Amendment 137

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (6th Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 26 February 2024.

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Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Labour 5:45, 26 February 2024

My Lords, briefly, I support the amendments moved and spoken to in this group by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Burnett of Maldon, and the noble Lord, Lord Marks. I spoke on this matter at Second Reading and agreed with what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, said in his speech then.

The Committee may know that, along with others, including the noble and learned Lord, Lord Burnett of Maldon, I have put my name to later amendments that question the changes proposed by the Government to the Parole Board. In my view, those changes attack pretty fundamentally the independence of that board and allow the Secretary of State to interfere in these matters to an extent that affects the separation of powers. As a rule, I argue that it is never a good idea, however tempting for Governments, for the Executive to interfere with matters that should be the role of the judiciary. Taken as a whole, these changes are unnecessary and overcomplex, and will prove to be extremely costly.

Today, we are discussing the amendments so well put by the noble and learned Lord, who speaks with such huge authority; I am pleased to support them. They argue that the Upper Tribunal is entirely the wrong body to hear these cases. The Government would be well advised, with respect, to listen to him, and to remind themselves of the powerful speech made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, at Second Reading. It is not often that this House is privileged to have the support of the last two Lord Chief Justices on a matter that they are profoundly expert in. I ask the Minister, who is always very reasonable, to think very carefully about how powerful the case that has been made this afternoon is.

Of course, I strongly agree with the amendment spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Marks, on the necessity of a report from the Secretary of State on the implementation of these proposals, which I consider to be pretty disturbing on the whole. I ask the Minister, when he replies, to consider carefully where these amendments are coming from.