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"( ) in relation to any community order imposing a drug rehabilitation requirement which is subject to review, the court responsible for the order," Page 229, line 2, leave out from "which" to end of line 3 and insert "he could have been dealt with for that offence by the court which made the order if the order had not been made."



    Page 230, line 10, at end insert—


"(2) In this paragraph "the appropriate court" has the same meaning as in paragraph 16." Page 231, line 15, leave out from first "which" to end of line 17 and insert "he could have been dealt with for that offence by the court which made the order if the order had not been made;"


    Page 231, line 24, after "paragraph" insert "13,"


    Page 231, line 39, leave out "a relevant" and insert "the"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 173 agreed to.

Schedule 8 [Transfer of community orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 173Z:


    Page 233, line 12, leave out "for"

The noble Baroness said: I have spoken to virtually all the amendments when dealing with the previous group. Perhaps the Committee will permit me to take up where I left off, at Amendments Nos. 175 and 177. Generically, all the other amendments to which I have spoken seek to make minor technical adjustments, as I outlined earlier.

Amendments Nos. 175 and 177 ensure that, if an offender is required to appear before a court in England and Wales, that court shall be either the sentencing court or the court that amended the order to transfer to Scotland or Northern Ireland. The original drafting did not provide for the latter, and we have cured that.

Amendment No. 176 aligns the wording in paragraph 13(a) and (b), but the meaning is unchanged. They are all technical amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

8 Oct 2003 : Column 356

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendments Nos. 173ZA to 177:


    Page 233, line 45, leave out paragraph (d) and insert—


"(d) subsection (4) of section 209 (availability of arrangements in local area)." Page 234, line 3, leave out "Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984" and insert "Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003"


    Page 234, line 4, at end insert—


"(5) In section 206 (electronic monitoring requirement), in subsection (3), the words from "and" onwards are omitted." Page 234, line 37, leave out "for"


    Page 235, line 5, after "has" insert "effect"


    Page 235, line 16, leave out paragraph (d) and insert—


"(d) subsection (4) of section 209 (availability of arrangements in local area)." Page 235, line 26, at end insert—


"(5) In section 205 (attendance centre requirement), any reference to an attendance centre has effect as a reference to a day centre, as defined by paragraph 3(6) of Schedule 1 to the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (S.I. 1996/3160(N.I. 24).
(6) In section 206 (electronic monitoring requirement), in subsection (3), the words from "and" onwards are omitted." Page 237, line 22, leave out from "before" to "that" in line 23 and insert "a court in England and Wales".


    Page 237, line 36, leave out from "that" to end of line 38 and insert "the conditions in paragraph 3(1)(a) and (b) are satisfied in relation to any requirement to be imposed"


    Page 237, line 44, leave out "the court which made the community order" and insert "a court in England and Wales"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 174 [Prison sentences of less than 12 months]:

7.15 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 177A:


    Page 102, line 32, leave out "Any power of a court to impose"

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 177B and 177C. I shall not speak to, nor shall I move, Amendments Nos. 177D to 177F.

Chapter 3 of Part 12 deals with prison sentences of less than 12 months. It introduces the new sentences of custody plus and intermittent custody that were recommended by the Halliday report. My amendments relate to the custody plus sentence and cover its scope.

Clause 174(1) gives the scope as follows:


    "Any power of a court to impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than 12 months . . . may be exercised only in accordance with the following provisions of this section".

As I read the Bill, that means that a custody plus sentence may be imposed only where the power of a court to order imprisonment is a power to order imprisonment for less than 12 months—that is, where the maximum sentence is less than 12 months. However, the Explanatory Notes state that custody plus will apply to,


    "all prison sentences of less than 12 months".

I ask the Minister to consider whether the drafting of subsection (1) is ambiguous, and whether, if the Government's intention is accurately reflected in the

8 Oct 2003 : Column 357

Explanatory Notes, the incorporation of the first three amendments of my group would make the position clearer by changing subsection (1) so that it reads as follows: "a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than 12 months may be imposed by a court on an offender only in accordance with the following provisions of this section". As well as making the applicable part of the subsection clearer, the amendments would reduce the number of words and therefore might please some of my noble friends. I beg to move.

Lord Carlile of Berriew: The group includes six amendments tabled in the names of my noble friends. The theme behind those amendments is that courts should not impose as a soft option a more condign punishment than they would otherwise have imposed. Under the old system, many offenders were the subject of suspended sentences of imprisonment because it was an easy option for the courts in cases where a custodial sentence would not otherwise have been imposed. In some cases it worked; however, in other cases, it led to people who committed relatively minor breaches of suspended sentences serving a substantive term of imprisonment later.

As a result, the exceptional circumstances provision was introduced. For a time, it made suspended sentences extremely rare. More recently, the courts have become more generous in their interpretation of what is exceptional. The Court of Appeal Criminal Division has, in some circumstances, approved that change of attitude.

We are concerned that, with custody plus, intermittent custody and suspended sentences as set out in the Bill, we should not have the experience that we suffered under the old form of suspended sentence. In Amendment No. 177FA, therefore, we simply set out what I hope the Minister will agree is the principle that the Government intend should apply. It is that, rather than as an easy option, custody plus should be imposed only when the court is clear that a full custodial sentence would be justified.

In Amendment No. 177HA, we suggest that the court making a custody plus order should be required to give reasons why that order is regarded as appropriate and necessary. We are not asking for a lengthy reasoned judgment in the style of the Court of Appeal. We ask what one can reasonably expect of any court these days: succinct reasons or information explaining to the offender, and for the purposes of any appeal, why the order has been imposed.

In the general context to which I have referred, we are particularly concerned about intermittent custody. We are not opposed to the option of intermittent custody being available to the courts. As many tools as possible should be available for the courts to deal with criminal offences, to punish those who commit them and to avoid them having to spend longer in custody than is absolutely necessary. However, we fear that intermittent custody, in particular in its era of novelty, might be regarded as a soft option by some courts. It should be clear in the legislation, as set out in

8 Oct 2003 : Column 358

Amendment No. 177JA, that intermittent custody should be imposed only where the court is clear that a full custodial sentence would be justified. That is not a departure from established principle; it follows the established principle that applies for suspended sentences. In Amendment No. 177JB, as in the earlier amendments, we ask for reasons.

In Amendment No. 179ZB, which is in the same group but applies to Clause 181, we set out similar suggestions in relation to suspended sentences. They should be imposed only where a full custodial sentence would be justified, and the court should give reasons.

We say to the Minister that, whereas some of the suggestions that we have made today may be covered by the Bill, and may be implicit if not explicit, these items ought to be explicit in the Bill. The explanation required in the amendments would assist the courts and ensure that consistency without uniformity underpins sentencing policy.


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