Report (5th Day)

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 20th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe Labour 7:15 pm, 20th March 2012

I, too, welcome the Government's statement. I am one of those who have been on this journey since we commenced it in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Browning, I want to express my support for and gratitude to the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. Her single-mindedness and determination have been extraordinary. She has been willing to accommodate the objections that come along, and on the route she has brought together a wide range of supporters for this change, not the least of which is the mayor's office. Over the period people have quite significantly adjusted their responses.

The noble Baroness, Lady Browning, was also an important part of this process. I agree with what she has just said about how we should move forward with the Government. I also thank the Government for having shifted their position over the past few months. I believe that they have now presented to the House a workable set of propositions. They will be implemented on a trial basis, but they embark on an entirely new approach and are unlike anything we have tried before. It is probably the first time that the word "sobriety" has been used in legislation in this way. I may be wrong on that, but I certainly have not seen it while I have been here over the past decade. It gives us a platform on which we can try to build in the future.

I also congratulate the Government on bringing forward these proposals in advance of publishing their strategy on alcohol. How many times are we given papers and strategies, but not the teeth to accompany them? Yet in this instance the Government are taking action in advance of the words that no doubt will follow when the paper is produced. I think that people across the whole Chamber are very pleased indeed with the progress that has been made over the past months. We look forward to seeing how the trials pan out. They may need to be adjusted, but they will provide the Government and magistrates around the country with a new tool to help us tackle the pernicious problem of the abuse of alcohol.