My Lords, I was quite annoyed when I saw this Bill appear in Forthcoming Business. I thought, “What? This hasn’t been fixed yet?” We have talked about this issue for years. I was then even more annoyed when I saw that the Government are supporting it. Why could they not do so sooner? I simply do not understand why we should accept throwing former prisoners out on to the street without any sort of support network. We already put far too many people in prison, and we do not concentrate enough on restorative justice and on expecting people to find out how to improve their lives and not get sent to prison—including, sometimes, for quite minor and inconsequential crimes.
A report was released today about a farmer who has been sent to prison for 12 months because he absolutely destroyed two sides of a riverbank which was extremely precious from an environmental point of view. Quite honestly, I would not have sent him to prison; I would have put him into community service for as many years as it took him to recover every single blade of grass and leaf that he destroyed. I think that we could do more of this.
This kind of incident happens quite differently in Scotland, as Scotland does not release people on Friday, when they do not have any support network left. Why, if Scotland does it, have we not done it sooner?
I welcome this Bill, although I am still angry that it has taken this long—but I am glad that it is happening at last.