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12Clause 11, page 11, line 7, leave out subsection (10).

Lord Burlison: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 12. This amendment is simply the usual formality of removing the privilege amendment inserted as is customary into a Bill which starts its passage in your Lordships' House before being sent to another place. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 12.--(Lord Burlison.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill

3.45 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Bassam of Brighton, I beg to move that the Commons amendments and reasons be now considered.

With the leave of the House, perhaps I may explain that due to unusual circumstances, the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, has only just received a copy of the Statement. Therefore, through the usual channels, we have agreed that my noble friend Lord Bassam of Brighton will first deal with the Commons amendments.

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Moved, That the Commons amendments and reasons for disagreeing to the Lords amendments be now considered.--(Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


    [The page and line refer to HL Bill 83 as first printed for the Lords]

14Clause 5, page 3, line 24, leave out ("accommodation") and insert ("supervision")
The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason--
14ABecause the Commons believe that it is necessary to make clear the circumstances in which accommodation may be provided in approved premises under the arrangements in question.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Farrington of Ribbleton. I was slightly indisposed. I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in the said reasons.

These amendments reverse the changes made on Report in your Lordships' House which called into question the ability to fund hostel accommodation and restricted the categories of those who could be accommodated in hostels

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, it would be helpful to all of us if the noble Lord would tell us to which amendment he is speaking.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I should have said that I beg to move that this House do not insist on their Amendment No. 14 to which the Commons have disagreed for the reason numbered 14A.

This is a small but important group of amendments that seeks to undo changes made in this House on Report that, perhaps inadvertently, did serious damage to local boards' ability to use hostels properly. I say that it was inadvertent because I do not think there is much, if anything, between us in terms of the policy. In moving Amendment No. 14 on Report, the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, emphasised the importance of supervision in hostels. I agree absolutely with that.

Clause 9(1) of the Bill, as amended in the Committee of this House, defines the provision of accommodation as being for persons granted bail in criminal proceedings or--and this is the important bit--for, or in connection with the supervision or rehabilitation of persons convicted of offences. The whole purpose of

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hostels is that they offer supervised accommodation. Everyone who is resident in a hostel is required to abide by the hostel rules, including a curfew and a ban on alcohol and non-prescription drugs. A resident breaking those rules is likely to lose his place, which in some circumstances can result in a removal to prison.

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary gave an assurance to the noble Baroness's right honourable friend in another place that all those in hostels are and would, under the Bill, be subject to supervision. I am happy to repeat that assurance now.

I hope that I have explained clearly why the Government have brought forward these amendments and why those changes were made in another place. I trust that your Lordships will now be content with them.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 14 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 14A.--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, first, I am grateful for the correspondence that we have received between the last stage of the Bill and today. I am grateful also to the Minister for putting on the record the effect which I wished to bring about with my amendments. It is not customary to criticise counsel in these matters. It is extraordinary that the reference to "approved premises" is not subsumed to mean "accommodation". I am not a lawyer so I am not competent to take issue on that point. We all agree that anyone who is referred to a bail hostel should be there under the supervision of the bail hostel staff.

While we are putting matters on the record, it is important for the Minister to consider the following. I am particularly concerned about the staff of bail hostels and their legal position. From the debates that we have had on this Bill, my understanding is that the Home Secretary intends that accommodation will be made available for those who have spent convictions but who are, nevertheless, still deemed by the police, social services or the Home Secretary to be a risk to the community. They can be accommodated in bail hostels, and if they are so accommodated, they will be supervised.

My understanding is that there will be no court authority for that. If someone like Robert Oliver, who has been referred to in much of the correspondence, were to go to a bail hostel when his period on licence is spent as well as his period in custody, he would have to go voluntarily. That would have to be on a voluntary basis because that is the only way in which such a person can take up accommodation in a bail hostel. However, if such a person were to go into a bail hostel voluntarily but then breached the rules of the hostel and breached the supervision, it would be almost impossible to do anything about it.

It is important that we understand and protect the position of those who will supervise someone who is deemed to be dangerous. I specifically mention dangerous people because that is the example given to me by the Home Secretary in correspondence. He was particularly concerned about that category of person.

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As well as the issue of breaching the rules of the hostel, there is also the issue of something going wrong, of that person behaving in a manner that falls short of conditions for arrest but nevertheless presents a serious problem to the staff working in the hostel. As the Bill is in its final stages, it is important that we understand that their concerns are properly met by the arrangements made by the Home Secretary.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, it is possible that the noble Baroness is intertwining two issues. I shall try to deal with the point. In breaching the conditions of supervision the person may commit another offence and could be picked up by the police if the whereabouts of that individual are known. The noble Baroness will recall from earlier debates that the reason why we were concerned about the effect of her amendment was that we felt that it undermined the ability within the service to find this type of accommodation. It was for that reason that we took the opportunity in another place to reverse the effect of her amendment.

We have had extensive correspondence about that and I believe we now have a common understanding of the position. I believe that the noble Baroness is absolutely right. We require this type of accommodation and we must ensure that we can properly supervise people like Robert Oliver; otherwise it would be difficult to find the kind of accommodation where people like him could be properly and effectively supervised either because they are on licence or for their own protection. We are trying to ensure that such accommodation which will protect them, and more importantly the public, is in place.

The amendments that we have put in place ensure that. In those circumstances they will be properly supervised. I hope that that answers the point raised by the noble Baroness. I shall be happy to elucidate further and to provide further clarification. We accept that this is a serious matter.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the Minister has not answered any part of my point. For all intents and purposes, the individual is an innocent person. I notice that the Home Secretary has re-submitted the words "at any time", so it is a person who at any time in his life has been charged with and/or convicted of an offence. The offence may have been spent a long time ago; it may have been spent weeks, months or years ago, so the person, of their own volition or with some persuasion presumably from those who believe that he is a risk to the public--the social services, the Home Secretary or the police--may go into a bail hostel.

It is important to know precisely what protection there is for the supervisors--the bail hostel staff--who have no legal locus whatever over such people. The Minister has said, as the measures of the Bill set out, that the staff will supervise them. If those people breach the rules of the hostel--for example, if they do not come in by 11 o'clock at night and the staff do not know where they are--what can the staff do? Such a matter is not a punishable offence. Those people are

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free people; they are deemed to be innocent people. They just happen to be people who once, some time ago, were charged with or were convicted of an offence which is long since spent. If they are dangerous, what protection is there for the bail hostel staff? They will have no protection because they will have no legal locus over such people in a hostel.

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