Criminal Justice Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 30th October 2003.

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Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Conservative 6:15 pm, 30th October 2003

My Lords, I recall that we debated this matter at some considerable length, and with the same amount of deeply and sincerely held passion, more than three months ago at a similar time of day on another Thursday. I am also aware of the rules that, in particular, as a Front-Bencher, I must adhere to. The Companion states:

"Arguments fully deployed in Committee of the whole House should not be repeated at length on report".

If I do, my own Chief Whip will have my guts for garters, and I do not want that. I will not repeat all the reasons why I cannot support the amendment, which I gave when I spoke at length on 17th July, as reported in Hansard at cols. 1069–70.

In summary, we on these Benches, in another place and in this House, accept that there should be some relaxation of the double jeopardy rules and that that relaxation should apply to those already acquitted. We accept the argument put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, that it is not retrospection in the sense commonly understood by the public.

I also endorse the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, who encapsulated the arguments that I put forward in July on the importance of ensuring that, if anybody is to have that tap on the shoulder, we must provide every safeguard to ensure that it will be the right person—the acquitted person who perhaps should not have been acquitted. Since July, I have looked carefully at the safeguards that should be incorporated within this part.

The same amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, was tabled in Committee in another place by my honourable friend Dominic Grieve. That was a purely probing measure, as he made clear. It was as a result of listening to the arguments adduced at that time, and to those adduced in this House in July, that we looked again carefully at our position and decided that we would not resile from it and that we would continue to oppose the amendment.

It grieves me much that, on this occasion, I do not agree with my much respected colleagues and, I hope, dear friends, the noble Lord, Lord Renton, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden. If there is to be a Division, my noble friends on the Front Bench and I will support the Government in the Lobbies.