Amendment 150

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Report (4th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 21 May 2024.

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Photo of Lord Bellamy Lord Bellamy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 8:45, 21 May 2024

My Lords, that is not by any means the Government’s position; nor can that inference be drawn. The Government’s position on this clause is, as I understand it, in effect, that which the noble Lord himself is reported as expressing to the independent review on human rights because Section 3 requires the judge to perform a remedial function which legislation does not on its proper construction conform to convention rights. Such a role is inappropriate under our constitution and unnecessary because Section 4 provides an effective means by which Ministers and Parliament can amend the legislation. That is the Government’s position on this provision.

So, totally hypothetically, if anything in the legislation from which Section 3 has been disapplied was found to be incompatible, it would be for the court to make a declaration of incompatibility under Section 4. It would then be up to Parliament to decide how to rectify it, rather than the intermediate rewriting process of the courts. It does not remove or limit convention rights. It is simply saying that in this case that is the right balance between Parliament and the courts. That is the Government’s position on that.

This group of amendments also seeks to remove Clause 52, which sets out that, when considering a challenge, the court must give the greatest possible weight to the importance of reducing risk to the public from the offender. Of course, the courts already consider risk to the public. This clause does not mean that public protection will be the exclusive or only factor to be considered. The matter will be up to the judges, who are very capable of doing their independent part in construing the legislation. What the clause does is to ensure that due weight is given to the important consideration of public protection.

So, on behalf of the Government, I beg to move that Clauses 49 to 52 stand part of the Bill.