|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the statistics quoted by my noble friend are absolutely right. Some of us believe that many young people have no structure in their lives, too much pent-up energy and no sense of moral or spiritual guidance. They have enjoyed no training or learning at mother's knee. The programme aimed at for those young people is absolutely right. The routine at the centre will be such that they will rise at 6 o'clock in the morning. During the course of the day they will enjoy breakfast, lunch, tea and supper. All other times will consist of inspection of their accommodation and themselves, parades, physical training, education and training or work experience. They will go back to their rooms at 8 o'clock in the evening and the lights will go out at 10. There will be a three-staged arrangement whereby they earn privileges through good behaviour.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, will the noble Baroness agree that one thing is certain--that those offenders who go through the course will emerge much physically fitter than when they entered? Have the Government considered the possibility that the regime as a whole may not cure them of their anti-social habits and lives expressed in burgarlies and so forth? The Government may be making future offenders much more physically fit and better able to carry out their "tasks".
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the noble Lord raises a most important point which allows me to say how the programme differs from the boot camps mentioned by my noble friend and the short, sharp, shock treatment mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Glenamara. The importance of the programme is that it will put structure and discipline into young people's lives. But it will also address their offending behaviour. There will be programmes especially designed to help them address their persistent offending--burglary or whatever--so that they come out fitter and with more structure and discipline in their lives and thereby, one hopes, make a contribution after their sentence. We have chosen a co-operative venture with the Ministry of Defence because the corrective centre at Colchester is highly successful in returning people either back into the
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that quite a few of us on this side of the House, although obviously not all of us, wholly support the experiment and think it entirely well founded? Can my noble friend expand upon the education facilities to which she referred--not the carpentry and the glass cutting, but the other facilities?
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, it will take different forms. Each of the 32 young people will have a sentence programme which will address basic literacy and numeracy if that is appropriate and deal with other broader forms of education if that is appropriate. There will also be vocational training. They will have particular sessions which are designed specifically to address their offending behaviour.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, in an earlier reply the Minister referred to the experience of those who are already in, or have been at, the military corrective centre at Colchester. However, is she aware that Mr. Nicholas Soames courteously replied in October of last year to a letter from me about the outcome of this programme for service personnel and revealed that there was no monitoring of the two-thirds of offenders released into the community rather than back to their service? In other words, is it not the case that there is no evidence to support the ability of this regime to secure a successful return to civilian life and that the experiment is being carried out without even an attempt to secure evidence to justify it?
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I should like to think that the noble Lord would accept any pilot scheme aimed at addressing a problem that has eluded all governments--how we prevent the rate of re-offending, which is more than 50 per cent. in this country, whether people go into prison or go on young offenders' programmes, and do what we can to find a successful way of reforming their lives. We think it is a very good thing. We believe that there is evidence to show that people return to their communities and certainly back to service life. We shall include that kind of evaluation as part of the experiment. I hope the noble Lord welcomes that.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, what the Minister has just said is contradicted by a letter to me of 11th October last year. I shall make sure that she has a copy. There is no evidence as to the success or otherwise of those offenders who have been returned to civilian life.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, perhaps we should let the matter rest so far as that point is concerned. I defer to what the noble Lord says but I hope he will accept that this is a genuine attempt to address the persistent criminal behaviour of young people. We wish the experiment well, and we shall be looking for just such
The Countess of Mar: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that many of these young people offend because they do not have supportive families? Therefore, when they have served their sentence, they will be going back into a community which has not been supportive. Can she say whether support will be provided once they have served their sentences, and what kind of support it will be?
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the noble Countess makes an important point. It is probably right that we should put on record that many of these young people are as they are because they have not had guidance from their parents in their younger years. Many of the young people will leave this institution in their twenties. The whole point is to make them more self-sufficient. There are programmes in the community to help people when they return from young offender institutions. Where that is appropriate, I hope those will be in place.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): My Lords, the United Kingdom co-sponsored Security Council Resolution 1052, which called for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon. We warmly welcome the ceasefire agreement that was reached on 26th April. We believe that talks within the framework of the peace process present the best chance for a long-term solution to the conflict, and we shall continue to give our full support to that process.
Lord Rea: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply, which is not specific but at least shows some grounds for hope. Does she agree that it is right to congratulate Mr. Warren Christopher on brokering the current ceasefire? On the other hand, is it not true that United States policy, and to some extent our own, with regard to the Israeli presence in South Lebanon has been inconsistent? While we have supported resolution after resolution (as has the United States) in the Security Council that Israel should withdraw from South Lebanon, nevertheless, like the United States, we have continued to supply military equipment, including, it is said, nuclear weapon components. Is it not time that we insist that Israel withdraws from South Lebanon and that, if necessary, as a safeguard we strengthen UNIFIL?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, we very much welcome the progress that has been made by the American Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, and by the efforts of the French Foreign Minister, M. Herve
Lord Beloff: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that there will be no resolution of the whole problem so long as Iran continues, via Syria, to finance and arm the Hizbollah? Will Her Majesty's Government approach the Governments of Germany and France to try to persuade them to join other countries in exerting pressure on the Iranian regime?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right. Until the Hizbollah stop being armed by Iran or any other country there will not be any easy end to this process. But I know from our discussions that both the Lebanese and Syrian Governments are well aware of the disastrous potential that the arming of Hizbollah is causing. That is why they are working in the diplomatic effort to make sure that the ceasefire lasts.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page