Amendment 12

Part of Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 3rd March 2021.

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Photo of Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Justice) 3:30 pm, 3rd March 2021

My Lords, this has been a helpful debate as it has moved forward the process of keeping these new provisions under parliamentary scrutiny. I am very grateful, as I expect all noble Lords are, to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stewart, for the comprehensive and careful way in which he set out the work of evaluation and research into the evidence concerning the treatment and punishment of terrorist offenders, and the arrangements for them within the prison estate.

The noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, expressed the need for constant review. She warned us of the possible dangers of long-term imprisonment and the risk of radicalisation. As well as making a number of points and raising questions about polygraphs, my noble friend Lady Hamwee stressed the distinction between the “talk tough” language of the Government and the more considered, balanced and careful language of officials and Ministers that we hear in private. My noble friend called it “nuanced”. I add that the careful and cautious language she spoke of is also the language of nearly all the professionals in the system to whom we speak, be they in the Prison Service, probation service, inspectorates or elsewhere.

The important point is that longer sentences, while they may be necessary, are neither the only answer nor a complete answer. The “talk tougher” approach, leapt upon with enthusiasm by the press, has struck many of us as having had too little consideration. In his response, the Minister demonstrated that he certainly is determined to take an evidence-based and cautious approach to the issues raised by the Bill, including polygraph testing.

I accept the Minister’s point that the inclusion of these amendments in the Bill is not essential to provide that the work, which he described to us in some detail, is consistently explained to parliamentarians in both Houses. The important point about reviews, which I invite him and others to bear in mind—though not to lodge in their skulls—is that reviews which report to Parliament enable noble Lords here and MPs in the other place to consider and weigh up the evidence as it becomes available.

The Minister was completely right that there is no simple cure, but it is an important part of the role of Parliament to consider the evidence as it develops. The Bill puts before us a set of new and radical measures of particular severity. They need to be kept under constant attention. On the basis that they will get that attention because of work done by the Government and promulgated to Parliament, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 12 withdrawn.

Amendment 13 not moved.