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Two test-bed regions will be appointed to work with us to implement the vision in the most effective way. The Corporate Alliance for Reducing Re-offending is one of three alliances launched by my noble friend Lady Scotland in November 2005. Significant activity to engage employers is part of a cross-government agenda, linked into the national and regional education, training and employment boards and integral to the Green Paper Youth Matters: Next Steps action plan. Working in partnership with other government departments, including the Department for Work and Pensions, the National Offender Management Service is developing strategies at national, regional and local levels for engaging employers in providing jobs for offenders and ex-offenders, and using both custodial and community sentences constructively to improve employment opportunities for those offenders. In marketing offenders to employers, we are highlighting how the prison and probation services can train offenders to meet their workforce needs and requirements. A number of major companies have signed up to the corporate alliance including Cisco Systems, Compass, EDS, Holiday Inn, Wessex Water, Wolseley and UBS Investment Bank, as well as Asda, as the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, mentioned.

Education for offenders is key to helping them increase their employability. The Government have made substantial additional investment in education provision for offenders. It was £57 million back in 2001-02 and has now risen to £151 million in 2005-06 and £156 million in 2006-07. We have had a significant step increase in the resources set aside for that important work. A further £30 million of European Social Fund investment has been secured by the Learning and Skills Council for funding additional provision over the financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08, principally for offenders in the community. In addition, although the final decision has yet to be made, I expect the forthcoming criminal justice Bill to include clauses to bring cautions, reprimands and final warnings within the ambit of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

The amendment would create a statutory requirement for the Government to review a particular piece of legislation and report on it. Much as I understand the move behind the proposed amendment, it would be an odd provision. I contend that our substantive criminal law should not be used simply to require government to conduct a one-off review and publish a report. If we were to go down that road, the statute book could become littered with short-term demands and the volume of our law would increase substantially at a time when many Members of your Lordships’ House would consider less would be better.

I understand and fully accept the noble Lord’s commitment to these issues. To a large extent, the Government share it—it is part of a common agenda, but this would not be an acceptable intrusion on to the statute book. That should be reserved for other matters. We fully understand where the noble Lord is coming from. We have embraced much of what was set out in our 2002 review of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and much progress has been made in Breaking the Circle, but of course I accept that much more needs to be done. I hope that the noble Lord feels able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Ramsbotham: I thank the Minister for his detailed response. I also thank all those who took part in the debate. I make no apology for tabling the amendment as it is at the heart of what this is all about. I am very glad that the Breaking the Circle report is likely to be revisited, because things have moved on since then. Therefore, I should like to think that the initiative is ongoing. In that spirit, I am very happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 33 [Orders and regulations]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 129:

( ) section 5(3)(c),”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 130 and 130A not moved.]

Clause 33, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 34 to 36 agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 131:

“Race Relations Act 1976 (c. 74)“A probation trust.”“A provider of probation services (other than the Secretary of State or a probation trust), in respect of its statutory functions and the carrying out by it of activities of a public nature in pursuance of arrangements made with it under section 3(2) of the Offender Management Act 2007.””

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 132:

“Children Act 2004 (c. 31)“(ca) the Secretary of State in relation to his functions under sections 2 and 3 of the Offender Management Act 2007, so far as they are exercisable in relation to England; (cb) any provider of probation services that is required by arrangements under section 3(2) of the Offender Management Act 2007 to act as a relevant partner of the authority;”.“(ja) the Secretary of State in relation to his functions under sections 2 and 3 of the Offender Management Act 2007, so far as they are exercisable in relation to England;”.“(ca) the Secretary of State in relation to any of his functions under sections 2 and 3 of the Offender Management Act 2007, so far as they are exercisable in relation to England;(cb) any provider of probation services that is required by arrangements under section 3(2) of the Offender Management Act 2007 to act as a Board partner of the authority;”.“(ba) the Secretary of State in relation to his functions under sections 2 and 3 of the Offender Management Act 2007, so far as they are exercisable in relation to Wales;(bb) any provider of probation services that is required by arrangements under section 3(2) of the Offender Management Act 2007 to act as a relevant partner of the authority;”.“(fa) the Secretary of State in relation to his functions under sections 2 and 3 of the Offender Management Act 2007, so far as they are exercisable in relation to Wales;”.“(ba) the Secretary of State in relation to his functions under sections 2 and 3 of the Offender Management Act 2007, so far as they are exercisable in relation to Wales;(bb) any provider of probation services that is required by arrangements under section 3(2) of the Offender Management Act 2007 to act as a Board partner of the authority;”.”

The noble Baroness said: As we have previously identified, a large number of consequential amendments need to be made to reflect the fact that probation boards will cease to exist in due course. Clause 35 enables consequential amendments to be made by order after the Bill is enacted, and this is the mechanism that we plan to use for most of them. However, we are making a small number in the Bill in areas that have raised particular interest and where we think it would be helpful to show the Committee how we are approaching these matters. Amendment No. 132 falls into that category.

Local probation boards are also covered by these provisions. As I have already said, the duties need to be updated to reflect the new arrangements proposed by the Bill, and it is this that the government amendment is particularly interested in. It amends Sections 10, 11, 13, 25, 28 and 31 of the Children Act 2004.

As many Members of the Committee know, Section 10 of the Children Act requires each children’s services authority in England to make arrangements to promote co-operation between the authority, the authority’s relevant partners and such other persons or bodies as the authority considers appropriate, with a view to improving the well-being of children in the authority’s area. Subsection (4) sets out the list of relevant partners, which includes a local probation board for an area any part of which falls within the area of the authority.

Paragraph (2) of our amendment replaces the reference to local boards with the Secretary of State in relation to his functions under Clauses 2 and 3 of this Bill and any provider of probation services that is so required by arrangements under Section 3(2). Therefore, it will be a general catch-all provision that, we think, will be important. In practice, this means that the Secretary of State will be under a duty to commission probation services in such a way as to ensure appropriate co-operation between probation and children’s services authorities, but, as this is essentially a local activity, the day-to-day duty will be exercised through the local lead provider, and this will be specified in the contract.

Section 11 of the Children Act places a duty on the local probation board to make arrangements for ensuring that its functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Paragraph (3) of our amendment places that duty on the Secretary of State in relation to his functions under Clauses 2 and 3 for ensuring the provision of probation services. The Secretary of State will then be required by virtue of existing Section 11(2)(b) of the Children Act to ensure that any arrangements that he makes with another person to provide services also ensure that those services are discharged having regard to that need. In other words, when entering into contracts with providers of probation, the Secretary of State must ensure that those contracts make provision for services to be delivered having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Section 13 of the Children Act requires each children’s services authority to establish a local safeguarding children board for their area and for this to include a representative or representatives of the local probation board. Paragraph (4) of our amendment replaces the reference to local boards with the Secretary of State in relation to his functions under Clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill and any provider of probation services that is so required by arrangements under Section 3(2). As with the duty to co-operate in Section 10 of the Children Act, this means in practice that the Secretary of State will be under a duty to commission probation services in such a way as to ensure that there is appropriate probation representation on the local safeguarding children’s board. However, as the work of a board is a local matter, the contract will require the appropriate provider to participate in it. The provisions apply to England only. Sections 25, 28 and 31 of the Children Act mirror the provisions for Wales, and paragraphs (5), (6) and (7) of our amendment do the same thing.

I appreciate that this has been a lengthy and detailed explanation of the amendment, but I hope that it has shown the Committee how we intend to ensure that the existing duties on local probation boards are carried forward fully to the new arrangements envisaged by the Bill. We remain wholly committed to maintaining probation commitments not just to children’s services but towards the full range of partnerships in which they currently participate. I beg to move.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I welcome the government amendment. It reflects fairly on the discussion that was held in another place in January on an amendment that was tabled by my honourable friend James Brokenshire, which sought to achieve exactly what the Government have now put before us.

The Minister was right to point out that there are occasions when particular commitments should be in the Bill. We have argued that on many occasions and the Government said no, but on this occasion we agree. The joint commitment to child welfare is a shining example of where it should be in legislation for all users of the legislation and all those who need to interpret it to see the will of Parliament clearly. In another place, the Minister said that there was no difference between us on this point. The Government have proved it by this provision, and I imagine that the Committee will welcome the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendments Nos. 133 and 134:

“Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007(a) the “and” after sub-paragraph (ii) is omitted;(b) after sub-paragraph (iii) there is inserted “;(iv) his functions under sections 2 and 3 of the Offender Management Act 2007 (responsibility for ensuring the provision of probation services throughout England and Wales).”

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Repeals]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 135:

“Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (c. 00)

In section 80(3), the word “and” after paragraph (g)(ii).”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 37 agreed to.

Clause 38 [Commencement]:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): I advise the Committee that if Amendment No. 136 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 137 because of pre-emption.

9 pm

Lord Ramsbotham moved Amendment No. 136:

(a) a review of the proposals contained within the report published on 11th December 2003 “Managing Offenders, Reducing Crime: a New Approach”;(b) the collated responses to the consultation document “Restructuring Probation to Reduce Re-Offending”;(c) a review of the responses referred to in paragraph (b); and(d) proposals for reform of the Probation Service.

The noble Lord said: The genesis of the Bill was the report by the noble Lord, Lord Carter, Managing Offenders, Reducing Crime, which was published in December 2003. The report was based on the assumption that there would be a stable prison population, which simply has not happened. Indeed, the first chief executive of NOMS announced that NOMS as described was undeliverable without a stable prison population. Since then, we have seen a steady increase in the prison population, which has made that assumption seem even less likely day by day.

As I mentioned at Second Reading, the Government published their so-called considered response to the report 26 days later, which announced the formation of NOMS without consultation or pilot. Unfortunately, that was followed by a briefing of the prison and probation services on what was intended, which included severe changes to their structure, about which they were not informed before their briefing. That was very unfortunate, because it has tempered a great deal of the responses to the proposals by people who felt not that they were being taken along as members of a process but that something was being imposed on them.

I well remember that that was followed soon after by what was called an online consultation, which resulted in absolutely no feedback. It felt like a cosmetic exercise. I asked the first change manager how she would pay for the increased numbers of supervisors of those awarded community sentences under such things as custody plus. I received the reply, “From the reduced number in prisons”. There seemed to be quite a lot of confusion about where this was going. The Government have made a number of attempts since then to bring in a NOMS-enabling Bill. The Management of Offenders and Sentencing Bill was withdrawn during the 2005 election, there was no successor to it in the next Session, and the Offender Management Bill was laid in this Session.

Many people have for a long time—certainly long before the current crisis in both prisons and probation caused by overcrowding and lack of resources—been calling for improvements in the way in which offenders are managed. Clearly, reconviction rates in excess of 60 per cent are unacceptable marks of failure if the aim, given by the Government to the criminal justice system, is the protection of the public by preventing reoffending. How is that aim achieved? At the heart of what we have been discussing in Committee for six days is NOMS. I have asked the Minister several times whether NOMS means a national offender management service, which Ministers declared was to provide clear leadership and accountability in the performance of all the correctional services and to reduce reoffending, or whether it was the system through which the correctional services were commissioned and provided. As yet, I have not had a definitive reply. Indeed, the Minister has referred to NOMS both as a service and as a system in this debate.

The Committee has been united on a number of key points throughout its deliberations. First, everyone has supported the concept of what is called end-to-end offender management, although several of us remain to be convinced that as described, and however desirable, it is actually deliverable. What is needed is the consistent management of work done with and for each offender throughout their sentence, whether in custody or the community, or both. If called case management, which it is, it becomes more understandable. Secondly, everyone supports partnership working, including the public, private and voluntary sectors, each contributing what it does best. Thirdly, offender management needs to be centrally directed but locally delivered. In other words, we support a national offender management system that includes every agency and individual with a role to play in the management of offenders, and which is an integral part of the criminal justice system. Yet just as the criminal justice system is not an entity but a description of the environment within which courts, police, prisons and probation services work together so, too, the national offender management system is not an entity but a description of the environment within which all those with a role to play in managing offenders work together. Looking at it against that criterion, I hope that your Lordships will see why a great deal about this Bill is currently unsatisfactory.

What we have been debating over six days has not been how an offender management system might better manage offenders, but rather a government description of a way in which probation services, in particular, might be commissioned—but not delivered. That is not the same thing at all, and our concern here is exemplified by the number of amendments that have drawn attention to what is not in this Bill when we would have expected it to be in one about offender management.


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