Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, what is the position with Turkey? Do the Administration have the same misgivings about its commercial operations as they do about its defence forces?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I thought that this Question was on Iraq contracts. I cannot see any connection between that and the Turkish situation.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, if American money is funding these contracts, why should the Americans not favour their own contractors as prime contractors?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, as I said, a large amount of the money so far allocated has been allocated by US AID. One of its legal requirements is that the prime contracts go to American companies, which seems not unreasonable. On the other hand, in the award of other contracts and where there is open competition, I think it very important that that should be on a fair and open basis.

Business

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, by the leave of the House, it may be for the convenience of the House if I make a Statement on the projected business for today. This afternoon we shall receive the Commons amendments to the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill. We will consider those amendments after consideration of Commons amendments on the Criminal Justice Bill but not earlier than 9.45 p.m.

The Commons amendments will be available in the Printed Paper Office from 6.45 p.m. Peers who want to table amendments to the Commons amendments can do so in the Public Bill Office from 6.45 p.m. until 8.45 p.m. At 9.15 p.m., a Marshalled List of amendments will be available in the Printed Paper Office.

I will make sure that these events are indicated on the annunciators. If there are any complications that affect this plan I shall come back to the House to explain what is happening. I will also update the House on timings for further rounds of ping-pong on both the Criminal Justice Bill and the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill.

Criminal Justice Bill

3.12 p.m.

A message was brought from the Commons, That they agree to certain amendments made by your Lordships to the Criminal Justice Bill without amendment; they disagree to certain other amendments

19 Nov 2003 : Column 1940

but have made amendments to the words so restored to the Bill to which they desire the agreement of your Lordships; they disagree to a certain amendment but have made amendments in lieu thereof to which they desire the agreement of your Lordships; and they disagree to the remaining amendments for which they assign reasons.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons message be considered forthwith.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS REASONS FOR DISAGREEING TO CERTAIN LORDS AMENDMENTS, COMMONS DISAGREEMENT TO CERTAIN LORDS AMENDMENTS AND COMMONS AMENDMENTS TO WORDS SO RESTORED TO THE BILL, AND COMMONS AMENDMENTS IN LIEU OF A CERTAIN LORDS AMENDMENT DISAGREED TO
[The page and line references are to HL Bill 69 as first printed for the Lords.]
LORDS AMENDMENT

2Clause 4, Leave out Clause 4 The Commons disagree to this Amendment for the following reason—


2ABecause it is appropriate to extend the circumstances in which the telephone may be used in connection with the review of police detention.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 2 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 2A. I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 4 and 8, to which the Commons have disagreed for the reasons numbered 4A and 8A. I shall speak first to Amendment No. 2.

The deletion of this clause from the Bill places an unnecessary restriction on a practical and efficient way of overcoming some of the resource and logistical problems of arranging reviews. The clause will maintain the application of these important safeguards but broaden the capacity so that telephone reviews can be used where they are considered the most practical and efficient approach. It will provide the review officer with a straightforward alternative of reviewing in person or by telephone. In so doing, however, he must consider each case individually and decide the most appropriate way to conduct the review.

We have made it clear in guidance that specific consideration must be given in the case of vulnerable suspects, including juveniles. The clause follows the recommendation of the joint Home Office and Cabinet Office review of PACE that allowing the use of telephone reviews in a wider set of circumstances would better serve the needs of the police and the rights of suspects.

I shall speak now to Amendment No. 4. At present the law allows the police the discretion to retain the fingerprints and non-intimate samples taken by them during the investigation of an offence of persons suspected of having committed a recordable offence.

19 Nov 2003 : Column 1941

This amendment as drafted would not only require the police to destroy the fingerprints and samples taken from persons arrested for a recordable offence and not subsequently charged; it would also put the law back to the position prior to the changes made in 2001. That change to the law has proven to be extremely important.

The custodian of the National DNA Database tells us that there are now approximately 103,000 DNA profiles on the database which would have previously been removed under PACE. Of those, approximately 4,600 profiles of individuals have been linked with crime scene stains involving 4,760 offences. Those offences include 26 murders, 15 attempted murders, 27 rapes, 13 sexual offences, 14 aggravated burglaries and six of the supply of controlled drugs. Those are all offences which were committed after the person had been acquitted of an earlier charge. We therefore ask whether we really want to revert to a situation where the police would be denied this type of crucial intelligence in the investigation of crime.

I turn to Amendment No. 8. As originally drafted, this clause provided for the Secretary of State to alter, by order made by statutory instrument, the minimum age at which persons in police detention may be tested for specified class A drugs—that is, heroin, crack and cocaine. The clause also provided for the order to be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. This delegation and level of scrutiny was considered to be appropriate by the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform. These provisions are to be introduced in limited areas on a pilot basis initially. We maintain that it is important that the Secretary of State should have the ability to change the minimum age, either up or down. It is our intention that any decision to change the minimum age for drug testing will be made only after full consideration of all the available evidence and will take account of the views of relevant bodies. I therefore urge your Lordships not to insist on your Amendments Nos. 2, 4 and 8.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 2 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 2A.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENTS

4After Clause 8, Insert the following new Clause— "Destruction of fingerprints and samples


    (1) Section 64 of the 1984 Act (destruction of fingerprints and samples) is amended as follows.


    (2) In subsection (3), the words ", except as provided in the following provisions of this section," are omitted.


    (3) Subsections (3AA), (3AB) and (3AC) are omitted."


    The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason—


4ABecause it is appropriate to ensure the exclusion in certain cases of the duty under section 64(3) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to destroy fingerprints and samples.
8Clause 12, page 7, line 35, leave out paragraph (c)

19 Nov 2003 : Column 1942

The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason—


8ABecause it may prove desirable in the light of experience to vary the minimum age above which a test for Class A drugs may be required under section 63B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 4 and 8 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reasons numbered 4A and 8A. I have spoken to these amendments with Amendment No. 2.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 4 and 8 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reasons numbered 4A and 8A.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

32Clause 41, Leave out Clause 41 The Commons disagree to this Amendment for the following reason—


32ABecause it should be possible for a defendant to apply for a trial to be conducted without a jury.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 32 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 32A.

These amendments deal with the issue of jury trial. I shall come in a moment to the amendments to Clause 42 which the Government made in another place yesterday and which respond to concerns raised by Her Majesty's loyal Opposition and those sitting opposite. First, however, I should like to set the wider context of this provision by explaining why it is in the Bill and why it is important that it stays there.

Fraud is on the increase. Technological advance, the growing sophistication of the market and the proliferation of financial instruments and products have created new opportunities for fraud. Its economic impact is huge. On latest statistics, fraud is costing the country about 14 billion per year, as against 1 billion in 1985. Therefore, I think your Lordships will agree that fraud harms us all. It affects individual savings, pensions, investments and jobs. It also has direct costs that impact ultimately on the whole of society.

Clause 42 addresses a particular problem within the wider fraud arena. It recognises and seeks to deal with a small—I repeat "small"—number of fraud and other financial cases where there are clear difficulties in conducting a trial by jury. Those difficulties are not abstract and theoretical but have been encountered in practice. The courts themselves have expressed the gravest concerns about the threat to justice inherent in making these kinds of case manageable for juries. That has long been recognised, as I think even those who oppose Clause 42 would acknowledge. The Roskill report on serious fraud in 1986, the establishment of the Serious Fraud Office and Lord Justice Auld's

19 Nov 2003 : Column 1943

independent review are all evidence of attempts to respond to these difficulties over the past few decades. The case for change has commanded general support.

Considerable and, for the most part, successful—I wish to emphasise that—efforts have been made to try to help the courts in managing the trial process in such cases. The preparatory hearing regimes in the Criminal Justice Act 1987 and the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 are working well. However, there continue to be a few exceptional cases—one must regard them as exceptional—that are so lengthy and/or complex that they stubbornly resist the best efforts of all involved to reduce the burden on the jury without imperilling justice. The need to meet the imperative of manageability for juries means that these trials are currently being carved up in a way that simply cannot be said to serve the interests of justice. They are divided into separate trials, evidence is pared down and charges reduced. Secondary defendants who should notwithstanding be prosecuted are not brought to justice.

Even in the event of a conviction, losses to the public interest and to confidence in the criminal justice system arise from the fact that the jury has been asked to reach a verdict on an artificially truncated version of the facts. The totality of the offending is not exposed; judges are unable to sentence on the basis of the full criminality and the public at large are never told the whole story. So justice, not least justice for victims, is not done.

Serious fraud trials can last for months. They place an excessive and unreasonable burden on the members of the jury. They also make it difficult to ensure a representative jury. Jury service is an important civic duty but there must be proper limits to the imposition that it is right to make on jurors' lives. Clause 42 requires the judge to ensure that all the options that would allow jury trial have been thoroughly tested. The threshold for non-jury trial is a high one, and deliberately so. Where it is necessary in the interests of justice looked at in the round for a case to be conducted without a jury we would ask, what possible case can there be for doing anything else?

A number of comments have been made, first, in relation to whether we are creating a two-tier system of justice. We are not. I remind noble Lords of what was said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cooke. I refer to his experience in New Zealand where this provision has been in existence for 20 years or so and has had no disadvantageous effect upon the availability of jury trial in normal cases. We believe that these provisions are appropriate.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 32, to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 32A.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page