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Lord Hylton: Will the Government consider requiring the approval of a magistrate for an extension from 24 hours to 36 hours? Surely that would be very easily done in places where there were stipendiary magistrates. As has been mentioned, it happens in a number of other common-law jurisdictions. It would be a useful safeguard to have.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden: Has the Minister yet been able to discover whether the present arrangement derives from the recommendation of the Philips Royal Commission? I ask that because she will find, in the introduction to its report, one of the finest expositions of the balance that has to be struck between administrative and security convenience on one hand and preserving the liberty of the citizen on the other. I happen to remember many conversations with Sir Cyril Philips in which it was perfectly clear how important he regarded the maintenance, within practical limits, of the liberty of the citizen.

The point has already been made but, in the cases that the Minister mentioned, to what extent would her problem not be solved by the extension of bail?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Let me deal first with the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas. I tried to give the practical examples not because we suggest for a moment that the rights of the individual should be suborned for simple administrative convenience. There is a balance between the needs of maintaining a person's individual liberty and the societal needs of having offences that have been committed interviewed properly, sought properly and charged properly if appropriate. Those are balancing issues of equal importance. The one does not expunge the other.

On the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, to date it has been thought more appropriate for the flexibility of the procedure to be dealt with by a superintendent, particularly bearing in mind the speed with which that must be done. The noble Lord said that it could be done by what used to be a stipendiary magistrate—a district judge—but he will know that the numbers of district judges are far outweighed by the lay magistracy. We have taken the view to date that that is most appropriately done by a very senior officer, who will be able to assess what the operation demands and can judge whether the officers involved in undertaking the investigation really are proceeding with the matter expeditiously and dealing with matters in a way that is in accordance with good practice or, to put it colloquially, whether they are swinging the lead. It is often the practitioner who has had the day-to-day management of such cases who is much more able to question the officer about whether he has done that which he should have done in order to ensure that the

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person is dealt with properly and fairly. That is why we involve a very senior officer. In operational terms, they will be much better skilled for judging whether what they are being told by the officers on the ground about why they cannot make progress holds water or not.

Speaking for myself, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, was right in his comments on the route from which the approach came. I have not been able to get confirmation in this regard. Like the noble and learned Lord, I should be relying on my memory. I hope that it is not faulty but one cannot rely on it in this regard when one speaks for the Government. I undertake to look at the matter.

The noble and learned Lord was absolutely right to say that a balancing exercise was involved. Our argument takes into account what the balance now is and gives voice in relation to the relevant cases. We do not suggest that a plethora of cases will be extended; a number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, said that for the greater majority of cases, 24 hours more than suffices and does not cause difficulties; the police are well able to manage cases within that time frame.

We seek flexibility for the exercise of discretion in relation to the small number of cases that are outside the norm. If we did otherwise—if we agreed to the suggestions in the amendment—we should have a much blunter instrument. One would catch many more offences unnecessarily. The provision allows the superintendent to have the flexibility to target only those cases, in relation to the different species of robbery and other issues, which are needful of this provision. We should be very reluctant indeed to say that the broad swathe of cases should simply be converted from arrestable offences to serious arrestable offences. That would send the wrong message: one that is directly opposed to what I believe noble Lords opposite say they want; they want the arrangement to be targeted, not extended.

We have given the matter much thought. Obviously, we will consider further everything that has been said in Committee. We still believe that this provision will enable us to have the lightest possible touch in order to deliver on those small number of cases in which the approach is needed but it will not so pollute the rest of the pool and put everyone in a very difficult position.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: We have certainly had a full and rounded debate—

The Earl of Listowel: Before the noble Baroness withdraws the amendment, I thank the Minister for her full replies. Perhaps I missed her response to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, on extending bail. What was her response?

7.45 p.m.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Of course there is scope in relation to bail because all such matters will be interlocking. If these offences fall within that small

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category of cases in which the superintendent believes that bail is not appropriate at that moment because of the nature of the investigation, one would need the extension and one would not grant bail. If noble Lords look at the other provisions that we are introducing, they will appreciate that we are very much trying to encourage throughout the whole process the granting of bail wherever possible and allowing the person who is subject to arrest to come back to the police station to be interviewed. One sees that in our approach to street bail and giving prosecutors and those responsible for the investigation the ability to grant bail. We are talking about a species of case in which bail may not be appropriate in those circumstances and more time is needed in order to get the sort of investigation that will bring the matter to a speedy conclusion; the clock is ticking against the individual in that context. We should expect bail to be granted in all those cases in which it was appropriate and the person could come back and continue it. We would not expect that in those cases the superintendent would say that an extension of detention was necessary because they could say that the person could go and return on another day and that the investigation could be continued. That is the flexibility that we seek. However, that does not take away from the general thrust of our approach: wherever possible, bail should obviously be granted if it is appropriate to the circumstances.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: We have had a full debate. The Minister will therefore be delighted to hear that I will follow her invitation and resist the temptation to speak separately to the Question whether Clause 5 should stand part.

The Minister began and ended by discussing the need for increased flexibility. The difficulty is that life is not very flexible when one is in a police cell. The clause is about increasing detention by up to 50 per cent.

I shall consider very carefully between now and Report the full information that the Minister gave in her attempt to counter the very powerful arguments that were advanced from all sides of the Committee. I do not believe that she met those arguments. It would be wrong to pick out some from so many because we should move on. However, I must point out that the situation regarding children has not been resolved. I believe that the time between now and Report could usefully be used to carry out further consultation and, if the Minister agrees, to have a meeting with her and her officials on that matter. We might be able to take matters further. She mentioned the question of guidance—that word returns again. Can she tell us whether the House will be able to see guidance on children at least before Third Reading?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I am not able to comment specifically on that. I should be more than happy to discuss these issues between Committee stage and Report, and not simply in relation to the issues involving children; I should be happy to cover significant matters of concern to noble Lords. The

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noble Baroness knows that it has been my practice in dealing with other Bills that that is a productive way in which to work together—we try to hone the areas in which there are differences and resolve those areas in which it may be possible for us to come to some appropriate accommodation in relation to the Bill.

I shall do whatever is possible in relation to guidance and I certainly undertake to notify the noble Baroness as to the earliest possible point at which we may be able to put drafts before the House or Members of the Committee.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to the Minister. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 22 to 24 not moved.]

Clause 5 agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I beg to move that the House do now resume. In moving this Motion, perhaps I may suggest that the Committee stage should begin again not before 8.50 p.m.

Moved accordingly and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

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