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Lord Goldsmith moved Amendment No. 91:

The noble and learned Lord said: I move the amendment formally, as I have already spoken to it.

Noble Lords: No.

Lord Goldsmith: I apologise. I thought that I had spoken to the amendment under a previous group. The effect of the amendment is to make conditional cautions available to official prosecutors in addition to the CPS. The change was prompted by the view expressed by the Whitehall Prosecutors Group—I am sure that I have said this before—on which a range of prosecuting authorities are represented. There might be cases of theirs in which the form of disposal would be suitable. Some of them use simple cautions at present, and the amendment will enable them to accompany a caution with a condition that reparation should be made. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 92 to 94 not moved.]

Clause 25, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 26 [Interpretation of Part 3]:

Lord Goldsmith moved Amendment No. 95:

    Page 18, line 4, at end insert—

""relevant prosecutor" means—

(a) the Director of the Serious Fraud Office,
(b) the Director of Public Prosecutions,
(c) a Secretary of State,
(d) the Commissioners of Inland Revenue,
(e) the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, or
(f) a person who is specified in an order made by the Secretary of State as being a relevant prosecutor for the purposes of this Part."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 26, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 27 agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Charging or release of persons in police detention]:

Lord Dholakia moved Amendment No. 96:

    Page 179, line 23, after "bail" insert "for a period of not longer than 28 days"

The noble Lord said: The purpose of our amendment is to look at the PACE Act 1984 on matters of charging or release of persons in police detention. We would be happy to see a time limit included in the primary legislation. The amendment

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would limit the pre-charge period from dragging on unnecessarily and thereby occasioning an appeal to the court, and ensure a right of appeal well established and recognised.

The CPS will of course progress the case as fast as possible. However, we have concerns about the unlimited bail periods. Set deadlines go some way to ensure that matters are reviewed and less likely to drag on unnecessarily. The alternative may be a high number of appeals against pre-charge bail with attendant cost implications. I beg to move.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: I shall speak to two amendments in the group, Amendments Nos. 99 and 100. They also concern adjustments in the Bill made to Section 37 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

The amendments moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, concern the duties of custody officers before charge. Our amendment is concerned with Section 47 of PACE—Bail After Arrest. Amendment No. 99 would ensure that if a custody officer imposes bail conditions on a person, the person must be charged before 30 days have passed or the bail conditions lapse. If the person is charged, the case will be passed to the court, which could impose fresh terms. The amendment would limit the power that a custody officer may have over people's freedom. It is undesirable for a person or a body other than a court to be able curtail a person's freedom over a lengthy period of time.

The other amendment in this group, Amendment No. 100, seeks the addition of a constable to the list of persons who are granted the right to apply to a magistrates' court to vary the conditions of bail. It is a straightforward amendment. Just as the terms of bail may seem unfair or impracticable to a defendant or suspect, they might prove unsatisfactory also from the point of view of the police. The right to apply for the conditions of bail to be varied is a necessity for the defendant, because a change in circumstances could make the conditions unfair or inapplicable. We seek to probe the Government as to why the police should not have those same rights.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Hylton: Amendment No. 96, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, is important, because it seems to be designed to prevent a person falling into a kind of limbo state, where they are not charged, but they are also on bail. I do not know whether 28 days is the right number, but the principle is important.

Lord Goldsmith: Two of the amendments are mine and I should identify them. They are Amendments Nos. 97 and 98. In moving them, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 96, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and to Amendments Nos. 99 and 100, which stand in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, and the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman.

Amendments Nos. 96 and 99 would place a limit on the duration of any conditions on bail and the time for which a suspect could be bailed. The Home Affairs

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Select Committee recommended that there should be a limit on the duration of pre-charge police bail in cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision on whether to charge. In their response, the Government undertook to consider the Select Committee's recommendation, indicating that at that stage the charging pilots, which were looking at that new form of co-operation between the police and the CPS, were suggesting that in most cases a five-week period should be sufficient to enable charges to be brought.

However, we have now been able to take account of the final evaluation report, which was an independent report, of the charging pilots. That recommended that no statutory limit should be applied. The Government have considered that carefully and have concluded that it would not be appropriate to place a statutory restriction on the duration of police bail, or on conditions attached to it. No such condition is attached to police bail in statute at present. I am not persuaded that there are compelling reasons to include one in the Bill.

That does not mean that the period for which suspects would be bailed, whether on conditions or not, should be unreasonably long, but the appropriate place to make that clear is in the guidance and instructions which will be issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions and by ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers, rather than in the Bill.

I emphasise that it would be open to a suspect to apply to a magistrates' court for conditional bail to be varied or to be discharged. Legal aid will be made available for that purpose. If, at any stage, it appears that the length of time is becoming excessive, it is open to a person to go a magistrates' court and ask either for the conditions to be varied or to be discharged. During that period, the person will be on bail rather than in custody.

Amendment No. 100 would enable a constable, as well as the suspect, to apply to magistrates' courts to have pre-charge bail conditions varied. That seems to be superfluous as the custody officer may vary the conditions himself.

I hesitate to say that government Amendments Nos. 97 and 98 are merely drafting amendments. On this occasion, I hope that I will not be contradicted, but I wait to see.

Lord Elton: In my experience, it is always safest to say that something is technical or complicated late at night. The noble and learned Lord might like to remember that.

The amendment of my noble friend, Amendment No. 100, and the remarks of the noble and learned Lord, raise a question that I have had at the back of my mind for some time. If the conditions are in place for a long time, their variation can be an important part of the management and possible rehabilitation—if that is the right word—of the admitted offender.

I understand from what the Minister said that the custody officer will be able to apply for a variation, as will the person subject to the order, but surely the

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person best placed to judge how a variation could improve the prospects of non-reoffending would be the person in charge of monitoring—to use the term in the Bill—the operation of the conditions. Is it intended to use the variation of conditions in that way? If so, would it not be best to give a power to go to the court to the person carrying out the monitoring?

Lord Goldsmith: It may be my fault for not having made it clearer that we have moved on from conditional cautioning to a different set of provisions in the Bill, which address charging in instances where the prosecution will make the decision to charge. This amendment is concerned with the question of bail and conditions for bail for potential offenders or suspects while the decision whether to charge is being made.

Lord Elton: I apologise to the noble and learned Lord and to the Committee. I was out of the Chamber for a couple of minutes for a telephone call that lasted longer than I expected. I had not noticed the change.

Lord Dholakia: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Goldsmith moved Amendments Nos. 97 and 98:

    Page 182, line 16, leave out "37D(6) above" and insert "37D(5)"

    Page 182, line 30, after "37(7)(a)" insert "above"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 99 and 100 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Schedule 2, as amended, shall be agreed to?

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