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I thank the Minister for what he said in summing up-I commiserated with him at the start, because this is not his particular responsibility-but I was enormously disappointed to hear masses about commissioning, services and performance management, but not a single mention of the face-to-face contact between trained supervisors and offenders that is at the heart of what probation is required to do. I wish that end-to-end offender management, which is trotted out the whole time, was put into proportion, because it applies to only one-fifth of the probation service load. That is the one-fifth of people who also do a part of their sentence in prison. To dominate the four-fifths of what is done by the niceties of the one-fifth seems to me to be disproportionate and dangerous.
I hope very much that not just this Government but the Opposition-the noble Lord, Lord Henley, was kind enough to mention this-will look carefully through what has been said from the Floor. I hope that they will look at what has been represented by my noble friend Lord Dear on behalf of the police, what the noble and learned Lords, Lord Mayhew and Lord Woolf, and my noble friend Lord Tenby said about the courts, what my noble friend Lady Howe said about training, what my noble friend Lord Birt said about the vision that never came to anything, what, in particular, my noble friend Lady Stern said about the dangers, what the noble Baroness, Lady Gibson, said on the costs and on how the vision is being distorted, and what all the other speakers said. That is because in what was said is something that must not be disregarded by those who have a responsibility to the public, protecting them by producing a service that really tackles the problems posed by offenders.
I can remember very few debates in which so many wide aspects and so much agreement has been greeted, if I may say, by such a stonewall or stubborn defensive bat from the Government. I hope that that will not be their approach to what has been said today because, as I said at the beginning, it is hugely important to send a message to the probation service that what it is doing is appreciated-and appreciated for what it is doing, not for what people think that it is doing.
When the Minister said that all the people will be guaranteed employment, I hope that that message goes through, because last year cohort 10, as the next group of people joining the service after training is called, came to see me because those people were not being guaranteed employment. They were on their way to see Jack Straw, as a result of which money was added to the budget and they got employment. We must never put the people potentially coming into the probation service in that form of uncertainty again, because to give them uncertainty of employment is to send uncertainty through the service. People are not
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Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Manchester, is president of the Haemophilia Society and I am a vice-president. We both feel that blood safety is an absolute priority, particularly for the groups of people who rely on a regular supply of clean, safe blood. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Morris, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell, on their tireless efforts in championing the rights of people with haemophilia.
Amendment 1 aims to make a minor change to Part 2 of the Bill regarding the measures that need to be introduced to ensure that people with haemophilia are not given contaminated blood or blood products in the future. The amendment seeks to ensure that all diseases are covered by widening the potential range of solutions to blood diseases that can be used.
The current wording of the Bill proposes that people with haemophilia are offered a blood test for a list of conditions including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease-variant CJD. The challenge is that at present there is not a reliable blood test for variant CJD, unlike for other viral infections and blood-borne diseases. Detecting the infective prion that causes variant CJD is extremely difficult and as yet no one has been able to develop a test that would be reliable or effective.
However, an alternative approach to a blood test has been developed to ensure that all donated blood is free from the infective prion that causes variant CJD. This approach, prion filtration, effectively cleans the blood removing all prion whether infective or not. The P-CAPT filter has been designed to work directly with the existing technologies used by the UK National Blood Service and has been CE marked since 2006, meaning that it has passed EU-wide safety and efficacy testing, as required for it to be legally used in the UK.
In October, the Government's blood safety advisory body, SaBTO-the Advisory Committee on Safety of Blood Tissues and Organs-published advice stating that there is now sufficient evidence that the P-CAPT prion reduction filter reduces infectivity and successfully cleans blood to remove the infective prions that carry variant CJD.
The haemophilia group has had a really terrible time with HIV infection, hepatitis C and variant CJD and the risk of it. We must surely do all that we can
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Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, I am most grateful to my good friend the noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Ilton, for proposing this important amendment. As she said, we have worked in close rapport for over 40 years to enhance the status and improve the well-being of chronically ill and disabled people-she made her maiden speech on the Bill I enacted in 1970-which of course makes this an evocative moment for us both.
I diverge from her only very slightly today. She said before the debate that she was sure she was pushing an open door. In fact my door is off its hinges and I was delighted to add my name to hers as a signatory of this amendment. Thus I can be brief in my response, pointing as the noble Baroness did, to the emphasis placed in my speech on 17 March on the importance of prion filtration in removing the causative agent of variant CJD.
This debate takes place against a backcloth of human suffering on a scale that most people can barely imagine. A small and stricken community of barely 5,000 people, already disabled by a rare, lifelong blood disorder, haemophilia patients have twice been infected en masse by contaminated NHS blood and blood products. Ninety-five per cent of them were infected with hepatitis C, and one in four with HIV. Of the 1,243 haemophilia patients infected with HIV, only 361-29 per cent-are still alive. The much higher number of deaths among the hepatitis C-infected patients is still increasing.
As of now, an estimated 1,974 haemophilia patients have died from being infected in the worst ever treatment disaster in the history of the National Health Service. Should anyone dispute that assessment, they should look at the finding of distinguished statisticians that the contaminated blood disaster involved the haemophilia community in a loss of life more savage in proportion to the number of people at risk than the Black Death.
It is in that context that the sombre new threat of a third scourge facing the haemophilia community must be judged. Many hundreds of haemophilia patients have now been told by the Department of Health that they were prescribed blood from donors who subsequently died of variant CJD; indeed, a post-mortem on one such victim found variant CJD in his spleen.
(1A) A statutory instrument which contains any regulations made under this Act is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament, unless it is an instrument to which subsection (1B) applies.
(1B) A statutory instrument which contains, whether alone or with other provisions, any regulations made under section 2(5) or 4 may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament."
Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, this amendment to Clause 6 addresses the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee's suggestions that in relation to Clauses 2 and 4, the affirmative procedure should apply. That is provided for in my amendment. I entirely accept the committee's view, and I beg to move.
Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, it would be wrong to allow this moment to pass without a tribute to my noble friend Lord Morris. It is not the first tribute that he has received in a long and distinguished career, but without him, there would have been no inquiry, no recommendations, no Bill and no debate. We ought to include a tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, who has given unstinting service over a very long period to those who have suffered in this way.
Having intervened at this stage, perhaps I should declare an interest. The purpose of the Bill is to implement certain recommendations. I was privileged to chair the inquiry which made those recommendations. It is certainly not my intention at this stage in our proceedings to embark on an embellishment of them, but perhaps I may be allowed to assure your Lordships that we did not overlook the fact that this is not the ideal moment to press the Government for further expenditure. What we had in mind was that those we are discussing have suffered a shattering tragedy, as my noble friend said, of proportions that it is difficult to envisage. One of the consequences is that many of them are now suffering severe financial embarrassment. I believe that the test of a country is whether, when times are hard, the burden falls on those who have already suffered or who are most vulnerable, and that is what is on trial today. This is an important Bill not only for those whom it is intended to benefit but because it is a test of the priorities of our community.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: May I be permitted to associate myself with everything that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, said about the noble Lord, Lord Morris, and the noble Baroness, Lady Masham? I should not let this moment go without paying tribute
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Lord Morris of Manchester: I am most grateful to my noble and learned friend. All the recommendations of his independent public inquiry into the contaminated blood disaster are embraced by the Bill. I commend him and his colleagues in the inquiry team, including the admirable Dr Norman Jones and Judith Willetts, on the excellence of their report.
I warmly acknowledge today all the help given to me in promoting the Bill by Sarah Jones in the Public Bill Office of your Lordships' House. She could not possibly have been more helpful and the haemophilia community joins me in paying high tribute to the constancy of her support. Many other officials of the House hastened the passage of this important measure and the haemophilia community feels much indebted to them too.
I have been highly fortunate in the backing for the Bill of noble Lords in all parts of this House, and I know noble Lords will understand why that of my noble friends Lord Corbett of Castle Vale and Lord Rooker has been so important to me. Moreover, I know they would want to join me in paying tribute to noble Lords all across the House who have put such enormous effort into speeding the Bill's passage. They include the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Bolton, and, of course, my dear and inspirational noble friend Lady Campbell of Surbiton. They would all join me in appreciating the role of my noble friend Lady Thornton, whose awareness of the depth of anguish and despair in the haemophilia community is well understood across the House.
My final words in this debate are about the ministerial statement made last week by Mike O'Brien, as Minister of State at the Department of Health, on the victims of the thalidomide disaster, and I am grateful to him for his kindly references to my role in achieving the original settlement. The public apology made by the Government and the announcement of new help for the surviving thalidomiders must very strongly support the case for the Government now to endorse the provisions of this Bill. That is not only my view, but that of everyone I have heard commenting publicly on the measure.
"(e) a sentence of imprisonment for public protection;
(f) a sentence of detention for public protection;
(g) an extended sentence of imprisonment;
(h) an extended sentence of detention;"
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, this amendment is designed to exempt sentences of imprisonment for public protection and extended sentences from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and to ensure that certain sentences will continue to be exempt.
The first type of sentence covered by the amendment is a sentence of imprisonment or detention for public protection. These are indeterminate sentences passed on offenders who have committed serious violent or sexual offences where the court considers that the offender poses a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public. The second type of sentence covered by the amendment is an extended sentence of imprisonment or of detention. These sentences are imposed in other cases where the court considers that the offender poses a significant risk of serious harm to the public. These sentences consist of the appropriate custodial term for the offence plus an additional extended period of a length which the court considers necessary to protect the public from serious harm from the offender.
"We made imprisonment for public protection available to the courts to deal with dangerous offenders who are considered to present a significant risk to the public through the commission of further serious offences. Frankly, it would be anomalous to go forward with any reform that took no account of indeterminate sentences whatever. I doubt that anyone would disagree that such sentences should never be regarded as spent".-[Official Report, 11/12/09; col. 1305.]
I hope it is in order for me to speak now to my Amendment 2; I shall move it formally at the appropriate time. This amendment leaves out the clause of the Bill which would allow a sentencing court to exempt a conviction from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act if it considered this necessary to protect the public from serious harm. I originally included this provision in the Bill because the Home Office review group recommended that such a provision should be considered in its report, Breaking the Circle, in 2002. The Government accepted the proposal in its response to the report in April 2003. However, the provision is now unnecessary as a result of my earlier amendment to exempt sentences of imprisonment for public protection and extended sentences from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. In cases where a court considers that the offender poses a significant risk of serious harm, it will pass one of these sentences and they will not be covered by the Act's provisions. This makes my proposed new subsection (9A) unnecessary.
"One important omission is the need to consider the position of new indeterminate sentences. That was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, who has strong and definite views on
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I am happy to be persuaded by the arguments of both noble Lords and to delete new subsection 9A. I am persuaded that my earlier amendment is a simpler and less cumbersome way of dealing with cases in which there is a significant risk of serious harm. I beg to move.
Lord Ramsbotham: I support the amendments, which are entirely sensible for another reason, too; if the Bill is to get through before the election, which I sincerely hope it will, the removal of possibly contentious parts of it will help. The amendments in no way weaken the rehabilitation programme for the offences, with which no one can argue. As they are sensible, they deserve the support of the whole Committee.
Lord Tunnicliffe: My Lords, as we said at Second Reading, we acknowledge that the Bill reflects the Government's thinking as set out in 2003. However, we are not convinced that it necessarily represents the best way forward for reform of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act in a very changed landscape. Since 2003, there has been comprehensive reform of the adult and youth sentencing frameworks, as well as a new scheme for vetting and barring people who wish to work with children and vulnerable adults.
In reforming the Act, there is always a delicate balance to be maintained between the resettlement of offenders and public protection. The Government take the view that they need to take a fresh look at the Act in the round, and that this should be informed by full public consultation.
We have no objections to the amendments. It clearly makes sense to exclude imprisonment for public protection, and indeterminate sentences where release is determined by the risk presented by the offender, from the scope of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. There is also a strong case for excluding extended sentences from the scope of the Act. On a technical point, the drafting would normally include a reference to the defining
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I, too, will speak to both amendments, with the leave of the House. In 2003, we were minded to consider a provision such as the one in subsection (9) whereby a court would disapply the Act in specific cases where it considered that the offender posed a serious risk to the public. However, further reflection suggests that such a mechanism would be likely to be cumbersome and expensive. In addition, the availability of public protection sentences for dangerous offenders probably negates the need for the courts to have such a power. We therefore consider it sensible to delete subsection (9).
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