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Committee (and remaining stages)

Part of Crime and Security Bill – in the House of Lords at 8:30 pm on 7th April 2010.

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Photo of Lord Lloyd of Berwick Lord Lloyd of Berwick Chair, Ecclesiastical Committee (Joint Committee), Chair, Ecclesiastical Committee (Joint Committee) 8:30 pm, 7th April 2010

My Lords, I rise to support the measure proposed by the noble Baroness. She referred to the observations of the Minister in the other place in which he said that to include the under-18s in the 2009 Bill would have involved a major change in the relationship between the civil courts and those under 18. Yet here we are, less than a year later, being asked to make just such a major change without any consultation of any kind in the mean time.

I suggest that the Government had their opportunity to include the under-18s in 2009. They did not take that opportunity for reasons which seemed good to them then and it is far too late for them to have a second bite at the cherry now. On that simple ground, I support the noble Baroness. But there is, of course, a wider ground on which I must touch. It was touched on earlier in the day and made memorable by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, although I am not sure that I entirely agreed with his solution. The question is whether it can ever be right to include provisions such as these in the wash-up. I think we all agree that there may well be cases where the wash-up serves a very useful purpose. It may yet prove to have served a very useful purpose in relation to the constitutional reform Bill if Part 1 can be salvaged, as I hope that it will be. We are told that the wash-up has been around for 100 years, but things have changed since then. What has changed above all is the scale on which the wash-up is now used. The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, touched on that point. In the old days, the wash-up covered perhaps one or two single-purpose Bills. Now it covers three or four multi-purpose Bills. In those circumstances, it simply does not work. I submit that it is a misuse of the whole process, which could easily degenerate into something a great deal worse.

The wash-up should never be taken for granted, as happily it has not been in relation to the constitutional reform Bill. I submit that we should reject it altogether in relation to the provisions on gang-related violence as they in effect-if not in name-are creating new criminal offences consisting of the breach of an injunction imposed by a civil court. That is especially worrying when the effect of these clauses will be to expose 14 year-olds to the possibility of serving up to three months' detention in a young offender institution. These are both matters on which Cross-Benchers might have been expected to have strong views, and possibly even to have something helpful to offer, but they have not been able to do so because they are not consulted. They play no part in the wash-up. If this Bill is enacted, it will be said that it has been,

"ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal".

But the Cross-Benchers have not been consulted on these provisions. I suggest to the noble Lord that it is quite wrong at this stage that they should be included in the Bill.

The noble Baroness the Leader of the House said earlier that the wash-up does not necessarily involve the whole and every part of every Bill and that it is possible for it to leave parts of a Bill out. I suggest that it would be altogether suitable for Clauses 34 to 39 to be left out and that they should be brought back before us in the new Parliament.