Letter from Baroness Scotland of Asthal
QC, Minister of State at the Home Office, to the Chairman
I am writing to bring to your attention to Government
amendments to Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Bill, which were
tabled on 28 and 29 October for consideration at Lords Report
Stage that concern delegated powers.
Part 11 contains provision for a minimum sentence
for certain firearms offences (clauses 265-269) and an increase
in the maximum sentence for smuggling prohibited firearms (clause
270). The Government believes these measures are necessary to
tackle the recent unacceptable rise in gun crime. We want to deter
criminals from using firearms and to ensure they receive appropriately
tough sentences on conviction.
The relevant clauses in the bill apply to specific
types of firearms that are already prohibited. However, we need
to be in a position to deal with any new, dangerous firearms that
come onto the market and which Parliament agrees should be prohibited.
There is an order-making power in the Firearms (Amendment) Act
1988 which allows the Secretary of State to prohibit specially
dangerous firearms. This power is being extended by means of the
Anti-social Behaviour Bill. However, we need to extend it slightly
further to allow an order to include all the amendments necessary
for the minimum sentence, and maximum sentence for smuggling,
to be applied to any future firearms.
Government amendments were also tabled to Part 11
on 29 October that provide for the early removal from prison scheme
for foreign national prisoners. These contain two proposals for
delegated powers. I enclose a copy of a letter sent to the Opposition
by Baroness Scotland on 29 October that explains the background
to the foreign national amendments. I also enclose the text of
together with a supplementary memorandum giving details of how
they would work.
31 October 2003
3 Not printed in this Report. Back