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Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 247E:

15 Oct 2003 : Column 1041


    Page 373, line 19, at end insert—


"2A (1) Subject to sub-paragraph (2), the repeal by this Act of section 81 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (c. 37) does not affect the operation of subsection (4) of that section in relation to any notification received by the Panel under subsection (2) of that section, or proposal made by the Panel under subsection (3) of that section, before the commencement of the repeal.
(2) In its application by virtue of sub-paragraph (1) after the commencement of that repeal, section 81(4) of that Act is to have effect as if any reference to "the Court" were a reference to the Sentencing Guidelines Council.
(3) In this paragraph "the Panel" means the Sentencing Advisory Panel."

The noble Lord said: I should also like to speak to Amendment No. 247F. These are consequential amendments. They ensure that the Sentencing Advisory Panel gives advice to the Sentencing Guidelines Council when the latter is established. Amendment No. 247F ensures that the correct Mental Health (Scotland) Act applies to transferred community orders and suspended sentence orders. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 247F:


    Page 374, line 34, at end insert—

"Transfer of community orders and transfer of suspended sentence orders

6 (1) Until the coming into force of the repeal by the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 (c. 36), in the provisions mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) the reference to the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 has effect as a reference to the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 (c. 36).
(2) Those provisions are—
(a) paragraph 2(4) of Schedule 8 (transfer of community orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland), and
(b) paragraph 4 of Schedule (Transfer of suspended sentence orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland) (transfer of suspended sentence orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland)."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 32, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 303 [Provision for Northern Ireland]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 248:


    Page 173, line 6, leave out "Part 9 or 11 of this Act" and insert "any provision of this Act specified in subsection (1A)"

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 248, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 249, 255 and 258. The first two amendments extend certain clauses from Part 1 and the whole of Part 8 to Northern Ireland. Amendment No. 255 extends reporting restrictions for Part 6 to Scotland and Northern Ireland, while Amendment No. 258 ensures that Schedule 3 repeals have the same extent as the enactments amended or repealed. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 249:

15 Oct 2003 : Column 1042


    Page 173, line 11, at end insert—


"(1A) The provisions are—
(a) in Part 1, sections 1, 3, 5 to 8, 10 and 11 and paragraphs 1, 2, 5 to 10 and 20 of Schedule 1, and
(b) Parts 8, 9 and 11."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 303, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 304 agreed to.

Clause 305 [Commencement]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 250:


    Page 173, line 36, at end insert—


"section (Enforcement of regulations implementing Community legislation on endangered species),"

The noble Baroness said: Amendments Nos. 250C, 252ZZA and 252AB ensure that certain provisions are commenced upon Royal Assent or, in the case of the last of them, two weeks after that. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendments Nos. 250A to 250C:


    Page 173, line 36, at end insert—

"section 161(1) and (2),"


    Page 173, line 36, at end insert—

"section 176(8),"


    Page 173, leave out line 38 and insert—

"section 302(1) to (5), sections 303 and 304"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 251 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendments Nos. 252 and 252ZZA:


    Page 173, line 39, at end insert—


"the repeal in Part 8 of Schedule 31 of section 81(2) and (3) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (c. 37) (and section 301 so far as relating to that repeal)." Page 173, line 39, at end insert "and

paragraphs 1 and 5 of Schedule 32 (and section 302(6) so far as relating to those paragraphs)"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 252ZA and 252A not moved.]

[Amendment No. 252AA had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 252AB:


    Page 174, line 1, leave out "paragraph" and insert "paragraphs 39C, 39D(3), 58A, 68(1) to (3), 68A and"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Hunt of Wirral moved Amendment No. 252B:


    Page 174, line 5, at beginning insert "Subject to section (Commencement of Part 12: certification of sufficient resources),.

The noble Lord said: The amendment paves the way for Amendment No. 252C, which would insert the new clause. It relates to the commencement of Part 12 of the Bill, which, as Members of the Committee will

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recall, makes some of the most sweeping changes to sentencing practice in England and Wales in many years.

The amendment would require that, before any element of Part 12 was brought into force, the Secretary of State would have to certify to your Lordships and to the other place that sufficient resources were provided in order to give the provisions adequate practical effect.

The issue of adequate resources is a crucial one if Part 12 is to make the difference that the Government hope it will. We have already debated the fact that the Prison Service, the police and the probation service are all overstretched as it is, and Part 12 will bring additional heavy burdens. The Explanatory Notes state that by 2008–09 the probation service will require nearly 200 million in extra funding each year as a result of Part 12.

We debated the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, on the prison population. There is considerable concern about prison populations in relation to the new sentencing provisions in the Bill. Currently there are approximately 72,000 people in prison. That figure has risen from 64,770 in 1999. Even in 1999, England and Wales had the second highest prison population in western Europe—worse than China. We now have the highest prison population in western Europe; and higher per capita than Libya, Malaysia and Burma.

There has been much controversy over prisons and their rising populations. As I mentioned earlier, the Prison Reform Trust has suggested that longer custodial sentences rather than rising crime rates are driving up the prison population. The trust went on to criticise the Home Office for encouraging judges to impose harsher sentences with slogans such as, "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", without providing the extra capacity that harsher sentences require.

The BBC reported that the total prison capacity would be around 78,700 by 2006, but that the Home Office has stated that,


    "between 8,000 and 22,000 extra places will be needed on top of this".

It would be helpful to be given some explanation of where those figures come from and where the extra capacity will be found. It is against that background that the sentencing provisions will be implemented. The Government state that custody plus and custody minus will reduce the prison population. However, I think that most informed commentators, including most of your Lordships, believe that this Bill will initially push up the prison population markedly because custody plus and custody minus cannot be implemented until the Treasury finds enough funds to expand the probation service sufficiently to carry the extra load.

Last year in a Written Answer Mr Hilary Benn stated that it was estimated that an additional 19 million, 70 million, 136 million, 175 million, 186 million and 194 million would be required for the financial years 2003–04 through to 2008-09.

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It would greatly assist the Committee if the Government could give some idea of where all this money is to come from and if they indicated that they certainly will not implement any of the provisions in this Bill until there are sufficient funds to cover any resources needed.

I have set out the Government's estimates. However, they have been questioned by no less a figure than the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice. The noble and learned Lord had this to say at paragraph 59 of his memorandum about what is in the Home Office's explanatory notes on the cost implications of the new statutory provision on minimum terms for murder that are contained in Part 12:


    "That is a totally erroneous assessment of the consequences of the change and indicate that those consequences have not been fully appreciated. What has been looked at is merely that those who are to be sentenced under the new tariff will be in prison longer than would otherwise be the case and so as they would not in any event be released for 10 years the effect of the increases will be postponed for 10 years. The distorting effect that the new minimum periods will have on other sentences has been ignored".

The noble and learned Lord then concluded his memorandum at paragraph 70 in what Members of the Committee may consider very stark terms indeed. He stated:


    "I have already indicated that the costs implications of the proposals as to minimum periods for life sentences have been seriously underestimated. It is my belief that the costs of the impact of the proposals on the Court of Appeal have also been underestimated. In addition, the complicated nature of some of the provisions will inevitably prolong proceedings . . . There will also be 'knock-on' costs arising from the requirement for additional judges, their staff and the accommodation to house them".

Will the noble Baroness respond to those very serious criticisms of the Government's costings, because I know how seriously she would take the words of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice? In particular, will she tell us the cost of the ratcheting-up effect on sentences for crimes other than murder, to which he referred?

Furthermore, will the noble Baroness explain the statement in paragraph 791 of the Explanatory Notes that:


    "The costs will be subject to final decisions about the timing of implementation"?

Assuming that the Bill is enacted, when will those final decisions be made? Have they already been made on a provisional basis? Will she shed a little light on the thinking in the Home Office about when the various elements in Part 12 will be implemented, and on whether funding has been secured from the Treasury to ensure that it can be implemented effectively on whatever schedule it has?

I hope that the Minister will be able to give from the Dispatch Box the assurance about the provision of adequate resources to those working in the criminal justice system that is sought by the amendment, so that Part 12 can then be implemented properly and public protection enhanced. I am sure that that is what the Government and the whole Committee would wish. I beg to move.

15 Oct 2003 : Column 1045

9.15 p.m.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: We on these Benches fully support the amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Wirral, asked from where the money was coming to have extra prison places and so on. Will the noble Baroness give an assurance from the Dispatch Box that the money to be saved on the criminal injuries compensation scheme will go into building more prisons? That way, if victims of crime get less money, they will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that the people who beat them up will spend longer in prison.


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