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LORDS AMENDMENT

128Leave out Clause 103 The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason—


128ABecause they would result in a less satisfactory scheme for dealing with evidence of bad character.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 128 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 128A.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 128 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 128A.—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)


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128BLord Kingsland rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 128 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 128A, leave out "not".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 114. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 128 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 128A, leave out "not".—(Lord Kingsland.)

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

129Leave out Clause 104 The Commons disagree to this amendment but propose the following amendments to the words so restored to the Bill—


129APage 66, line 28, leave out "require a defendant" and insert ", and, where the party in question is the prosecution, must, contain provision requiring a party"
129BPage 66, line 29, leave out "co-defendant's bad character under section 93(1)(f)" and insert "defendant's bad character"
129CPage 66, line 33, leave out "co-defendant" and insert "defendant"
129DPage 66, line 35, leave out "co-defendant" and insert "defendant"
129EPage 66, line 39, leave out "defendant" and insert "party"

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 129 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 129A to 129E to the words so restored to the Bill.—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)


129FLord Kingsland rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 129 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 129A to 129E to the words so restored to the Bill, leave out from "House" to end and insert "do insist on its Amendment No. 129".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 114. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 129 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 129A to 129E to the words so restored to the Bill, leave out from "House" to end and insert "do insist on its Amendment No. 129".—(Lord Kingsland.)

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

130Leave out Clause 105 The Commons disagree to this amendment but propose the following amendments to the words so restored to the Bill—


130APage 67, line 26, leave out from "means" to end of line 29 and insert "the commission of an offence or other reprehensible behaviour"
130BPage 67, line 42, after "Chapter" insert "(except section 93(3)"

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130CPage 67, line 45, at end insert—
"(a) under the rule in section 3 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1865 (c. 18) against a party impeaching the credit of his own witness by general evidence of bad character,"
130DPage 67, line 47, after "(c. 23)" insert "(restriction on evidence or questions about complainant's sexual history)"

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 130 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 130A to 130D to the words so restored to the Bill.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 130 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 130A to 130D to the words so restored to the Bill.—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)


130ELord Kingsland rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 130 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 130A to 130D to the words so restored to the Bill, leave out from "House" to end and insert "do insist on its Amendment No. 130".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 114. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 130 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 130A to 130D to the words so restored to the Bill, leave out from "House" to end and insert "do insist on its Amendment No. 130".—(Lord Kingsland.)

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

131Leave out Clause 106 The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason—


131ABecause they would result in a less satisfactory scheme for dealing with evidence of bad character.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 131 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 131A.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 131 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 131A.—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)


131BLord Kingsland rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 131 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 131A, leave out "not".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 114. I beg to move.

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Moved, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 131 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 131A, leave out "not".—(Lord Kingsland.)

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

132Leave out Clause 107 The Commons disagree to this amendment but propose the following amendment to the words so restored to the Bill—


132APage 68, line 15, leave out from "that" to second "the" in line 16 and insert "it is in"

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 132 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 132A to the words so restored to the Bill.

The issue of hearsay evidence has been the subject of constructive discussion in the past few weeks, so I shall deal directly with the government amendment to Clause 107(1)(d), which has been agreed in the Commons as I believe that that will address concerns about the extent to which the courts should have a discretion to admit reliable statements.

The Government remain firmly of the view that this discretion is an important aspect of the scheme. Certainly it was considered necessary by the Law Commission. But we have listened very carefully to the concerns that have been expressed that subsection (1)(d) was insufficiently focused. The proposed amendment would tighten the language used in the discretion to ensure that this evidence can be given only where it is in the interests of justice to do so. That would allow out of court cogent and reliable statements to be used, where the hearsay rule is obscuring or shielding the truth.

Clause 107 represents a key part of the new coherent statutory scheme. It provides a clear context for the operation of the other provisions in this part of the Bill. We have responded to concerns about the exercise of discretion to ensure that it is operated only in appropriate circumstances. I beg to move.

Moved, that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 132 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 132A to the words so restored to the Bill.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

138Page 89, line 3, at end insert— "(8) This section shall not come into effect before the national roll-out of the "custody plus order" under Sections 174 and 175."


    The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason—


138ABecause it may be desirable to increase the sentencing powers of magistrates' courts before the provisions about sentences of less than 12 months can be brought into force

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment

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No. 138 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 138A. I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 139, 167, 173 and 235. Those provisions deal with the sentencing issue.

As originally drafted, the Bill did not impose any restrictions on the timing of the increase in magistrates' sentencing powers. This allowed for a flexible approach to implementation. Amendments Nos. 138 and 139 would take away that flexibility by preventing the increase of magistrates' sentencing powers from coming into effect in advance of the custody plus provisions. The effect of that would be that the anticipated benefits of the increased magistrates' sentencing powers in terms of enabling them to retain more cases, thus saving time and money as well as benefiting victims and witnesses, could not be realised prior to the implementation of custody plus which we are aiming for as soon as possible.

Turning to Lords Amendment No. 167, as originally drafted the Bill provided for the indeterminate sentence of public protection to be passed if the offender was convicted of a trigger offence carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years or more and the court was of the opinion that there was a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm occasioned by the commission by him of further specified offences.

As we have stated in both Houses, the purpose of the test is to establish whether an offender is dangerous and in making this judgment the court must focus primarily upon the degree of the risk of harm that any future offending may pose. We do not think that the alternative test proposed by your Lordships diverts the attention of the court away from the central consideration—the harm that the offender may pose to the public. Both tests of course require a risk of reoffending to be present, but we think that the original test incorporates it in a way that better meets the interests of public safety.

On Amendment No. 173, as originally drafted the Bill provided for the automatic release of non-dangerous offenders serving sentences of 12 months or more at the half-way point of their sentence. However, your Lordships decided that where this sentence was of four years or more, automatic release could not occur before the offender had served two-thirds of their sentence in prison. Following the introduction of the new sentences for dangerous offenders, there is no longer any public protection justification for retaining the differential release provisions that currently exist for custodial sentences of over and under four years. Amendment No. 173 would also undermine all the benefits that would accrue from the new simplified structure of custodial sentence of 12 months or more for non-dangerous offenders, such as making the sentencing framework more transparent, increasing public confidence, assisting post-release planning and providing longer supervision periods to reduce re-offending.

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Finally, Amendment No. 235 places a duty upon chief officers of each probation area to establish consultation arrangements with local magistrates' courts committees and local communities. We believe that that simply is not necessary. Although the Government agree with the sentiment of this amendment and acknowledge the importance of encouraging joint working, they do not believe that such a statutory duty is necessary in the light of arrangements that are already in place and those that are planned.

The National Probation Directorate has recently agreed with the Magistrates' Association to establish a new national consultative group which will help to give magistrates and other sentencers a clear and strong voice in the development of policy and practice. Discussions are currently taking place with the Magistrates' Association and others about the details, including the terms of reference and wider membership of the group. These are expected to be resolved by the end of the year.

Among the first issues to be addressed when the new group meets will be how these national arrangements might be reflected at a more local level and the continuing development of local and locally agreed communication strategies to complement those at a national level. For these reasons, I beg to move that the House do not insist on the amendment.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment Nos. 138 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 138A.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


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