Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Baroness Blatch: My Lords, before the noble Earl, Lord Russell, winds up on the amendment, I should like to say that we have arrived at a very agreeable pass. I thank the Minister for the work that he clearly has done in the back room.

4 p.m.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the Minister for what he has done. We are approaching compromise at a rapid speed. I found his reply extremely helpful. I shall not pretend that I agreed with every word of it, but this seems entirely the wrong time to take up the few words that I did not agree with.

Perhaps I may just clarify one point before we leave the matter. Is it the intention to end up with an aggravated offence of failing to attend school with the knowledge of the parents or with the knowledge and consent of the parents? There is a material difference. I should be glad to know what is in the Government's mind.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we want to reflect carefully on the weight of those two words. It is for that reason that we want to take the matter away. We would very much like to have the opportunity of having further discussions with the noble Earl about the precise formulation of the wording because clearly it will have a material effect.

Earl Russell: My Lords, that is exactly what I understood the position to be. It is a good, honest and sensible answer. I thank the Minister for it very warmly. I beg to move.

Noble Lords: No.

Earl Russell: My Lords, it was my understanding that the Minister needs the amendment in order to have an opportunity to consider further the issue in another place.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I can confirm that that is the situation.

Ear Russell: My Lords, I beg to move.

8 Nov 2000 : Column 1553

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 75 [General interpretation]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 55:


    Clause 75, page 51, line 3, after ("local") insert ("probation").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 77 [Commencement]:

Baroness Hanham moved Amendment No. 56:


    Clause 77, page 51, line 18, at end insert--


("( ) No day may be appointed for the commencement of sections 40 to 42 until the results of the review of the sentencing framework of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 can be taken into account.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, at all stages during the passage of the Bill we have tried to persuade the Government that the change to the names of the orders should not be promulgated until the review of the sentencing framework has been completed. In view of the conciliatory tones that have been adopted so often today I hope that we can persuade the Government that this should be the case here. It is clear that there are disagreements about the new names of the orders. It is clear also that the review of the sentencing framework may introduce different forms of orders. It could be extremely confusing to change the names of the orders at this stage and then change them again as a result of the sentencing framework review. Therefore, I ask once more that this matter be delayed until the sentencing framework review has been completed. I beg to move.

Lord Bach: My Lords, when the amendment appeared on Report I described it as ingenious. I do not know whether one can be ingenious twice. But if one can be, the noble Baroness has succeeded. However, she has not succeeded in persuading us that this is the right course to take.

The effect of the amendment would be to prevent the commencement of Clauses 40 to 42, which rename community orders, until the review of the sentencing framework in the Criminal Justice Act 1991 is completed and its results taken into account. That is something that is some way off.

We believe that it is right to change these names as soon as convenient. We do not see sufficient reason to await the results of the sentencing review. We strongly feel that changing the names of these orders will make them better understood by the general public. That is critical. These are public courts that give out public sentences. We believe that the public do not really understand what a probation order is, what a community service order is and particularly what a combination order is. If the public were asked what a combination order is, most people would quite understandably throw up their hands and say, "I have not the faintest idea what a combination order is". That is why we believe that the sooner the public are better informed, the sooner they will better understand what it is that the courts are doing when they pass these significant and important orders against convicted

8 Nov 2000 : Column 1554

persons. We believe that the change of name should come in sooner rather than later; in fact, as soon as possible.

The review that the noble Baroness refers to in her amendment is a broad review which will not report yet. The consequences of the report will not be implemented for an even longer time. Perhaps I may briefly remind the House what is the point of the review: what principles should guide sentencing decisions; what types of disposal should be made available to the courts; the costs of different disposals; what changes therefore need to be made to the current sentencing framework; and the likely impact of any recommendations in terms of costs and the effects on the prison population. These are among the various issues that this important review will need to comment on. Its comments will need to be considered and either acted on or not acted on. We believe there is some urgency in changing these names. Although we understand exactly what the noble Baroness seeks to do in her amendment, we do not think it is an appropriate amendment to pass. We ask the House not to accept it.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I have had a good innings on the amendment. At the end of the day, I am sorry that I have not won. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 78 [Extent]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 57:


    Clause 78, page 52, line 3, at end insert--


("( ) Section (Extension of corresponding Northern Ireland offence: conduct towards 14 to 16 year olds) extends to Northern Ireland only.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Local boards]:

Lord Bach moved Amendments Nos. 58 to 61:


    Schedule 1, page 53, line 5, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 53, line 6, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 53, line 33, leave out sub-paragraph (5).


    Schedule 1, page 53, line 35, leave out ("sub-paragraph (5) and").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 62:


    Schedule 1, page 54, line 20, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, on Report I undertook to reflect upon strongly held views in the House that all boards would require a secretary and a treasurer. I prayed in aid of my position Gwent Probation Service. On reflection, we believe that it would be desirable in all circumstances that a board appoints either a secretary or a treasurer. I promised at the time that I would give the matter fair consideration. That is why we have tabled Amendment No. 62. It is in identical text to the amendment persuasively moved by the noble

8 Nov 2000 : Column 1555

Baroness, Lady Blatch, on Report. I am more than content with its minor alteration but its major impact. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am overwhelmed. I thank the Minister. It is an important but small amendment. There will be legal and financial obligations on all these boards, however small or large. Whether it is a part-time person or a contracted-out service, it is essential to have a secretary and treasurer. I am grateful for what the noble Lord has done.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I do not think there is anything needed in reply. The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, has made the points most effectively.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bach moved Amendments Nos. 63 to 84:


    Schedule 1, page 54, line 21, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 54, line 27, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 54, line 28, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 54, line 39, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 54, line 42, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 55, line 3, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 55, line 5, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 55, line 9, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 55, line 18, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 55, line 28, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 55, line 29, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 55, line 31, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 55, line 38, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 55, line 40, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 56, line 4, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 56, line 8, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 56, line 13, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 56, line 17, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 56, line 20, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 56, line 27, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 56, line 32, after ("local") insert ("probation").


    Schedule 1, page 56, line 37, after ("local") insert ("probation").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, these amendments and Amendments Nos. 85 to 147 have already been spoken to. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Amendments of the Sex Offenders Act 1997]:


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page