HC Deb 18 January 1988 vol 125 cc681-767

Order for Second Reading read.

4.3 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hurd)

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

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Hurd

This is the second time that much of the Bill before us has been debated by the House. With agreement on all sides, it proved possible, before the general election intervened, to enact the important provisions in the earlier Bill on serious fraud, and that was welcomed. After the election, we took two decisions—first, to reintroduce the rest of the Bill as soon as possible, and, secondly, to use the inevitable short delay to strengthen the Bill substantially. The new proposals in it illustrate the reinforcement since the general election of the priority that we give to action against crime.

I should like to concentrate today on the additions and improvements. The earlier Bill had completed its passage through this House after what the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), who is not easily given to compliments, was moved to describe as a "model Committee stage", so it is perhaps natural that we should pay the closest attention today to the new material which has not been before the House before.

First, however, I should mention one thread which runs through both this Bill and its predecessor — the international dimension of crime. Improved travel links and communications have created dramatic opportunities for large-scale international crime, and we are still only at the start of coping with this. The criminal leaps across countries and continents while his pursuer still stumbles, argues and delays as he reaches a frontier or a different legal system. I was forcefully reminded of this during a recent visit to north Africa. Drug trafficking, fraud and terrorism are no longer local problems, if they ever were. They have to he tackled across frontiers.

The Bill responds to this reality in several ways. It reforms our antiquated laws on extradition. Among our friends, many regard Britain as a haven for criminals and that is a reputation that we must shake off. The single most significant impediment to extradition from this country is the requirement that the foreign state should provide in our courts evidence which would amount to a prima facie case for committal for trial, had the case been prosecuted here.

Mr. John Wheeler (Westminster, North)

I apologise for intervening at such an early stage, but my right hon. Friend has touched on the subject of extradition. I ask him to make some reference in his statement to the concern on both sides of the House that there are persons residing in the United Kingdom against whom grave allegations have been made in connection with war crimes. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to give us some idea how those cases will be dealt with.

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend has intervened a little early. We have sought to see whether extradition could be part of the answer to the problem that he has described, but so far we have concluded that it is not. Nevertheless, my hon. Friend touches on a matter that I have discussed with the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees), chairman of the war crimes group, and his colleagues. It is a matter that the Government have studied and are still studying very carefully. It is too serious a matter for it to be allowed to drop, but I believe that more work is needed before we can decide whether and, if so, in what way the law needs to be changed. I therefore do not propose to bring forward a Government amendment to this Bill to deal with that matter. As the matter cannot be allowed to drop, I propose to let the House know before Report exactly how we intend to pursue the matter. I hope that my hon. Friend will be content with that for the time being.

Other countries, particularly, perhaps, our closest European partners, with different legal traditions but with standards of justice which are not inferior to our own, find the requirements of our extradition rules extremely difficult to meet. Therefore, the Bill contains powers to dispense selectively with the prima facie requirement. We have responded to proper concerns that that should not be done haphazardly and that there should be adequate safeguards for the fugitive.

During the passage of the earlier Bill, we agreed that extradition arrangements which dispense with the prima facie requirement should be subject to parliamentary approval. When the present Bill was in another place, the matter was raised quite strongly and further safeguards were added for the fugitive. He is now to have a statutory right to see the papers on which the extradition is based. There will be a statutory right to make representations to the Secretary of State and a guaranteed period of seven days in which to seek judicial review of the Secretary of State's order for his surrender.

Mr. James Molyneaux (Lagan Valley)

The Secretary of State will be aware that there has been much criticism of the legislation that has finally been passed through the Dublin Parliament on this score. Can he explain in what way the prima facie requirement that he has just outlined in this Bill differs from that which is now in force in the Irish Republic?

Mr. Hurd

Yes. We are proposing to remove from our legislation the prima facie agreement selectively in the way I have described. When I saw the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) in the Chamber, I thought it possible that he would intervene on this point. He will be aware, from what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and, I think, my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General have said, of the misgivings we have had about the form in which the Dail eventually passed its legislation. We are in the process of seeing how it works in practice. However, I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman will expect me at this stage to add to the comments that have already been made.

Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)

The Home Secretary will be aware that no British subject, or anyone else for that matter, can he committed for trial by a court in this country unless the prosecution has established a prima facie case against him. Will he explain why he believes that a lower standard should be applied to British subjects and foreign nationals committed for trial abroad? In other words, will he explain why it will no longer be necessary for a prima facie case to be proved against them? I believe that that is inequitable.

Mr. Hurd

The hon. and learned Gentleman has made that point before. He is really assuming that the procedures and standards of justice in other countries with which we might make agreements which must be discussed in this House are in some way inferior to the procedures in this country; otherwise, his question would not arise.

Mr. Carlile

Not at all.

Mr. Hurd

The hon. and learned Gentleman had better pursue his point later.

I believe that, when the House agrees that standards of justice are of equal validity, it is reasonable to make arrangements to dispense with the prima facie rules. I am frankly not happy with the situation in which we give haven in this country to a number of people who are, to put it mildly, in serious trouble in countries with highly respected judicial systems simply because those countries are unable to frame their requests in language and terms that meet our present law. The hon. and learned Gentleman may be aware of the particular cases that I had in mind. The response to the case for safeguards which both he and his hon. Friends argued for, in this House when the earlier Bill was discussed; and in another place more recently, meets his concerns.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

I apologise for interrupting my right hon. Friend, but we have not disposed of the matter concerning the recent legislation introduced in the Republic of Ireland. Some of that legislation depends upon reciprocal action by the British Government. May we accept that no proposals will be made to alter our extradition arrangements with the Republic of Ireland at least in the foreseeable future and within this Bill?

Mr. Hurd

I believe that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has made clear the difficulty that he sees in playing the part envisaged for him in the Dail's arrangements because, in his view, they do not meet our requirements satisfactorily. The question is how that legislation works in practice. My hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) would not dissent from the fact that it is very important that the back-to-back arrangements with the Republic of Ireland should work as smoothly as possible. That is in the interests of both Governments. We must see how that can be achieved now that the Irish Government have taken their line.

The impact of the Bill on international crime does not begin and end with extradition. Part VI provides for reciprocal arrangements to be made for the international enforcement of confiscation orders, thus ensuring that crime will not pay wherever the proceeds may be secreted or invested. Part III establishes new procedures for taking and receiving evidence from abroad.

Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)

Before my right hon. Friend leaves the issue of extradition, may I state that his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) a moment ago did not go far enough in one respect because, as the Lord Chancellor said in another place, before the prima facie requirement is dispensed with "there must be a mutual recognition … that the system of justice in the foreign state is sufficiently acceptable to enable this requirement … to be dispensed with." — [Official Report, House of Lords, 17 November 1987: Vol. 490, c. 114.] That begs the question of how it is decided that a foreign state has a system that is acceptable.

I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the fact that I have found—and other hon. Members have found—the system of justice in Sweden to be totally unacceptable in the way in which it has handled not only a British national but, from the volume of correspondence, Swedish nationals. How will the process be arrived at when extradition matters are considered in future?

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend has kept me in touch with his views about the Swedish system arising from a particular case in which he has legitimately taken a strong interest. Obviously, any Home Secretary and his colleagues would form a view of that matter. However, during the passage of the earlier Bill, we agreed that extradition arrangements that dispensed with the prima facie agreement would be subject to parliamentary approval. That means that my hon. Friend and his colleagues in this and in another place would have to approve specific agreements and therefore the kind of misgivings—

Mr. Alex Carlile


Mr. Hurd

Yes, indeed, that is right — once an agreement is made.

That opportunity is a reasonable way in which to allow parliamentary scrutiny of the proposal. I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) will not be too chauvinistic about this. This is very important. Possibly the hon. and learned Gentleman underestimates the sense of affront felt by some of our friends when they are told that only by surmounting a hurdle defined purely in English terms which they find remarkably difficult, even though their systems are not inferior to ours, will they receive into their jurisdiction people that they believe have committed serious crimes. They find that very patronising. It also works the other way. It makes it difficult for us to negotiate agreements with them to allow us to bring back into our jurisdiction people we want because they have committed serious crimes. I am not sure whether the hon. and learned Gentleman has addressed himself to the serious background to the problem.

I want this country to set the pace in international agreements and action to grip international crime. I believe that this is an area in which strides have had to be made and are being made, partly because we have shown ourselves to be a Government enthusiastic for more effective co-operation in this area in the European Community and beyond. The Bill makes its own contribution in the ways that I have described.

Nearer to home, we have been increasingly anxious about the habitual carrying of knives in public. There has been a disastrous change in the street culture of our cities, which we simply have to reverse. In London, in the first half of 1987, robberies and street robberies involving sharp instruments increased by about 30 per cent. It is intolerable that, among an increasing proportion of our young people, the carrying of a knife should be regarded as normal. The police have represented to me forcefully that the present law on offensive weapons is too narrowly drawn. I am genuinely glad that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and his colleagues have shared our desire to respond to that concern. This is not a party matter.

As a result of amendments made in another place, the Bill contains in clause 128 a new offence of possessing a bladed or sharply pointed article in a public place without good reason, together with the necessary associated police powers to stop and search. That is a substantially more wide-ranging offence than the law contains at present. It is in my view no more and no less than the circumstances demand. The old, the vulnerable, the whole of the law-abiding community must feel confident that it is safe to go out on the streets without being stabbed. It follows that we must use this Bill to restrict the carrying of knives.

Yes, we are reversing the onus of proof. Yes, I understand that this a serious step to take. My colleagues and I searched in vain for an answer that would cause less offence to legal opinion but still prove strong enough. I firmly commend this clause to the House.

Mr. Robert Hayward (Kingswood)

My right hon. Friend will be aware that I wrote to him and to the Lord Chancellor a few weeks ago about the carrying of knives and sentencing policy. Sentencing policy is covered in clauses 33, 34 and 35. Is it not the case that those powers will be substantially undermined unless strong powers of sentencing are provided and used? Otherwise, the public will feel that the powers provided in the Bill are not worth the paper on which they are written.

Mr. Hurd

The police have raised that aspect of their powers to stop and search. I shall ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State to deal with both those points, which deserve explanation. Having looked at both those powers—that of the police to stop and search, and the sentences available for the new offence of carrying a knife, but not the criminal use of it, which is a much more serious matter—one has to think carefully about the right level of penalty. My hon. Friend will explain the circumstances that were in our mind.

Mr. John Fraser (Norwood)

Has the Home Secretary considered putting a ban on the sale of lethal weapons through mail order in circumstances in which no one could contemplate those weapons used for anything other than aggressive purposes? I have taken soundings from the members of the Advertising Standards Authority, and if Parliament gives a lead on the matter the ASA will not have the slightest difficulty in banning advertisements for brutal and lethal weapons which anyone can obtain through the post.

Mr. Hurd

The hon. Member wrestles with serious incidents of that kind far too often in his constituency.

In the Bill, we are taking power to prohibit, not only through mail order but absolutely, the manufacture, importation and sale of certain other types of offensive weapons. Knives have many legitimate uses, and I cannot see the logic of forbidding the sale through mail order of knives which have legitimate uses. As for other weapons, such as knuckledusters, death stars and handclaws, which have no conceivable legitimate use, we intend to block their supply at all points, whether through manufacture, sale or advertisement.

Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)

Leaving aside the sale of knives by mail order, or weapons such as knuckledusters, is the Minister aware that there is a general concern that, apart from pocket knives, any child, however immature, can buy a large knife with impunity? How does he propose to use the regulations in clause 130 to limit at source the sale of such knives?

Mr. Hurd

We have thought hard about that. Many Governments have thought hard about it, and it is not easy. Many objects, including knives, have a perfectly legitimate use. In those circumstances, it is difficult to forbid their sale to particular categories of people, or through media such as mail order.

The Bill attempts to deal with the actual mischief, which is the carrying of such knives in a public place. For other offensive weapons for which there is no legitimate use, we propose to extend the list of those weapons and to clamp down on them in all their mainifestations. That is better than trying to establish, in every small corner shop, a system of licensing and control under which customers can buy a knife. There would be difficulties about the administrative complications of such a system. However, that point will rightly be argued in Committee and I have set out the conclusions that we believe are sensible.

At the heart of the Bill is a set of proposals for strengthening the procedures of justice. I would include in that category the abolition of peremptory challenge, a modest but important move to make people between the ages of 65 and 70 eligible for jury service, and the ex tension to other profitable offences of the scheme for confiscation of the proceeds of crime, which is already making its mark in drug trafficking cases. I shall forbear to rehearse my strong views on peremptory challenge, which certainly would bring the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery to his feet again. I expect that we shall hear from him on that point. I am encouraged by the readiness of their Lordships in another place to accept the reasonable proposition that we put to the House in the former Bill, which is repeated in this Bill.

Mr. Toby Jessel (Twickenham)

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that that opinion was expressed not only in the other place but in the House on 31 March 1987? On Report, the House carried by 176 votes to 69 — a majority of more than two and a half to one — the abolition of peremptory challenge, an end desired by all sensible people except criminals, some lawyers and those on the extreme Left who have a temperamental liking for guilty people to be acquitted.

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend is leading with his chin. I acknowledge that he has been a robust pioneer of that argument. I agree with his conclusions.

I shall concentrate on two aspects in which the Bill has been significantly strengthened. During the past few years, we have had many debates on how to deal with the occasional sentence that is too lenient. That is not a problem which has been raised by the Government for their own purposes. Unduly lenient sentences are few and far between. In the vast majority of cases—far more cases than the casual reader of newspapers would suppose —judges impose sentences which are in tune with what the public expect. In cases of serious crime, they have been steadily increasing the severity of their sentences. That is right and natural.

However, when a manifestly over-lenient sentence is passed, the damage to public confidence in the system is out of all proportion to the significance of the case. That is why the problem, though small in scale, is of great importance, and that is why we have been grappling with it so vigorously during the past three years. Both Houses of Parliament have had difficulties with that problem.

In the earlier Bill, we proposed that in such cases the Attorney-General should be able to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal for its opinion, but without the offender being at risk of being dealt with more severely. The Minister of State, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor), defended that proposal brilliantly in the House, and there was much more to be said for it than has generally been supposed. However, as compromises often are, it was poorly received.

Clause 34 contains a similar proposal, but with the vital difference that the Court of Appeal should be able to increase the sentence, if it thought it right to do so. That is a stronger proposal, both in effect and in logic. If a mistake has been made, it is clearly sensible that there should be a way in which it can be put right, not if the newspaper or if the Attorney-General want to do so, but if the Court of Appeal decides that it is right to do so.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Does my right hon. Friend accept that my constituents thought it quite inadequate that someone should not have his sentence increased if that was found to be desirable? They are grateful to him for changing the Bill so that that can now be done.

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend has followed this long and occasionally weary argument right through. I am glad that she is pleased with our conclusions.

The second procedural change to which I would draw the House's attention can be found in clause 41. At present the Court of Appeal can order that a case be tried again only in strictly limited circumstances, where new evidence has come to light. There is a strong case for a wider power to order a retrial — where, for example, a conviction would otherwise have to be quashed on a pure technicality, but the more just course would be for the matter to be tried again. The Bill therefore allows the court to order a retrial whenever it thinks it would be in the interests of justice to do so.

Perhaps at this point I should make a point about the right of silence.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)

There is a great deal of concern in the country that, when the driver of a motor vehicle kills somebody, there appears to be no machinery, even in this Bill, by which he can be charged with manslaughter if that is appropriate.

Mr. Hurd

It is for the prosecuting authorities, and particularly the Crown prosecution service, to decide on the appropriate charge. That is not always an easy task, especially in the circumstances that my hon. Friend has in mind. There is a wide choice available, and it must be for the independent prosecution service to decide what charges should be made. It will have regard to the evidence before it and what it thinks might succeed.

I deliberately provoked a discussion, beginning with a lecture to the Police Foundation in July, not on the right to silence, but on a recommendation made by the Criminal Law Revision Committee in 1972. The question in my mind is not whether a suspected or accused person should have a right to remain silent throughout investigation and trial—he has that right and should continue to have it—but whether, when an accused person ambushes the prosecution by producing at his trial a line of defence which he has not previously mentioned to the police, the court should be precluded from drawing reasonable inferences.

I have listened carefully to the lively discussion that has followed that lecture. I am not convinced by the arguments in favour of continuing the right to ambush. The case for change is strong. I am also persuaded by some of the detailed points that have been made that more careful work must be done if there is to be change. This long and detailed Bill is not, I believe, the place for the provisions that would be needed.

I shall give the House particulars of the further work which I believe is necessary before the Bill leaves the House so that it has an opportunity to judge.

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

I am interested in the Home Secretary's expression. He said that, before the Bill leaves the House, he will give it particulars of his work. Does he mean that he proposes an amendment on Report?

Mr. Hurd

No, I do not propose an amendment on Report. I do not believe that this or any other long and detailed Bill is the place for the provisions that would be needed. Further work is needed. I have given the House an idea of the direction in which my mind is moving. I believe that the case for the right to ambush as it stands at present is not made out, but I also believe, in view of some of the points that have been made to me by people of many different strands of opinion, that, before the Home Secretary can tell the House that a certain change is the right one, we need some further work. I shall let the House know before the Bill leaves the House how I believe that work should be set in hand.

Mr. Alex Carlile

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that, before the Bill leaves the House, he will tell us what work is to be done and what measures he wishes to achieve, or will he take the more appropriate course and have a period of consultation during which formal representations can be made?

Mr. Hurd

In effect, there will be both. I have had a good many formal and informal expressions of opinion from the Law Society and other legal bodies. When the work that I have in mind proceeds, those representations will continue. I am saying that there will not be an amendment to the Bill on the subject. I have told the House the line along which my mind is moving and I shall give further details of the work that I intend to set in hand.

One of the Bill's main aims is to improve the circumstances of victims of crime. It contains measures to encourage the courts to use compensation orders in a wider range of cases. It creates, for the first time, a statutory right to compensation, under the criminal injuries compensation scheme, for the victims of violent crime.

The group of victims who command greatest sympathy are probably children who suffer physical or sexual assault. That has been imprinted on our minds recently by a string of cases. I do not think that any hon. Member can read accounts of those cases without horror. Revulsion at the victimisation of children leads to a determination to do whatever we can to tackle it. We all feel that. It is true that legislation has only a limited part to play, but there are measures in the Bill which deal with this problem to which I should like to draw attention.

Clause 43 increases the maximum penalty for child cruelty or neglect from two years' imprisonment. When a child is assaulted, more serious charges will normally be brought, but we noticed fairly recently — perhaps it should have been noticed before — that cruelty and neglect can take many forms other than assault, such as starvation, and two years seems to us wholly inadequate in the worst cases. We therefore propose to substitute a maximum of 10 years.

Clause 30 would make it possible for a young child to give evidence by closed-circuit television in cases of violence or sexual assault. This was widely welcomed when the Bill came to the House before the election. For a young child to give evidence in a busy Crown court, perhaps in the presence of somebody who has cruelly assaulted him, must be a tremendous ordeal. The ability to give evidence from outside the court room should help to lessen the ordeal. It should he a humane step forward.

Clause 32 abolishes the strict requirement that the unsworn evidence of a child must invariably be corroborated. This is new. I made the proposal believing that it might he challenged but, on the whole, I have been reassured by the welcome that it has received. There is no evidence to suggest that children are inherently less reliable as witnesses than adults.

We intend to bring forward an amendment in Committee to make it an offence to possess indecent photographs of children. Child pornography victimises the children who are exploited by it, and I am afraid that it feeds the instincts which give rise to sexual abuse. It is already an offence to take, show or distribute indecent photographs. We are persuaded that it would be justified to criminalise simple possession in the hope of stamping out this degrading trade.

I should like to mention two other changes—one which we have already made, and one which we plan to make in Committee. Clause 118 creates a single custodial sentence for young offenders, to be known as detention in a young offender institution. It is strongly favoured by the Magistrates Association. It allows more effective use of the available accommodation, which is a crying need, and it is an idea whose time has come. We have made it clear that young offenders who have relatively short periods to serve after sentence will experience the brisk, structured regime which has been developed in detention centres.

I think that the Opposition know that we shall bring forward in Committee an amendment to provide a statutory right to compensation for those who have been wrongly convicted. We already comply with the spirit of our international obligations in non-statutory arrangements which have been outlined to the House previously. During debates in another place, we agreed to put those obligations on a statutory footing, and we intend to do so. As now, compensation will be payable when some new fact has emerged and when the normal working of the judicial system has not revealed the wrongful conviction.

Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)

I warmly welcome the single sentence, but am I to understand that it is to take the same form as that which we experienced heretofore in detention centres— a sentence which was used less and less by magistrates courts because of allegations about what happened in detention centres and the fact that it seemed to do the children involved little good?

Mr. Hurd

The proposal that we have made in the Bill has been warmly welcomed by the Magistrates Association. What I said was that, where a relatively short sentence is to be served, the regime will include the brisk, structured arrangements developed successfully in the detention centres.

Mr. Wheeler

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for having given way to me twice. I, too, welcome the concept of the single sentence. However, may I take my right hon. Friend back to the penalty for possession of indecent photographs and other material concerning juveniles and children? Will he consider extending that penalty to make such possession an arrestable offence, which I believe would be particularly welcome?

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend the Minister of State may have something to say about that when he winds up the debate. In any event, I shall consider it and write to my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler).

I am grateful for the spirit of the interventions that have been made so far. On occasions such as this, the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) used to cast around for reasons to justify the fact that his party would vote against reasonable proposals. It sometimes seemed a matter of mere chance whether he would have thought of our proposals first, whether they were the most tyrannical proposals that anyone had ever put forward, or whether they were completely irrelevant to the real needs of the situation. I could write a tasteful anthology of the orations that he produced, but I hope that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook will show a little more imagination.

I would not dream of claiming that any single measure could be the answer to crime, but that is really not an argument against single measures that contribute to such an answer. We must act on a wide front. We have in hand a programme of crime prevention on an unprecedented scale, with several new initiatives which we are hatching this spring. We are engaged in a substantial expansion of police strength. We have carried out a series of legislative reforms, such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the Public Order Act 1986 and the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986. But changing the law is only part of the picture. No change in the law was required to establish 42,000 neighbourhood watch schemes, to create 8,500 places on crime prevention projects under the community programme or to expand the police by nearly 19,000 officers and civilians since 1979.

The Bill is not — and could not be—a cure-all. However, it fits firmly within our general strategy. We have used the time created by the election to fashion a stronger and more complete measure. Across the broad sweep that I have described this afternoon — international crime, safer streets, the procedures of justice, children as victims and several other matters—the Bill reforms and strengthens. I believe that it will buttress the ramparts of the criminal justice system, and reinforce the protection of the citizen and his family. I commend it to the House.

4.42 pm
Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which, by proposing changes in the law governing extradition, the selection of juries, remand and sentencing, would result in a substantial reduction in civil liberties, yet fails to address the fundamental question of equal rights under the law and equal access to the process of justice. It is nearly two years since the Government published the principal White Paper on which the Bill is primarily based. Since then, the unremitting increase in crime has continued. On a year-by-year basis, the latest figures show that violence against the person has increased by 8.6 per cent., robbery by 7.2 per cent. and theft by 3.4 per cent. Over the same time, the proposals in the principal White Paper have been changed, revised, increased and reduced, and all sorts of other ideas have been canvassed.

Let me begin by asking the Home Secretary about the matters that we might have expected to appear in the Bill—because he initiated debates, because others made off-the-record briefings to newspapers or even as a result of reading the principal White Paper and the secondary White Paper concerning discipline in prisons.

I want first to press the Home Secretary on the half-answer that he gave on what, until today, was called the right of silence. The right hon. Gentleman has rechristened it the ambushing of the prosecution. I take it from what he has told the House that not only will he not introduce amendments on the subject at any stage, but that the Government would not support amendments of the cruder sort, which I have no doubt will be presented in Committee. If the Home Secretary will give me an assurance on that, I shall rest content.

I understand the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties. I realise why, having changed his mind on the subject, he must keep some of his Back Benchers optimistically believing that he will sooner or later change the law in this particular. However, I should like to ask about another subject, which has been canvassed not by the right hon. Gentleman introducing lectures, but by his Minister of State making a statement to yesterday's The Mail on Sunday at dictation speed, I assume that it came from the Minister of State—described in The Mail on Sunday as Law and Order Minister John Patten"— who, it said rather revealingly, had spent the last year tackling the symptoms of crime. That is certainly true: it is one of our charges against the Government. I assume that the statement was given to the newspaper by the Minister, because it portrays him as a combination of Elliot Ness and Dixon of Dock Green. That is a view that he may have of himself, but it is not widely shared in the House.

What the piece says — on, I believe, the Minister's authority — is that the Government are soon to introduce the electronic tag. That proposition is wrong in principle, and, on the evidence of the United States, farcical in application. Were we to be presented with such a proposition, I am advised that a change in the law would be needed. No such suggestion, however, appeared in today's Bill. Can we be told that this little bit of self-publicity does not represent Government policy, and that we can forget about that as well?

As I have said, I understand the Home Secretary's difficulties. Junior Ministers on the make normally cause such difficulties. In my time, I had the leader of the Social Democratic party as my junior Minister, and, before that, the previous leader, which was even worse. But, if the Home Secretary will make the position clear, I do not think that any of us will wish to pursue it as if the Minister were a serious figure.

Other omissions, however, need to be pursued in rather more detail, particularly the omission of any of the proposals that appear in the second White Paper, on prison discipline. It was, I think, reasonable to assume that they would surface in the Bill. I doubt whether there will be another large Bill of this sort in the immediate future, but some of the matters that appeared in that second White Paper abut directly on the question of criminal justice. The loss of remission in a prison sentence is, in effect, the commitment to a prison sentence as long as some of those awarded by the courts. This is a matter of the administration of justice.

The White Paper on prison discipline recommended substantial changes in the way in which, for instance, remission was removed, recommending that the boards of visitors should lose their disciplinary function and that a new code of disciplinary offences should be created, and should be administered by a prison discipline tribunal. It is much to my regret that those matters have not appeared in the Bill, and I hope that the Home Secretary can tell us what are the prospects of that White Paper eventually finding legislative form and coming to the House.

Comparing the Bill to the principal White Paper on criminal justice, we see one of the reasons why the Government's record on crime and conviction is so deplorable. The Government vacillate over their policy. By comparing the White Paper with the Bill, we see both the nature of those vacillations and the cause of some of them. The White Paper, for instance, promised measures to enable less serious offenders to be dealt with effectively in the community. Yet we read in clause 139 that juveniles who have not carried out the specific activities provided under a supervision order may in future be committed to prison. That does not seem to me to be an attempt to fulfil the provisions and promises in the White Paper.

Similarly, the White Paper promised an efficient and effective court system. The Bill provides for the end of peremptory challenge for jurors, and for extradition procedures which deny people the rights which they would find available if they were tried in British courts. I want to return to this subject because the Home Secretary wholly missed the point made in the intervention from the Liberal Benches. Most important, the Bill provides for the Attorney-General, with the leader of the Court of Appeal, to refer cases to that court when he considers that the sentences are unduly lenient.

I want to deal with the unduly lenient provision, a wholly subjective matter upon which it is difficult for the Attorney-General or anyone else to make an objective and common judgment. I want to deal with the provision in some detail, for two reasons. I regard the proposal as wrong in principle. It seems to us wrong in principle that a man or woman, when convicted, should, in effect, risk the jeopardy of being sentenced twice and then be forced to serve whichever of the two sentences was the more severe. It also seems to us wrong in principle that there should be political influence and political pressure on sentencing. I know that the Home Secretary attempts to argue that the political influence will not be there, but I ask him to consider the reality of the proposal.

A particularly lurid crime will be committed, a tabloid newspaper will announce that the sentence is insufficient and then a campaign will be built up. There will be questions from the hon. Members for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) and for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens). We can be assured that that will happen every time a tabloid newspaper says that an individual has been sentenced unduly generously. The newspaper campaign and the House of Commons campaign will build up so that, in the judgment of reasonable people considering the Government's behaviour over the past two years, it appears that the Prime Minister will not allow the Attorney-General to do anything other than appeal for a longer sentence.

That is the case because so much of what the Government now do about law and order and crime and punishment is intended not to reduce the incidence of crime or to convict the guilty, but to produce the right sort of headlines.

Mr. Hayward

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hattersley

I shall give way in a moment.

If I had any doubts about that, they would have been removed when the Home Secretary stated that this was not got up by the Government for their own purposes. I have never heard a more obvious expression of a guilty conscience than that. Before we had accused the Home Secretary of that crime, he was denying that the crime existed.

Mr. Roger Gale (Thanet, North)

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will know that this matter was discussed in great depth in Committee. Very strong arguments were given by lawyers on both sides for the right of the prosecution to challenge. Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why, if he supports the defence right of appeal against the sentence which is too harsh—as I assume he does — he does not also support the prosecution right of appeal against a sentence which some consider too lenient?

Mr. Hattersley

I shall repeat the two reasons that I have given. It is quite wrong that a man or woman should be required to serve the longer of two sentences imposed on them. It is wrong that the obviously political intrusion which this provides should be introduced into our legal system. It is wrong that the Attorney-General should be subject to the campaigns inside and outside this House. Those campaigns epitomise much of what is wrong with the Government's penal and judicial policy.

Mr. Tim Devlin (Stockton, South)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hattersley

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment.

This item has been introduced into the Bill for blatantly political reasons. It is concerned not with reducing crime, but with creating headlines. The Home Secretary said today that the courts award sentences which he regards as appropriate far more often than newspapers claim. The Earl of Caithness, speaking for the Government in the other place, said that unduly lenient sentences were few and far between.

There is no reason, based on the deterrence of crime and the conviction of the guilty, for justifying this clause. The clause is intended to enable Conservative Members to go back to their constituents and claim that the Government are being tough on crime. That is wrong for several reasons, one of which I shall try to develop when I have given way.

Mr. Devlin

In spite of the right hon. Gentleman's reasoning, he has not answered the point about the equity of the situation. Is it not equitable that, if the defence can appeal, the prosecution should be able to appeal too? The right hon. Gentleman's arguments may be entirely reasonable, but I should be grateful if he would answer that point.

Mr. Hattersley

It is not double jeopardy for a defence to make a plea in mitigation and hope for a reduced sentence. The jeopardy is on the man or woman who is subject to what amounts to two sentences and must serve the longer of the two. The equity of that situation is obviously wrong.

Mr. Bermingham

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the difference between the prosecution and the defence and, indeed, between the judge and members of the public, is that the judge, unlike the prosecution, has often seen the contents of social inquiry and psychiatric reports and of other confidential documents? The contents of those documents may be reflected in the sentence, yet that information is not available to the prosecution or members of the press or the public.

Mr. Hattersley

I agree with my hon. Friend's point, and I go further. If we wish to change the system so that prosecution counsel become involved in suggestions about the length of sentence, we must go all the way and do what happens in other countries, where prosecution counsel have been known to suggest, after considering the reports to which my hon. Friend refers, that a long sentence would be inappropriate and a short sentence would be more correct. If we get that system, we shall get quite a different regime. The Government now have an opportunity to say that they are taking a tough line on specific crimes. That is deeply undesirable for several reasons.

Mr. Michael Irvine (Ipswich)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hattersley

Like the Home Secretary, I must go on, but I shall give way in a moment.

It is deeply desirable, for a number of reasons. By encouraging this idea that the fight against crime is conducted by headlines in newspapers, the Home Secretary is perpetuating the basic error which lies at the heart of the Government's failure to combat crime. That failure is in no small measure dependent on the atavistic belief that the best way, and perhaps the only way, to reduce crime is to increase the severity of the sentence.

The Home Secretary will have noticed that more than half the interventions from his hon. Friends on the Back Benches, or in the backwoods—whichever way he may like to describe them — concerned the severity of sentencing. By continually talking about the severity of sentences, as if it were the sovereign remedy for the increase in crime in this country, the real enemies are ignored, the causes are neglected and we simply attack the symptoms of the mounting crime wave. As a result of that, crime continues to increase.

Perhaps it is the necessity for the Home Secretary to introduce policies which have no merit other than to quieten the opinion on his Back Benches, which does an enormous amount of harm to the real drive against crime. That weakness is inherent in all Conservative Home Secretaries. Lord Whitelaw thought it necessary to talk about the short, sharp shock before he introduced reforms. The right hon. and learned Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Brittan) decided to change the parole system on the eve of the Tory party conference, before he said some progressive things about other parts of the penal system.

The present Home Secretary, who has some radical and reasonable instincts—I say that gladly and willingly—finds it necessary to look continually both ways to placate the opinion behind him. That opinion will prevent those improvements which, given a free hand, he would want to carry out.

Mr. Irvine


Mr. Hattersley

The Home Secretary is trying to look both ways in a fashion which can only be described as assuming Heseltine proportions. Last Friday, he told south-east London magistrates of his concern about the prison population, both sentenced prisoners and prisoners on remand.

The Home Secretary's concern, which I believe to be genuine, could have been reflected far more effectively in the Bill if he had chosen to reflect it in action. Let me give him some examples of what he could have done in the Bill to make his speech last Friday more of a reality. He could have speeded up the application of section 22 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, which requires trials all over England and Wales to be completed in a statutory time. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there are some pilot schemes, but he could have speeded up that process a great deal.

Mr. Hurd

The power is already there in the legislation, and I hope to make an announcement to that effect fairly soon.

Mr. Hattersley

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman, and wish that he had been that forthcoming without my pressing him on the subject.

Let me ask the right hon. Gentleman another question. If, as he said on Friday to the south-east London magistrates, it is his wish that the remand population should be reduced, and if he is concerned, as he said he was, that the remand population has virtually doubled over the past eight years, how does he justify coming to the House three days later and introducing a Bill that allows defendants to be remanded in custody, not for eight days, but for 28 days at a spell? Those two things seem to be in conflict.

When the right hon. Gentleman was speaking to the magistrates last Friday he said that, as well as being concerned about remand, he was concerned about the use of custody in the sentencing of offenders. I have talked about juvenile sentencing, where the right hon. Gentleman is extending the possibility of custodial sentences. Before I talk about other areas where his proposals will have the same effects, in fairness, I should like to deal with the parts of the Bill that will reduce the prison population.

Clause 56 will reduce the length of prison sentences for unpaid fines. Clause 47 will limit the custodial sentences in police cells. Clause 126 will encourage the use of bail hostels. Clause 118 will create a new sentence of detention in a young offenders' institution. Those are four admirable proposals. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman could have brought himself to mention more than one of them. I do not doubt that he would have been criticised for his moderation by Conservative Back Benchers, but if he is to get this right, he should stand up against those who believe that prison and prison sentences, especially longer prison sentences, are the only answer to the crime wave.

Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman that when he tries to stand up against unreason, he gets little thanks for compromising with those who think that prison is the only answer to the problems. He made an equivocatory speech on Friday and followed that with a Bill that did not support even the better parts of that speech. But then we read in The Daily Telegraph that Conservative Back-Benchers are angry at the complete reversal of the message that the Government ought to be sending out to potential offenders.

The Home Secretary should stick to the principles that he holds, rather than feel that he must constantly compromise between common sense and the 1922 Committee.

Mr. Hurd

The right hon. Gentleman is not analysing my speech properly, but, as he is doing so, he will recognise that its philosophy is clear. I welcome—to some extent the Bill buttresses it — the increasing severity of sentences passed by the courts for serious and violent offences. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman will dissent from that. If so, I should be grateful to know in what particular. That is one thing. It is quite another when one enters the boundary area, which we all know is difficult, where the court—not the House—has to decide whether prison is the right penalty for less serious offences. I was addressing that particular area at Bromley. As the right hon. Gentleman said, it is addressed in parts of the Bill. There is no contradiction in that approach.

Mr. Hattersley

That is why I shall try to explain to the right hon. Gentleman why that contradiction exists, but before I do so, having begun to congratulate him on the parts of the Bill that are welcome and that we commend, I should like to mention two other areas where the Bill is more than worthy of support. The change of the status of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board is right. In general, the right hon. Gentleman's proposal on knives is right. My only regret is that it was not included in the guns legislation. If it had been, the provision would have passed more speedily through the House.

With regard to knives, I have two reservations. The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that we—certainly I do — look upon the change in the onus of proof with great concern. I suspect that he shares my concern. I hope that he will endorse the view that, while the change in onus is justified in this extraordinary circumstance and these difficult conditions, nobody could think that that should be a precedent for change in onus in other directions.

The second area of concern is the stop-and-search provision. I hope and believe that as the police apply the new law governing knives, they will apply it with moderation that does not open up again all the old fears about sus and stop and search. I want tough powers against knives, as anybody who represents an inner-city constituency must want. For that reason, I propose to support the clause on that subject, allowing for my reservations on those two points. It is absolutely essential that in those two particulars the law is operated in a way that does not stir up legitimate and widespread fears in the inner cities about its misuse rather than proper use and proper application.

Clause 118, which I also support and commend, aims at tightening the criteria against which courts measure their sentences, and thus attempts to encourage uniform sentencing. When he replies, will the Minister of State explain why that admirable provision applies to young offenders, and young offenders only?

Wide discrepancies in sentencing are wrong in every way — for example, in terms of natural justice. They make a considerable contribution to the overcrowding of prisons, which the Home Secretary rightly wants to bring to an end. Let me remind the House and the Minister of State of some of the figures. In Rotherham, 8.79 per cent. of defendants found guilty by magistrates courts are sent to prison. The figure is 34 per cent. in Plymouth, 32 per cent. in Blackpool and 28 per cent. in Brighton. Those discrepancies cannot be right. Therefore, I ask again why the Home Secretary does not use the Bill in an attempt to unify sentencing and reduce sentencing in general—not only for juveniles.

I believe—I suspect that the Home Secretary shares my view — that in the United Kingdom we send too many people to prison and we send many of them there for far too long. The Bill was an opportunity to rectify those mistakes. For example, it could have resuscitated the supervised release scheme of 1981, which the Opposition supported when the Home Secretary proposed it. It was lost during one of those conferences when law and order policy is made by delegates to the Conservatives' annual gathering. The Home Secretary missed the chance to reintroduce that provision and to introduce other provisions that could have reduced the prison population. I repeat that the right hon. Gentleman has done so without getting much credit for it from those whom he tried to placate.

The right hon. Gentleman will continue to be harried over the need for longer sentences. I fear that unless he stands up against that harrying he will continue to bow to that pressure and put into Bills such as this proposals which are wrong in every particular, but which are warmly welcomed in Tory party caucuses.

Let me give the right hon. Gentleman another example. The Bill provides a life sentence for carrying a firearm while committing a crime—

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

Quite right.

Mr. Hattersley

As far as I can make out, nobody believes that it is "quite right" except a small proportion of Conservative Back Benchers.

Mr. Hind

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hattersley

I shall give way to a small proportion of Tory Back Benchers.

Mr. Hind

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that a small proportion of Conservative Back Benchers have a large amount of support among the general public on this matter?

Mr. Hattersley

There is no support among the police force—

Mr. Hind

That is not true—

Mr. Hattersley

Certainly not among the Police Federation. The federation is seeing me tomorrow on this and other subjects. It is absolutely clear on this proposition, which is self-evident. If a man committing a crime carries a weapon, and if he is about to be arrested by an unarmed policeman, under the new provision, that man will know that he faces no greater penalty for shooting the policeman than for throwing his gun away. [Interruption.] I hope that if the Home Secretary were on a rooftop facing a gunman and he realised that the new law meant that the gunman could shoot him and incur no greater penalty than if he threw the gun over the side of the building, he, translated into policeman, would rationally think, "What a pity he did not leave the gun behind."

The Police Federation says that this proposal will put the police in extra jeopardy. The proposal is in the Bill to make the Government appear to be tough on crime; it is for no greater reason than that, which is a squalid and disreputable one.

So, too, is the reappearance of the removal of peremptory challenge to jurors. It is a requirement of a free and democratic society that the defence is able to protect its client from trial by a jury that it fears is prejudiced against its client. The inconvenience that it may cause to courts, the small delay that may result from peremptory challenge and the occasional miscarriage of justice that may result, do not do anything like the damage that is done to our democratic reputation by removing a provision that, in the United States, would be considered as an inherent part of a proper judicial system.

The same rule applies to the removal of the prima facie evidence that is required before extradition. The Home Secretary completely misunderstood the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile), who was not saying, in any chauvinistic way, that we must protect offenders in Britain against trial by incompetent courts of western Europe. As I understand it, the hon. and learned Gentleman was saying—I am certainly saying—that a man or woman who is to be tried in a court outside the United Kingdom should receive about the same protection and should go through the same procedures as he or she would receive if he or she were to he tried in a court in the United Kingdom.

The truth of the matter is that if somebody commits a crime covered by this clause at Madrid airport, and then commits the same crime at London airport, they will have to go through more complicated procedures before being tried in England than they would have to if they were tried in Spain. There will he no committal procedures as such because there will be no obligation to provide prima facie evidence.

Once more, this matter is being brought into the arena of political decision-making. I believed, perhaps naively, that the Conservative party had been spending a good deal of its time over the past five years saying that these great judicial questions should be kept out of the political arena as much as possible. Much of what the Home Secretary has done today brings these matters into the political arena. I regret that, not only because of its effect upon the Conservative party but because it is the wrong sort of constitutional progress.

Extradition without demonstration of a prima facie case is intolerable. It is generally irrelevant to the major fight against crime in this country. I do not diminish the importance of us taking part in the international drive against crime, and I know that the Home Secretary has made a point of doing that in Europe and elsewhere. However, what he should be concentrating his mind on are crimes that particularly affect British people—muggings, crimes of violence, burglary and all the other categories of crime that have so increased over the past 10 years. By and large, the Bill hardly touches any of them. Nor does it touch adequately the growing size of the prison population.

It is an inadequate Bill and it contains many matters of which we disapprove. For that reason, we shall vote for our reasoned amendment and struggle to improve it in Committee.

5.14 pm
Mr. Greg Knight (Derby, North)

I am grateful to have the opportunity to take part in the debate. This is a wide-ranging measure, and I particularly welcome the inclusion of clause 30, which relates to the video link.

I also welcome clause 34. I accept that it is controversial among lawyers, but I have no hesitation in saying that it has my full support. It seems odd that a defendant can appeal if the sentence passed on him is too severe, yet there is no corresponding right for the Court of Appeal to consider a sentence that is considered to be inadequate.

As long ago as 1972, Parliament accepted that it would be appropriate for the Attorney-General to refer points of law to the Court of Appeal when an acquittal had resulted from an alleged misdirection by the judge—for example, where he had accepted an application at half-time that there was no case to answer. I have long believed that a similar provision to allow reference of an allegedly lenient sentence to the Court of Appeal would fill a gap in our judicial system, and that it would greatly benefit the public.

I was a little surprised by the vivid picture painted by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). As I understood it, he gave the example of my hon. Friend the Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) going around the country whipping up public indignation at a perceived lenient sentence. He said that this might involve the Prime Minister, who would then nudge the Attorney-General to ensure that the matter went to the Court of Appeal.

Mr. Hattersley


Mr. Knight

The right hon. Gentleman should read the Bill. It is still for the Court of Appeal to decide whether it will accept a referral. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that the Court of Appeal is likely to be influenced by my hon. Friend the Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth. The right hon. Gentleman left his argument halfway through, because the Court of Appeal is the final arbiter of whether it accepts a referral.

Mr. Hattersley

Of course I am not saying that the Court of Appeal will be affected. What I am saying is that when the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth comes to the House and says, "Is it not a tragedy that the sentence is so light?", the Prime Minister will say, "Do not blame me; we referred it to the Court of Appeal." The Government will be represented as being tough when the Court of Appeal will be represented as being weak.

Mr. Knight

The final safeguard is in the Bill. The Court of Appeal will be able to determine the sentence to be imposed. I regard the right hon. Gentleman's remarks as being in the realms of fantasy, and I still do. The final safeguard is in the Bill and it is for the Court of Appeal to say whether it wishes to hear the application.

If the court decides that it wishes to hear the application, the matter should proceed not only on what is at issue in the case but on what are then the questions of public importance with regard to sentencing practice for the future. I can find nothing objectionable in that.

Mr. Hind

Does my hon. Friend agree that, if it is suggested that in some way my hon. Friend the Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) can influence my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, the way to deal with the matter is to give the power of the right to decide whether the appeal should be sent to the Court of Appeal to the Crown prosecutor who was in charge when the case was originally heard?

Mr. Knight

I am satisfied with the integrity of the Attorney-General, which is why I opened my remarks by saying that I supported the provisions in the Bill.

Some of the other clauses have not been mentioned so far. Most solicitors will welcome clause 49, which allows the Crown court to deal with summary offences at the same time as it deals with offences on indictement. One of the most unprofitable, annoying and unrewarding duties that most solicitors have is to trot along to the magistrates court two or three months after one of their clients has been dealt with by the Crown court—that is, convicted and no doubt sentenced to a period of custody—and listen to the prosecution open some minor summary matters, perhaps to do with motoring offences.

The defendant must be produced from prison, thus taking up the time of the authorities, and invariably he will not have the benefit of legal aid. The solicitor will, as he regards it as a duty to his client, be in attendance, unpaid, to mitigate. Having done so, the court says, "We fine the defendant £10 on each charge or seven days' imprisonment concurrent." That is a waste of time. I think that most members in my branch of the legal profession will warmly welcome clauses 39 and 40.

All Members receive representations from the public. I have received hundreds of letters about the business next Friday when the House is to consider the Bill of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton.) I have received between 50 and 100 letters about Thursday's business, the Firearms (Amendment) Bill. But over the past months and years I have received many representations—perhaps this is contrary to the experience of other hon. Members—about some of the matters with which this Bill seeks to deal. These representations have focused especially on increased sentences for child abuse, the sale of offensive weapons and the use of firearms in crime. I believe that there is warm public support for clauses 42 to 44.

I am aware that clause 113 is undoubtedly the most controversial of all the clauses. The House knows that it deals with peremptory challenge. I hope that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook will forgive me when I say that his comments on this issue went over the top. In my view, the right of peremptory challenge is no longer necessary. It is not something that has been an unchanging tradition since time immemorial. The right of challenge has been reduced over a period, and I believe that in 1988 it creates an unacceptable tilt in favour of the defendant.

The reason for the existence of the right are historical. They may have been justified in the past but they are not now. A few hundred years ago, it is likely that the average defendant was poor and illiterate. He went to court to face a jury that had been chosen by the property qualification. I am sure that hon. Members will know that that qualification was removed only as recently as 1972. The defendant of a few hundred years ago could well have been on trial for his life. If that were not the position, he could well be facing a severe or savage sentence. Clearly, in those circumstances the defendant should be able to exercise the right of peremptory challenge.

However, the oppressiveness of our legal system against the defendant has diminshed over the years. Penalties have been reduced, the death sentence has been abolished and through the abolition of the property qualification for jurors, the justification of the peremptory challenge no longer applies. The corresponding tilt in the other direction has been adjusted and it is my view that the need for the peremptory challenge has disappeared.

Mr. Alex Carlile

Will the hon. Gentleman give us his comments on the announcement made by the Earl of Caithness, Minister of State, Home Office, in another place on 2 November 1987 on proposed restrictions on the prosecution's right of standby?

Mr. Knight

The hon. and learned Gentleman credits me with a position of importance that I do not hold. I am not privy to the thinking of Home Office Ministers. I am aware that in February 1987 the Home Office issued guidelines on the exercise by the Crown of peremptory challenge. I understand that those who prosecute have been advised to use the right sparingly and subject to the contents of the guidelines. If the hon. and learned Gentleman wants to know more, I am sure that he will address the point to my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office, who is to reply.

In his report on the peremptory challenge, Lord Roskill stated that in his view the electoral roll for the catchment area around the relevant Crown court was likely to remain the only practical and acceptable basis on which jurors should be summoned for jury service. What is wrong with that? The issue that divides Members is the view that is held by some within the legal profession that we should allow an element of gerrymandering to secure a jury that will be more sympathetic to the defendant than the one originally empanelled. We are not divided on the way in which the random principle operates.

The element of gerrymandering to which I have referred runs against the random principle of our jury system. It allows attempts to be made to turn it into something else. That is why I have no difficulty in saying that the Government are right to pursue the issue of peremptory challenge in the Bill. It can be said that the random principle sometimes produces odd results, but I do not accept that that creates a case for continuing the right of peremptory challenge. Life itself often leads to odd results.

The defendant will still have the right of challenge for cause.

Mr. Peter Archer (Warley, West)

The hon. Gentleman has referred to Lord Roskill in support of the proposition that we should maintain random selection of jurors. Is he aware that Lord Roskill has clearly expressed the view that some jurors are not appropriate for certain types of offence?

Mr. Knight

That may be, but that is a slightly different argument. Lord Roskill has made it clear that in his view the only acceptable way of continuing the random process is to use the electoral roll. There is, however, a divergence of opinion when it comes to the way in which fraud cases, for example, should be tried. There has been a debate over a number of years about whether certain cases of complex fraud should go before a jury, but that is an entirely different matter. I was addressing myself to clause 113 and not to that point. Our jury service generally has served us well and I believe that it will continue to do so without the tilt of the peremptory challenge.

The Bill is a comprehensive measure and in many ways it is far-reaching. Its proposals are to be welcomed and I commend it to the House.

5.27 pm
Mr. Peter Archer (Warley, West)

As the Home Secretary reminded us, it is 13 months since the Government introduced the earlier edition of the Bill that is now before us. I imagine that for some right hon. and hon. Members this will be an experience of déjà vu.

I come to the House for this debate with a sense of adventure.

Mr. Alex Carlile

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will get over it.

Mr. Archer

Of that I have no doubt.

When the Bill was discussed earlier my mind was on other matters. It is only now that I am returning to what for most of my life has been my spiritual home.

The Bill has been improved since it was first introduced, and I believe that it could be made substantially better still. We live in the hope that there can be a meeting of minds in the subsequent stages of the Bill's consideration. The hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight) will not find himself alone throughout his support of all the propositions in the Bill, because there are some matters on which we can agree. Equally, I suspect that there will be fundamental disagreements on some issues. Perhaps we should be looking for the reasons for those disagreements.

This is a Second Reading debate, and before we focus on detail we should take a synoptic view of the Bill. This is an occasion for considering the Bill in its context, and what we regard as relevant to that context may be one of the principal issues which divide us. We should be asking, "What is the philosophy behind the Bill? How far does it fit into considered policies? What are its objectives? How far is it calculated to achieve them?" I doubt whether that is an accurate description of how a Criminal Justice Bill sees the light of day. I imagine that when someone runs into the Home Office and says, "Hooray, we have a Criminal Justice Bill coming into the new legislative programme," there is great rejoicing and those concerned say, "This is great. We can now decant our files on jury challenges and on the various other things."

As a result, a Criminal Justice Bill is a nightmare for the practising profession. It is a terror for students, who have to try to remember which Criminal Justice Act contains which provisions. If I may echo the cri de coeur in another place by the noble and learned Lord Simon, I hope that those responsible for the Statutes in Force will incorporate the amendments as quickly as possible before we all have a nervous breakdown.

If Criminal Justice Bills usually have a bewildering assortment of provisions, some give more evidence than others of coherent thought about legal and penal policy. I confess that I had hoped to hear from the Home Secretary of some of the principles alleged to connect the Bill's provisions. The Bill purports, as we have been reminded, to implement the proposals of the White Paper, so we need to go back to the White Paper to see how far it achieves those objectives. But if the legislation falls short of those objectives, that is not the full measure of our cirticism, because we are entitled to ask whether those objectives measure up to the nation's needs. Before we ask whether the Bill hits the target, we are entitled to ask whether we approve of the target's shape. Does the treatment reflect a proper diagnosis?

I have no doubt that, when some future Radzinowicz chronicles the history of crime in our time, he will speak of two crises. The first, about which we have been reminded, is the crime wave. I do not think that there is any dispute between the two sides of the House about the existence of the crime wave. There is no need to prove the obvious; but if one wanted figures, they were quoted during the debate in the other place. In 1980, about 55,000 cases were committed to the Crown courts and in 1985, over 84,000—an increase of over 50 per cent. The police have not been able to cope with that increase. In 1985, two thirds of those who committed crimes got away without being detected and of those who committed burglaries five sevenths were left free to enjoy the proceeds of their crimes. The courts, the probation service, the prisons—all the services related to crime—have been swamped by that massive increase.

I wholly agree with those who have said — I think that the Home Secretary said it — that the public are seriously concerned about the problem. I imagine that other hon. Members share my experience. When I return to my constituency, I am always harangued about the matter. But I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). Those who have talked to me in the clubs about the crime wave do not perceive it in quite the same way as the Home Office. When those people speak of the crime wave, they are not concerned with City frauds or the distinction between murder and manslaughter. They are talking about burglaries by petty local burglars operating on the estate in which they live, about violence to the elderly, about vandalism and damage to lifts in blocks of flats.

Next weekend, when I am asked in one of the local clubs, what we have been doing in the House and I say that we have been discussing the Criminal Justice Bill, people will ask me what it contains. I suppose that I shall have to tell them about the abolition of jury challenges and about documentary evidence. I do not envisage that there will be dancing in the streets. Those people will say, "We want more policemen on the beat. We should like more street lighting in the Oldbury road. We should like burglar-proof locks on the front doors of flats and locks on the windows. But we cannot afford them. The council tells us that it cannot afford them." Perhaps the Home Secretary should tell the Secretary of State for the Environment that he is working in direct opposition to what the Home Secretary is trying to do.

We have heard little discussion about strategy. Are we directing our resources to the right crimes? If we cannot eliminate all crime, can we at least make sure that we pay attention to the activities which really trouble the community? It has been some years since we heard anything about official thinking on which offences should be regarded as crimes and which activities, however unfortunate or unpleasant, should be decriminalised.

When Justice looked at the statute book a few years ago, it found more than 7,000 statutory offences, such as labelling a product in a way that does not give the same prominence to the weight in grammes as it does to the weight in pounds and ounces. If the public is to co-operate in the fight against crime, the category of crime should be reserved for actions which seem seriously anti-social and are regarded by the public with moral repugnance. Mr. Justice Stephen in "The History of the Criminal Law" wrote: The sentence of the law is to the moral sentiment of the public what a seal is to hot wax. Unless there is a clear connection between a criminal's action and an act that is wicked, selfish or dishonest, the community will not throw its weight behind law enforcement.

We might ask ourselves whether there are better sanctions than those that we are using. Of course, some crimes merit imprisonment. Of course, some offenders have to be taken out of circulation. But should we not have a clearer view of how effective imprisonment is as a deterrent?

This bring us to the second matter which future historians will record about our generation—the crisis in the prisons. Assuming that sending people to prison reduces crime, there must be a point at which each additional custodial sentence adds to the crisis to an extent which outweighs its value as a deterrent. I believe that the Home Office carried out some research in 1980, calling it research study No. 64. It estimated that, assuming that imprisonment reduces crime, a 40 per cent. reduction in the prison population would lead to an increase in convicted crime of only 1.6 per cent. Conversely, to reduce the number of offences by between 17 and 20 per cent. it would be necessary to increase the prison population by a factor of between four and seven times. Is it not a fair inference that we can reduce the present prison population without being overwhelmed by a further increase in the crime wave which would totally disrupt society?

Mr. Hind

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman think that another sensible approach would be to send people to prison earlier in their criminal careers rather than later and for shorter periods rather than longer? By doing that, the fear of prison would be maintained and prison would be a major deterrent in their minds. This would reduce the prison population in the manner described by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

Mr. Archer

I have the misfortune to disagree with the hon. Gentleman. The fear of prison may be a deterrent, but that fear disappears the moment people go through the prison doors. After that, they have simply attended a college for teaching the technology of crime. If one sends them to prison earlier, one has given up hope that they might be brought back into honest society.

Before embarking on a consideration of the appropriate penal tariff for particular offences, perhaps it is worth considering how far the courts should be divorced from the consequences of the sentences that they pass. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook referred to the proposals for the removal of remission. In this country, the judge knows when he specifies a length of sentence that it will bear no relation to what actually happens and indeed that he is required by law to close his mind to the provisions which govern the date of release.

Clearly, some account must be taken of matters which arise after sentence has been passed—for example, the prisoner's reaction to imprisonment. In 1967, his Honour Judge Stockdale told us that in Denmark it was possible for the court to pass an indeterminate sentence and that the court retained control over the subsequent process, so the court decides the date of release. If the proposal to remove remission is simply a method of increasing sentences, it does not seem to be a constructive approach, but if it is a way of looking again at the whole way in which the system operates, perhaps it is time we did look at it.

There have been debates in the course of the Bill's passage about how far the prosecution should have a role in the sentencing process. Judge Stockdale revealed that, in Holland, an important part of the prosecution's task is to ask for reports and to formulate proposals as to how best to deal with the offender. Frequently, it is not asking for higher and longer sentences. The judges are then involved, in various ways, with the offender's subsequent treatment.

I can understand that, since 1967, we have all lost our enthusiasm for reforming criminals. But presumably, even now, the penal process is intended to have some purpose and direction. Perhaps we could be told what the Home Office's thinking on all that is. I am making a plea for the Home Office to tell us how it wants to achieve what we should all like to achieve—the protection of our citizens from crime.

The amendment mentions our legal services. The House will not be dismayed to hear that I do not propose to embark on that subject tonight. There may be an opportunity to discuss it when the House discusses the Legal Aid Bill. But if we are urging people to respect the law, perhaps we should try to find ways of persuading them that the law respects them.

The first objective set out in the White Paper is to ensure that the courts have adequate powers to punish. That is a reaction to the problems that confront us, but it is not the only possible one. As my right hon. Friend pointed out, it could be a reaction, not to the problems, but to sensational headlines in the tabloid press. Before we assume that higher sentences are necessarily an answer, we should ask whether we are using custodial sentences to the best advantage now, having regard to the crime that we want to deter.

I remember that my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) in a publication some years ago entitled "Politics and Prisons", compared the loss to the Treasury from income tax frauds—then running at £4 billion a year—with the loss from social security frauds, which were running at £200 million a year. In the period under review, he contrasted the fact that there had been four sentences of immediate custody for income tax frauds and 404 for social security frauds. So is it not possible that the most effective discouragement for crime might be found in other directions?

I should have thought that the most effective discouragement—this might secure universal agreement in the House—from crime for any individual would be the disapproval of his peer group. Young unemployed people belonging to a minority group on a London housing estate are most likely to abstain from crime, not because Members of Parliament disapprove of it, but because we had managed to arrange things such that the young members of the minority group on that estate disapproved of it. So there might be an argument for the Government re-examining "Faith in the City", which they dismissed in such a cavalier fashion some time ago, and for them looking again at the recommendations of Lord Scarman.

The foreword to the White Paper states that the Government want to ensure that the court system operates effectively and efficiently. The most talked about proposal in the Bill which seems to relate to that is the one that has already been discussed — to remove peremptory challenges to jurors. When I talk about the Bill to those of my constituents who want to discuss it — I cannot imagine that the conversation will get out of hand—they will want to know what relevance that has to the While Paper's objectives. Many will understand that we are depriving the defence of a right such it has enjoyed since before the days of Blackstone, and which was surely intended, and has operated, to maintain confidence in the jury system.

This is not an occasion for rehearsing all the arguments—I shall contain myself until some other opportunity arises—but the public have been repeatedly assured of the virtues of the adversarial system, which means that one tries to maintain a balance between the prosecution and the defence. The public will not easily understand why the defence is to be deprived of a right that is available to the prosecution, and which the Government propose shall remain so. When it is explained that it must remain available to the prosecution because the Crown sometimes needs to ask a juror to stand by and it would be embarrassing to explain the reasons for that, the public will agree that that is true. If the prosecution wants to remove a juror because he is illiterate, for example, no one wants to stand up in open court and say, "That man cannot read." But the public will not understand why it is less embarrassing if it is the defence which wants to remove an illiterate juror.

When the right of the defence to challenge without cause is under discussion, the public are told that it might hurt someone if the defence suggested that he was not a proper person to try a case. I can understand that someone who is asked to leave the jury box might feel that he has been the subject of some unspecified criticism. Apparently, however, the juror suffers no similar blow to his pride when the Crown says he is not a suitable person. The public may wonder, if it would strengthen the jury system and improve the court system to withdraw serious frauds from consideration by people who are not accountants, why it would not strengthen the system also to remove a member of the National Front from the trial of a black defendant without the need to go into a detailed account of his political views. Perhaps together we may be able to find some solution to that problem if we all keep open minds. I promise that my hon. Friends and I will try to keep open minds; perhaps we may have a similar undertaking from the Government.

The next objective in the White Paper relates to extradition. I would like to say a great deal, for reasons the House may well know, about that, but, again, I shall restrain my exuberance—except to say, as the subject was raised by the Home Secretary, that what is at issue is not whether the legal systems of specific foreign countries are better or worse than ours. Certainly I hope that the Government will not attempt to dispose of the issue by saying that we can talk about whether the legal systems of some countries are good or bad when we get an hour and a half to debate an order at 11.30 some night. Not only would that be distasteful; it is not what is at issue. Something far more traditional and fundamental than that is at stake in this country.

The final objective is to include provision for the victims of crime. We have all thought for a long time that they should receive more attention than they do, and we support the victim support schemes which provide help at an early stage, when the victim is shocked and bewildered and unsure of where to go. People in that position need support. I am delighted to be able to assure the victim support schemes that the Government, too, approve of them, and will bear that in mind when the schemes come for more resources. So the test of the Government's sincerity was how they dealt with a proposal on the victim support schemes in another place.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board is to be placed on a statutory footing, which is good, because that is intended to improve its effectiveness. At present, when the board assesses compensation for the victim of a crime of violence, it includes the cost of damage to clothes. That might be a fairly minor matter to us, but to a pensioner it can be quite an important one. When the matter was raised in another place by the noble lord, Lord Morton, we wondered whether it had been left out by an oversight; but it transpired that the Government had left it out deliberately because it would save them £400,000 a year. So, in Committee, we may want to discuss the Government's commitment to supporting the victims of violence.

It would have been pleasing to know the Government's thinking on such issues as bringing together offenders and their victims. Of course, one must be selective and sensible. It cannot be done in every case. But the Home Office may have studied the victim-offender research programme in Kitchener, Ontario, where it was discovered that some offenders, on meeting their victims as people, realised for the first time the consequences of their crimes, and that had an important effect on their future conduct. Sometimes, the victim was less insistent on harsh sentences when he knew how the offence came about. Schemes such as that may make everyone wiser, and, if wiser, more likely to be law-abiding.

There is a great deal of common ground in the House about what the Government should be trying to achieve. Some provisions in the Bill merit our approval, but it must be judged as a whole. It fails to show a consistent policy. It gives less evidence of a constructive attempt to reduce crime than of a response to the baying of the tabloid press. It contains a number of proposals which are unfair and counter-productive. If we are looking for reasons to vote against the Bill, those seem reasons enough.

5.50 pm
Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

I disagree with the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer). The Bill has a consistent policy that is supported by the people. It contains so much that will improve the ability of our legal system to contain and, one hopes, to reduce crime and to secure the conviction of the guilty, that it is difficult to know where to start one's speech. I hope that 1 will know when to stop.

The speech by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) was much more reasonable than the speech made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) the last time that we debated the Bill. However, the concern of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook for law and order would be much more convincing if his party did not spend so much of its time attacking the police, insulting the judges and urging breaches of the law.

The Government have already done a tremendous amount to improve the legal system and to reduce the rising incidence of crime. In that context, one has only to recall the passing of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which gave more powers to the police and at the same time protected the liberty of the subject. We also think of the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986, the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 and the administrative introduction of the tape recording of interviews which, we hope, will become more widespread and national.

We think too of the setting up of the serious fraud office, the measures taken against City frauds and particularly against insider dealings and the considerable improvement to the police force in terms of money, equipment and organisation and the better morale that followed. We think of the neighbourhood watch schemes and of the many other measures that have been taken for the prevention of crime and we see the increase in the prison building programme. One could go on listing the Government's achievements, and when one feels at all downcast about the rate of crime, one can cheer oneself up considerably by reminding oneself of many of the measures that the Government have taken. The Bill substantially increases even that catalogue. The answer that one gives to the Opposition, who criticise the level of crime that still exists—a deplorable level even under a Conservative Government—is that one can imagine how much worse it would be if none of the measures that I have listed had been taken.

There are so many issues in the Bill that 10 minutes is quite an impossible corset in which to try to fit. Therefore, I shall take the time to raise some issues in the Bill with which I do not agree and on which in due course the Government cannot expect my support. I shall speak about one or two other areas in which action might be taken. The Minister may take it as read that I support the remaining important measures in the Bill and I shall not waste the time of the House by attempting to explain why.

I especially favour the measures being taken to deal with child abuse. The retrial provisions are long overdue and the Government were quite right to ignore the pressures to trim the amount of work that goes on in the Crown court by making petty theft triable only in the magistrates court. I congratulate the Government on resisting that pressure.

I have had doubts about the extradition changes in part I, but the Home Secretary has persuaded me that it is neither acceptable for Britain to be seen as a haven for criminals nor for us to be unable to get back into Britain for trial our own suspected criminals. Those considerations should be weighed against the need to maintain the prima facie rule.

We should remind ourselves that clause 3 enshrines a number of important protections. It is not just a question of another state being able to take back a suspected offender whenever it asks, because under this Bill that state cannot do so if it is for a political or a purely military offence, or if there is any intention to persecute the fugitive. That state cannot get him back if he is likely to be prejudiced at his trial by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion. It cannot do so if his conviction in the foreign state was in absentia and it would not be in the interest of justice to return him. That state cannot have him returned if he has previously been acquitted or convicted of the offence, or if the object of returning him is for a prosecution or detention in respect of previous offences not covered by the request, or for lesser offences. Therefore, built into the provisions of the Bill there are certain substantial protections. On balance, I support the Government's extradition proposals.

I have considerable doubts about the proposed method of dealing with offensive weapons. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to urge on the Home Secretary that the better solution is to get at the knife carrier at the point of sale. What appals British juries is the thought that so many of these wicked weapons are openly on sale in weapon shops, especially in London but probably in other great cities as well. It may be that the proposals for dealing with possession of these weapons ought to be in the Bill, but I have real doubts about whether they will have any more effect on stopping possession than does the existing law with its provisions, which are far less offensive to the principle of burden of proof. I feel that we shall have to come back to this issue and introduce some kind of licensing scheme for shops.

It does not seem to be beyond the facilities of a police station that has in its locality a shop selling these weapons — and there cannot be many shops — to require the proprietor to submit a list of the weapons. A local police officer could then go to the shop and have a look at the catalogue or list. If he takes objection to any of the items on sale or to be sold or thinks that the chief of police would take objection, he could raise it with the shop owner. If, notwithstanding the advice that he has received, the shop owner wants to take the risk of putting the item on display, the chief of police could have it confiscated if permission is not given to sell it. After all, in the firearms legislation we are proposing substantially to widen the need for licensing of shotguns and firearms. The sale of weapons from a few shops would place very little extra burden on the police.

I shall now turn to the peremptory challenge provisions. It hurts me to say it, but here I agree with the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. With 25 years of practice in the criminal courts behind me, my views are well known, and I shall not burden the House by giving a detailed explanation of them. It is, of course, complete nonsense to say that guilty people are acquitted wholesale because defendants are tailoring juries merely by having the right to say no three times. A jury cannot be tailored just by the defendant removing from the jury somebody he does not like the look of, unless he could decide which juror would be next and he knew in advance what their predispositions were. That never arises under a peremptory challenge, but it will arise if we have challenges for cause and we go down the very slippery path that the United States of America has gone down. The peremptory challenge should be left as it is because it is a safety valve. Neither hon. Members nor lawyers who do not practise in the criminal courts seem always to understand what goes on in those courts.

The defendant, who very often has been in custody for a long time and thinks that the whole system is weighted against him, sits in the dock throughout the trial because he wishes to be there. Criminal trials are a voluntary process.

If we make it look to the defendant as though the system is weighted heavily against him, he can make it very difficult to conduct a criminal trial. Juries do not like it when a defendant is taken down below, so he does not hear the evidence adduced against him and is not in a position to instruct his counsel. With a peremptory challenge the defendant knows that he has the right to assert himself against the system; to say to three jurors who may have been selected deliberately, as far as he knows, by some official somewhere, "I do not want you." He can challenge three times and it takes three minutes. For that very small price, the defendant feels that justice will be done in his trial.

The Bill will sweep all that away, but it will do more than that. The illogicality and unfairness of stopping the defence challenging the jury, but allowing the prosecution the right to stand by for the Crown, was discussed last time the Bill was debated, and the Government said, "No, it is very important to maintain the right to stand by for the Crown." The House of Lords forced the Government to modify the right to stand by for the Crown and has added absurdity to these proposals. If the prosecutor has a reasonable ground for thinking that somebody on the jury—perhaps because they have been convicted of minor criminal offences, have had rows with the police, or for some other reason—will favour the defendant without regard to the evidence, he will be able to do nothing about it. With this absurd provision we shall build in the inability of the prosecution, when justice would demand it, to have somebody stand by for the Crown and have another juror take his place.

The peremptory challenge provision is nonsense. It is a confidence trick on the British public, who think that because the defendant will be screwed down not to have a right which now exists, we shall convict more people. Everybody knows that in a criminal trial, if the jury has any reason to think that the state is being unfair, it has a predisposition to acquit. The prosecution in a criminal trial must convince the jury at every stage that, whatever else it may be doing, it is being wholly fair.

I come to the right of appeal by the prosecution against inadequate sentences. It hurts me to go on agreeing with the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, but I agree with much of what he said. Our traditions mean something, particularly in our legal system, which is greatly admired by countries which have changed the system and wish that they had not done so. The tradition of double jeopardy is very important. We would transgress the rule of double jeopardy by giving the prosecution two bites of the cherry; an opportunity to second-guess the first judge, who has heard all the circumstances of the case — unlike any judge in the Court of Appeal — before he passes sentence. It is contrary to our traditions to invite the prosecution to do too much in regard to sentence, and they will be invited to do more if the provision goes through.

We ought to have enough political nous to know what pressures, whether we call them political or otherwise, the Attorney-General will be under when the tabloid press goes to town on the alleged inadequacy of a sentence. If the Attorney-General stands at the Dispatch Box as a lawyer and says, "I have looked at the matter; the sentence is not inadequate," too often, the Government will have a rotten reputation for always saying no to public clamour for reference to the Court of Appeal for increased sentences. If he comes in and refers a case to the Court of Appeal for consideration, the Court of Appeal will look at all the circumstances and in many cases will say that the sentence is right and that the press did not know what it was talking about because it was not there throughout the trial.

The press often comes in for the opening of a trial and the conclusion and it wants to whip up public feeling about a matter. It does not know about the social inquiry report and did not see the demeanour of witnesses or hear the defendant arid other people who give evidence, who may have thrown a completely different light on the balanced facts of the case as opened by the prosecution. I can hardly remember taking part in a case where the evidence was exactly as the prosecution said it would be when the case was opened. The press is very seldom in the Central Criminal Court, so I do not suppose that it is any more often present from the beginning to end of trials in other courts. The press gives a completely wrong impression.

The provision is absolutely unnecessary because the Court of Appeal has developed guidelines. Recorders, assistant recorders, circuit judges or High Court judges, before they sentence, take out a great big book with all the guidelines in it. The guidelines on the types of offence that the public feel most upset about—child abuse, rape and drug offences—are all set out thoroughly; decision after decision of judges of the Court of Appeal saying, "If this is the situation, that should follow." We may as well abolish the guidelines if we are going to ask the judges of the Court of Appeal to review the sentences. It is unnecessary to change the system which has developed.

It has been said in the debate that it is inequitable that the defendant but not the prosecution should have the right to appeal against sentence. But there is no inherent balance between the rights of the prosecution and the rights of the defendant in criminal trials. It is because the powers of the state are so great — the power of investigation and of calling witnesses—that we redress the inherent imbalance by placing the burden of proof on the prosecution and by giving the defendant the right to remain silent. Those measures are in our criminal system to ensure balance where there is a natural imbalance, so the argument that it would be fair to have the same balance for the prosecution as for the defendant is irrelevant. I shall support or even table an amendment to change that provision and if a three-line Whip is imposed, I shall ignore it.

The life imprisonment provision for carrying firearms during the commission of a crime is another con on the public. The public think that the Government are somehow being macho. Nobody wants severe sentences for violent criminals more than I do — I want capital punishment for those who murder—but this is a crazy measure. If a gun is not used and is just carried, 14 years is an adequate sentence. If it is used for attempted murder or murder, the sentence is life imprisonment anyway, so this provision is not necessary.

What worries me is the possible temptation of a criminal caught with a gun to use it in order to escape identification and being brought to trial because the sentence for using it will be the same as for not using it. A second worry concerns a young policeman faced by an offender with a gun. What on earth do we expect him to do, knowing that the man with the gun can escape if he shoots the young policeman dead and that if he is caught his sentence is the same for using the gun as for carrying it? Whether or not the public think that this would be a good measure, it is preposterous. The police are opposed to it and I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will think again.

We are changing the procedure to confiscate the profits of serious crime, which is good and long overdue. It started with the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 and is now being extended. The problem is that its administration through our courts does not seem to have been working too well under that Act. I should rather like the Minister to tell me in just how many cases orders have been made and how much money has been collected by this administrative measure for enforcing the law on drug trafficking offences. I should also like him to explain to the House if he can, and if he cannot perhaps to write to us or to publish the answer in the Official Report, what improvements he is proposing to make in the administration of this measure to ensure that it works better than the Drug Trafficking Offences Act. Obviously, the principle is good, but if in the administration of the law this turns out to be a waste of time, we must take cognisance of that fact.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary came briefly to grips with the question of the right to silence. I am one of those who believes that the right to silence is now largely mythological and may even be dangerous. A jury might think that an innocent man would have given an explanation and may not be impressed in the least by being told that the solicitor has told him to say nothing. If he had explained his defence, he might not have been charged in the first place. That may not impress juries now, even if it did in the past. There is a risk of somebody who is innocent being convicted merely because, when he had an opportunity to give his defence, he did not do so. In some cases that may be the most significant piece of evidence in a trial. If there is that sort of risk, the right to silence has become a danger rather than a protection.

I say that the right to silence is largely mythological because what one says to somebody who is not a policeman or a customs officer without a warning is admissible against one. I was involved in a trial where it was held that the police did not have to caution a suspected offender until they had a prima facie case against him. Although the law has been slightly changed in recent years it is still open to a judge to pass an adverse comment in a case where a defendant has not given evidence. The judge will say, "There is one person who could have told us what happened, but he has chosen not to tell us. It is his right, but what a pity." In those and other circumstances the right to silence which a man can take advantage of and be criticised for is hollow.

However, I should like to see how the other improvements which the Government have introduced into our legal system, particularly the tape-recorded interviews of suspects, work out before I recommend to my hon. Friend that we interfere with the cherished right to silence. Therefore, I welcome the Home Secretary's statement today that he would want to delay any decision about any interference with the right to silence until there has been much more consultation and thought.

Finally, I turn to areas in which I should have liked to see some action, but, alas, there is none. I have already mentioned capital punishment and I have no doubt that its introduction would do more to reduce crime and violence in our society than any other single measure. Capital punishment is a deterrent I talk from some knowledge. In the early years of my practice at the criminal bar there were many heavy villains who may have done a bit of killing here and there and I used to ask them in the cells, where they fortunately were, whether they were deterred by the threat of the rope, and they used to say that they were. They were deterred from carrying weapons which might go off and from going on enterprises with juveniles on whom they could not rely to keep their heads in a tight corner.

I have little doubt, from anecdotal experience, together with a certain amount of common sense which I seem on this matter to share with the overwhelming number of people in our society, that capital punishment is a deterrent. Apart from that, people would believe that it was safer to walk the streets if they knew that at the end of the line they had the protection of the threat of capital punishment to deter violent criminals. But I know that that will not be included in the Bill, however much I suggest an amendment.

Secondly, the courts would like the power to suspend youth custody orders. At the most recent of the judicial boards' seminars there were about 60 or 70 judges, recorders and assistant recorders. I asked the judge in charge if he thought it right to ask the assembled gathering what their views were, and unanimity would not be too strong a way of describing their support for the right to suspend these orders.

Courts can suspend any other form of custodial treatment, so there is nothing wrong in principle with suspension. It would be the sword of Damocles over the head of a potential young offender who, having been convicted and having had a youth custody order suspended against him, might be deterred from acting in such a way as to bring the order into effect. It would help relieve the overcrowding in young persons' institutions which now occurs, because if a judge has no right to suspend a youth custody order and the appropriate sentence is a youth custody order, the judge sends the offender inside.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. John Patten)

My hon. and learned Friend has much experience in these matters both as a Member of Parliament and, like the hon. Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile), as a recorder. If suspended custodial orders were permitted, is there not a danger that they might be substituted for other forms of non-custodial disposal lower down the tariff?

Mr. Lawrence

That is always a problem. We have been over this before, when suspended sentences were introduced. On balance, however, suspended sentences have been thought to be right despite that possibility. If we can avoid sending into custody a reasonable proportion of young people who are currently sent into youth custody where they learn to become criminals, that would be a good thing. I think that there is a reasonable likelihood that there would be a significant saving, whatever might happen further down the line.

Mr. Alex Carlile

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that when a young person is being sentenced there is often no money to pay a fine and a conditional discharge seems an absurdity for what may be a serious offence, with the result that many judges pass youth custody sentences? Does he agree that suspended custody orders would mean that many people would serve shorter terms or no immediate term at all?

Mr. Lawrence

I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman. There could also be partially suspended sentences. I ask the Government to think again about this. I have made representations to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in the past, but clearly they have no magic effect on him, as in this and other measures I have signally failed to persuade him. Nevertheless, judges want this not as a brutal and nasty thing to do but as a helpful and constructive measure both for the sentencer and for society.

Thirdly, there is no provision in the Bill to deal with people resident in Britain who may have been responsible for the mass murder of civilians or the killing of British soldiers captured by the Nazis in the last war. There is considerable concern about the continued presence in this country of a number of war criminals. I have heard one Home Office Minister say that if one such monster remains he should not be allowed to remain untried. That raises the question of how such a person can be tried for an offence committed outside the jurisdiction and when that person was not then a British citizen. Under our existing law, that is simply not possible, so the law must be changed. I ask, therefore, that consideration be given to an amendment to this Bill to achieve that.

Mr. Devlin


Mr. Lawrence

My hon. Friend says that it would be retrospective, and there would indeed be an element of retrospection in such legislation.

There are two kinds of retrospection, however—one that is unacceptable and one that is not. The unacceptable kind makes criminal an act that was not criminal at the time when it was committed, thus punishing people who had every reason to believe that they were innocent at the time when the act was committed. That is unacceptable retrospective legislation and we in this country are against it.

The other kind of retrospection involves bringing to trial a person who knew at the time that he was committing murder or, indeed, mass murder—we are talking here about genocide. It does not involve bringing to criminal trial a person who had reason to believe that he was innocent. The retrospection involves merely the procedures whereby the person is brought to justice. In matters of genocide, the law should always have been that the alleged perpetrators could be brought to trial by the forces of law and order wherever the act may have been committed. I do not believe that that form of retrospection is anathema to the British people. We could then bring to trial people who committed mass murder but got away with it because our system did not allow us to prosecute, either because the person was not a British citizen at the time or because the act was committed outside the jurisdiction.

Mr. Bermingham

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that, regrettably, our law deals only with offences against the state and not with offences against humanity of the kind that he has described?

Mr. Lawrence

I agree entirely. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.

Faced with the same problem, other countries such as Canada and Australia have changed their laws in the way that I suggest and are asking why this country—the great legal force of the western world—has not yet done so.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has said that he is considering all these matters and I know that he is most sympathetic and wants only the best. He has said that he does not intend to let the matter drop but that the time to deal with it is "not now". In the old rabbinical phrase, I ask my right hon. Friend, "If not now, when?" If we cannot introduce an amendment to this Criminal Justice Bill I am sure that those who run the affairs of this party in Parliament may find a thousand and one reasons why other legislation should take precedence over a specific measure to deal with this issue.

Mr. John Patten

My hon. and learned Friend may not have heard my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State say earlier that he intended to make his views known before this Bill had completed all its proceedings in this House.

Mr. Lawrence

My right hon. Friend also said that this Bill was not the place to make such a change. I ask him to reconsider that and to make the change in this Bill because I do not believe that legislative time will willingly be given by my right hon. and learned Friend the Patronage Secretary for a specific measure to deal with this matter.

Mr. Devlin


Mr. Lawrence

If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I will bring my remarks to a close, as I have already taken too long.

This debate may have seemed to lack lustre because we have been going over ground that we have trodden before. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of good in the Bill. In my view, it is a pity to spoil it by including the parts that are bad. In my respectful submission, the Bill could be improved by including the provisions that I have mentioned. My hon. Friend the Minister of State has listened intently to speeches from all parts of the House. I hope that he will ask my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to think again about some of the matters I have raised.

6.18 pm
Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)

The right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) said that, as a newcomer to this Criminal Justice Bill, he viewed it with a sense of adventure. He is not the only one. The new Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office—the hon. and learned Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor)—and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) viewed it with such a sense of adventure that they took off to the Gaza Strip to take part in a little exercise in competitive aggression.

I view this Criminal Justice Bill mark 2 with a sense of the inevitable. However, I hope that it includes the inevitability that we will have as honest and earnest a debate on this Bill as we had on the Criminal Justice Bill mark 1. We have now the advantage of the expert hand and eye of their Lordships to guide us on certain points, although I will take strong issue with them on at least one.

I believe that no Criminal Justice Bill or law reform legislation is worth a pinch of salt unless it is part of a coherent strategy to achieve four aims. I would characterise the first aim as strengthening the rule of law; and the second as enhancing the regard in which the law is held by its consumers. After all, the law is the one commodity which the public are forced to consume every day of their lives, like it or not. I would characterise the third aim as increasing the efficiency of the law as a guarantor of justice to all; and the fourth as avoiding partisan political prejudices which, in my view at least, and I suspect in the view of most hon. Members, should have no place in any Criminal Justice Bill. I consider this Bill against that four-point test.

I am afraid that I believe that, although this Bill has many points to recommend it, it fails the test on a number of specific items. I want to begin by considering the item that strikes me as most offensive in that it falls prey to the fourth consideration — partisan political prejudice. I make no apology for returning to the matter of the peremptory challenge.

I listened with fascination to the debates in another place on the right of peremptory challenge. I stood at the Bar of the House in another place with the Minister of State and others. We heard some riveting speeches from several of their Lordships who have great experience of the criminal law. However, I must confess that I felt that some of those speeches were delivered with a rather shaky hand. Some of their Lordships were speaking about an area of the law in which they have not operated for 20 years or more, although partly of course because of the great distinction that some of them have achieved within the judiciary. It seemed to me that some of them were out of touch with the reality of the practical considerations of criminal trials about which the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) spoke so eloquently a few moments ago, in a speech which lasted just over the 10 minutes he promised.

The debate in another place did not answer the question of how the alternative would work, and by that I mean the alternative from the point of view of the defence. No answer has been given to the proposition that we are about to embark on an unseemly procedure in which some judges will consider challenges for cause in the absence of the jury panel, while others will consider challenges for cause in the presence of the jury panel. Some challenges for cause will be couched elegantly and eloquently in terms which the jury cannot understand but the judge can: it is clearly offensive to the legal system to conceal what is being said from those concerned in the case, through the use of lawyers' code. Some judges will be prepared to hear applications, for example, on the ground that there should be more black people or women on a jury, but other judges will refuse to hear such applications. We will have a mess on our hands.

One of the points emphasised in previous debates on this issue was the inequality between the prosecution and the defence in the light of the Government's proposals to abolish the defence right of peremptory challenge. I should be grateful if the Minister would pay close attention to my next point. The Government have recognised that there is some force in the complaint of inequality between the defence and the prosecution based upon the previous proposals before the House. They have purported to deal with those objections. However, this time they have produced a severe handicap to the Crown.

Criteria have been laid down which were referred to in another place on 2 November 1987 by the then Minister of State, Home Office, the Earl of Caithness. He said that stand by would be permitted only in two sets of circumstances: The first is where a jury check has been authorised by the Attorney-General". — [Official Report, House of Lords, 2 November 1987; Vol. 489, c. 819.] That applies to jury vetting cases. It encompasses an insignificant number of cases and we can forget about it for all practical purposes. The other category involves a juror who is manifestly unsuited for jury service. The example given by the Earl of Caithness involved an illiterate juror. That means that in the ordinary run of case, where juries are not vetted, the only right of stand by for the Crown will be if the juror is manifestly unsuited for jury service.

I have done a lot of prosecuting in my time and have attended many courts as a prosecutor when that ubiquitous figure of knowledge, the court police liaison officer, has sidled up to me and said, "Can I have a word please, Mr. Carlile? You see that fellow in the brown hat over there — he is known to associate with criminals. He's got no form, Mr. Carlile, but he is pretty high up our criminal intelligence list." Like a responsible prosecutor, I believe, I stood up without giving cause and said, "Stand by for the Crown." That juror is not manifestly unsuited for jury service under the criteria set down by the Earl of Caithness. He is certainly unsuited for service, but he will not be liable to exclusion under the guidelines which have been set down.

The Government have now introduced measures that will create difficulties for the prosecution, albeit in a commendable effort to create equality with the defence. The result is that there will be a complete dog's breakfast to replace a wholly practical system which has been operating for a very long time.

I am afraid that, like the hon. and learned Member for Burton and others, I will be returning to the issue of peremptory challenge to claim that there is no better solution than the current practice. I hasten to add that that is not an iconoclastic view. It is a practical view based on everyday experience in Crown courts all over the country.

I now want to consider extradition. We have reason to be proud—perhaps this is slightly iconoclastic—of the principle underlying our extradition law, the prima facie rule. That means that, before a foreign country can obtain extradition it must show that there is a case to answer on the charge. It has to show not that there is guilt, but that there is a case to answer. That is rather like what happens to a person who is sent for trial in a British court. Before he can be committed for trial, whether to the Old Bailey or Caernarfon Crown court, it must be shown that there is a prima facie case against him.

Surely it is justifiable to say that we should apply the same standard before we send a British subject or anyone else to a foreign country and foreign jurisdiction where there may not be legal aid and where he may even be left in solitary confinement for nine months while he awaits trial. Surely there should be a prima facie rule in his case as well. It is not a demanding rule. As the Heysel stadium case showed, the problem is the procedure, not the rule, and I welcome any measures to improve the rules of evidence to enable foreign states to achieve, by simple means, proof of their prima facie case.

Let us not forget that the present situation is not one in which a foreign country has to flounder in the British legal system. Every foreign state is represented by the Director of Public Prosecutions when it seeks an extradition. It has the whole machinery of the DPP's office at its disposal before it appears in court.

Mr. Lawrence

Is it not an unwarrantable interference in the internal affairs of other countries if we insist on having rules that they do not want for the production of their accused?

Mr. Carlile

I turn the hon. and learned Member's question on its head. We would welcome the introduction of a prima facie rule in other countries so that we could feel sure that a fair standard of justice was applied before extradition to Britain.

Of course there is another point. Comity is extremely important. When an order is passed by the House, we may be looking at a foreign state and at a system of government that we applaud, but the time may come when that changes. The most dangerous phase is when we are unsure about the system of government in that state. If a shocking dictatorship were introduced we should withdraw the order, but in the interim period, when we were not sure about the fairness of a judicial system, there would be a real risk of injustice. We are safer with the prima facie rule.

In regard to extradition, I am also concerned about the removal of the speciality rule, which would enable the Secretary of State, by an executive act, having extradited someone for one charge, to agree that he should be tried for another wholly different charge. I do not think that that should be left to executive action.

I turn to another aspect of the Bill that causes me great concern. As I hope I have already made clear, I am concerned that criminal procedures should be simple; but I am equally concerned that they should be fair. The part of the Bill that deals with documentary evidence in criminal proceedings goes much too far. Although judges would exercise control over their use, the Bill allows experts' reports to be given in evidence without the expert giving evidence in person. In criminal and civil cases, I have seen too many experts' reports which were simply wrong. The Minister of State should know that it is the experience of practitioners—if I can use a term of art—that some experts are on the game. They are prepared to give expert evidence according to the party asking for that expert evidence. This part of the Bill pays no regard to that fact.

A further piece of evidence which could well be let in as a result of changes introduced in the Bill is the note in the policeman's notebook—for example, of the remarks, made by a witness in a police car. That is a form of hearsay evidence which is often not credible. Of course, most police officers prepare their notebooks fairly, but there are police officers who turn up in court using fair copies of notes made at the time. Those copies are fairer in writing than in justice. There is a great danger of the hearsay evidence contained in policemen's notebooks being introduced and causing great injustice, albeit in a minority of cases. We shall have to look closely at that category of documentary evidence which can be given in hearsay form before assenting to it.

I turn to the removal of certain types of case from the jury. Criminal damage of £1,999 or less, common assault and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle are no longer triable by jury. A person with no convictions who is tried for criminal damage amounting to £1,000 or £1,500 will usually be in jeopardy of a gaol sentence. He may well be in jeopardy of losing his job, and he will certainly be in jeopardy of losing his reputation and the respect of all around him. That is much too serious a case for the defendant to be deprived of his right to trial by jury.

Common assault is an offence that often arises in highly emotional situations. It is often dealt with rather too summarily by magistrates courts. Cases of common assault are two a penny, and most defendants plead guilty. However, a defendant who is charged for the first time in his life with an offence of violence against a person, even if he is charged only with common assault, surely should have the right for his peers to decide whether he has committed the offence.

The same applies to the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle. I have seen such cases in which the issues have been extremely complex—for example, those involving terms of employment. The professional skill of the judge has often been needed to sort out those issues and enable the matter to be fairly decided.

Mr. Devlin

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman in the middle of his flow, but would he be interested in tabling an amendment to cover his point about a first-time offender, allowing all other cases to be dealt with in the magistrates court?

Mr. Carlile

I used the example of the first-time offender as the starkest illustration of the point. My direct answer to the hon. Gentleman is no, although I should like to think about it further. If it is the best that we can salvage, and if the hon. Gentleman is offering to take part in such an effort, he may well find me, and other hon. Members, on board. I am grateful to him for his question.

I welcome many parts of the Bill. I welcome the fact that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board has been put on a statutory footing. I welcome the tentative beginnings of video links for children, although I think that we will hear more radical suggestions from the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding). I welcome, too, the parts of the Bill that deal with forfeiture, compensation, knives and child cruelty.

Like the hon. and learned Member for Burton, I should like to see a provision for suspended youth custody sentences. I introduced a ten-minute Bill on the subject a long time ago. The argument that more young people would end up in custody is wrong. The problem in sentencing a youngster of 17 or 18 is that usually there is no money with which to fine him. A conditional discharge sounds terribly weak and namby-pamby, so he ends up going straight inside for a short youth custody sentence. It is in those cases that a suspended or partly suspended sentence would be used. In this context, I reassure the Minister of State that the regular bulletins which are now sent round by the Judicial Studies Board are read by judges, who pay attention to them.

I agree, too, with the hon. and learned Member for Burton about war crimes, which need to be dealt with in a positive way. There is a world of difference between retrospectively rendering a crime something which was not a crime and making a jurisdictional change which, as the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) suggested, would deal with crimes against humanity. Surely every right-thinking person expects the House to take measures to enable those guilty of crimes against humanity to be tried, even long after the event. We have heard a good deal about comity today in relation to extradition, but a good number of our friends abroad have dealt with this situation satisfactorily. It is possible for war criminals to be tried, and I suggest that it would be an act of comity if we did the same.

The Bill represents part of, if it is a strategy, an incoherent strategy, in that it fails to build confidence in the rule of law and the legal system for the reasons that I have given and others. It weakens civil liberties, does nothing to deal with the problem of a burgeoning population in the prisons, does not enhance respect for the law and can only earn the description, "grave disappointment".

6.51 pm
Mr. Tim Devlin (Stockton, South)

Although the Bill has been gone through in some detail before, I was unable to take part then. I am grateful to the House for delaying its discussion of the Bill so that I could take part.

I do not have any children but, if I did, I think that, like many parents in my constituency and the country as a whole, I should be feeling quite anxious about the prospect of their being abused physically or sexually in some dark, sordid corner of our society when I was not on hand to keep an eye on them.

That web of fear and doubt has thickened throughout the nation during the past year as those who care about children have brought more of this horrifying phenomen into the open. Some elements of the abuse—we may call it passive abuse—has always gone on and all of us have been vaguely aware of it. I refer to the taking of lewd photographs of children and various exposures in front of them. The subject has not, however, been a matter of great worry to the majority of people.

The sudden trumpeting by interested professionals of the truly nasty cases — perhaps I might call them the active cases—such as the baby battering, the physical, sexual acts and the violence, have made the public rightly anxious, especially when the perpetrator might be a trusted or respectable person such as a teacher, vicar, social worker or doctor.

The prospect is frightening. Many of us grew up as innocent children, unaware until comparatively late of the ugly world that surrounds us. It is perhaps those who have had that privilege who express most horror when they read the chilling statistics presented by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children or the National Children's Home and learn of the prolonged misery and degradation of other children's lives.

The shift in attitude requires us to contemplate these matters within the bounds of the family, and often on the perpetration of a deception of, perhaps, a spouse. One's natural reaction is to rebound in horror or leave the problem to someone else.

In my early days at the bar I took that attitude, because I felt that child law was too complicated, too emotional and too difficult for careful and dispassionate consideration. We cannot shy away from our responsibilities, however. It is our responsibility to protect these saddened, violated children, and that task is set about in the Bill. I welcome clause 43 wholeheartedly. Clause 30, on closed-circuit television, is a much-needed improvement and I commend the Government on bringing it forward. The suggestion that we should bring in an extra amendment on the possession of child pornography is most welcome. I look forward to seeing the Government's proposals. Sorting out the law relating to the detention of children is also highly to be commended.

Clause 32 causes me the most unease in the light of my recent experiences in Cleveland. I should like to consider the scale of the problem. National estimates provided by the NSPCC are that 6,330 children were sexually abused last year. The MORI poll, which has often been quoted, failed to distinguish between what might be called active and passive abuse. The definition was very wide and, in an article in The Times last year, Roger Worcester, chairman of MORI, took the poll to show that one female child in 150 was sexually abused by her father and that only one child in 220 suffered sexual intercourse by a father or brother.

Our next difficulty is bringing to book those responsible for these horrible crimes. My hon. Friend the Minister and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary have shown tremendous zeal in this respect. Calls have been made by many bodies which deal with children for a range of reforms to increase the conviction rate. One important reform that is not included in the Bill, and which should be, is a provision to lay a statutory duty on social service departments to consult the police and inform them of any relevant facts before action is taken to rescue a child.

The use of a live video link in court would also be a major advantage to the prosecution of these cases. The trauma to the young child, now separated from his or her parents, can only be heightened by having to reveal all the humiliating details in open court. Last year, we saw the terrible prospect of a trial collapsing because the children were too upset to give evidence. All the court could do to improve the situation was for the barristers and counsel to take their wigs off.

Children's and adult survivors' most vivid memories of these occasions are that facing the perpetrator and his lawyer is their worst ever experience. We must achieve a balance, however, and not tip the scales of justice out of line. We cannot allow children's evidence to go unchallenged and we cannot refuse a defendant his right of cross-examination.

We should for a moment imagine that some of my constituents in Cleveland are absolutely right — a possibility that is being determined by a judicial inquiry. We should put ourselves in the position of an ordinary loving family man whose children are thought, for some reason—a denunciation or a faulty medical diagnosis—to be abused. He might be a doctor, teacher or vicar. The accusation is made. He must, in the name of justice, be given a fair trial. He will suffer suspension from his job and be reviled by his neighbours, his friends and perhaps even his wife. The children are taken away. He wakes up one day to find himself in a situation not dissimilar to Kafka in "The Trial". That is what is alleged to have happened in my constituency.

We should imagine what will happen when, having legislated safeguards into the system, we have also removed the ability to cross-examine the accusing child. We should imagine what would happen if we did not build in the legal safeguards proposed by the Bill. The uncorroborated evidence of the child would be accepted as the sole evidence on which somebody could be convicted. Would we not be moving from Kafka to Arthur Miller?

The hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) said last summer when we met two anguished parents together, "This is Salem." He was wrong, but I fear that, with children being able, unchallenged or insufficiently challenged, to accuse parents of vile and hateful things, and with social workers prepared to read and believe papers which say that children do not lie about things that they have not experienced, we might indeed move to Salem. Will we then be back with a protection from false prosecution Bill to remove this anomaly next year? I hope not.

We must press forward with all due diligence to catch and successfully prosecute child molesters. I welcome many of the features of the Bill which will help to do that, but I warn the House against overlooking essential safeguards in pursuit of desirable ends. I warn the Committee against turning children to behave like Abigail Williams in a witch hunt which could burn the innocent as well as the guilty.

6.59 pm
Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)

Some of us who served on the Standing Committee on the previous Criminal Justice Bill feel what is almost a sense of déjà vu. No doubt, if I am lucky enough to be selected to serve on the Committee on this Bill, I shall see one or two new faces on the Government side, but I do not expect to see too much of the Home Secretary, who appeared only towards the end of the previous Bill.

That is no criticism of the right hon. Gentleman. However, some effort was made to improve the original Bill through the spirit of that Committee. Various Ministers accepted a number of Opposition amendments, and, indeed, often cross-party amendments, and a number of ideas were taken on board. I had hoped that, during the long summer that lay behind us, the Home Secretary and other Ministers would have looked again at what was said in that Committee, and thought again about some of the ideas that it discussed.

Over the past couple of months, I have floated one or two ideas on sentencing policy, in the hope that they will be taken up when the Bill continues its passage through the two Houses. It contains a number of features which are, sad to say, retrogressive, rather than progressive. When there are more than 50,000 people in prison and more than 10,000 on remand, we ought to take the opportunity to ask ourselves why that is. Why do we appear to be the most criminal country in Europe? Why do we incarcerate more people, for longer periods, in quite appalling conditions, than any other country in the civilised world? Is it, perhaps, that we have got our sentencing wrong?

You will recall, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that a few months ago, when a certain well-known jockey obtained his just deserts for trying to defraud the taxman, I suggested that there might be another way of sentencing him: it seemed an appropriate example at the time. I agree with everything that has been said today about vicious and violent criminals. They deserve to go to prison, and they deserve to go there for a long time, as do those involved in sexual offences. I am not speaking of them; the statistics show them to form a minority of the offenders who are to be found in our prisons. Research has shown that the vast majority are the thieves, the fraudsters, the car thieves, burglars and other non-violent persons.

For many such people, the most effective part of a prison sentence is the first 14 or 28 days. I suggested 28 days in a recent speech, and promptly received a shoal of letters from experts, who told me that the first 14 days were the bit that hurt. The remainder of the sentence is not constructive, as was said here earlier. All that it does is teach the chap to commit, perhaps, a different type of crime. He is kept in conditions in which he learns nothing, and his family is supported by the state. We keep him there at enormous cost, and then chuck him back again at the end.

Why should we not try to be constructive? If the short, nasty taste of the prison cell is required, let the sentence be for, say, 18 months, but with only 28 days to be served. During the balance, the offender would be expected either to repay the victim of his crime—after all, the victims are the people whom we mostly forget in the administration of criminal justice—or, perhaps, to repay society through an extended community work programme.

It can be done, it would not require much alteration of our laws, but it would at least be positive sentencing. During the period that the offender spent in the community, under, as it were, the sword of Damocles—the combined, rather than the single, sentence — he would be expected to put back into society what he had taken out, and, at the same time, to maintain his family. The probation service is quite capable of administering such a sentencing policy.

That is constructive, but it is not very populist. It is populist to call for longer and longer sentences. I agree with much of what the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) said — for example, about extending to life imprisonment the sentence imposed for possession of a firearm in the course of a robbery or other indictable offence. Where, in that case, would be the point in not shooting? The sentence would be the same either way. That is silly and will not achieve anything. Judges, of course, do not have to impose certain sentences; they are quite capable of imposing the appropriate sentence. The current sentencing powers of the judiciary are wide enough for that.

Over the weekend, I have to admit that I read The Mail on Sunday, which mentioned the idea of tagging. We did not receive a clear and definitive answer on that today. [Interruption.] Ah, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Naughties are happening. The Minister has indicated that he will answer the question on tagging.

It would be nice if we knew at the beginning of a debate what would come up during it. Surely the purpose of a debate is for the House to be able to give its views. If the Minister is to make some suggestions about tagging, I shall be glad to give way to him for a moment so that the matter can be placed before the House and before other persons.

Mr. Hurd

Give us your view.

Mr. Bermingham

The Home Secretary asks for my view: he can have it. If the system is to be anything like the Massachussetts system, it is barmy. I took the trouble to go and have a look.

If "tagging" means a system of reporting, with a machine that is coded so that the telephone can pick up the code, I can see some sense in it. However, to confine people to their houses 24 hours a day for 12 months—if I have understood The Mail on Sunday correctly — is frankly barmy. It is useless, and will achieve nothing. It is merely sending people to prison in their own homes.

The object of keeping people out of prison must surely be to reform them, educate them and lead them in another direction. I have no objection to people having to report at such and such an hour, or to a means of checking that they are ringing from where they say they are ringing—which could be achieved very easily by asking the telephone number of the works where they should be, and ringing them on that number. That may be too simple to be politically attractive, but the Americans seem to think it a better method than a magic bracelet worn around the arm, enabling the person to be contacted at an appropriate time.

I fear that we must wait until the Minister of State speaks at about half-past nine to learn the mysteries of what he proposes. I think it a little discourteous, if new proposals are to be made, for us to be told of them at the end of the debate, rather than during it. But old-fashioned manners are, I fear, a thing of the past.

Clause 128 deals with knives. Under the clause, the defence rather than the prosecution case must be proved. One of the grounds on which a defence can be proved, under subsection (4)(a), is that the knife is "for use at work". I suggest that the drafting of that tiny paragraph be looked at again. Let us suppose that a man takes his kitchen knife from his home to his car parked in the street, perhaps to deal with a problem in the upholstery, or with some screw or other tiny part in the ignition. He is technically not at work, so technically the defence goes. Perhaps the words "for work" rather than "at work" should be used. It is only a tiny amendment, but it may overcome that minor problem. We shall have to reconsider the drafting of the Bill with great care.

I wish to mention two other points. I welcome clause 41, which contains the retrial provision, but the powers of the Court of Appeal should have been widened in this respect a long time ago. I should have liked the provision to go a little wider. Perhaps we can discuss that in Committee, but the principle is welcome. It may prevent the occurrence of cases in which there has been a clear miscarriage of justice and people have had to go to the Court of Appeal several times. The classic example was the Cooper v. McMahon case in which the Home Secretary ultimately opened the doors and out they went, but such a situation should be avoided in the future. I ask the Home Secretary to reconsider the Select Committee's reports on remands in custody and then to reconsider clause 139 which grants the power to remand in custody for up to 28 days, rather than up to eight days, as at present.

One of the saddest sights is to go to a prison at visiting time and watch the remand prisoners being visited by their wives and families. An even sadder sight is to end a trial, whether in a magistrates court or in a Crown court—I declare an interest as a practising barrister—and to see a man acquitted when he has been in custody for a long time.

It is time that we reconsidered the position with regard to theft. Of course the person accused of murder, rape and other serious offences must be remanded in custody, but there should be some way of reviewing the lesser offences and the remand period. When sentences are settled by a remand period, we must ask ourselves questions about how we deal with bail.

I note the provision in respect of bail hostels. I appreciate that an increase in the number of bail hostels may lead to fewer people being remanded in custody. I appreciate that, under section 20 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1979, it is proposed that trials now proceeding—

Mr. John Patten

I have listened to the hon. Gentleman's speech with great care. On the issue of bail hostels, is he aware that, when the nine new bail hostels announced by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary are fully occupied, it could mean that up to 900 people a year should be free of the need to be in gaol and should be in the bail hostels?

Mr. Bermingham

Yes, I am aware of that. I welcome the nine new bail hostels. Perhaps there should be more, given that there are more than 10,000 people on remand today, more than 500 of whom are in police stations. The situation is appalling and any improvement is welcome. There is no justification for more than 500 people being remanded in custody in police stations. The Home Secretary's predecessor gave an undertaking that they would be emptied and that no people would be remanded in custody in police stations.

The Home Secretary has made several attempts to improve the situation, including early release, but too many people are on remand and too many are receiving too long sentences. However, I shall not seek to trespass down that alleyway tonight.

I hope that the Bill will be given a Second Reading and that, when it goes into Committee, Government supporters will approach it with an open mind, ready to make changes and to listen to arguments, not necessarily from the Opposition but from interested parties outside who often have much to offer. I hope that the Government will not set their mind against any ideas that will help to achieve the essential elements of a criminal justice system. Fairness is an essential part of such a system and leads to a conviction which is not challengeable. When that conviction occurs, the sentence should reflect both the crime and the needs of society and of the victim. If we can work towards that, we shall go somewhere, but I fear that the Bill contains many of the sins of previous legislation. Perhaps some of us will be lucky enough to have a second bite at the cherry, if we do not find the stone completely bare.

7.15 pm
Mr. Chris Butler (Warrington, South)

I welcome the Bill and the strong warning that it will give to any knife-happy thugs. There is a stronger warning implicit in it than the one I read when I was in Florida last year in the code given to children before they start school. They are told that they may not commit any criminal acts at the school. Bringing a gun, or another weapon such as a razor blade, ice pick, nunchakus"— goodness knows what that is— mace or any chemical or electric weapon will result in expulsion, as will selling alcoholic beverages or drugs, murder or rape. I am sure that it will be a great consolation to the victim of murder or rape to know that the schoolchildren will be expelled.

I studied physical anthropology at university and I know that there is a credible theory that Neanderthal man never died out. Some inadequate people bolster their inadequacy by the use of knives. They mistake the fear that they engender with their blades for the respect which they cannot secure. When they wield their blade, they believe that they are big, but in fact they are pygmies. They should be dissuaded from carrying their symbols of power. Some of them are rather dense and a couple of pints of lager can convert boastful bores into punchy paranoids.

Only last Saturday night, there was a stabbing in a disco in my constituency. A young man was stabbed twice and his life was saved only by the quick-witted action of Mr. Roy Aspinall, affectionately known as "Ocker", who put his fingers in the gaping wounds. The culprit was caught at the door and was found to have two flick knives. He should never have been carrying any knives at all. The message of the Bill should be not only that people who carry knives are inadequate but that they are mugs because the law will bear down on them if they are stupid enough to carry knives.

I welcome clause 34 and the right to refer unduly lenient sentences to a higher court. The knee-jerk reaction of the Opposition is to oppose this. They purport to represent the working class. I sometimes wonder how long it is since they were in a working-class club or pub and listened to the good sense that is occasionally talked over a few pints of bitter. The verdict of the ordinary man in the street about some of our daft, lenient sentences is very clear. Legal academics, too—Nigel Walker, for example—have been quick to point out that the one-sided English system is "quixotic". In 1965, the Donovan committee found that there was a strength in these arguments, but eventually it dismissed the idea because it was a complete departure from our tradition. In my view, tradition is an insufficient cause for not doing justice in these cases.

I have one reservation which I share to some extent with the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), despite his rather disparaging remarks about Elliot Ness, whom I have always greatly admired. That reservation concerns the potential role of the press. Mostly, our attention is drawn to soft sentences by the press. There is a certain section of the press that wallows in the gutter. I trust that the Attorney-General will have an objective system of review, and that we shall not be subject to the "objectivity" that is associated with the denizens of the gutter.

The Bill is a response to popular concern about the surging crime rate. It is designed to strengthen the forces of law and order. It is an unashamed attempt to punish and deter more severely those who commit the more severe crimes, and to lessen the opportunities for malefactors to exploit the system as it stands.

The Labour party has heard that outcry as well. On 27 November 1986 the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) put forward his own solution. Predictably enough, it was the election of a Labour Government, to provide the policies to unite the nation against crime. and to bring the British people together as partners against crimes."—[Official Report, 27 November 1986; Vol. 106, c. 484.] —whatever that may mean. In the same speech, the right hon. Gentleman opposed the abolition of the right of peremptory challenge. He opposed the raising of the limit on sentences for those who carry firearms in the commission of crime, and he opposed the referral of lenient sentences to higher courts.

We in the Conservative party are arguing that the balance in our criminal justice system should be turned further against the criminal. I may be reading the runes wrongly, but it seems to me that the Opposition tend to argue the case of the malefactor.

If the public are to judge the theme of partnership, and if they are to judge the way in which political parties approach that theme, we need to look at who partners whom — who partners whom in Manchester, not far from my constituency, where the ruling Labour group spends hundreds of thousands of pounds every year on its "Police Watch" magazine, which attacks the police, who partners whom on the Broadwater Farm estate, and who partners whom in the Lobbies tonight.

7.22 pm
Mrs. Llin Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

Since the Bill last appeared before the House for consideration, many words have been written, and indeed spoken, about the need to reconsider the law on the giving of evidence by children in courts. The emotion, anger and disgust expressed by so many people about the abuse of young children have led to a public outcry on the need to change the law.

It now falls to us to see that the laws can no longer be described as a child molesters' charter. We in the House have the opportunity in the Bill to change the law, to start to help not only those children, but their families and those convicted of abusing children, for if we cannot prosecute them and help them, how can we even begin to halt the increase in child abuse?

Much progress has been made in the past year. The attitude of many in the legal profession has changed. The Government have suggested that they are prepared to consider a change in the law on corroboration and video evidence, which is most welcome.

I followed with care and a great deal of interest the debate on the Bill in the other place, but I am far from satisfied that there is a full understanding of what needs to be done. However, I should like to pay tribute to the many Members in the other place who battled long and hard on the issue in an effort to convince the Government of the need for radical change.

To understand the giving of video evidence, we must first understand what a video link is. What it most certainly is not is a " closed circuit television", which was the amendment accepted in the other place. What it most certainly is is a "live audio-visual link", which is capable of being used as a means of communication during a trial and for the transmission of other sounds and images in connection with the trial — that is, without the intervention of another person to control or operate the system during the giving of evidence; and in such a manner that a witness giving evidence by means of the system may be seen at the trial throughout the giving of his evidence; and in such a manner as to permit the transmission to persons present at the trial of any sounds and images transmitted by means of the system. That is what a video link is and that is what I am reliably informed by Datapoint UK, a firm that produces equipment for use in courts in more enlightened countries, is what it successfully does.

I should like to refer to the proposed changes on the corroboration of children's evidence. The Opposition welcome the Government's proposals, that the unsworn evidence of a child shall now be admissible in court, even if it is uncorroborated. The provision that the child has to understand the duty of speaking the truth, however, is a stumbling block to the giving of evidence by very young children. The essential point is that a child is capable of telling the truth virtually from the age when she or he can talk, but as the law stands the court will not listen to her story until she understands the concept of duty and truth, which could be not until she is very much older.

That a very young child is capable of giving truthful information is known by everyone who has dealt with young children. There is the well-documented case of the American girl of three who was abducted, assaulted and dropped in a cesspit to drown but survived to give a full account of her experiences, which her attacker eventually confirmed in every detail. Much research has been done, which comes to the conclusion that there is no relationship between a child's reliability in describing an event and the child's knowledge of the difference between the words "falsehood" and "truth".

In France, Germany and many states of the United States of America, child witnesses of all ages are listened to. It is right that their evidence is treated with caution, but it is right that in this country the courts should refuse to listen to a tiny child. I hope that the Government will give further consideration to that in Committee, for it is important that all evidence should be listened to.

I now refer to the use of audio-visual links. The Old Bailey case last September, when a nine-year-old child broke down in the witness box and was unable to give her evidence, resulting in 23 charges against the accused being dropped, has won the argument that to subject a child to such mental torture makes the law cruel and unjust. I look forward to seeing the Government's proposals for audio-visual links, which I hope will allow evidence to be given by children in all cases where there is a likelihood of their being intimidated when giving evidence.

Mr. John Patten

I am following closely the hon. Lady's thought-provoking speech. I she aware that one of the things that has disappointed us in the Home Office is that, having circulated a consultation document on exactly that issue, we have had, alas, fewer responses from those who might be interested in the correct conduct of audio-visual cross-examination than we had hoped? We know the hon. Lady's views. If she can do anything to encourage others to make their views known during the Committee stage we shall be grateful.

Mrs. Golding

I thank the Minister for that information. It is the quality that counts, not the numbers. I assure him that the quality was good when I asked for support on audio-visual links. I shall not go through the full list now, but if the hon. Gentleman wants the evidence of the quality, he may have it.

The proposal that very young children should be allowed to give evidence through a fit person who is acceptable to the court would be in the interests of the accused and the child. A tiny child is likely to dry up completely if questioned directly by a stranger, however sympathetic that stranger may be or however sympathetically the questions may be put. If the question is put through another person—the so-called child examiner—whom the child knows and trusts, it is sensible to suppose that the child would find it easier to understand and answer the questions. It should not do away with the right of defence counsel to question the child directly should the defence so wish. I hope that the Minister will see the sense in the provision of a child examiner and include it in the Bill.

I shall now deal with the proposals for the admittance of video tapes in the giving of evidence by children. I cannot understand how, with agreed safeguards, anyone could object to such a proposal. Surely it must be acceptable that a video recording, made as soon as practicable after the events, is likely to be of greater use in the search for the truth than the cross-examination of a child months after the events, when much effort will have been made by concerned people to help the child come to terms with what has happened. Surely it must be possible for the police and social services, with the appropriate training, to obtain a statement that would be admissible in evidence. The Nottinghamshire constabulary and those working on the Bexley experiment are two groups that have done much work on the subject. The reports that they have presented have convinced me that it could be done and that a code of practice could be drawn up.

It would be essential that the video recording be available in complete form, with nothing added, omitted or altered, and the accused person and his legal representatives should have the right to inspect and view it. In Texas, 221 out of 235 accused people have pleaded guilty having seen the video recording of the child's evidence, thus saving the child the ordeal of a court hearing. If video tapes are not to be admissible as evidence, more children will suffer the trauma of court hearings, which cannot be what the Minister wants.

The change that is proposed is for the video tape to be used as the child's statement to the court, and that cross-examination would be directed to what she or he has said on the tape. It is intended to be used in the same manner as a written statement.

I should like to think that, in the Bill, we shall take the opportunity to change the law, to do away with the accusation of having a child molester's charter, to help young children and to support the family. We must seek the truth to find the answer to protect the child and the accused.

7.32 pm
Mr. Michael Irvine (Ipswich)

One's approach to a Second reading debate of a Bill that contains no fewer than 154 clauses and 14 schedules must inevitably be selective. I propose to concentrate on three issues, the first being the extension of the powers of the Court of Appeal as set out in clauses 34 and 41 of the Bill.

In his speech, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) attacked clause 34 on the basis that it would lead to a convicted offender being sentenced twice and having to serve the longest of those two sentences. That argument — the so-called double-jeopardy argument —is fatally flawed. The issue is not whether the offender should serve the longer of the two sentences: or for that matter whether he should serve the shorter. What is important is that the sentence that the offender serves is a just one. Clause 34 will help to ensure that the sentence he receives is a just one.

Reform enabling the Court of Appeal to increase unduly lenient sentences is long overdue. Standards of sentencing by the judiciary are generally very high. Occasionally however, even the best of judges can make a mistake. If they get it wrong and pass an unduly severe sentence, the matter can be put right by the Court of Appeal; justice is done and the anxiety of the public is allayed. It seems absurd to argue that, if a judge gets it wrong the other way and passes an unduly lenient sentence, the matter cannot be put right. When that happens, not merely is justice not done, it manifestly is seen not to be done. Not only is the victim of the crime wronged and resentful, but public confidence in the judiciary and the legal system is undermined.

The hue and cry among the media that follows a sentence that is perceived to be unduly lenient brings intolerable and undesirable pressures to bear on the judge in question and may deter other judges from acts of mercy in instances where they are merited. It may deter judges from passing lenient sentences that, in the particular circumstances of the case, are proper and right.

I see clause 34 lessening the hue and cry among the media. It will help to maintain public confidence in the legal system and, above all, it will lead to greater consistency in sentencing. It will lead to better justice, and to better justice being seen to be done.

Clause 41 complements clause 34 admirably. It will enable the Court of Appeal to order a retrial where previously, because of a misdirection or because some technicality has not been observed, a guilty verdict had to be set aside and an acquittal directed, even though the facts of the case pointed strongly towards the guilt of the accused.

Clause 112 will abolish the right of peremptory challenge. On this issue I part company strongly with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence). The peremptory challenge is used regularly in the hope of obtaining a more sympathetic jury for a defendant. It is used to obtain not a representative jury but an unrepresentative jury.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Môn)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of a recent report that showed that in 45 per cent. of cases it made no difference whatsoever?

Mr. Irvine

What about the 55 per cent. in which it did?

Another important factor that cannot be separated from the peremptory challenge is the growth of jury-nobbling — the practice of identifying members of the jury who it is thought might be pliable and then bringing to bear one or more kinds of pressure or inducement on them. Last summer, the Metropolitan police's assistant commissioner and head of special operations, Mr. Dellow, drew attention to the development of this problem. He claimed—it was reported prominently in The Times—that the Mafia and other organised gangs were employing professional jury-nobblers to pervert the course of justice and obtain acquittals.

We would be foolish not to heed the warning. With the growth of organised crime and the massive resources behind some of the international drug-smuggling and other criminal rings, that sort of pressure could be extremely great and could be a far greater danger and threat to the maintenance of trial by the jury system than the abolition of the right to peremptory challenge. I say that abolition of the right to peremptory challenge will make it just that more difficult for such gangs to operate effectively.

Mr. Archer

I am trying to follow the hon. Gentleman's reasoning. On the face of it, abolition of the right to peremptory challenge would make it more likely that people would attempt to nobble juries.

Mr. Irvine

Not at all. If peremptory challenges are used to secure juries that are thought to be more sympathetic to a defendant, and if that assessment is accurate, it follows that such juries may be more pliable and a much more acceptable target for the nobblers who are employed by criminal gangs. That is an important factor when we are considering the effectiveness of the jury system. I contend that the abolition of the peremptory challenge will make it just that much more difficult for gangs such as the Mafia and other international drug-running organisations to pervert the course of justice by bringing improper pressure to bear on juries.

Clause 128 introduces the offence of having with one in a public place an article with a point or blade. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary spoke about the appalling rise in the incidence of robbery in London and the increasing degree to which knives are being used in such robberies. They were strong words and I was glad to hear them. I was glad earlier when it was announced that this special offence would be included in the Bill.

However, subsection (5) states: A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) above shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale. So the penalty for the offence of carrying a knife in a public place is to be a fine. That is a slap on the wrist, and a limp one at that. Knife-carrying is a dangerous and reprehensible habit and it needs to be stopped in its tracks. Deterrent sentences are needed that will trumpet out that to carry a knife carries the risk of a severe sentence from the courts. I hope that this flaw is remedied in Committee. It is a flaw on the face of what is otherwise, on the whole, an admirable Bill.

7.43 pm
Mr. John Fraser (Norwood)

Anyone who represents a constituency such as Brixton lives constantly with the problem of crime. I have always taken an interest in these matters because I want to represent the interests of those who should be able to live their lives peacefully and who do not deserve to have that right interrupted by assaults either on their person or on their property.

I have learnt over the years that the battle against crime is won by partnership, co-operation and confidence within the community in the proper enforcement of the law and the judicial system. There were times when we had considerable doubts about the way in which the magistracy behaved. That was partly because of selection and partly because of inopportune comments that were made about defendants and, sometimes, prosecution witnesses. We worked hard to overcome those difficulties and the changes that have taken place since the Scarman report have done much to reinforce co-operation between the community at large, the police and others who are concerned with the enforcement of law and order.

I think that there is agreement on both sides of the House that the peremptory challenge provides an opportunity for a defendant to challenge a jury in a limited way to ensure that it is reasonably representative of the defendant's peers. We know of the deep injustices that took place in the southern states of America when black people were tried by juries composed of only white people. I have in mind the outcry that would occur if a leading member of the National Front were charged with an offence of racial harassment in Brick lane and tried by a jury composed entirely of people of Bangladeshi descent.

If a defendant is tried by a jury which appears on the face of it to be unsympathetic or antipathetic, there will be a lack of belief in the effectiveness of our judicial system. It will be all the better if the traditional right of peremptory challenge, which was there partly to increase belief in the effectiveness of our judicial system, is preserved.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hogg)

I am interested in the hon. Gentleman's argument. Is it not undesirable that a member of the National Front should be in a position, by exercising the right of peremptory challenge, to remove a coloured juryman?

Mr. Fraser

It is much better that one guilty man should be acquitted than that several innocent people should be convicted. That, however, is not the central issue. It is vital that people should believe in the credibility of the judicial system, and I am sure that overall the removal of the right of peremptory challenge will weaken confidence in the system rather than reinforce it. In the broad run of cases, removal of that right is likely to have an adverse effect rather than a favourable one.

My constituents, along with others, are much concerned about the carrying of knives. Reform of the law has been urged by the Lambeth police community consultative council and by an organisation called Why Helpless Youngsters—WHY—which has campaigned in my constituency and throughout London.

There has been co-operation between the consultative council, WHY and the local authority. Indeed, the local authority has mounted exhibitions of dangerous knives at local libraries. We have reached a consensus in my community that something needs to be done urgently about the carrying of knives. This is partly because of the increase in the number of robberies that take place with the use of knives in which terror is struck even more deeply into the heart of the victim and partly because of the number of altercations that result in death or serious injury that might have been comparatively unimportant if knives had not been carried. For three weeks running in my constituency last year persons were killed as a result of fights with knives. In two instances the circumstances did not include the proposed commission of a crime. One involved an argument about a traffic accident, and the carrying of a knife resulted in a death.

There is widespread concern about the carrying of knives and the deaths and injuries which have been the consequence of it. It would be idle to pretend that there is not some fashion in the carrying of knives. There are some who believe that it is right to carry a knife and fashionable to do so. There are many who within their own peer group do not meet any expression of disapproval because they carry a knife. In fact, the reverse is sometimes the position.

There are two principal reasons why people do not commit crimes. First, they believe it to be wrong to do so. The commission of a crime would offend their consciences. There are many who would feel a sense of guilt if they committed a crime. Secondly, there is a less powerful barrier against crime. It is the belief that the individual is likely to he caught and punished, even if he does not believe that he is doing something that is morally wrong. After a while, if the law is reinforced, the fact that a person is likely to be caught and punished gradually becomes part of his consciousness.

That is true of drunken driving. At one time, there was a general tolerance of drinking and driving, but, gradually, the idea has got through to people—as we saw with the anti-social habit of smoking— that not only does one run the risk of being punished, but it is thoroughly wrong to do such a thing. We have to reinforce the law so that there is a greater chance of people being caught and punished as well as greater social disapprobation at the carrying of knives.

I welcome some of the Government's measures, principally the powers to outlaw weapons that cannot possibly have any legitimate use. A series of lethal weapons — such as death stars, flails and sharpened credit cards — are shown in some magazines. By no stretch of the imagination can those weapons have any use except an unlawful one. The Government propose to list those items in a statutory instrument to make carrying them an absolute offence, without any defence available to the carrier. I understand that the magazines that advertise those items will cease to do so not only because the pressure of the Advertising Standards Authority code will be brought to bear but because it will be a criminal offence to supply or sell them. I welcome the Government's proposal and do not think that there is any dispute about it.

There is a difficulty with some weapons—principally knives, as well as chisels and other instruments—that may be carried for a legitimate reason or an illegitimate reason. The Bill is deficient in defining a weapon that is inherently dangerous as having a blade of more than 3 in. I have seen some deadly weapons—some of which I had exhibited in the House—with blades of less than 3 in. I have seen many more weapons with longer blades. Those knives may not be on the list prescribed by the Home Secretary but they cannot possibly have any useful purpose. Other instruments, such as kitchen knives, may have a use which is unlawful or lawful.

I should like the Bill to include a number of measures. Of course there must be a defence of reasonable excuse, including use of the instrument at work, but the defence as defined in the Bill may let people out. Almost everyone has heard of the tragic stabbing of Police Constable Hammond, who while trying to prevent a robbery in a south London shop was stabbed with a kitchen knife by a young lad who worked as a kitchen assistant. Undoubtedly, that boy had the knife for use at work. People who are accused of having a knife on them often tell me that they work in a kitchen and need the knife at work, that they work as electricians and need the knife to strip cable or that they work in a garage and need the knife to cut upholstery in a vehicle. But that alone as a defence is not sufficient. The important point is whether the knife can be readily used at the time a person is found with it.

A Stanley knife is fairly lethal. If I had one locked in my tool case in the back of my car, that is one thing, but if I have it in my pocket at a dance, that is different. An ingredient of a person's defence should be that the knife was not for immediate use—for example, it was used as part of his work of cutting hedges or pruning trees. If, say a Stanley knife was kept in a tool case or some other container, which meant that it could not be put to immediate use, that ought to be a defence. If a Stanley knife, which has an ambiguous use—it can be used to injure and threaten people as well as for a legitimate purpose—is ready for use at the time it is found in a public place, there should be a presumption of guilt, subject to any other defence of reasonable use.

Such is the widespread use of knives in my part of London that I believe that it is wrong that any shop should sell any knives or sharp instruments to a person under 1 8, and most certainly they should not be sold to a person under 16. We worried for a long time about the sale of glue and eventually concluded that we would make it an offence to sell to a person under 16 something that was inherently dangerous. Public disapproval of the carrying of knives will be reinforced and buying knives will be a more serious matter if we as a legislature say that it will be illegal to sell a knife to a person under 18. It may be bought by an adult but not by a child.

We should make it an offence for a shopkeeper to sell the weapon as well as for a young person to buy it. Such a provision would not occasion any great difficulty for those who legitimately want a knife or other sharp instrument for their work or hobby but would introduce a sufficient barrier to the acquisition of knives to reinforce society's disapproval of the carrying of those weapons.

I should also like to outlaw the selling of knives by some shops and magazines when the use of those knives is much more likely to be for an illicit than for a legal purpose. In a tool shop, Stanley knives, chisels and other sharp knives are on sale in the context of tools and other goods likely to be used for a legitimate purpose. In the kitchen department of Peter Jones, Harrods or a store in Brixton, kitchen knives are sold in the context of pots, pans, glassware and kitchenware and an atmosphere where they are likely to be used for a legitimate purpose. I concede that a person who wanted to get hold of a sharp kitchen knife would go to such a store and buy it, but at least it would be sold in a lawful context.

In some shops in south London and other parts of the country lethal knives are on sale in such a context that the reason for buying them can only be for the sake of having knives rather than using them for legitimate purposes. 1 see no justification for encouraging such sales in an area where crimes involving the use of knives are numerous. Under the terms of the Bill, a person who goes into such a shop, buys a knife and is caught on the pavement outside will invariably commit an offence. Such a person need only cross the shop's threshold to commit an offence. It is wrong that the person on one side of the threshold who carries a dangerous knife commits an offence, whereas the person on the other side who encourages its sale can do so with impunity. In those circumstances, it is unlikely that the knife will be sold for anything other than an aggressive purpose.

On the balance of convenience, I should like the police, in co-operation with local authorities, to have the power to cause such a shopkeeper to discontinue the sale of knives. Even more important, I should like the sale of knives through mail order services to be banned, except when they are sold as part of a set of tools or are likely to be used for a legitimate purpose. These are the matters that concern my constituents.

I said at the beginning of my speech that the enforcement of the law and the working of a peaceful community depend on co-operation. I can understand the point of using stop-and-search powers when a crime has been committed and a search takes place in the immediate proximity of the place in which the crime has been committed—for instance, in a dance hall or at a football match. In such cases, there is no subjective test; a crime has been committed involving a knife or other weapon, and it is matter of searching within the proximity. But we must be careful about the use of powers of search in circumstances that would merely widen the use of search and perhaps create enmity and distrust in the community.

I am doubtful about the extra powers the Bill would provide, and they must be used with great circumspection if the law is to be respected and if we are to carry the weight of the community behind the new restrictions that—on the whole—we are quite properly introducing.

8 pm

Mr. Timothy Kirkhope (Leeds, North-East)

This is the sort of Bill about which many of us have had a lot of correspondence from constituents. It contains so many different clauses that people have suggested that it should also contain other things which are not to be found in it now. However, I shall confine my remarks to the issue of the victims of crime and the parts of the Bill that try to help such victims and their families.

It is important to consider who the victim is. He tends to be generous towards the person who perpetrated the crime. He is often quite undemanding of revenge against the criminal. That means that a greater responsibility is incumbent on society to ensure that whatever is done is done to help the victim; and that a crime does not result in too much deep consideration of assistance to the criminal, but rather in consideration of the victim.

Obviously there are ways in which we can assist. I am heartened to see the growth in many areas of the country of victim support schemes. In the main they have been most helpful and have arisen out of a genuine wish on the part of the community in which the victim lives to be of help in the immediate aftermath of appalling incidents such as violent crimes, and to see that psychological help, for instance, is given to the victim. It is important to establish whether a loss has been sustained and what can be done directly and quickly to assist.

However, although such schemes are successful, we owe it to ourselves to bear in mind the needs of the victim. I am pleased that the Bill has, to a large extent, taken matters further than before—in relation to the criminal injuries compensation scheme, the compensation of victims by the courts and the confiscation of a criminal's assets, which is an important feature of compensating the victims of crime.

It is difficult to know how to strike a happy medium, but although the criminal injuries compensation scheme has been in existence for 23 years, it always had about it a level of discretion which was undesirable. It was felt that its discretion might not be always exercised in favour of a claimant, for one reason or another, which was not always wholly fair. So the absolute right to receive compensation, on production of proof of the basic requirements of probability, seems immensely important as a replacement for that discretion.

Another important new introduction is that there will now be a direct relationship between the offender and the victim through the work of the criminal injuries compensation scheme. It is vital that, whenever possible, offenders should be responsible for the cost of compensating their victims. Various ideas have been put forward, and victims do not necessarily want to see the person who perpetrated the crime against them. That, I think, would be wrong; but they can know the perpetrator of the crime through the compensation that they receive, seeing that there is a direct link and that the person who committed the crime against them or their property will be responsible for the compensation. That is an excellent proposal, which deserves our support.

For many years I have practised as a solicitor. My contact with clients was not usually through the criminal courts but had largely to do with matters of compensation. I have found that victims are loth to make claims for compensation. When one examines the Bill's provisions for compensation orders being made, it is marvellous to see that in future reasons will have to be given if no compensation order is made in appropriate cases. Previously the onus was on the victim to claim, which was wrong. Society has an obligation to see that compensation orders are made without them having to be requested by people who might not wish to do so for various reasons.

Although the confiscation of assets does not necessarily directly assist a victim, it is very important. In this country there is an attitude of mind which says that, for too long, criminals—especially professional criminals—have been able to get away with their crimes. They are being caught and, because of the increase in police force manpower, they will continue to be caught in even larger numbers; but there has always been a feeling that such people have been able to serve out their sentences and then find their pot of gold when they come out of prison, living happily for the rest of their lives, while the person who lost because of the crime—I suggest that we all lose because of these crimes —must continue as before. He may not live particularly well, while the criminals live it up in the sunshine in some foreign country.

That is unacceptable, and it was right that the law should be extended to ensure that the confiscation of assets on a pre-trial basis, for instance, should become less of a discretionary matter, and that a stronger power should be available to the courts to do that. That will give many people much more confidence in our judicial system and our system of punishment.

I said at the beginning that this was a Bill that could have covered many things. Something that I would have liked it to cover—I hope that something to this effect will be brought forward at some point—was that some consideration should be given to providing powers that would allow us to prosecute someone when there was a suspicion of his having committed war crimes. At present, many such people cannot be dealt with properly. There are many victims of such people both in Britain and elsewhere who look to us to try to consider, even though we are discussing war crimes, some way in which to bring these people to book, preferably under the British system of justice. For all its faults, our system of justice is an example to the rest of the world and is much followed. The Bill will enhance our reputation for justice.

8.10 pm
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Môn)

I have listened to many of the speeches and it seems that many hon. Members have had the opportunity to debate an earlier Bill. I may be at some disadvantage in that this is the first time that I have been able to speak on this Bill. Other Members have had one bite of the cherry and have made some progress in amending an earlier measure. I am aware that the Bill has already been in another place, where it was amended. I am hopeful that in the lively debate we might get in Committee further amendments will be made.

An Opposition Member spoke about what he called the philosophy that underlies the Government's view of the Bill. Some provisions commend themselves to me and to my hon. Friends, but its fundamental philosophy is flawed. That is because the Government seem to believe that increased prosecution powers and increased sentencing powers are in themselves a way of arresting crime and preventing people from re-offending. That is a fundamentally flawed philosophy because one must look at other issues.

This debate takes place against the background of a substantially increasing prison population. It is unacceptable that the proportion of people who reoffend is very high, and that, proportionately, the prison population in the United Kingdom is much higher than in any other EC country. It is a sad reflection of our society that six out of 10 male offenders and four out of 10 women offenders leaving gaol are back behind bars within two years. It is a further sad reflection that two thirds of young offenders are reconvicted within two years of release.

I confirm the Opposition claim that the number of people on remand in prison is unacceptably high. The conditions in many of our remand centres are intolerable. I am afraid that the matters addressed by the Government in the Bill do not directly address those issues. We cannot solve crime merely by shifting the balance in favour of the state or by increasing sentences. As I have said, it involves much wider issues, such as looking at the conditions that breed so much despair, violence and crime in the urban areas and the deprived rural areas.

I shall now deal with some specific aspects of the Bill. First, on extradition, the removal of the prima facie rule is a controversial provision. If we are to have a system of justice under which anybody who appears before a Crown court has first appeared before a magistrates court in which the examining magistrate has had to be satisfied that the defendant should answer a charge in the Crown court, then that system should also apply to people who go to other countries to face charges and to citizens of the countries of Britain who face charges elsewhere.

We seem to be adopting double standards and ought to have the same approach to offences that have taken place here as we have to offences that take place elsewhere. Therefore, if in extradition proceedings we ask an examining magistrate merely to be a rubber stamp at the behest of the country seeking extradition, it is a sad day for justice. I should like to see amendments withdrawing that clause, and I hope that the progress made in another place to temper these provisions will be continued in Committee.

I should like to deal with a specific issue on the proposals about evidence, especially the increased reliance on the use of written statements and reports. That could be construed as another example of the interests of the prosecution overriding the interests of the citizen who appears before the court. The Law Society is questioning the need for these provisions in these terms because they may well be irrelevant in the light of section 68 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which deals with certain aspects of written evidence.

The Bill introduces the possibility of written documents and reports being used in evidence without calling the maker or author of those statements or reports. I can say from experience that much use is currently made of written statements and documents in our courts and this saves a considerable amount of time. In magistrates courts, many committal proceedings are popularly known these days as paper committals because the examining magistrates will consider only paper statements. Even in later Crown court trials, unless the defence has made a request for a witness to be present, the statement of that witness can be read.

I know of many instances in magistrates courts and Crown courts of the increasing use of written statements. The main criticism of this provision is that in certain cases it reduces and limits the right of a defence counsel or solicitor to request the attendance of the maker of a statement or report. As some hon. Members have said, many statements and reports can be extremely controversial. Therefore, in the final analysis each defendant must have the right to call any witness to give evidence, especially in cases where the defendant is in court on a criminal charge.

Mr. Hind

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that in every case, either in a magistrates court on committal or in a Crown court on a jury trial, counsel or solicitor representing the defence has the right, having seen the papers, to decide to call a witness. There is adequate safeguard for the defence and now, as a consequence of legislation, there is disclosure of all papers in a magistrates; court if that is requested. Perhaps in the light of the present situation the hon. Gentleman would reconsider what he has said.

Mr. Jones

I have read with great interest the deliberations that took place on the Bill in another place. The Government, in pronouncing on the measure in the other place, envisaged the situation where witnesses were not available because they had absconded abroad, when the judge could decide that the statement could be admitted without challenge. That is a retrograde step and should not be allowed.

I accept parts of the provision on sentencing, particularly those for increasing maximum sentences for offences of cruelty to young persons and offences of insider dealings. With many other hon. Members, I object to the extension of the maximum penalty for firearms offences to life imprisonment. I have listened to the eloquent contributions of hon. Members and hon. and learned Members who have experience of cases involving firearms in the Crown court. It is sensible to say that if there is the same sentence for carrying a firearm as for using it, the person carrying the firearm may use it to abscond and will face the same sentence whether he used it or not. The Police Federation has expressed concern about the proposal, on the ground that to provide the same maximum penalty for carrying a firearm as for firing it would disregard proportionality between one and another.

I welcome the provisions on compensation orders, particularly the placing of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board on a statutory footing. My hon. Friends and I welcome the further strengthening of the compensation provisions, because this is an important element of sentencing and should be used far more effectively by the courts. It is distressing that prosecuting counsel, solicitors and magistrates are often reluctant to use the powers and to inform victims and injured parties of their rights. Very often they are advised, even in circumstances where a compensation order could be made, to pursue the matter through the civil courts, which leads to greater distress, expense and delay. I would like to see more use made of compensation orders and to see the Bill strengthened in this regard.

One of the most contentious parts of the Bill is the abolition of the right of peremptory challenges of jurors. Many hon. Members have expressed their disagreement to the abolition of this basic and fundamental right. I ask myself: if the right has existed and served the legal system for so many years, why should it now be right to abolish it? A defendant might be prejudiced by having to show cause, yet a defendant has the right to have a jury which is representative of the community in terms of the race, age or sex of the defendant, and that right should continue.

During my intervention I sought to make the point that a recent survey showed that where the right of peremptory challenge had been used, 46 per cent. of defendants were acquitted, and where it had not been used 45 per cent. of defendants had been acquitted, so it does not seem, as Conservative Members have argued, that the right favours the defendants, because it does not have that effect. Not only must justice be done, it must be seen to be done. Defendants, having been given the right, should be entitled to think that their trial is fair.

I have tried to deal briefly with many issues in the Bill. I hope that in Committee we shall have the opportunity further to strengthen the Bill and to withdraw some of the contentious issues. I hope that at the end of the day the Minister, having listened to the many contributions, will reconsider some of the most controversial aspects of the Bill.

8.24 pm
Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

I am grateful for the opportunity to raise some points on the Bill. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister and my hon. Friends in the Home Office for producing a forward-looking and progressive Bill. I will not detain the House by discussing its many clauses. Prior to the last election, I was a member of the Standing Committee on the Criminal Justice Bill 1987, on which this Bill is based, and voted in favour of many clauses.

I welcome some of the new clauses, particularly those on possession of knives and offensive weapons, which are very necessary. There is good evidence from a study carried out in Scotland of the need for some form of stop-and-search legislation, particularly allied to knives, which will be a major preventive measure and will make our streets safer.

In the previous Bill, the clauses on child abuse provided that children could give evidence by video link. Those of us who have been involved in cases where children have been the victims of crime are well aware that young children find it traumatic to give evidence in open court, particularly on crimes of violence or sexual crimes, when they have difficulty repeating the details of the incident. It is important to do everything we can to soften the trauma of that experience, and the Bill is a move towards that.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding) commented on the taking of videos of children, and perhaps the Government will consider that that could be a positive move. The video could be taken immediately after the complaint is made, so that the jury will be able to see how the complaint was made and the effect of the crime upon the child. The normal course of cross-examination could follow.

Mr. John Patten

Does not my hon. Friend, who is an expert in these matters, feel that a recording taken essentially for investigative reasons by the police, but perhaps also for therapeutic reasons by medical authorities, is a different animal from the evidence that a court should have in front of it? In addition, it would not spare the child, quite rightly, from cross-examination.

Mr. Hind

I take my hon. Friend's point; it would be wrong if the child were not cross-examined. Any suggestion that a video of the evidence should be taken and presented to the court without being tested would be wholly wrong, and I certainly would not support any move in that direction. Whatever happens, the defendant's counsel must have the right to test the evidence.

I support the move to allow a child to give unsworn evidence which could result in a conviction, because in many cases of abuse the child is the only witness and is not capable of giving sworn evidence, so the removal of the need for corroboration would open the door to examine and convict people who commit these most horrible offences. However, I press Ministers to ensure that the judge makes it clear to the jury that there are dangers in convicting on uncorroborated evidence. I hope that that will be part of their thinking when these matters are debated in Committee.

The Opposition's third criticism involves the increase to a life sentence of the penalty for carrying a firearm during a crime. I accept some of the criticisms, but one must not underestimate the deterrent effect, particularly on young unsophisticated criminals, of realising that if they take a firearm to commit an offence, their punishment will be life imprisonment. They will know that, because of the way in which our sentencing system operates, that will not be life imprisonment in the strict sense, but it will be a deterrent.

We must not undermine our deterrents with intellectual arguments which appeal to Members of Parliament, but do not appeal in the same way to those who will involve themselves in such offences. Having defended many young men who have gone into post offices with firearms, I am sure that if they had known that the likely outcome was a sentence of imprisonment, they would not have done it.

What we need in the Bill is a new sentencing manifesto and I hope that the Government will consider that in future. We have begun the process. I welcome the introduction of the right of appeal to the Court of Appeal through the auspices of the Attorney-General. Many of us in Committee on the previous Bill argued long and hard for that course of action and I am pleased that my hon. Friends have accepted our argument.

Mr. John Patten

We are a listening Government.

Mr. Hind

I take my hon. Friend's point that this is, indeed, a listening Government.

My one reservation about the proposal is the suggestion that the matter should go through the Attorney-General. I have always felt that the role of the Attorney-General is difficult. On the one hand, he is the Government's adviser and, on the other, he is the head of the prosecution service. The danger in his being head of the prosecution service and being answerable to Members of Parliament is that circumstances could arise in which hon. Members jump to their feet and say to the Attorney-General, "What will you do about the case of Snooks at Grimsby Crown court? He got only six months and he should have got two years." I am sure that some of us have certain hon. Members in mind and we do not want to bring that sort of question into the political arena. I press my hon. Friends to consider introducing a division between the judicial and executive functions of the Attorney-General. We should not put the two together.

The one way to deal with that is by giving the power either to the Crown prosecutor in each region or to the Director of Public Prosecutions. A code of practice could be laid down by the Court of Appeal by direction or by the Attorney-General. Everything would then operate within those guidelines and could be seen. In that way we would keep out everday criminal cases from the Chamber. There is a danger that individual criminal cases could become part of our daily deliberations, which many hon. Members would regard as retrogade and unnecessary.

The most important aspect of the sentencing provisions — this must not be forgotten when the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) talks about a crisis—is that the crisis was brought about by the Labour Government's lack of long-term planning between 1974 and 1979. The reason is simple. When the present Lord Carlisle was the Under-Secretary of State in the Home Office in 1972, he produced a report, which was accepted by the Government, proposing a long-term prison building programme. In 1975, the Labour Government shelved that programme when they were going cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund because of their economic policies. As a consequence, in 1979 the incoming Conservative Government inherited the problem of no long-term prison building programme and that has created the present crisis.

The drive to build new prisons, which my hon. Friends have set in train, will eventually begin to solve the problem. Meanwhile, there is a shortage of prison places, so we must look for alternative ways of dealing with the problem. That is why I say that there must be a new sentencing manifesto. Although it will not be included in the Bill, I hope that consideration will be given to that matter.

The second problem — stemming from a lack of prison places—that has led to the crisis is the fact that, because of the shortage, magistrates and judges have been pressured into having a ladder-type sentencing policy. That involves avoiding sending a convicted person to prison, a detention centre or youth custody at all costs. What happens is that these people make four or five appearances in court before they receive any form of custodial sentencing. That increases pressure on the prison system because the sentences imposed are inevitably longer, particularly for youths, than they would otherwise be.

Young people come before the courts and have an absolute discharge, then a conditional discharge, then a supervisional one and then a care order—that is four appearances — before they are sentenced to youth custody. The same happens to adults. First they are fined, then they receive a conditional discharge, then probation orders, then community service orders, then suspended sentences and eventually they are sent to prison.

Prisons have two functions: first, punishment and, secondly, rehabilitation.

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

They have failed.

Mr. Hind

Prisons have failed for many of the reasons that I have given. By the time many offenders are given custodial sentences, they believe that they can get away with crime. They have got away with it so often because of the pressures created by the Labour Government with their short-sighted policy on prison building.

Perhaps we should consider sending people to prison sooner for shorter periods. Many prison governors would agree with me that in old-fashioned prisons where there are three men to a cell, slopping in and out, somebody who is locked up for a fortnight will remember it. If prisoners are released after a short sentence, they will not have become used to the system, and the deterrent effect of the unpleasantness of the prison will still burn in their mind. Then comes the next stage of rehabilitation.

Perhaps my hon. Friends will consider combining short prison sentences with supervisional community service, particularly for those who are offending for the first or second time. The sentences can be so short that offenders can use their holiday entitlement to serve their sentence, as a consequence of which they will not lose their job. We must consider flexibility in sentencing and ensure that the deterrent effect of serving a sentence is burning in offender's minds when they are released and that they are not used to the prison system as is the case with longer sentences. If we close the door behind offenders for a short time, we shall provide a real deterrent.

I urge my hon. Friends to consider Holland's weekend prison system. I know that it has flaws, but it is an alternative. People working during the week give up their time at weekends to serve their sentences. That is particularly appropriate for football hooligans and for violent offenders who get drunk in public houses and fight in the evenings. Such people can be adequately punished in that way. I urge those thoughts for the future, perhaps not for inclusion in the Bill but as the beginning of a way forward. The Conservative party has taken a radical step in the review of sentencing policy as a whole. Punishment is part of any custodial sentence, which should not be a pleasant experience. Rehabilitation is the other aspect, but punishment is quite important.

I hope that in Committee the Government will bring in an amendment abolishing the right to silence in a police station. For too long, that ancient prerogative has protected guilty men. It came into existence at a time when defendants could not give evidence at their own trial. It was unfair that they should have to give an explanation without warning which they could not subsequently deny when the matter came to trial. That situation, however, has long since ceased to exist. Following the Criminal Evidence Act 1892, defendants have been able to give evidence. Some say that that is the best thing that ever happened for the prosecution, but that is another matter. Many further safeguards have since been built into the law. The defendant can have his solicitor present. His statements can be tape-recorded. If no tape recorder is available, contemporaneous notes are made of every question and answer and every page is signed. There can be no greater safeguards, so do we need the right to silence?

I commend my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's remarks about taking one step forward. I hope that he will include such a step in the Bill. The public cannot understand why a person charged with rape can refuse to make any comment to police officers investigating the case and later, through his counsel, suggest for the first time that the girl in the witness box consented to sexual intercourse with him. That cannot be allowed to continue. The Bill is an opportunity to end that situation.

The simple solution is to tell the defendant that if he refuses to answer the legitimate questions of the police it will count against him in his trial and when in the witness box he may be asked for an explanation. The right to silence is a fossil and it is time that it was ended. The Bill provides an opportunity to deal with the problem.

I am not alone in pressing that course. A recommendation was made 15 years ago by the Criminal Law Revision Committee, of which Lord Justice Lawton was chairman, but we are still saddled with the problem. As a result, the number of cases cleared up in the past few years, especially since the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, has declined. If there were an obligation for the defendant to say something, I believe that the clear-up rate and the number of convictions would increase, because the defendant could not hide behind a mechanism which operates against the interests of the state, the victim and everyone else concerned in the case.

Finally, the Bill includes much-needed advances in relation to victims. I have already referred to children. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board will have new powers to sort out that long-standing problem. As a statutory body, its position will be much clearer. The Government have encouraged victim support associations, of which I am proud to be a president, and have pursued area watch schemes and many other new ideas in crime prevention. The Bill takes many of those Conservative ideas a further step forward. It is a major piece of legislation which will improve the detection of crime and safeguard its victims. I commend it to the House.

8.46 pm
Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

As others have pointed out, we are debating these measures at a time when crime in this country has reached record levels. The reason for those record levels is directly related to the Government's policies. I was astonished to hear the hon. Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) seek to blame the Labour Government for most of the crimes committed under the Conservatives. The facts speak differently.

In the city of Leicester and in the county of Leicestershire, in some areas crime has risen by 100 per cent. or sometimes even 200 per cent. Pleas by the chief constable, Michael Hirst, for more officers to patrol the outer estates and the inner-city areas have fallen on deaf ears. The Government seem to think that they can solve the problem of crime by building more prisons. In fact, what is needed is a commitment by the Government to build more homes, to provide a decent social services system, and to reform and revitalise the National Health Service.

Bearing in mind that offenders are likely to reoffend, building prisons will not solve the underlying problems. The Bill will not solve the underlying problems of crime and vandalism in the outer estates of Leicester such as Thurnby Lodge, Rowlatts Hill and Northfields. The demand there, like the plea of the chief constable, is for more resources and a better system of justice.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) was right to talk of the crisis in our criminal justice system. In part, the crisis derives from the method of sentencing, the type of magistrates recruited to the bench and the log jam of cases yet to be heard. In many major cities, the Crown prosecution service is also in crisis. After almost a year, half the jobs for lawyers in the Leicestershire Crown prosecution service have still not been filled because lawyers are not confident to join a system which is in crisis. The Bill continues a long course of action which began in 1967 to restrict and remove the rights of defendants.

I wish briefly to refer to the clause dealing with the peremptory right of challenge and to trace the history of the way in which jurors' rights have been removed. We heard from the hon. Member for Lancashire, West that it was his fervent hope that the Government would abolish the right to silence. I am a solicitor and I practised in the North Leicester advice centre for more than a year and a half; and before that I practised in other law centres. I remember noting when I read my textbooks when I became a lawyer that our system of justice entrenches certain rights that are necessary to protect the defendant because we are supposed to have a fair system of justice in this country.

By removing the peremptory right of challenge, the Bill continues a path that was started in 1967 with the abolition of the unanimity verdict. That path was continued in 1977 with the removal of certain cases from juries. In 1978 the process of jury vetting began, and in 1984 the number of people disqualified from sitting on juries was doubled by the Juries (Disqualification) Act. The latest change proposed in the Bill will ensure that defendants will not be tried by their peers—people who are representative of the community. As we know, juries are not representative of the community. I believe that that will specifically affect black people and women and cases that may have racial connotations or cases involving rape for which there may be all-male or all-white juries.

Another clause in the Bill seeks to extend from eight to 28 days the period of remand in custody. We heard earlier that the prisons are overcrowded. Welford road prison in Leicester is the most overcrowded prison in the country. Despite that, and despite the fact that the Government are not prepared to provide additional resources for the governor of the prison on an emergency basis, I have received no representations from the prison governor or the prison officers to the effect that they would support any plan to extend the time allowed for a defendant on remand.

With its present eight-day limit, the remand hearing provides an opportunity for defendants to apply before the magistrates for a change in status and possibly a reapplication for bail. That allows solicitors an opportunity to meet the defendants at the courts, and that is slightly better than a solicitor meeting the defendant in prison. It gives the prisoner an opportunity to meet friends and relatives, which may not have been possible in prison; and we must remember that that prisoner has not been convicted.

The cost arguments put forward by the Government are not sustainable. Even though there has been a large increase in costs to the legal aid system, I hazard a guess that it would be cheaper for a solicitor to see a client at the magistrates court where he or she might be able to see other clients than it would be for solicitor to a go to prison to see a remand prisoner.

Another clause concerns the proposal to allow the prosecution to appeal against excessively lenient sentences. I believe that that would give the prosecution an opportunity to try a defendant twice. Once a defendant has been through the distress of a trial, he would have to be brought before a higher court and receive a more severe sentence. That would give the press an opportunity to perform all kinds of activities to discredit or discuss cases that have already been before a lower court.

Lord Wigoder said on 14 July 1987: that man will be set free, perhaps given a suspended sentence or fined heavily at, let us say, the Central Criminal Court. He will go back to his wife and children, back to his job, and will start to rebuild his life. Then, six months later or thereabouts, he will be called back to the Court of Appeal and told, 'We are very sorry. The trial judge made a mistake and you have got to go straight off to prison for 12 months.' That I described last time we debated this issue as being a piece of sheer cruelty, and I am sure that that is what it would be."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 14 July 1987; Vol. 488, c. 941.] It would be sheer cruelty for a person to be allowed to go through a trial and then, on the advice of the prosecution, for the Attorney-General to seek to take matters further.

Just to show that Oppostion Members are not killjoys and prepared to accept none of the Government's proposals, may I say that I am pleased by the advances that will be made in the Bill concerning video-linked evidence and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. It is high time that children were spared the distress of having to go through the court procedure. I would like to see video linking extended to all courts, including the juvenile court, where children are placed in difficulties during care proceedings if they have to give evidence against their parents.

I hope that the Minister will confirm in his reply that it is important that defendants are given the right to examine the video properly and question the evidence that it contains, including the right to question the technical nature of how any video evidence was taken. That important safeguard should be protected in the same way that in certain police stations in Leicester where tape recordings are made of defendants giving evidence the defendant can challenge that evidence and is assured of the important safeguards that are taken to protect what he says.

I welcome the Government's decision to place the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board on a statutory basis and to allow an appeal on a point of law from a decision of the board. However, I should like legal aid to be available for applications to the board. The board should be given a statutory power to award costs. When the Legal Aid Bill reaches this House from the other place, I am sure that we will see the Government's real intentions with regard to legal aid. The Government aim to cut legal aid and, in their words, cut costs. That means that justice will have a price on its head. It is important that victims of crime should have legal aid to argue complex legal arguments before the board.

It is important that the Minister, when he replies, should tell us how much money will be made available to publicise the schemes. I found at the law centre where I worked, and the local citizens advice bureau has informed me, that insufficient Government resources are available to publicise them. It is possible that people are unaware that they have such rights. In Leicester, we have a victim support scheme which provides such information. However, it is run on a shoestring and is not in receipt of any substantial payments from central or local government. If the Minister is prepared to put aside a great deal of money to publicise such schemes, the welcome changes proposed in the Bill will have been worth it.

The Bill could have changed many of the inadequacies and imperfections of our criminal justice system. Instead of doing that, it seeks to restrict the rights of individuals in an unconstructive way. I hope that in Committee suitable amendments will be incorporated to bring the delays in our courts system to a rapid conclusion.

8.59 pm
Mr. Tony Baldry (Banbury)

The Bill provides a number of important messages. The first is that the Government and the Conservative party are not prepared to tolerate violent crime. For that reason, I welcome the provision that increases the maximum sentence for carrying firearms from 14 years to life imprisonment. In 1986, the last year for which figures are available, far too many robberies were committed with the use of firearms. The Bill provides the clear message that those who seek to use firearms to perpetrate offences risk substantial prison sentences.

Likewise, I welcome the fact that the law is to be tightened considerably in regard to those who go out armed with knives. There has been a distrubing growth in the use of knives in the perpetration of offences. Therefore it is to be welcomed that there are provisions for strengthening the law dealing with the sale and possession of offensive weapons, and that it will be an offence to have, in a public place, a blade or a sharply pointed instrument without good reason.

Secondly, the Government and the Conservative party are not prepared to tolerate child abuse. For far too long, child abuse has been a growing concern. It is right that steps should be taken to combat the evil of physical and sexual abuse of children. I welcome the fact that the Bill will enable child witnesses to give evidence by live video link when the offence is a sexual or violent assault.

For far too long child abuse has been a hidden crime, and the Bill is to be welcomed for giving greater protection to children. It will also ensure that the fact that there is no corroborative evidence is no longer a barrier to conviction in child abuse cases. That has often created a sense of great injustice, and on occasions has provided an artificial barrier to conviction. It is right that courts should be able to consider all factors when deciding what weight should be placed on a child's evidence. It cannot be right to have artificial barriers. Therefore, it is good news that the procedures will be improved whereby children can give evidence in court and that the sentences on those who indulge in physical or sexual assault on children are to be increased so that those who are guilty of sexual or sadistic child murders will serve at least 20 years in prison.

The maximum penalty for attempted rape is to be life imprisonment, and the maximum sentence for indecent assault on a girl is to be 10 years. The maximum penalty for cruelty to children is to be raised from two to 10 years. It is also right that the Government will introduce an amendment to make the possession of child pornography an offence. Every effort will be made to eliminate child abuse in Britain.

Thirdly, the Government and the Conservative party are determined that no one shall be enriched or shall benefit from their crime. To that extent it is welcome that there will be new powers for the confiscation of the proceeds of crime. There is a precedent in the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 which enabled the courts to confiscate the assets of drug traffickers, but there are many other highly profitable crimes.

It is right that the courts should have powers to retain defendants' assets in advance of a trial and thereafter on conviction to ensure that in certain circumstances those assets and proceeds of crime are forfeited. Likewise, the message must go out that if anybody indulges in complex crime such as fraud, the Bill adds to the Criminal Justice Act 1987 so that the perpetrators can no longer rely on the hope that the complexity of their crime will help to assure their acquittal.

Part II strikes a fair balance between the community and the defendant in regard to changing the rules on the admissibility of business documents. The Government have occasionally been criticised for not doing enough to combat fraud in the City of London and elsewhere, but we have had an impressive array of legislative approaches to ensure that anyone who commits fraud does not benefit from it. We have the Companies Acts of 1980 and 1981, which, among other things, made insider dealing an offence, the Insolvency Act 1985, the Lloyd's Act 1982 and the establishment of the fraud investigation group in 1985.

Those actions, with the Criminal Justice Act 1987, have ensured that every effort will be made to combat the growing incidence of fraud. We must remember that the opportunities for fraud have increased with computers. We are determined that every effort should be made to combat fraud.

Another message which should go out is that the Government and the Conservative party will ensure that the machinery of justice is always appropriate to the needs of the community as times change. Times do change, as is seen with peremptory challenge. The circumstances of the last century which necessitated peremptory challenge no longer exist. The right of the prosecution to appeal to the Court of Appeal if it feels that a sentence is too lenient must be in everyone's interests.

Perhaps too often we have had trial by newpaper. The possibility of reviewing sentences, however, must be a benefit to the trial judge and enhance respect for the machinery of justice if there is considerable public criticism of a sentence.

Several messages will go out from this debate. We will not tolerate violent crime. We will not tolerate child abuse. We will not tolerate people being enriched by the proceeds of their crime. We will not tolerate the growth in the incidence of fraud and will do everything we can to combat it. Finally, we will always ensure that the machiney of justice is capable of meeting the needs of today and is relevant to today's needs.

9.7 pm

Mrs. Ann Taylor (Dewsbury)

I listened with interest to the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) but with a little astonishment to his first remark. He did not make it clear who differed from him. He said that he would not tolerate violent crime and child abuse, but he did not tell us who does. His was typical of many Tory speeches, which try to hijack crime.

Mr. Baldry

Will the hon. Lady vote for or against the Bill?

Mrs. Taylor

I do not know how much of the debate the hon. Gentleman has listened to, but I do not think that that question is relevant to whether we share his self-righteous opposition to violent crime. I assure the hon. Gentleman that what he said was not party political. His saying that he does not tolerate violent crime or child abuse implies that others do, and that is offensive to the House and unhelpful to the debate.

The debate has been wide-ranging, which is not surprising, as the Bill is wide-ranging. I agree with many of those who have spoken and implied that a wide-ranging Bill is required to amend our criminal justice system. The problem is that this is not the Bill that we need. There can be no doubt that our system of criminal justice is crying out for reform, and our reasoned amendment—and the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley)—set out the reasons why that is so.

It should have been possible to conduct a debate on the reform of criminal justice with a common starting point, not least because some of the facts cannot be disputed. After all, the Conservative manifesto for the general election last year admitted that crime had been rising, and that the challenge from that should not be underrated, however much the party in government disclaimed responsibility for the rise in crime. Somehow it thought that crime rates had nothing to do with the Government of the day.

The Government have been in office for eight years, and their mark has been firmly left on our society. During that time, we have seen a vast increase in the level of crime in this country. Crime is up by more than 50 per cent. since 1979, and is rising at an alarming rate. That is especially true of the most serious types of crime—violent crime and crime in our cities. Yet, at the same time, the clear-up failure rate has also risen, from 58 per cent. to 68 per cent., which means that two thirds of all crimes are not solved. The level of reoffending now stands at more than 50 per cent. for adults, and at a staggering 80 per cent. for juveniles. The Government recognise and acknowledge the problem, although they try to distance themselves from it, and to absolve themselves of all responsibility for law and order.

If we know that crime rates are going up, that part of the reason for the high crime rate is the rate of recidivism and that crime is largely concentrated in deprived areas, it seems incredible that the Government are doing so little in the Bill to address the problems. Instead, they ignore some of the most fundamental problems that we face. They are introducing a collection of piecemeal, unrelated and often unco-ordinated measures, which, when looked at in detail, are seen to do far more harm than good. They remove essential civil liberties and, perhaps worst of all, ignore the possibility of using legislation of this kind for a complete and comprehensive review of criminal justice.

Let me begin however, on a positive note. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have welcomed some aspects of the Bill. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook pointed out earlier, several parts will have our support in Committee, although we shall want to examine the details and discuss whether the safeguards are adequate. As my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding) pointed out, the case for introducing video links for children to give evidence in court is undeniable. While there must be protection for the defendants, with proper cross-examination procedures, videos are a step forward, and one for which hon. Members such as my hon. Friend have worked for some time. I hope that we shall see the introduction of such links in the near future.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook also made it clear that we shall support the Government's proposals on knives. On balance, we believe that the need to protect society against those who carry knives, and may he tempted to use them, outweighs the obvious danger to civil liberties and the potential for the reintroduction of the "sus" law.

My right hon. Friend outlined the conditions of our support. First, the proposal should not be a precedent for other changes involving the onus of proof; secondly, the power must be used sensibly if it is not to reopen old fears. We shall want to be constructive in Committee. I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) and with my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser) that there are other aspects involved in the selling of such weapons, and we shall want to examine that in more detail.

Another point of agreement is part of the Government's proposals on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. We agree that that should be put on a statutory footing, although we have reservations—to which I shall return in a moment—about some of the other changes.

There are points in the Bill which we openly acknowledge as necessary changes. The problem is that the points that we welcome are more than outweighed by the negative side of the Bill, not to mention the lost opportunities for real reform. At present, people who come into direct contact with the criminal justice system are all too often being denied their rights. All too often, victims of crime are forgotten and do not receive the support that they need. Suspects are not awarded adequate protection from injustice. Offenders are often inappropriately sent to prison and subject to degrading and overcrowded conditions where the chance of rehabilitation becomes zero.

Those who have to operate the system—the police, prison officers and probation officers — face problems and conditions that make their job increasingly difficult. The Government's new regime for prison officers, Fresh Start, has brought with it a number of serious difficulties in manning levels. This is not the time to discuss the problems in detail, but the difficulties facing the Government are, in part, the result of the significant inadequacy and the faults of our criminal justice system and of the Government's failure to act or to win the confidence of those who work in this area.

The sum total of all that is an increasing loss of confidence in the system on all sides. We should therefore be discussing proposals which would be likely to come to grips with the task and establish a system which is efficient, effective and fair. Unfortunately, we are instead discussing a Bill which contains no coherence. The Bill is a lost opportunity. It is unlikely that we shall debate legislation of this kind again for many years.

In addition, the Bill is likely to make the situation worse in several respects. I am thinking particularly of the crisis of overcrowding in our prisons. When all those involved in the system are considering alternative ways of dealing with offenders, rather than sending them to prison, the Government propose measures which are likely to result in adding to the prison population, when our priority should be to reduce it. Those proposals include increasing the penalty for the illegal possession of firearms to life imprisonment. I assure Conservative Members that the Police Federation is concerned that, if the penalty for carrying firearms is the same as the penalty for using them, there is no deterrent to the criminal who is tempted to use a firearm in pursuit of crime, as the hon. and learned Member for Burton said.

Other measures which may increase the prison population include giving the prosecution the opportunity to challenge the so-called excessively lenient sentences, giving the courts the power to place juveniles in custody when they refuse to take part in a specified activity and increasing the length of time between bail hearings from eight days to 28 days, all of which will put even more pressure on our prisons.

I wish to consider the different groups involved in the working of our criminal justice system and how the Bill affects them. The rights of suspects will be greatly eroded by the Bill and that fact, which most threatens civil liberties, should be important to the House. We all wish to see the guilty convicted, but we also wish to ensure that all individuals are treated fairly under the law and that the chances of miscarriages of justice are minimal.

The removal of the prima facie rule in extradition will take away an important safeguard from the political refugee and will deny protection to the individual from being extradited on flimsy evidence. Removing the right to peremptory challenge could unfairly prejudice the defendant's situation where, for example, as my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood said, a black defendant is faced with an all-white jury, or where the prosecution exercises its right to stand by or, in some cases, vet the jury. It is not a question of a jury providing justice, but of confidence in our jury system.

The hon. and learned Member for Burton, with whom I am surprised to agree so much, described the Government's proposals as nonsense and as a confidence trick which would not lead to more convictions. He said that it hurt him to agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook, but I look forward to working with the hon. and learned Gentleman in Committee, three-line Whip or not, as he said—[Interruption.] We shall have to see what develops on some of the interesting points where there was agreement across the Benches.

The proposal to remove more cases from being tried by jury will serve only to add to the erosion of jury trial that has taken place over the past few years and will be important to certain people. We all know that the pressures on our courts are increasing because of the increasing levels of crime, and we know that the Government are anxious, as we all are, that congestion in Crown courts be tackled, but it is unfortunate that the Government did not wait until they could judge the effects of their own measures introduced in 1986 to deal with that problem.

The defendant's rights will be further eroded by the provision to allow written documentary evidence to be admissible in court, even when the individual who made the statement or comment is not available for cross-examination. It is unacceptable that a judge will, for example, be able to declare admissible an individual's comment made at the scene of the crime and recorded by a police officer in his notebook even though the individual is not present in court.

When we examine the way in which offenders are treated by the Bill, we find little with which we can agree. We believe that if offenders are to be prevented from reoffending, we must deal with them both fairly and constructively. In that sense, the criminal justice system must serve them, too. By doing that effectively, it can help to prevent reoffending and further protect the community.

We cannot see the merit in giving the Attorney-General the power to send a case to the Court of Appeal, to consider a sentence that he believes to be unduly lenient. That would mean subjecting the offender to a form of double jeopardy and would give the prosecution two opportunities. Because the Attorney-General will make his decision largely on the basis of reports from the prosecution, that will inappropriately involve the prosecution in matters of sentencing. It will also involve the Attorney-General, a Minister of the Government, in the sentencing policy of the courts.

It was interesting to note that the new unholy alliance between the hon. and learned Member for Burton and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook operated in that matter as well, as both had what the hon. and learned Gentleman called enough political nous to realise what the Home Secretary did not — the pressure that the Attorney-General would be under from the tabloid press. We believe that the danger of political considerations being introduced or being thought to have been included in that process makes the proposal unacceptable and potentially unjust for the individual being sentenced.

The Government's proposals for offenders concentrate, however, on juveniles and on pursuing custody as the way of dealing with them. That is despite the fact that 76 per cent. of boys leaving detention centres after short sentences of four months or less are reconvicted within two years, while supervised activity projects are demonstrating that they have a much better success rate in turning young people away from crime, which is surely one of our main objectives.

While I am on the subject of young offenders, I must say that I find it incredible that the Government's proposal of a unified custodial sentence allows for sexual discrimination in the sentencing of boys and girls. Boys are to be detained from the age of 14, while for girls the age is 15. I hope that the Government will not persist in setting such an example of sex discrimination and that any change to correct that discrimination will not worsen the situation for girls by making the age limit 14 for all.

The Government have made much of their apparent concern for the victims of crime, yet, as is often the way with the Government, concern is not completely matched by action. It is true that at last the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board is to be put on a statutory basis, which is to be welcomed, but, having conceded the principle, the Government have moved on to a penny-pinching exercise for those who need help most, especially the poorer members of society. We should remember that those who live in deprived areas are most likely to fall victims to crime. Therefore, they are most likely to need the most help.

Yet under the Bill it is possible that people in that group might lose their supplementary benefit if the DHSS assumes that any compensation paid to them by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board includes an allowance for loss of benefit. The Government have found it possible to make two exceptions—compensation for rape and for funeral expenses. That is commendable, but why cannot the Government do that for victims of other violent crimes? Where is the logic in the Government's position?

Should a victim who is on supplementary benefit unfortunately suffer severe injuries as a result of a crime that is bad enough for him or her to qualify for a payment of more than £3,000, or if compensation payments take the victim's total income-generating capital above the limit, he or she will find that he or she is no longer entitled to supplementary benefit. Thus, the benefit of part of the compensation payment will be cancelled. The employed person who receives compensation will benefit fully from any payment. The Government are claiming to be a friend of the victim, as long as he or she is not poor, unemployed, elderly, disabled or living in a deprived area.

I should like clarification of clause 107, which provides the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board with the power to withhold and reduce compensation in certain circumstances. One of the criteria provided gives criminal convictions or unlawful conduct as a reason for implementing the clause and withholding compensation. I know that the matter has been discussed previously, but it still needs clarification.

What does the Bill mean by unlawful conduct if there is not a criminal conviction? Secondly, must the criminal conviction be in relation to the event for which the claim is being made, or could it be a completely unrelated conviction?

We accept that an individual should not be awarded compensation where he or she has perpetrated or assisted in executing the crime in which the injury occurred. However, it cannot be fair if the clause refers to any conviction whatsoever. The provisions for victims are still not adequate, and those for suspects and offenders are positively damaging.

Another major criticism of the Bill concerns what it does not contain—what it has failed to deal with—and many reforms are urgently needed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook outlined some of them—a new disciplinary system for prisons, which the Government promised in their White Paper, a statutory code of standards for penal establishments, the removal of Crown immunity from prisons, statutory guidelines for custody and a reduction in the length of some sentences.

We must make every effort to replace custody, in many cases, with more effective alternative ways which offer a better opportunity for rehabilitation, especially as, currently, four out of five prisoners have been convicted of non-violent offences. The Home Secretary said that severe sentences were appropriate for severe and violent crimes, but the majority of our prison population are in prison for crimes that fall outside those categories.

We should be seeking other forms of punishment and treatment, but in seeking alternative methods of treatment we should avoid turning to inappropriate and gimmicky measures such as electronic tagging, which is expensive and inefficient and is not the answer to overcrowded prisons.

Substantial measures are needed to improve the efficiency of our court system and reduce the unacceptable delays in cases coming to trial. One measure that could be effective is the 110-day rule that operates in Scotland. When pressed, the Home Secretary said that he would be making a statement soon. We would have had more confidence in the Home Secretary's conclusions had he volunteered that information rather than having it dragged out of him. We shall have to wait and see what develops on that proposal.

We are also badly in need of more effective procedures for bringing possible miscarriages of justice back before the courts. Recent cases have demonstrated that we do not have an adequate system for dealing with these matters and that a more effective procedure is required urgently if confidence in the system is to be maintained. The Home Secretary should not underestimate the importance of all sections of the population having confidence in our criminal justice system.

The Home Secretary said that these changes should be the last major changes in this area for many years. Unfortunately, the Bill is inadequate to meet its task and to warrant that description. The basic reason why the Government have their legislation wrong is that they are responding to individual problems as they arise. The Government have adopted a piecemeal approach to what should be a comprehensive and overall review of criminal justice. They have not, as they should have, gone back to first principles and examined the aims and the problems of our criminal justice system.

The Home Secretary should have outlined what we require from the system and then sought to introduce the necessary reforms. Some parts of the Bill might have formed part of that review while other parts of it definitely would not. The Home Secretary turned his back on that approach, and seems to he afraid to go back to first principles. We cannot help but wonder why. He must know what is required, but then he knew what was required last Friday when he feebly tried to defend the indefensible when opposing the Protection of Official Information Bill, which was introduced by the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd).

Today, as on Friday, the powers that be in the Government, or perhaps the power — power seems to exist only in the singular—are not prepared to let the right hon. Gentleman do what he knows is required. Instead, we see the Government opting for simplistic answers to complex problems. Their attitude is simple and is as follows: the incidence of crime is increasing, so let us be tougher with criminals, and with suspects, too. That seems to be the sum total of their response. As a consequence, the Bill reduces the rights of accused and of suspects. It does nothing to help accused or the convicted. It does nothing either to increase their confidence in the system of justice.

Some Conservative Members would argue that that does not matter. They would not attach much importance to the rights of the suspected, the accused or even those convicted of crime. However, the rights of these people do matter, and for two principal reasons. First, despite the events of last Friday, we live in a democracy, not a tin-pot dictatorship, and in a democracy each individual has rights. These are rights that we are charged with protecting.

The second reason is a practical one. The way in which we treat offenders matters because, unless we stop alienating offenders from the rest of society, we shall do little to reduce the rate of reoffending. The regularity with which those who come before the courts get caught in a vicious circle of crime is one of the major social problems in Britain. Recidivism is an enormous problem, yet the Government ignore it, despite their so-called concern about crime rates generally.

The Government's attitude to crime is simplistic. They think primarily about punishment and little about preventing those who have offended from doing so again. Preventive action would be real crime prevention; it would be meaningful and lasting. The absence of any attempt to deal with that in the Bill is an obvious major defect, arid is a result of the Home Secretary looking over his shoulder as a response to calls for more punishment. He is probably going against his own better instinct in opting for simplistic solutions.

The Opposition believe that new criminal justice measures should be based on the principle outlined in our amendment. There should be equal rights under the law and equal access to the process of justice. The Bill is not based on that principle. Instead, it consists of a series of simplistic solutions which ignore the major problem. That is why we tabled our amendment and why we shall vote for it.

9.34 pm
The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. John Patten)

We are grateful to the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) for announcing the official Opposition's support for those bits of the Bill that she feels the Opposition can support.

The debate has been generally constructive, almost always interesting and sometimes positively thought-provoking. The right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) gave us something to think about. I do not know whether he regards this as a compliment but I shall read his speech tomorrow to glean some of the nuances of his suggestions about the need to keep long-term strategy in mind while legislation rolls on. One must always think about the next stages.

There were equally stimulating and thought-provoking speeches by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) and the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile), whom we welcome to the Chamber. It must be a pleasant relief for him to be here away from the delightful muddle of alliance policy-making. —[Interruption.] I see the hon. and learned Gentleman is indicating assent, which I am sure will be recorded tomorrow in the Official Report. Welcome to the real world and thanks for the speech.

We are extremely grateful to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and the hon. Member for Dewsbury for the general Opposition support for the principles of what the Government wish to do on knives, although I understand that a number of hon. Members think that the measures could be improved. I especially welcome the strong support of my hon. Friends the Members for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) and for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward). I know that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton would prefer greater stringency at the point of sale, but we feel that clause 130 can adequately deal with that. We can return to that point in Committee.

I am sorry that I was not in the Chamber to hear any of the speech of the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser). I know how worried he is about the carrying and use of knives in his constituency. I believe that he spoke of the "fashion" — a terrible word to use — of knife-carrying. He obviously wants that fashion to be turned into something very unfashionable. The hon. Gentleman welcomed the possession offence in clause 128, although he has some doubts about other aspects of what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I would wish to see in the clauses on knives.

I wonder whether the hon. Member for Norwood and I shall find ourselves on the same Committee. I seem to have spent most of the past two or three years on Housing Bill Committees with the hon. Gentleman. I remember when we discussed the virtue of Donizetti's opera "Lucia di Lammermoor", which was highly irrelevant to that part of the private rented sector. We were reforming at the time and the hon. Gentleman produced a little-produced opera, also by Donizetti, known as "Amelia di Liverpool". We shall welcome more of that if the hon. Gentleman is on the Committee.

On lenient sentences, the hon. Member for Dewsbury made the extraordinary suggestion that it would be inappropriate for my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, who is in the Chamber, to scrutinise the convictions that might be referred to the Court of Appeal. She criticised the possibility of my right hon. and learned Friend acting in that way and regarded it as being overtly political. She thought that it would give the Executive too much control over the judiciary. She should tell that to Mr. Malcolm Dean, a journalist for The Guardian, who had the effrontery during the past two general elections to stand as a candidate for what was then known as the Social Democratic Party in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. C. Patten).

Mr. Dean was soundly beaten both times, but he is known as an accurate journalist. In ,The Guardian on 9 September 1983, he accurately recorded: Mr. Roy Hattersley, Labour spokesman on home affairs, came out unequivocally yesterday for more controls over the judiciary … The key to shorter sentences would be more controls over the judiciary. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman still holds that view. I entirely agree with my hon. Friends the Members for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale), for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin), for Derby, North (Mr. Knight), for Warrington, South (Mr. Butler) and for Ipswich (Mr. Irvine) that the strengthened provision to enable the Court of Appeal to increase an unduly lenient sentence, on reference to the Attorney-General, is a clear signal that justice must be done and be seen to be done.

Mr. Hayward


Mr. Patten

I think I can read the mind of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood. If he will allow me to continue, he will be able to test whether I can in a moment. If I cannot, he can then intervene.

I have listened to the objections of Opposition Members, but they have put forward no alternative proposal for dealing with over-lenient sentences. They are a problem, not because the courts are usually given to over-lenient sentences, but because an over-lenient sentence is a serious matter of grave public concern when it occurs.

Mr. Bermingham

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Patten

I must first deal with my prediction about what my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood might have asked if I had let him. As I said, an over-lenient sentence is a matter of great public concern. It is misleading to say, as did the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, that the defendant will be in double jeopardy. The person being prosecuted will receive only one sentence —the proper one—which will be handed down by the Court of Appeal. Without that, public confidence will continue to be undermined. On the point raised—

Mr. Hattersley

I wonder whether the Minister has read what the noble Lord Wigoder said in the House of Lords. He described a situation in which a sentenced man had completed his sentence and returned to his family, only to discover that an additional period would be added to the sentence. How does the Minister regard that as only one sentence and not a double jeopardy?

Mr. Patten

The eventual sentence will be the correct one for the crime. That is a matter of fact.

I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood wanted to know why and how cases could be referred to my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General. My right hon. and learned Friend might get to hear of a sentence that might justifiably be referred to the Court of Appeal under clause 34 in a variety of ways. Counsel at the trial might draw it to the attention of the Crown prosecution service, or the Attorney-General might be approached directly by a number of people, including hon. Members. I shall now give way to the hon. Member for St. Helen's, South (Mr. Bermingham).

Mr. Bermingham

Can the Minister reassure me and many other practising lawyers that he does not consider that the present sentencing guidelines of the Court of Appeal, and the activities of the Lord Chancellor's Department in respect of the appointment of deputy recorders and recorders, are wholly inadequate, and that they have not been doing their jobs for some years?

Mr. Patten

These important issues have nothing to do with the matter under discussion, which concerns the small number of lenient sentences that could occur, whatever guidelines are available to the High Court at any time.

Mr. Archer


Mr. Patten

On the issue of child victims, my hon. Friends the Members for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) and for Stockton, South, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton, the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding) and the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Mr. Jones) have all given their support to what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary intends to do about child victims. I welcome the all-party consensus to move on this issue. I believe also that there is all-party consensus about the Bill's provision for the better treatment of victims. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Dr. Hampson) spoke about that issue.

The hon. Member for Dewsbury rather overlooked the very substantial extra resources that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department is committing to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Another £114 million over the next three years is not an inconsiderable sum to devote to putting right the problems faced by victims. The hon. Lady totally ignored the substantial sums that we are giving to victim support schemes, all of which have been initiated by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

Does the Minister acknowledge that the reason for the need to increase expenditure in this sphere is the vast increase in crime under the Government? Will he comment on the discriminatory way in which people on supplementary benefit will be affected by his rules?

Mr. Patten

I have always agreed with those who say that crimes are committed by criminals. It is absurd for the hon. Lady to suggest that crime has risen under this Government. —[Interruption.] I shall explain to the chortling Opposition Front-Bench team on home affairs that, alas, crime has gone up for the last 30 years in good times and in bad, in times of feast and in times of famine. The Opposition cannot get away from that.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook criticised the proposal to abolish the right of peremptory challenge. I know that this issue is of interest to many hon. Members. As many hon. Members have said, in the past the justification for peremptory challenge was that it provided a safeguard for the defendant in circumstances quite different from those that apply today. Both the most recent reductions in the number of peremptory challenges, were made by Labour Governments in 1948 and in 1977 when the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook was on the then Labour Government Front Bench. The number now stands at three, but they are no longer needed because the defendant is adequately protected without them.

In modern circumstances it is positively objectionable that the defence should be able to influence the composition of a randomly selected jury even though it can show no good reason against the selection of a particular juror. The juror has come to court to do his or her duty. He or she — in this case "he", given the example that I shall use — does not wish to be challenged and finds himself unceremoniously bundled off the jury because he is wearing a tie and reading The Daily Telegraph. Nor does he wish to be bundled off the jury for not wearing a tie and wearing The Guardian.[Interruption.] I should have said for reading The Guardian. In some circumstances some people do wear The Guardian and many people suggest that that is one of the best uses for that paper on a cold night.

The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery complained about the peremptory challenge, but his complaint was rather odd and eccentric. I think this was the only occasion on which I have seen him display that characteristic Liberal trait of eccentricity. He criticised our willingness, announced by my noble Friend the Earl of Caithness, to narrow the circumstances in which the Crown prosecution could use its right to stand by jurors. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery said that this would hamper the prosecution, and he gave what seemed to be a rather dubious example from his experience as a prosecutor. I shall say no more about that.

However, my noble Friend the Earl of Caithness, then Minister of State, Home Office, gave his undertaking in response to pressure by the noble Lord Wigoder, whose experience in the criminal law is widely respected and who warmly received the undertaking. Perhaps it is too much to look to the alliance for unanimity, but that is a rather striking contradiction in alliance policy. On the merits of the issue, it seems that it is right to confine the right of the prosecution to stand by to the minimum consistent with justice, and that is what we have done.

On extradition, one thing that has been entirely forgotten during the debate is that different legal systems use different procedures to filter out cases which should not be brought to trial. This includes Scotland, where there are no committal proceedings similiar to those south of the border. So even within the kingdom we have different systems. That point might have been taken by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery.

The reform of extradition law has been commented on by many hon. and right hon. Members and has been welcomed by many people. The prima facie requirement in extradition works against us, not for us. The reciprocity principle means that we must often establish a prima facie case in civil law jurisdictions which are unfamiliar with the concept. That could lead to us failing to extradite criminals, and that has been overlooked by those who have criticised the prima facie requirement, which is why we propose to disapply that requirement.

I cannot understand why the Labour Front Bench have changed their tune since the passage through Committee of the Criminal Justice Bill 1987, because during its passage the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), speaking with the full might and authority of someone on the Labour Front Bench, said that he was satisfied with the undertakings of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor) and withdrew the amendments, which were never returned to by the Labour Front Bench during Committee. It is extremely hard to understand why in 1987 the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury withdrew the amendments and there has now been a major change of tune.

The Bill must be seen in the context of the unrivalled commitment of the Government to strengthening criminal justice over the past eight years. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I have outlined the ways in which the Criminal Justice Bill will further strengthen our nation's defences against crime. It will make important improvements to court procedures, it will toughen our response to international crime, it will increase the protection we give to children and it will improve the position of victims of crime, amongst the many other issues it deals with.

Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

Will my right hon. Friend pause to remind the House of the great pressure for the reforms in the Bill whereby the Court of Appeal can repair the damage done by eccentric judges of first instance?

Mr. Patten

I would not want to comment on any member of the judiciary, but I entirely agree that there has been considerable pressure from many people to consider the possibility of referring allegedly lenient sentences to the Court of Appeal.

I have three things to say to the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. First, he has not given us much original thinking about alternatives to custody. He has talked about the need to have fewer people in prison, but he has not come forward with any positive ways of dealing with it—the sorts of ways that might be considered when we look at the long term, such as the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West looked at. We could say that offenders do not have to go to prison, but can go to work and must pay a certain amount of their wages each week directly to the victim, or do not have to go to prison but at the weekend must do tough demanding work that is socially useful. Yes, offenders would not go to prison but, to use the Home Secretary's solicitous phrase, would be punished in the community by having to observe a curfew in their home each evening. All those elements begin to stack up to a positive alternative to custody for nonviolent criminals. Electronic tagging may have an important role in that.

Mr. Fraser


Mr. Patten

I hope that we shall have constructive debates in Committee. One of the chief contributions which the Labour party can make to law and order and the fight against crime is to use its influence with Labour-controlled local authorities to get them to work with, rather than to snipe at, the police. [Interruption.] Manchester and Ealing, where the Leader of the Opposition lives, are but two. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Randall) is rather over-excitable this evening.

The role of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook has been rather inglorious. What did he do when he was a member of the Labour Government? That is a long time ago — 10 or 11 years — but he was a member of a Government who nearly brought about a police strike in 1977, with officers leaving the police force in large numbers.

What does the right hon. Gentleman do now about those local authorities which do so much to undermine law and order? Does he invite them for a quiet chat over a bite to eat at the Gay Hussar and haul them over the coals later? Not at all. He wants to give greater power to people to determine the policies, priorities and methods of the police.

In a recent speech—I bet I am the only hon. Member who has read it—in Odsal in Bradford last September, of which I have, I believe the phrase is, for greater accuracy secured a copy, the right hon. Gentleman said: I cannot see how a genuine partnership can exist without the election of a police authority responsible both for finance and the policy guidelines within which the police operate. In other words, the right hon. Gentleman is suggesting the political control of the police. He goes on to reminisce about his time on a police authority 30 years previously and boasts: we first suspended and then dismissed a Chief Constable". That is what he is really concerned with.

Mr. Hattersley

As the Minister has read the Odsal speech with such careful attention, I hope that he will point out to the House that the "we" to whom I referred was not the royal plural as used by the Prime Minister, but the chairman of the watch committee in Sheffield and the Conservative Home Secretary, Mr. Henry Brooke.

Mr. Patten

The right hon. Gentleman was happy to be part of that decision-making process.

My last point—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Let us have the last point.

Mr. Patten

My last point is just a word on the role of junior Ministers, about which the right hon. Gentleman had something to say earlier. We may be an underprivileged class — —[Interruption.] — but the right hon. Gentleman has a good record as a junior Minister.

Mr. Speaker

Order. There is one more minute, and I ask the House to listen in silence.

Mr. Patten

The best quotation from Barbara Castle's diaries is: Roy Hattersley has been bluntly frank with me about his desire for promotion and also flattering. By comparison, we are acting.

The Government have come a long way in strengthening the protection of law and order, and the Bill takes it a significant stage further.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 226, Noes 287.

Division No. 141] [10.00 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Dixon, Don
Allen, Graham Dobson, Frank
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Doran, Frank
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Douglas, Dick
Ashdown, Paddy Dunnachie, James
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Eadie, Alexander
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Eastham, Ken
Barron, Kevin Evans, John (St Helens N)
Battle, John Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Beckett, Margaret Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Beith, A. J. Fatchett, Derek
Bell, Stuart Faulds, Andrew
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Fearn, Ronald
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Bermingham, Gerald Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bidwell, Sydney Fisher, Mark
Blair, Tony Flannery, Martin
Blunkett, David Flynn, Paul
Boyes, Roland Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bradley, Keith Foster, Derek
Bray, Dr Jeremy Foulkes, George
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Fraser, John
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Fyfe, Mrs Maria
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Galbraith, Samuel
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Galloway, George
Buchan, Norman Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Buckley, George Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Caborn, Richard George, Bruce
Callaghan, Jim Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Golding, Mrs Llin
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Gordon, Ms Mildred
Canavan, Dennis Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Grocott, Bruce
Clay, Bob Hardy, Peter
Clelland, David Harman, Ms Harriet
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cohen, Harry Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Coleman, Donald Heffer, Eric S.
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Hinchliffe, David
Corbett, Robin Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Corbyn, Jeremy Holland, Stuart
Cousins, Jim Home Robertson, John
Cox, Tom Hood, James
Crowther, Stan Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cryer, Bob Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Cummings, J. Howells, Geraint
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hoyle, Doug
Dalyell, Tam Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Darling, Alastair Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Pike, Peter
Illsley, Eric Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Ingram, Adam Prescott, John
Janner, Greville Primarolo, Ms Dawn
John, Brynmor Quin, Ms Joyce
Johnston, Sir Russell Randall, Stuart
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Redmond, Martin
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Reid, John
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Richardson, Ms Jo
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Kirkwood, Archy Robertson, George
Lambie, David Robinson, Geoffrey
Lamond, James Rogers, Allan
Leadbitter, Ted Rooker, Jeff
Leighton, Ron Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles) Rowlands, Ted
Lewis, Terry Ruddock, Ms Joan
Litherland, Robert Sedgemore, Brian
Livingstone, Ken Sheerman, Barry
Livsey, Richard Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Short, Clare
Loyden, Eddie Skinner, Dennis
McAllion, John Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McAvoy, Tom Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McCartney, Ian Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Macdonald, Calum Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Snape, Peter
McKelvey, William Soley, Clive
McLeish, Henry Spearing, Nigel
McNamara, Kevin Steinberg, Gerald
McTaggart, Bob Stott, Roger
McWilliam, John Strang, Gavin
Madden, Max Straw, Jack
Mahon, Mrs Alice Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Thomas, Dafydd Elis
Martin, Michael (Springburn) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Martlew, Eric Turner, Dennis
Maxton, John Vaz, Keith
Meacher, Michael Wall, Pat
Meale, Alan Wallace, James
Michael, Alun Walley, Ms Joan
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Wareing, Robert N.
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Wigley, Dafydd
Morgan. Rhodri Williams, Rt Hon A. J.
Morley, Elliott Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Morris, Rt Hon A (W'shawe) Wilson, Brian
Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon) Winnick, David
Mowlam, Marjorie Wise, Mrs Audrey
Mullin, Chris Worthington, Anthony
O'Brien. William Young, David (Bolton SE)
O'Neill, Martin
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Tellers for the Ayes:
Patchett, Terry Mr. Frank Haynes and
Pendry, Tom Mr. Frank Cook.
Adley, Robert Bellingham, Henry
Aitken, .Jonathan Bendall, Vivian
Alexander, Richard Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Benyon, W.
Allason, Rupert Bevan, David Gilroy
Amess, David Biffen, Rt Hon John
Amos, Alan Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Arbuthnot, James Blackburn, Dr John G.
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Ashby, David Body, Sir Richard
Aspinwall, Jack Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Atkins, Robert Boscawen, Hon Robert
Atkinson, David Boswell, Tim
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Bottomley, Peter
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Baldry, Tony Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Batiste, Spencer Bowis, John
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Hampson, Dr Keith
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hanley, Jeremy
Brazier, Julian Hannam, John
Bright, Graham Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Harris, David
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Haselhurst, Alan
Browne, John (Winchester) Hawkins, Christopher
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hayes, Jerry
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Buck, Sir Antony Hayward, Robert
Budgen, Nicholas Heathcoat-Amory, David
Burns, Simon Heddle, John
Butcher, John Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Butler, Chris Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Butterfill, John Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hill, James
Carrington, Matthew Hind, Kenneth
Cash, William Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Holt, Richard
Chapman, Sydney Hordern, Sir Peter
Churchill, Mr Howard, Michael
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Conway, Derek Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Cope, John Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Cormack, Patrick Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Couchman, James Hunter, Andrew
Cran, James Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Currie, Mrs Edwina Irvine, Michael
Curry, David Irving, Charles
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Jack, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jackson, Robert
Day, Stephen Janman, Timothy
Devlin, Tim Jessel, Toby
Dickens, Geoffrey Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dicks, Terry Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dorrell, Stephen Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Dover, Den Key, Robert
Dunn, Bob King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Durant, Tony Kirkhope, Timothy
Eggar, Tim Knapman, Roger
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Evennett, David Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Knowles, Michael
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Knox, David
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Fookes, Miss Janet Lang, Ian
Forman, Nigel Latham, Michael
Forth, Eric Lawrence, Ivan
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lee, John (Pendle)
Fox, Sir Marcus Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Franks, Cecil Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Freeman, Roger Lilley, Peter
French, Douglas Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Fry, Peter Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Gale, Roger Lord, Michael
Gardiner, George Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Garel-Jones, Tristan Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Gill, Christopher McCrindle, Robert
Glyn, Dr Alan Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Goodhart, Sir Philip MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Goodlad, Alastair Maclean, David
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles McLoughlin, Patrick
Gorman, Mrs Teresa McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Gow, Ian McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Gower, Sir Raymond Madel, David
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Malins, Humfrey
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Mans, Keith
Greenway, John (Rydale) Maples, John
Gregory, Conal Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mates, Michael
Grist, Ian Maude, Hon Francis
Ground, Patrick Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Grylls, Michael Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Mellor, David
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Miller, Hal
Mills, Iain Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Miscampbell, Norman Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Sumberg, David
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Summerson, Hugo
Moate, Roger Tapsell, Sir Peter
Monro, Sir Hector Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Morrison, Sir Charles (Devizes) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Morrison, Hon P (Chester) Temple-Morris, Peter
Moss, Malcolm Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Moynihan, Hon C. Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Mudd, David Thornton, Malcolm
Neale, Gerrard Thurnham, Peter
Needham, Richard Townend, John (Bridlington)
Neubert, Michael Tracey, Richard
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Tredinnick, David
Nicholls, Patrick Trippier, David
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Twinn, Dr Ian
Paice, James Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Patnick, Irvine Waddington, Rt Hon David
Patten, John (Oxford W) Waldegrave, Hon William
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Walden, George
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Rathbone, Tim Waller, Gary
Renton, Tim Ward, John
Rhodes James, Robert Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Warren, Kenneth
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Watts, John
Rossi, Sir Hugh Wells, Bowen
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Wheeler, John
Ryder, Richard Whitney, Ray
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Scott, Nicholas Wiggin, Jerry
Shaw, David (Dover) Wilkinson, John
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wilshire, David
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Winterton, Mrs Ann
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Winterton, Nicholas
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Wolfson, Mark
Shersby, Michael Wood, Timothy
Sims, Roger Woodcock, Mike
Skeet, Sir Trevor Yeo, Tim
Squire, Robin Young, Sir George (Acton)
Stanbrook, Ivor
Steen, Anthony Tellers for the Noes:
Stern, Michael Mr. David Lightbown and
Stevens, Lewis Mr. Kenneth Carlisle.
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 60 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading): The House divided: Ayes 285, Noes 225.

Division No. 142] [10.14 pm
Adley, Robert Biffen, Rt Hon John
Aitken, Jonathan Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Alexander, Richard Blackburn, Dr John G.
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Allason, Rupert Body, Sir Richard
Amess, David Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Amos, Alan Boscawen, Hon Robert
Arbuthnot, James Boswell, Tim
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Bottomley, Peter
Ashby, David Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Aspinwall, Jack Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Atkins, Robert Bowis, John
Atkinson, David Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Baldry, Tony Brazier, Julian
Batiste, Spencer Bright, Graham
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Brittan, Rt Hon Leon
Bellingham, Henry Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Bendall, Vivian Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Browne, John (Winchester)
Benyon, W. Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Bevan, David Gilroy Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Buck, Sir Antony Heathcoat-Amory, David
Budgen, Nicholas Heddle, John
Burns, Simon Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Butcher, John Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Butler, Chris Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Butterfill, John Hill, James
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hind, Kenneth
Carrington, Matthew Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cash, William Holt, Richard
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hordern, Sir Peter
Chapman, Sydney Howard, Michael
Churchill, Mr Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Conway, Derek Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Cope, John Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Cormack, Patrick Hunter, Andrew
Couchman, James Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Cran, James Irvine, Michael
Currie, Mrs Edwina Irving, Charles
Curry, David Jack, Michael
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Jackson, Robert
Davis, David (Boothferry) Janman, Timothy
Day, Stephen Jessel, Toby
Devlin, Tim Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dickens, Geoffrey Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dicks, Terry Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Dorrell, Stephen Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Key, Robert
Dover, Den King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Dunn, Bob Kirkhope, Timothy
Durant, Tony Knapman, Roger
Eggar, Tim Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Evennett, David Knowles, Michael
Fenner, Dame Peggy Knox, David
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lang, Ian
Fookes, Miss Janet Latham, Michael
Forman, Nigel Lawrence, Ivan
Forth, Eric Lee, John (Pendle)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fox, Sir Marcus Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Franks, Cecil Lilley, Peter
Freeman, Roger Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
French, Douglas Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fry, Peter Lord, Michael
Gale, Roger Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Gardiner, George Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Garel-Jones, Tristan McCrindle, Robert
Gill, Christopher Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Glyn, Dr Alan MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Maclean, David
Goodlad, Alastair McLoughlin, Patrick
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Gow, Ian Madel, David
Gower, Sir Raymond Malins, Humfrey
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Mans, Keith
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Maples, John
Greenway, John (Rydale) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Gregory, Conal Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Mates, Michael
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Maude, Hon Francis
Grist, Ian Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Ground, Patrick Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Grylls, Michael Mellor, David
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Miller, Hal
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mills, Iain
Hampson, Dr Keith Miscampbell, Norman
Hanley, Jeremy Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hannam, John Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Monro, Sir Hector
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Harris, David Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Haselhurst, Alan Morrison, Sir Charles (Devizes)
Hawkins, Christopher Morrison, Hon P (Chester)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Moss, Malcolm
Hayward, Robert Moynihan, Hon C.
Mudd, David Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Neale, Gerrard Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Needham, Richard Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Nelson, Anthony Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Neubert, Michael Temple-Morris, Peter
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Nicholls, Patrick Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Paice, James Thornton, Malcolm
Patnick, Irvine Thurnham, Peter
Patten, John (Oxford W) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Tracey, Richard
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Tredinnick, David
Rathbone, Tim Trippier, David
Renton, Tim Twinn, Dr Ian
Rhodes James, Robert Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Waddington, Rt Hon David
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Waldegrave, Hon William
Rossi, Sir Hugh Walden, George
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Ryder, Richard Waller, Gary
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Ward, John
Scott, Nicholas Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Shaw, David (Dover) Watts, John
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wells, Bowen
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wheeler, John
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Whitney, Ray
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Shersby, Michael Wiggin, Jerry
Sims, Roger Wilkinson, John
Skeet, Sir Trevor Wilshire, David
Squire, Robin Winterton, Mrs Ann
Stanbrook, Ivor Winterton, Nicholas
Steen, Anthony Wolfson, Mark
Stern, Michael Wood, Timothy
Stevens, Lewis Woodcock, Mike
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Yeo, Tim
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Sumberg, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Summerson, Hugo Mr. David Lightbown and
Tapsell, Sir Peter Mr. Kenneth Carlisle.
Abbott, Ms Diane Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Clay, Bob
Allen, Graham Clelland, David
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Cohen, Harry
Ashdown, Paddy Coleman, Donald
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Corbett, Robin
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Corbyn, Jeremy
Barron, Kevin Cousins, Jim
Battle, John Cox, Tom
Beckett, Margaret Crowther, Stan
Beith, A. J. Cryer, Bob
Bell, Stuart Cummings, J.
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Dalyell, Tam
Bermingham, Gerald Darling, Alastair
Bidwell, Sydney Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Blair, Tony Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Blunkett, David Dixon, Don
Boyes, Roland Dobson, Frank
Bradley, Keith Doran, Frank
Bray, Dr Jeremy Douglas, Dick
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Dunnachie, James
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Eadie, Alexander
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Eastham, Ken
Buchan, Norman Evans, John (St Helens N)
Buckley, George Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Caborn, Richard Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Callaghan, Jim Fatchett, Derek
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Faulds, Andrew
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Fearn, Ronald
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Canavan, Dennis Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Fisher, Mark
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Flannery, Martin
Flynn, Paul Michael, Alun
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Foster, Derek Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Foulkes, George Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Fraser, John Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Galbraith, Samuel Moonie, Dr Lewis
Galloway, George Morgan, Rhodri
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Morley, Elliott
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Morris, Rt Hon A (W'shawe)
George, Bruce Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon)
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Mowlam, Marjorie
Godman, Dr Norman A. Mullin, Chris
Golding, Mrs Llin O'Brien, William
Gordon, Ms Mildred O'Neill, Martin
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Patchett, Terry
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Pendry, Tom
Grocott, Bruce Pike, Peter
Hardy, Peter Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Harman, Ms Harriet Prescott, John
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Quin, Ms Joyce
Heffer, Eric S. Randall, Stuart
Hinchliffe, David Redmond, Martin
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Holland, Stuart Reid, John
Home Robertson, John Richardson, Ms Jo
Hood, James Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Robertson, George
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Robinson, Geoffrey
Howells, Geraint Rogers, Allan
Hoyle, Doug Rooker, Jeff
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Rowlands, Ted
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Ruddock, Ms Joan
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Sedgemore, Brian
Illsley, Eric Sheerman, Barry
Ingram, Adam Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Janner, Greville Shore, Rt Hon Peter
John, Brynmor Short, Clare
Johnston, Sir Russell Skinner, Dennis
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Snape, Peter
Kirkwood, Archy Soley, Clive
Lambie, David Spearing, Nigel
Lamond, James Steinberg, Gerald
Leadbitter, Ted Stott, Roger
Leighton, Ron Strang, Gavin
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles) Straw, Jack
Lewis, Terry Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Litherland, Robert Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Livingstone, Ken Thomas, Dafydd Elis
Livsey, Richard Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Turner, Dennis
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Vaz, Keith
Loyden, Eddie Wall, Pat
McAllion, John Wallace, James
McAvoy, Tom Walley, Ms Joan
McCartney, Ian Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Macdonald, Calum Wareing, Robert N.
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
McKelvey, William Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
McLeish, Henry Wigley, Dafydd
McNamara, Kevin Williams, Rt Hon A. J.
McTaggart, Bob Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
McWilliam, John Wilson, Brian
Madden, Max Winnick, David
Mahon, Mrs Alice Wise, Mrs Audrey
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Worthington, Anthony
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Martin, Michael (Springburn)
Martlew, Eric Tellers for the Noes:
Maxton, John Mr. Frank Haynes and
Meacher, Michael Mr. Frank Cook.
Meale, Alan

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 61 (Committal of Bills).