 14 and 15, they would undermine what we are trying to achieve here. A situation would be created that would be far worse than that which is currently in place. Furthermore, it would undermine our objectives in terms of law enforcement and reducing the risk of reoffending. I cannot believe that the noble Baroness

31 Oct 2000 : Column 830

seeks that as an objective. It would appear to run counter to her entire approach, but then I am often amazed by the words of the noble Baroness.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, can the noble Lord please tell me--in words that I and my colleagues in the House will understand--what, in a legal sense, it is about my amendment that would prevent the supervision of the most dangerous criminals just referred to by the noble Lord?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am becoming a little puzzled at the approach being adopted by the noble Baroness. Earlier she suggested that I had referred to "supervision" throughout my arguments put forward in Committee. Her argument appeared to pursue the notion that, by reason of those references, we should now put that word into the Bill. However, "supervision" goes to the core of what the Probation Service should provide when sentences are served in the community. My argument here is that the word "accommodation" needs to be in place because, clearly, one purpose behind the running of hostels is that such accommodation will be supervised. There is therefore no need to specify it in the legislation.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I rise only to conclude my remarks on this amendment because I know that the noble Lord is becoming anxious. What in my amendment would legally preclude the most dangerous people from being supervised in the accommodation? The noble Lord has not answered the question. I am pressing this point because the noble Lord's response has been based on that premise; namely, that my amendment would be dangerous because it would preclude that.

I am not satisfied with the response that I have received from the noble Lord.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, if it would be of help, I shall respond once again to the noble Baroness. She may well then take a different view.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I wish to test the opinion of the House.

5.35 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 14) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 180; Not-Contents, 126.

Division No. 5


Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Ashcroft, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Astor, V.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Bell, L.
Biffen, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Bowness, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carrington, L.
Chadlington, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Coe, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Craigavon, V.
Cranborne, V.
Crickhowell, L.
Cuckney, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Deedes, L.
Denham, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Ezra, L.
Falkland, V.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greaves, L.
Greenway, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanham, B.
Hanson, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hogg, B.
Holderness, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Hylton, L.
Kelvedon, L.
Kimball, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kirkham, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Liverpool, E.
Ludford, B.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McNally, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Montrose, D.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Noakes, B.
Norfolk, D.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Powell of Bayswater, L.
Prior, L.
Razzall, L.
Redesdale, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Russell, E.
Saatchi, L.
Sandberg, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vinson, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walpole, L.
Warnock, B.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wigoder, L.
Wilberforce, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Windlesham, L.
Wright of Richmond, L.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Craig of Radley, L.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greengross, B.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, 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.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Molloy, L.
Morgan, L.
Nicol, B.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Patel, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warner, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

31 Oct 2000 : Column 833

5.46 p.m.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 15:

    Page 3, line 25, leave out ("at any time").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 7 [Functions of inspectorate]:

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