HC Deb 23 October 1973 vol 861 cc1204-6

Order for Second Reading read.

3.9 a.m.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Michael Havers)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

This is a consolidation Bill, consolidating certain enactments relating to the powers of the courts to deal with offenders in various ways. It was considered by the Joint Committee on 11th July. The Committee reported that after it had heard evidence thereon it made certain amendments to improve the form of the Bill to bring it into conformity with existing law. The committee was of the opinion that the Bill, as amended, was pure consolidation, that it represented existing law, and that there was no point to which the attention of Parliament should be drawn.

3.10 a.m.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

I know that this is a consolidation Bill and that there is no question of a discussion of its merits, but how is it that a consolidation Bill which is supposed to be a sort of manual for the guidance of Crown Courts as to their rights and duties in respect of sentencing can include some penal provisions in existing Acts and exclude others?

My attention was drawn to the subject by Clause 19, which deals with the powers of the Crown Court relating to the imprisonment of young people. Subsection (1) provides that no Crown Court shall impose imprisonment on a person under seventeen years of age. Subsection (2) provides for restrictions on the imprisonment of persons between the ages of 17 and 21.

What puzzles me about consolidation Bills of this kind is why no provision is made for Section 3(1) and (3) of the Criminal Justice Act 1961, the very provision in the law which Crown Courts have to apply to the imprisonment of young people, in which provision is made that no sentence shall be imposed for more than six months or less than three years. That provision, which has received a great deal of criticism and some objection by benches and judges who have had to apply it, is relevant to Clause 19. Without it it would seem that this is an inadequate form of sentencing for use by criminal courts. I wonder whether that omission might at some time be rectified.

3.12 a.m.

The Solicitor-General

I apologise to my hon. Friend if, due to the late hour of the night, I do not understand the point that he has made. I do not understand whether it is that we are not altering the law in a way that he thinks it ought to be altered. If so, this being a consolidation Bill, it cannot be altered. There cannot be any substantial change of that kind. If he is saying that there is some provision which is not repeated here, then I must ask him to look at page 80, the table of derivations, from which he will find where these various clauses are set out and the original Acts which have been replaced by this consolidation Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House. —[Mr. John Stradling Thomas.]

Bill immediately considered in Committee; reported, without amendment.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, without amendment.