Lord Renton (Conservative)
My Lords, my noble friends Lady Anelay of St Johns and Lord Carlisle of Bucklow have drawn our attention to a confusing situation, caused mainly by the amendments moved in another place that the Government are asking your Lordships to accept this evening.
I am moved to draw attention, perhaps prematurely, to Amendment No. 8, which includes two new clauses to be added to the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The one that surprises and worries me is new Clause 161B, which deals with the amount of the surcharge. The Secretary of State will specify it by order. We find in the next subsection that the order may provide for the amount to depend on the offence or offences committed, how the offender is otherwise dealt with and the age of the offender.
In effect, the Secretary of State will be able to legislate in important ways on a matter that, essentially, should be dealt with in the Bill, rather than being delegated to him. We are not sure from new Clause 161B whether the Secretary of State will have the power to apply his recommendations to individual cases. I hope not. That would be the wrong way to legislate.
I sympathise greatly with the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland of Asthal. She has been given an impossible task. Theoretically, we are on the way to Royal Assent to this complicated Bill, but I hope that, somehow or another, it may not be passed in this Session. It should be thought out again and reconsidered in the next Session.