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Subsection (8) of Clause 66 was designed to ensure that the local boards could use people other than their own staff to perform their functions in respect of victims. This arrangement would be helpful, for example, when an offender lived in a different area. The responsible local board would be able to arrange for the local board in the area where the victim lived to undertake liaison work on its behalf. But there is nothing in Clause 66 to ensure that other general provisions in respect of probation services actively apply to this important work with victims.
The amendments, which delete the specific provision from Clause 66 and create a general provision in Clause 5, will ensure that this work with victims is subject to inspection and can be complained about by using the complaints procedure, as well as ensuring that local boards can use people other than their own staff to perform their functions in respect of victims. Moreover, these general provisions will, if the amendments are accepted, apply to any further functions conferred upon local boards under Clause 5(5).
Amendment No. 13 is a drafting amendment which ensures that local boards will be able to make arrangements for any of their work to be undertaken on their behalf by another organisation where it is deemed appropriate. As currently drafted, using the word "functions", Clause 5(2)(a) could be taken as referring only to functions defined in Clause 5. The amendment extends the subsection to anything done by a local board for the purposes as defined in Clause 1.
I recognise that noble Lords opposite are on a bit of a roll today, but I am rather hoping that these amendments will be seen as helpful, uncontroversial and an improvement to the drafting of the Bill. I beg to move.
Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord intends to be helpful. I hope he will be more helpful and explain to me where he wants to end up if the amendments are accepted. I half expected the noble Lord, in moving the amendment, to say that the amendments in the group were all drafting ones and should therefore be waved through with a green flag. He nobly resisted that temptation. But he now has to tell noble Lords why the Government were not satisfied. That is not clear to me from his brief speech. I have two questions. First, why were the Government not satisfied with things as they were? Secondly, what precisely do the three amendments together do which was not done in the earlier version? As a result, is the noble Lord left in a state of blissful content with the new version? I should like to be assured on those points.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, as I said in my opening remarks, we are trying to improve the way in which the legislation works so that it is more flexible, enabling the service to work with other areas in a more effective and efficient manner. For instance, where the
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, in general I speak in support of the proposals. However, perhaps I may ask the Minister a question. It concerns a point which I and other noble Lords might have been expected to pick up earlier. Subsection (5) of Clause 5 states:
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I do not believe that that would be the effect of the amendment. I certainly hope that that would not be the case. We need to be clear about what we can and cannot do. It is exactly for that reason that the amendments have been introduced. However, I listened carefully to what the noble Lord said. He is a consummate reader of the detail. I would not like there to be any suspicion in his mind so I shall take further advice on the point that he has raised.
That is true, because I certainly did not understand some of the arguments that were made. The noble Lord also said in his letter that when the Bill was originally drafted the intention was to have three kinds of bail hostels; bail hostels, community rehabilitation hostels, and so-called "other premises". That has been overtaken by some changes. The amended version of Clause 9 simply provides for the Secretary of State to approve premises which could accommodate either those granted bail or those who are being supervised or rehabilitated, having been convicted of an offence.
I agree with that, but it is not in the Bill. The Bill does not say that. It is what the noble Lord is saying he thinks the Bill means, but it is not in the Bill. What would help would be for the noble Lord to accept my amendment so that the accommodation was supervised accommodation.
The noble Lord referred to someone being on bail who would not necessarily be on a supervision order. That is also true. But the reason that person is put in a hostel is so that he can be supervised. In the eyes of the court there is a fear that he might run away or default on his appearance in court. So there is a degree of supervision even with people who are on remand, waiting for their cases to come to court but are on bail and have been referred to a hostel; otherwise, why not send them to their homes or to bed-and-breakfast or some other accommodation?
Bail hostels are to be used because, for whatever reason, the people there are to be supervised. It is important that the word appears on the face of the Bill. If the noble Lord is intent on repeating what he said on the previous occasion--that he is in fact talking about supervision--the logical next step would be to accept the word "supervision" on the face of the Bill. I beg to move.
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