Amendment 167A (to Amendment 167)

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (7th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 12 March 2024.

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Photo of The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Bishop 9:30, 12 March 2024

My Lords, my right reverend friend the Bishop of Manchester regrets that he cannot be here today to speak to the amendments to which he has put his name.

The basis of our opposition to Clauses 49 to 51, to echo points made by the noble Lord, Lord German, and the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, is that human rights need to be applied universally, even when disapplication might seem expedient. We know that, when people are marginalised, it is then that human rights protections are most necessary and, as such, the disapplication of rights to prisoners, who rely on independent courts and the justice system to guarantee basic minimum standards of fairness and respect, is particularly egregious. The Law Society has warned that these clauses

“significantly weaken the system of human rights protections in the UK”.

My right reverend friend and I add our voices to these concerns.

On Clause 52, again echoing the point made by the noble Lord, Lord German, this clause says:

“The court must give the greatest possible weight to the importance of reducing the risk to the public from persons who have committed offences”.

However, it is not clear what “greatest possible weight” means—of course, it can be interpreted as the only consideration to be made. That leaves the clause open to a range of interpretations, even if one believes that this is the area which should be given most weight rather than weighing up all the competing factors that are to go into a parole decision, should the language not be clarified.