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LORDS AMENDMENT

139Clause 147, page 89, line 10, at end insert— "(5) 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—


139ABecause it is consequential on Lords Amendment No. 138 to which the Commons have disagreed.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment Nos. 139 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 139A.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 139 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 139A.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

167Clause 216, page 127, line 7, leave out from "a" to end of line 9 and insert "substantial risk of his committing further specified offences involving a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public" The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason—


167ABecause the test originally proposed is preferable.

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 167 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 167A.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 167 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 167A.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

173Clause 235, page 136, line 39, at end insert "(where that sentence is less than four years), or two-thirds of his sentence (in any other case)" The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason—


173ABecause it is appropriate for prisoners serving sentences of four years or more to be released on licence at the half-way point in cases where the provisions for dangerous offenders do not apply.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 173 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 173A.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 173 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 173A.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

203Clause 254, page 147, line 29, at end insert— "( ) This section does not apply if the offender was under 18 when he committed the offence."


    The Commons disagree to this amendment but propose the following amendments in lieu thereof—


203APage 266, line 11, leave out "In a case not falling" and insert "If the offender was aged 18 or over when he committed the offence and the case does not fall"
203BPage 266, line 12, at end insert—
"6A If the offender was aged under 18 when he committed the offence, the appropriate starting point, in determining the minimum term, is 12 years."

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 203 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 203A and 203B in lieu thereof.

This group of amendments refers to issues regarding juveniles. To allay the concerns which have been expressed about juvenile tariffs we propose to reintroduce juveniles into the system, but we will specifically set in the statute a lower starting point for them, to recognise the special needs of the age group. The juvenile starting point will be 12 years, which reflects recent guidance given by the Lord Chief Justice.

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As I said previously, the starting point for tariffs under the schedule are not a minimum sentence. Age is still specified as a mitigating factor within these principles and courts will have the discretion to reduce from the starting point to arrive at sentences appropriate to the youth or maturity of younger juvenile offenders.

I know that the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, whom I see is in his place, has been particularly concerned about this matter and has asked whether the Government expect the starting point of 12 years to be applied as it is currently. I refer to the Lord Chief Justice's direction that courts should as a rule of thumb reduce the starting point by one year for each year that the juvenile is below the age of majority.

Of course it would be inappropriate for me to limit the discretion of the courts by expecting such a mechanistic determination. The statute maintains the age of the offender as a mitigating factor which the courts may take into account above and beyond the fact that there is already a lower starting point for juveniles. That will enable the courts to move from the starting point as appropriate to set a tariff that is just in all the circumstances.

We should not forget that juvenile cases are individual. A 14 year-old may be immature, or a 17 year-old mature, so wide flexibility is vital. My right honourable friend made the point that the year-on-year reduction could be regarded as too inflexible in corresponding with the Lord Chief Justice on the practice direction of which we speak.

We hope though that the latitude for the exercise of discretion that we have here in outline will be more than sufficient for the judges who deal with these very complex and difficult cases to exercise appropriate discretion in differentiating between children of differing ages, backgrounds and circumstances particularly referable to the nature of the offence. With that, I hope that noble Lords will not insist on their Amendments Nos. 203 and 431, but do agree Amendments Nos. 230A and 203B in lieu of Amendment No. 203. I beg to move.

Moved, that this House do not insist on its Amendment No. 203 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 203A and 203B in lieu thereof.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I rise briefly on this important matter. I thank the noble Baroness for giving such a full and careful explanation of the reasons why the Government felt that they could not go further than the arrangement they have achieved by their amendments in lieu today.

I make it clear that we had always understood that there would be discretion in sentencing. Our amendments in no way impinged upon mandatory life sentences. Certainly, I welcome the fact that the Government have thought again on these matters. Noble Lords who voted to remove this provision are somewhat disappointed in a sense that we have gone from 15 to 12. That disappointment must be tempered as the noble Baroness explained, by the fact that the Government have lighted upon the Lord Chief

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Justice's guideline. I remarked to him this week that on that basis I certainly would not seek to resist the Government in their amendments in lieu. Therefore, I did not table a Motion today.

However, prior to today's debate, I had contact with the Children's Society. It wishes to make it clear that it is disappointed but perfectly understands that it would not be appropriate to press the matter now. We are all aware that there may be a proper time to debate the matter further with the Minister and on the Floor of the House when we reach a review of the youth justice system.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

235After Clause 283, Insert the following new Clause— "Duty of probation officers to consult with magistrates


It shall be the duty of the chief officer of each probation area—
(a) to establish consultation arrangements with local magistrates' courts committees and local communities,
(b) to assist the probation service in the performance of its duties of reducing offending, and
(c) to supervise offenders in the community." The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason—


235ABecause it is unnecessary to impose the duty referred to.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 235 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 235A.

I have spoken to the amendment with Amendment No. 138.

Moved, that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 235 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 235A in lieu thereof.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

431Schedule 26, page 316, line 39, leave out sub-paragraph (2) The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason—


431ABecause it is consequential on Lords Amendment No. 203 to which the Commons have disagreed.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 431 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 431A.

I have spoken to this amendment with Amendments Nos. 138 and 203.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 431 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 431A.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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