"Transfer of community orders and transfer of suspended sentence orders

– in the House of Lords at 9:00 pm on 15th October 2003.

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Votes in this debate

6 (1) Until the coming into force of the repeal by the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 (c. 36), in the provisions mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) the reference to the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 has effect as a reference to the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 (c. 36).

(2) Those provisions are—

(a) paragraph 2(4) of Schedule 8 (transfer of community orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland), and

(b) paragraph 4 of Schedule (Transfer of suspended sentence orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland) (transfer of suspended sentence orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland)."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 32, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 303 [Provision for Northern Ireland]:

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

moved Amendment No. 248:

Page 173, line 6, leave out "Part 9 or 11 of this Act" and insert "any provision of this Act specified in subsection (1A)"

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

In moving Amendment No. 248, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 249, 255 and 258. The first two amendments extend certain clauses from Part 1 and the whole of Part 8 to Northern Ireland. Amendment No. 255 extends reporting restrictions for Part 6 to Scotland and Northern Ireland, while Amendment No. 258 ensures that Schedule 3 repeals have the same extent as the enactments amended or repealed. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

moved Amendment No. 249:

Page 173, line 11, at end insert—

"(1A) The provisions are—

(a) in Part 1, sections 1, 3, 5 to 8, 10 and 11 and paragraphs 1, 2, 5 to 10 and 20 of Schedule 1, and

(b) Parts 8, 9 and 11."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 303, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 304 agreed to.

Clause 305 [Commencement]:

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

moved Amendment No. 250:

Page 173, line 36, at end insert—

"section (Enforcement of regulations implementing Community legislation on endangered species),"

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

Amendments Nos. 250C, 252ZZA and 252AB ensure that certain provisions are commenced upon Royal Assent or, in the case of the last of them, two weeks after that. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

moved Amendments Nos. 250A to 250C:

Page 173, line 36, at end insert—

"section 161(1) and (2),"

Page 173, line 36, at end insert—

"section 176(8),"

Page 173, leave out line 38 and insert—

"section 302(1) to (5), sections 303 and 304"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 251 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

moved Amendments Nos. 252 and 252ZZA:

Page 173, line 39, at end insert—

"the repeal in Part 8 of Schedule 31 of section 81(2) and (3) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (c. 37) (and section 301 so far as relating to that repeal)." Page 173, line 39, at end insert "and paragraphs 1 and 5 of Schedule 32 (and section 302(6) so far as relating to those paragraphs)"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 252ZA and 252A not moved.]

[Amendment No. 252AA had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

moved Amendment No. 252AB:

Page 174, line 1, leave out "paragraph" and insert "paragraphs 39C, 39D(3), 58A, 68(1) to (3), 68A and"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Wirral Lord Hunt of Wirral Conservative

moved Amendment No. 252B:

Page 174, line 5, at beginning insert "Subject to section (Commencement of Part 12: certification of sufficient resources),.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Wirral Lord Hunt of Wirral Conservative

The amendment paves the way for Amendment No. 252C, which would insert the new clause. It relates to the commencement of Part 12 of the Bill, which, as Members of the Committee will recall, makes some of the most sweeping changes to sentencing practice in England and Wales in many years.

The amendment would require that, before any element of Part 12 was brought into force, the Secretary of State would have to certify to your Lordships and to the other place that sufficient resources were provided in order to give the provisions adequate practical effect.

The issue of adequate resources is a crucial one if Part 12 is to make the difference that the Government hope it will. We have already debated the fact that the Prison Service, the police and the probation service are all overstretched as it is, and Part 12 will bring additional heavy burdens. The Explanatory Notes state that by 2008–09 the probation service will require nearly £200 million in extra funding each year as a result of Part 12.

We debated the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, on the prison population. There is considerable concern about prison populations in relation to the new sentencing provisions in the Bill. Currently there are approximately 72,000 people in prison. That figure has risen from 64,770 in 1999. Even in 1999, England and Wales had the second highest prison population in western Europe—worse than China. We now have the highest prison population in western Europe; and higher per capita than Libya, Malaysia and Burma.

There has been much controversy over prisons and their rising populations. As I mentioned earlier, the Prison Reform Trust has suggested that longer custodial sentences rather than rising crime rates are driving up the prison population. The trust went on to criticise the Home Office for encouraging judges to impose harsher sentences with slogans such as, "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", without providing the extra capacity that harsher sentences require.

The BBC reported that the total prison capacity would be around 78,700 by 2006, but that the Home Office has stated that,

"between 8,000 and 22,000 extra places will be needed on top of this".

It would be helpful to be given some explanation of where those figures come from and where the extra capacity will be found. It is against that background that the sentencing provisions will be implemented. The Government state that custody plus and custody minus will reduce the prison population. However, I think that most informed commentators, including most of your Lordships, believe that this Bill will initially push up the prison population markedly because custody plus and custody minus cannot be implemented until the Treasury finds enough funds to expand the probation service sufficiently to carry the extra load.

Last year in a Written Answer Mr Hilary Benn stated that it was estimated that an additional £19 million, £70 million, £136 million, £175 million, £186 million and £194 million would be required for the financial years 2003–04 through to 2008-09.

It would greatly assist the Committee if the Government could give some idea of where all this money is to come from and if they indicated that they certainly will not implement any of the provisions in this Bill until there are sufficient funds to cover any resources needed.

I have set out the Government's estimates. However, they have been questioned by no less a figure than the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice. The noble and learned Lord had this to say at paragraph 59 of his memorandum about what is in the Home Office's explanatory notes on the cost implications of the new statutory provision on minimum terms for murder that are contained in Part 12:

"That is a totally erroneous assessment of the consequences of the change and indicate that those consequences have not been fully appreciated. What has been looked at is merely that those who are to be sentenced under the new tariff will be in prison longer than would otherwise be the case and so as they would not in any event be released for 10 years the effect of the increases will be postponed for 10 years. The distorting effect that the new minimum periods will have on other sentences has been ignored".

The noble and learned Lord then concluded his memorandum at paragraph 70 in what Members of the Committee may consider very stark terms indeed. He stated:

"I have already indicated that the costs implications of the proposals as to minimum periods for life sentences have been seriously underestimated. It is my belief that the costs of the impact of the proposals on the Court of Appeal have also been underestimated. In addition, the complicated nature of some of the provisions will inevitably prolong proceedings . . . There will also be 'knock-on' costs arising from the requirement for additional judges, their staff and the accommodation to house them".

Will the noble Baroness respond to those very serious criticisms of the Government's costings, because I know how seriously she would take the words of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice? In particular, will she tell us the cost of the ratcheting-up effect on sentences for crimes other than murder, to which he referred?

Furthermore, will the noble Baroness explain the statement in paragraph 791 of the Explanatory Notes that:

"The costs will be subject to final decisions about the timing of implementation"?

Assuming that the Bill is enacted, when will those final decisions be made? Have they already been made on a provisional basis? Will she shed a little light on the thinking in the Home Office about when the various elements in Part 12 will be implemented, and on whether funding has been secured from the Treasury to ensure that it can be implemented effectively on whatever schedule it has?

I hope that the Minister will be able to give from the Dispatch Box the assurance about the provision of adequate resources to those working in the criminal justice system that is sought by the amendment, so that Part 12 can then be implemented properly and public protection enhanced. I am sure that that is what the Government and the whole Committee would wish. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Liberal Democrat 9:15 pm, 15th October 2003

We on these Benches fully support the amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Wirral, asked from where the money was coming to have extra prison places and so on. Will the noble Baroness give an assurance from the Dispatch Box that the money to be saved on the criminal injuries compensation scheme will go into building more prisons? That way, if victims of crime get less money, they will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that the people who beat them up will spend longer in prison.

Photo of Lord Carlisle of Bucklow Lord Carlisle of Bucklow Conservative

We come towards the end of the Committee. I hope that many feel, as I do, that the issues that we have raised have often crossed party lines. I am bound to say that many of the sentencing provisions of the Bill are not proposals that I would wish to see. I do not believe that the Government have thought out their effect on resources, as my noble friend Lord Hunt has said.

The minimum requirements on the length of murder sentences that judges should hand down, which are double the present standard, will increase the prison population. The proposal on dangerous offenders is bound to increase the number of indeterminate sentences, as well as life sentences. All of that will put enormous pressure on the Prison Service. Prisons are overcrowded and do not have the capacity to meet the new intentions of the Bill.

I realise that the Government are trying—although they are making a poor fist of it—to counteract overcrowding by changing the rules for those serving more than four years and by dispensing with parole and releasing prisoners automatically, but without admitting to the public that that is what they are proposing to do. Imposing supervision on sentences of less than 12 months will create greater demands on the resources of the probation service. That will inevitably lead to a larger number of people going to prison for a breach of those conditions.

Therefore, I share the concerns expressed by my noble friend Lord Hunt. I do not wish to make a party political point. I just do not believe that the Government have thought through the effect on their resources of that which they are doing in that area. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, and myself would align ourselves in attacking other matters elsewhere in the Bill—that is for another day—but we are discussing only the matter of sentencing. On that issue, the Government have not taken account of the drain on resources that their proposals will cause.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I hope that I will be able to reassure noble Lords that the amendment is not necessary. I note the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle of Bucklow, echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, about our failure to take those matters into account. However, that would do the Government a disservice. We have thought about those matters carefully. We are seeking to put in place a regime that is able to meet the needs of the victims, the witnesses and those who perpetrate crime to enable us to reduce its incidence.

However, I understand the concerns that have been expressed this evening and I assure noble Lords that we are alert to them. It is in not in the Government's interest to implement any of the provisions in a way in which they could not be delivered effectively.

Assurance has been given in another place that we will need to ensure that the new sentencing structure is properly resourced. Final decisions about implementation have not been made. However, we shall phase the introduction of the provisions to ensure both that they are fully affordable and that the necessary additional resources can be deployed to ensure that the provisions are delivered effectively.

I have already outlined the extensive increase in money commitments for prisons and I shall not repeat them. However, I hope that that further reassurance will assist noble Lords.

A number of noble Lords raised the issue of the probation service and the amount of financial commitment that it will need.

The Home Office is committed to ensuring that the probation service is resourced to deliver successful interventions in the community, to reduce re-offending and to protect the public. Funding for the service has increased by more than 50 per cent since 1998. The probation service will in particular need to be well resourced to deal with custody plus. Staging implementation will enable the probation service to reach the capacity needed in order to implement the reforms effectively.

We earlier discussed the provisions we are seeking to introduce in relation to home detention curfew and the success we have had with that so far. That is an opportunity that will increasingly be available to us. The costs will be met from within departmental settlements. However, we will keep a careful eye on phased implementation to make it work.

There is already much that we have done. For instance, we hope that the Sentencing Guidelines Council will be set up relatively rapidly. We are looking to set up the council as soon as possible. The first tranche of guidelines should come out around April to support implementation of the Sexual Offences Bill. We have intermittent custody pilots—40 male and 40 female places will be available to use either in the week or at the week-end in two purpose-built prisons in Kirkham and Morton Hall. By the end of 2004 it should be possible to implement the generic community sentence, the structural changes, the sentences over 12 months and the new sentences for dangerous offenders. The target is for 2005 in relation to custody minus.

Members of the Committee will already know about the pilots we have already sought to implement. We will analyse the results, hone the system and ensure that we discover the wrinkles, if I may put it colloquially, before we implement across the piece. We anticipate that in 2006 and 2007 we will be able to be more forceful about custody plus. Currently, we are considering whether we can bring it forward to the 2006–07 financial year.

The exact timing of these measures will depend on the build-up of resources. Training is taking place even now and we are greatly helped by the massive investment that the Government have made; I believe that it is £1.6 billion in CJIT. Members of the Committee will know that having an IT connection between all the criminal justice services should enable us to make some real savings and progress.

Contrary to what has been said, the Government have looked carefully at the issue of resources and have that much in mind. We will bring forward the introduction and implementation of these procedures when the resources are available to ensure that they are fully and properly implemented.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Wirral Lord Hunt of Wirral Conservative

Before the Minister sits down—I caught her in mid air before she sat down—she omitted to deal with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice and his description of her calculations as being "totally erroneous". I await her response.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I had actually sat down, but I appreciate that that makes little difference on these occasions. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice set out his views very comprehensively in that letter. I have said on a number of occasions that we are not as pessimistic as the noble and learned Lord in relation to those issues. We do not believe that the ratcheting up to which he refers will occur. We have examined the history of the way in which sentencing in relation to murder and other generic sentences takes place, I hope that Members of the Committee will accept that one does not tend to pollute the other. Therefore, the racheting up that is described is not evidenced by the empirical data that we have at present.

In relation to the other matters, I have made it absolutely clear that mitigating and aggravating features will be considered within the discretion of the judge. The judge will have the opportunity to look at those matters and determine how justice can best be done. The judge will now have a much greater palette from which to choose than ever before and we believe that for the first time the sentences will be able to address offending behaviour as opposed simply to the individual offence.

The accumulation of all those matters leads us to the informed view that on this occasion perhaps the noble and learned Lord does not have as comprehensive a view of the system as do we. We beg to differ with him.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Wirral Lord Hunt of Wirral Conservative

The Minister has given a response at the Dispatch Box to some of the criticism of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice. No doubt with the co-operation of his judicial colleagues, the noble and learned Lord has, very carefully, submitted a detailed and analytical memorandum. It may well be that the Minister and her ministerial colleagues have already responded in detail to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice. If she has so responded, would it be possible for a copy of her submission to be placed in the Library of the House? If she has not yet responded, I hope she will do the courtesy to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice of treating a response to his memorandum as necessary, in particular in dealing with the very detailed points that he raised.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

The noble Lord will know that, when the noble and learned Lord made his speech in this Chamber, he said that he accepted that the answers to the details given in his letter would be dealt with as we went through our deliberations on the Bill. The noble Lord will know that, throughout Committee, noble Lords have raised the intricate details of the statement of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice. I believe there is not one iota, one dot, or one tittle of that letter that we have not discussed at some stage in Committee. After 11 or 12 days in Committee, I say to noble Lords with humility—though is it 11 days?

Noble Lords:

Nine and a half.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

Noble Lords give me joy: nine-and-a-half days in Committee. I invite noble Lords to take the whole of the Hansard report of the Committee stage as my answer to the questions raised by the noble and learned Lord.

Noble Lords:

Hear, hear!

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 252B) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 39; Not-Contents, 66.

Division number 2 Private Parking: Ports and Trading Estates — "Transfer of community orders and transfer of suspended sentence orders

Aye: 37 Members of the House of Lords

No: 64 Members of the House of Lords

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

[Amendment No. 252BA not moved.]

Clause 305, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 252C not moved.]

Clause 306 [Extent]:

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) 9:43 pm, 15th October 2003

moved Amendments Nos. 252CA to 256C: Page 174, line 14, at end insert— "section (Transfer of custody plus orders and intermittent custody orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland) and Schedule (Transfer of custody plus orders and intermittent custody orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland);"

Page 174, line 15, leave out from "10" to end of line 16.

Page 174, line 16, at end insert—

"section (Enforcement of regulations implementing Community legislation on endangered species);" Page 174, line 16, at end insert—

"section 284;" Page 174, line 16, at end insert—

"section (Transfer of suspended sentence orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland) and Schedule (Transfer of suspended sentence orders to Scotland or Northern Ireland);"

Page 174, line 19, leave out "paragraph 19" and insert "paragraphs 19, 46 and 47"

Page 174, line 20, at end insert—

"paragraphs 6 to 8 of Schedule 25."

Page 174, line 22, at end insert—

"section (Increase in penalties for offences under section 174 of the Road Traffic Act 1988);" Page 174, line 25, leave out from "19" to end of line 26.

Page 174, line 27, at end insert—

"paragraph 6 of Schedule 32."

Page 174, line 34, at end insert—

"section (Appeals following reference by Criminal Cases Review Commission);"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 257 and 257A not moved.]

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

moved Amendments No. 257B to 257CA:

Page 174, line 36, leave out "Section 303(4) extends" and insert "The following provisions extend"

Page 174, line 36, at end insert—

"sections (Duration of directions under Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 in relation to offenders) and (Access to Sentence Review Commissioners and Life Sentence Review Commissioners for certain Northern Ireland patients); section 303(4)." Page 174, line 36, at end insert—

"section (Extension of investigations by Criminal Cases Review Commission in Northern Ireland); section (Power to substitute conviction of alternative offence on appeal in Northern Ireland);"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 257D had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

moved Amendment No. 257DA:

Page 175, line 2, leave out from "of" to end of line 8 and insert "Chapter 7 of Part 12 so far as relating to sentences passed by a court-martial"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 257E had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

moved Amendments Nos. 258 to 259A:

Page 175, line 12, at end insert—

"( ) Part 2 of Schedule 3," Page 175, line 13, leave out from "26" to end of line.

Page 175, line 13, at end insert—

"(da) section (Substitution of conviction on different charge on appeal from court-martial),"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 260 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

moved Amendment No. 261:

Page 175, line 15, leave out paragraph (f) and insert—

"(f) Parts 1 to 7, 9 and 10 of Schedule 31,"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 306, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 307 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.