Clause 3

Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:15 pm on 25th October 2007.

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Transfer of youth rehabilitation orders to Northern Ireland

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Welcome to the Chair, Sir Nicholas. I shall speak briefly and I will understand entirely if it turns out that my point would be more appropriate in relation to schedule 4.

I have a simple question. The clause and schedule 3 deal with the transfer of orders into the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland. Government amendment No. 44 will deal with Scottish jurisdiction. I simply wish to inquire why Scotland will be dealt with by a consequential order-making and revocation amendment and whether the provisions for Northern Ireland and Scotland are comparable. I find it difficult to understand Scots law, so I do not know whether the provisions for the two jurisdictions are comparable. If a young offender is subject to an order in England, will he be able to avoid the responsibilities placed upon him by crossing the Scottish border and, say, becoming a resident of Gretna Green?

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

To clarify, clause 3 introduces schedule 3, which sets out the procedure for the transfer of a youth rehabilitation order to Northern Ireland when a young person either “resides or will reside” there when an order takes effect. Neither the Bill nor Government amendment No. 44 provides for the transfer of youth rehabilitation orders to Scotland.

Government officials have discussed the matter with Scottish Executive officials, who have concluded that they do not wish to have equivalent provisions. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the Scottish Executive have competence for these matters in Scotland and it is important that, in the spirit of devolution, we respect their wishes. That is my understanding of the position after the matter was discussed at official level.

The clause provides for Northern Ireland because my hon. Friend the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, who holds a post that both my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Justice and I have held—this year is the year of the three Ministers of State in Northern Ireland—has agreed to and is content with the provision.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

I am most grateful to the Minister but, importantly, he has confirmed my suspicions. I understand entirely the devolution arrangements and that there is an entirely separate Scottish jurisdiction, but a young person who is subject to an order in England will not be subject to it if he goes to Scotland. Is it correct that such a person will not be subject to an order unless he returns to English and Welsh jurisdiction?

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

My colleagues in the Scottish Executive have been closely involved with the development of the youth rehabilitation order policy and have worked closely with the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. Scottish Executive Ministers have decided that youth rehabilitation orders should not transfer to Scotland, but that will not make orders unworkable.

I understand the difficulties of border issues—I represent a constituency on the border between Wales and England, but provisions are easily transferred over that border. However, I do not believe that the arrangements will damage the workability of the orders because, potentially, the numbers involved are small. Where such a transfer does arise, I would expect the local youth offending team, the relevant Scottish local authority and the court to work closely to find a workable solution with the Youth Justice Board and the courts in England and Wales to ensure that we examine public protection issues.

However, the hon. Gentleman has raised a very important point and I will certainly reflect on it, because I would not wish someone who has an order placed on them in Berwick-upon-Tweed suddenly to decide that they are much more comfortable living in Galashiels or wherever is just over the border from Berwick-upon-Tweed. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will allow me to reflect on that matter, given the valid points that he has made today.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.