Report (4th Day)
Coroners and Justice Bill
Lord Ramsbotham (Crossbench)
I should declare an interest as president of the Arts Alliance and former chairman of the Koestler Trust. Has the Minister or any Minister from the Ministry of Justice been across the river to the South Bank to see this year's Koestler exhibition of art by offenders, an exhibition curated by six women offenders on release from Downview prison? It is a quite outstanding display which demonstrates the value of the arts in the rehabilitation of offenders. The arts do not necessarily contribute to the prevention of reoffending as such but, by encouraging and developing the self-esteem of the person engaged in the activity, they encourage them to become involved in the education, training and work education that may lead to their being able to live a law-abiding and useful life. They therefore have a very pertinent part to play in encouraging the development of offenders.
I strongly support these amendments because all the members of the Arts Alliance—which consists of more than 500 voluntary organisations involved in all aspects of the arts and in bringing the arts to offenders, whether in prisons, psychiatric hospitals or probation areas—are extremely alarmed about the implications of this legislation. The impact has not been properly thought through. As the small print of the Bill reveals, it could have an impact on organisations that are involved in the delivery of arts to offenders—which is part of protecting the public. My strong recommendation, therefore, is that this whole part of the Bill should be withdrawn and rethought because it really is a sledgehammer to crack a small nut. I believe that the nut can be cracked in a much more effective way.