HC Deb 21 October 1982 vol 29 cc556-7


Lords amendment: No. 42, in page 25, line 40, after "that" insert

"it is appropriate to exercise those powers because of the seriousness of the offence and that".

7. 15 pm

Mr. Mayhew

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

This amendment was accepted on Third Reading in the other place. It was moved after an amendment on slightly different lines had been withdrawn. In its final form, the amendment introduces an additional guideline for the imposition of a residential care order—the "charge and control" condition—on a juvenile offender. Such a condition can be imposed only when a juvenile is already in care as a result of an offence and commits a further imprisonable offence. Subsection (3) of the new section 20A of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 provides that the court shall not add a charge and control condition to a care order unless it is satisfied that no other method of dealing with the offender is appropriate. This amendment requires the court to be of the opinion that it is appropriate to exercise those powers because of the seriousness of the offence. The Government had, at an earlier stage, made clear their view that it would be best to leave it to the discretion of the courts to decide when custody could be avoided only by using this power to make a charge and control condition. But the form in which the amendment was ultimately proposed on Third Reading was acceptable to the Government. I commend it to the House.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Amendment No. 42 was proposed by Baroness Faithfull and others on behalf of the parliamentary penal affairs group in another place. I welcome it because it provides that, before making a residential care order, the court must be satisfied that it is appropriate for the seriousness of the offence. Like my hon. Friends, I retain the view that the residential care order is of monumental irrelevance to the needs of juvenile offenders today. According to the Government's estimates, the order will mean that several hundreds more children will be sent inappropriately, unnecessarily and ineffectively to residential care at a cost, on the Government's estimate, of about a further £6 million a year. That is when the consensus of the DHSS, the Home Office and those who are involved is overwhelmingly to the effect that we should move away from residential care towards methods of dealing with juvenile offenders in the community.

We have debated the residential car[...] occasions, in Committee, on the[...] on Report. My hon. Friends and[...] is inappropriate as a way of dealing with the needs of juveniles. It is on the statute book only because of the Government's cosmetic desire to appease some elements of their own Tory law and order lobby and perhaps of the Magistrates Association. The Government do not believe that it is a sensible contribution to dealing with juvenile delinquency or young offenders.

However, if this retrograde provision is to remain in the Bill it is important to ensure, as the amendment seeks to do, that residential care orders are not imposed in future for minor offences but are reserved for more serious offences and will be used as a genuine alternative to prison department custody.

I welcome the Government's accepting the amendment. It is one means to mitigate the damage that the residential care order will inflict on the system of dealing with juvenile offenders.

Question put and agreed to.

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