HC Deb 29 June 1993 vol 227 cc881-92

'. The Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament a Code of Practice for the courts in respect of the options available to them in deciding bail applications'.—[Mr. Michael]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Michael

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

The new clause is intended to deal with the need for action to reduce offending while on bail. Offending while on bail is one of the issues which seem to produce more heat than light, certainly among members of the Government. There is outrage in the country about the way in which young offenders in particular appear to be offending on bail with impunity.

There are two ways of dealing with the problem. One is the punitive approach, or the refusal of bail, which is certainly necessary in some circumstances. However, we also need to tackle the problem from the opposite angle. Let me put it this way: if the bath is overflowing, it is sensible to turn off the tap and take out the plug. We believe that the Government should tackle the problem from both ends, which is the purpose of the new clause.

We know that young people in particular commit many offences while on bail. It is surprising that Ministers have not set in train much more detailed research and analysis of the phenomenon. I have commented many times on the unsatisfactory nature of much existing research. Those who examine the research that is available will find that offending on bail is a serious problem which needs to be tackled, but we need to be precise about the numbers involved. Is there a small number of offenders committing a large number of the offences while on bail or a larger number committing some offences? Is the problem endemic or is it confined to a few? Such questions have not been properly researched.

The Minister would help if he were to announce—and I call on him to do so—that he will commission some immediate research which will enable those who take decisions in court and in the House to have up-to-date and accurate information rather than information that comes to hand many months too late when the game—for that is what it seems to be to some people—has moved on. As in so many other spheres which impinge on the criminal justice system, there is a lack of information about offending on bail on which we can base our policies.

The one recent major piece of Home Office research on bail, published in 1992, suggested that between 10 per cent. and 17 per cent. of people on bail commit further offences. Younger people on remand for car crime or burglary are the most likely to reoffend while on bail, which is why, in the documents that it has published, Labour has concentrated on trying to analyse the two problems and has come up with solutions. It is also why we call on the Minister, as we called on his predecessors, to take targeted action to deal with those two types of crime.

There is no doubt that the offending behaviour of the young can escalate while they are waiting for a case to come to court. In my experience of working with young people, and with young offenders in particular, it was clear that the likelihood of something serious happening in court affected their behaviour. It is therefore important that the court should have a range of options available to it in deciding whether to allow bail. The court should also have the best possible information available to it.

A policy that relies solely on providing the court with more powers after someone has reoffended while on bail offers insufficient protection to the public. We need to reduce the extent of the problem as well as considering ways of tackling it when it arises. That is why the Government's proposals to allow the courts to sentence more severely for offending on bail are inadequate to deal with the whole problem. We need sensible means to ensure that crimes are not committed in the first place. We need to be tough on offending while on bail and tough on preventing offending while on bail in order to get the balance right.

Among the options that should be available to all courts are bail hostels and bail support and enforcement schemes. A code of practice would help the courts to be aware of the range of facilities that should be available in each area and perhaps help them to be more pro-active in ensuring that those facilities become available in their localities if they are not already provided.

Mrs. Ann Winterton (Congleton)

The hon. Gentleman mentioned bail hostels. Will he accept that the provision of such hostels does not prevent people from reoffending while on bail and that mature people who are put into bail hostels may also reoffend? Even those who have been accused of sex offences are also put in bail hostels, which may be located near schools and nursery schools. The hon. Gentleman makes much of how we should tackle the problem from both ends has nothing positive to say about how to stop people reoffending. We cannot incarcerate people in bail hostels for 24 hours a day; people are perfectly free to roam and reoffend at will.

Mr. Michael

The hon. Lady comes to the nub of one of my repeated criticisms of the Government. The Government have a range of options available, but they do not resource them adequately or think through properly the way in which they are used. Bail hostels are one of the available options but, all too often, they are not adequately supervised——

Mrs. Winterton


Mr. Michael

May I ask the hon. Lady to contain herself for a moment? The problem that I am highlighting is the fact that we need a range of options to fit the appropriate one to the appropriate people. Sometimes people are put into bail hostels when such hostels are not appropriate for them.

Mrs. Winterton


Mr. Michael

In a moment. That was the point that the hon. Lady was making, and it is a valid one. Unless we have a criminal justice system that offers a range of options for supporting and enforcing obedience to bail requirements, we shall not succeed in reducing the offending that occurs while on bail. If people are put into bail hostels for which they are not suited, they will reoffend. Part of the problem is that the Government have no coherent, rational approach and have not thought through their policy.

Mrs. Winterton

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for being so patient. I refute everything that he has said about the funding of bail hostels. The Home Office has thrown thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money at the problem. There is a bail hostel in my constituency. It is splendidly appointed and very well run, but one cannot incarcerate people for more than a specific number of hours at night, or after curfew and before the morning. The courts decide who shall and who shall not be allowed hail. There are two options: we put young and middle-aged people in bail hostels where they may reoffend, or we put them where they are incarcerated. What is the alternative to those two options?

Mr. Michael

The hon. Lady is not entirely right in saying that bail hostels have money coming out of their ears. I was able to inspect regularly a bail hostel in an adjoining constituency when I was for several years a member of a probation committee. At that time, there was a complete lack of finance to cope properly with the appointment and conditions at the hostel and with staffing levels. I accept that there have been improvements since then, but another problem arose when the Home Office recently decided to accelerate the number of places being made available at bail hostels. One could say that it went too fast because in many communities it seemed that decisions about the location of hostels were taken too speedily, which whipped up many problems. Decisions had to be taken very quickly if the probation committees were not to lose the money. We need a considered and intregrated approach to the problem.

I must inform the hon. Lady that the options she outlined are not the only ones available. A range of options could be made available for dealing with young offenders if the resources were provided. As she says, one option is incarceration, whether in prison or in secure accommodation. One problem with that option is that, two and a half years after the Government's promise to deal with the scandal of young people being held in adult prison accommodation, secure places have not been made available.

The second option is the bail hostel, but there are other options. For example, there is the option of a young person staying at home or being reintroduced to the home. There are various fostering schemes and options of employment-related placement. Let us not lose sight of the fact that there is a whole range of options, and a whole range of requirements, available to the court. The trouble often is that the court is limited because the options are not available in practice in the locality.

For that reason, we have introduced the new clause, which is limited only by the geography of the Bill. We should like to go further and say that there should he a high standard of bail support and enforcement schemes in place in every area where the demand exists. But, for technical reasons, we are limited by the nature of the Bill, so we have tabled an amendment which, we hope, goes part of the way down the right road.

7.30 pm

It is for the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament a code of practice for the court in respect of the options available to it in deciding bail applications. If courts must consider the options available to them, there will inevitably be pressure for a greater range of such options.

A great deal of work, some of it commissioned by the Home Office, has already been done. It demonstrates the extent to which we can reduce and prevent crime, including among those who have started on an offending pattern. The failure to follow that work through—to develop it from a project to a strategic basis—is a criticism of the Government's failure to tackle and reduce crime.

Mrs. Winterton

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that none of the matters that he has put forward will stop people reoffending, no matter what wonderful schemes are introduced by the Government or proposed by the Opposition? Young and older offenders will not be stopped reoffending, and that concerns local people. They would prefer to see young offenders in institutions— "incarcerated" is the word I used earlier—because at least they are then not being a problem to people going about their normal lives.

Mr. Michael

It might be wise for me to translate that and leave the Minister to answer the hon. Lady because what she said flies in the face of everything that any Minister or Home Office publication has stated. She says that, if people offend, it is inevitable that they will continue to offend. That is not the case. She says that we must accept as inevitable that, whatever we do, people will go on reoffending and all our efforts will have no effect on their patterns of offending. That is not true.

I worked on an estate in my city of Cardiff for a number of years. The inter-agency work that was done between probation, social services, youth workers and others was recognised by the police as having had great benefit. The local chief constable said in his annual report that it had led to a reduction in crime. Indeed, the probation service withdrew from the project because it reported that so few youngsters were coming to court, because they were not offending, that the service could not justify its continued involvement in the project.

There are two alternatives—that is the hon. Lady's view and she may wish to have it polarised in that way—in that one either allows crime to rise and simply seeks to punish, or one does what the Opposition say, which is to punish where one cannot prevent but prevent where one can because if one fails to prevent, one will have damaged the offender, who will continue to deteriorate in his or her lifestyle, one will have damaged the victim and one will have damaged the community in which both of them may live.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

The hon. Gentleman is waxing eloquent about the need to punish where one cannot prevent, and particularly about the need to take action over juvenile offenders. Will he support the Government's plan for secure training orders?

Mr. Michael

I shall look carefully at the Government's plan for secure training orders. It is a curious plan because it comes from the Home Office without an indication of the Department of Health's view, even though the latter is the Department responsible for its implementation for 15 and 16-year-olds.

I shall be interested to see the evidence that the Government have to support the need for that type of institution, which will be spread thinly across the country, some of them being a long way from offenders' homes and the places to which they will have to return after being in those institutions. Have we reason to think that those institutions will be more successful than the previous attempts, such as the short, sharp shock, from which the Government had to turn back?

I would look with more interest at a Home Secretary who introduced such a scheme—if he were not running with enthusiasm for higher office in his party at the time—and if he or his predecessor had delivered the secure places necessary to end the scandal, to which I referred, of 15 and l6-year-olds having to be held in adult prison accommodation because of there being nowhere else for them to be sent.

I suspect that, in private, the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) would be as critical as I am of the Government's failure, in relation to the promise made in February 1991, to deliver any of the places required. It is easy to point to areas where the Conservatives have failed abjectly to keep their promises and to deal with the enforcement and support of bail.

Bail, when granted by a court, should be treated seriously. Youngsters and adults alike should say, "I shall be in real trouble if I breach my bail conditions." The slowness of the criminal justice system has led to bail being treated with contempt. That cannot be good for young people, for the community, for the courts or for the respect in which people hold the criminal justice system.

That is why we need positive action. We must punish if the opportunity is not taken, when given, to come out of the pattern of offending—when the opportunity for support and enforcement is there—but we have every right to tell the Government that they should be making the conditions right to support and enforce bail conditions when they are granted by the courts. As we agree, reoffending damages everyone—the offender, the victim and the community—but above all it damages confidence in the criminal justice system and the police.

The police will be further undermined by yesterday's White Paper, which will do nothing to cut crime and help them in their task. Action of the sort proposed by the new clause would do somethng to reduce the amount of offending and reoffending with which the police must deal.

Bail support and enforcement schemes represent one of the best ways to reduce offending by young people, in particular, while they are on bail. The schemes must use a wide range of approaches to get people to comply with the requirements of bail, and I commend the reports that have been published on approaches that have been tried on an experimental basis. They have included regular reporting, placements with volunteers during evenings and weekends, the monitoring of school attendance, assistance with employment and work with offenders' families.

The Minister will recall the Opposition's suggestion that an order should be available to the court to encourage those types of activity post-sentence. We made that and other suggestions in Committee when we debated alternative sentences for young people. Such schemes can apply to people who are on bail, but they must be put into operation quickly, preferably while the person is waiting to come to court for sentence. If one's own child does something wrong, one punishes him or her today, not in a week, a month or three months—now. All too often, the problem with the criminal justice system is that it takes many months before a sentence is given by a court. The period of bail is far too long,and that assists in bringing the whole system into disrepute.

Some areas have remand fostering arrangements, such as I referred to in my response to the hon. Member for Congleton (Mrs. Winterton) in which foster parents are able to take remanded people at short notice. Only a minority of areas possess a comprehensive range of bail support and remand fostering facilities. That might in part explain the wide variation of the use of custodial remands across the country. It is one of the reasons why the Association of Chief Officers of Probation and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders called last week for a statutory obligation on local authorities to set up bail support schemes That was a plea from those who, day to day, deal with trying to enforce the observance of bail.

We could not craft an amendment or a new clause which would have gone that far, but in new clause 5 we go some way, and it at least gives a starting point which would enable the Minister to take a great step forward if he would only see what an opportunity it offers. Sadly, until now—I acknowledge that the Minister is new to his post—the Government have been big on talk and quick to legislate, but small and slow when it comes to positive action which will increase success in supporting and enforcing bail. A code of practice for the courts in relation to bail options will help to ensure that those facilities are provided more uniformly across the country.

The Home Office's own research shows that there are links between offending and reoffending and the circumstances of the offender. If those matters are addressed during the period of bail, a contribution can be made to cutting reoffending and therefore cutting the increase in crime which we suffer at present and which the Government seem so ready to tolerate.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

The public are rightly alarmed at the large number of offences that are being committed by offenders while on bail, and they want something done about it. It would be encouraging if the Opposition said that they would positively support the Government's proposals to have secure training orders for the hard core of persistent juvenile offenders who most frequently in recent years have come to public notice for offending on bail. However. it is a matter not just of juvenile offenders but of adult offenders.

It was in 1948, I think, that Lord Chief Justice Goddard, in the Phillips case, said that bail should seldom be given to burglars because they would only burgle while they were on bail. In this modern age, we cannot say such a thing, but that shows that the problem of persistent offenders has been with us for many years.

I greatly welcome the Government's attitude to bail, which has been manifested by their action. Clause 29, which allows the courts to take into account the commission of a criminal offence while on bail as an aggravating factor when it comes to sentence, so that an increased sentence can be passed on anyone who commits an offence while on bail, is a constructive step forward and will meet considerable support from the British people.

Mr. Michael

To assist the hon. and learned Gentleman, clause 29 is actually about money laundering. I think that he is referring to the amendments as urged by the Opposition, although not as well crafted as those to clause 29 of the 1991 Bill.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am referring to clause 65.

That is not all that the Government are doing. They are also supporting the Bill being promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel (Sir M. Marshall), which will give the prosecution the right to appeal against the grant of bail. That is a substantial step forward which, if passed by the House, will make a contribution and help to reassure people.

A further step should be taken. One of the reasons why so many offences are committed on bail is that magistrates have a totally wrong idea of the law and seem to think, perhaps on the guidance of some magistrates' clerks, that they are unable to remand certain people in custody. With the 20 new prisons that have been built, there should be some places available for rather more people than there were 10 years ago, in reasonable accommodation while they are remanded in custody. Magistrates should be retrained, or certainly better trained, in their responsibilities as magistrates to remand people in custody in appropriate cases. There are too many cases in which people are given bail by magistrates. Attention to training is necessary.

7.45 pm

The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) has brought forward a code of practice. That is fine, but he then shot down his balloon by saying something with which I wholeheartedly agree: it is time that we had proper research and analysis and came up with a more systematic response to the problem of offending while on bail. The Government have plans in mind—I do not know how far they have gone; perhaps my hon. Friend the Minister will tell us. However, as long as that matter remains incomplete, it would be rather feeble of us to introduce a code of practice.

We do not need a code of practice; we need a code of action. If the Government are involving themselves in a code of action which, apart from the proposed changes that they are making, will improve the training of magistrates and judges and make sure that we examine the subject to the necessary extent, that will be a much more constructive response to the problem than a code of practice.

Mr. Michael

I endorse the hon. and learned Gentleman's point about the need for a code of action. I hope that I made it clear that the geography of the Bill limited us in bringing forward an amendment or a new clause that would have gone further than that. We are limited to the idea of a code of practice because of the way in which the Government established and crafted their own Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman and I are at one on that point.

Mr. Maclean

Let me make it clear that the Government's approach to crime is twofold—prevent offending in the first place and then crack down on those who abuse the right to bail. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) says, "Resources, resources, resources," as though more resources in this and every other matter would prevent youngsters from forming the wrong ideas of what is right and what is wrong in society in the first place. I would pay attention to his plea for more resources if he would acknowledge that, under the Government, resources in the criminal justice system have increased by 105 per cent. in real terms. In case the hon. Gentleman does not know what that means, it is above the level of inflation, and that is a considerable amount of resources.

My hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Mrs. Winterton) might be horrified to hear that we are spending not hundreds of pounds but millions of pounds on bail hostels. In 1992, an extra £8 million was allocated for bail hostels. That is supposed to be good news, but my hon. Friend might not take it in that way. That is just another example of the huge resources that we have been making available to the criminal justice system. The greatest part of resources is on the crime prevention side—16,000 full-time policemen in England and Wales. That is not to be sneezed at.

I accept that the new clause seems to be an honest attempt to assist the courts in their awareness of the options available in deciding bail applications. To my knowledge, there are only three possible decisions in any bail application: remand in custody, unconditional bail or bail with conditions. The Home Office has already established a substantial body of research into identifying practical ways of improving the information available for bail decision makers, thereby improving the quality of those decisions. The result will be available early next year.

I do not believe, therefore, that we need a code of practice covering the courts' options when deciding bail. The Bail Act 1976 sets out the need to consider carefully all the factors in a particular case before the judges or magistrates arrive at a decision. It sets out the conditions that can be attached to a grant of bail. As I explained in Committee, both judges and magistrates are fully aware of the terms and requirements of the Bail Act—at least, they ought to be; they have training on it. I take on board the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) about the adequacy of training. I believe that it is adequate, but this is a point to which I shall certainly turn my attention.

Judges and magistrates know those terms and requirements and, if they are minded to grant bail with, for example, conditions of residence, they will inquire as a matter of course into local circumstances and local bail support provisions, hostels, accommodation, and so on.

My main concern about the proposed code of practice is that we must beware of inhibiting a court's discretion. The court has all the relevant facts about the alleged offender. If it does not, it has the power to ask for them. The court is best placed to decide what conditions to impose on a defendant. The probation service and the courts are already in close contact to ensure that the latter understand what is available to them and the effect that any such scheme will have on defendants.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth shocked me by saying that bail was being treated with contempt—those were his words. If that is the case, bail ought not to be granted in the first place. It would alarm me if magistrates granted bail who had before them accused persons who had a history of treating bail with contempt; there would be a prime case for not granting bail. So I do not see how a code of practice would improve the situation if people were offending on bail.

I have no objection in principle to any sensible innovation whose effect might be to make the courts better informed of the options available. After all, what my hon. Friends and I and the Opposition are aiming for is to will the courts to come to the right decision, so that people who are granted bail do not offend again, but treat it properly, and those who ought not to be granted bail are not granted bail. That is what we all want. We want every decision, magically, to be right.

I believe that the courts have all the information that they need at the present time to help them come to those decisions. We cannot invent a code of practice, either voluntary or statutory, to deal with the hundreds of thousands of different people coming before different courts, in different parts of the country. and being charged with different offences. In my view, we cannot give any guidance that would better help in those individual, very local, personal decisions. We must leave magistrates with that essential discretion.

If magistrates were coming to me in droves, or even individually, begging me to give them a code of practice to help them reach better decisions, I would take it very seriously. Indeed, I might have a team of people already working on such a code. But they have not come to me with that request. For that reason and others, I cannot support the new clause.

Mr. Michael

I regret the Minister's response, and a couple of points need to be made to him quite directly.

I should be more impressed on hearing that resources for the criminal justice system are up 105 per cent. if the Minister would acknowledge with greater seriousness that the increase in crime over the period of office of this Government is up 121 per cent. If we look at those crimes for which the issue of bail is of most importance, we see that violence against the person is up 120 per cent. and robbery is up 324 per cent. Those figures are for recorded crimes, as the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) says. The actual increase, as far as we can tell, is commensurate with that, but certainly recorded crime shows those massive increases. The evidence of the Government's own reports is such that we should certainly be worried about the way in which these serious crimes are increasing.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

The point is that, if more people are reporting crime, because the courts are more user-friendly towards women, and there are more telephones, more cars and more insurance claims that have to be reported to the police, that obviously exaggerates the proportion of reported crimes compared with those that used not to be reported.

Mr. Michael

If the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks that the courts are user-friendly and that people are reporting with such enthusiasm, he is more complacent than I thought. Many people in communities throughout the country say that they are not reporting things because there is no point in reporting to the police, since nothing happens. Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman will acknowledge, therefore, that the likelihood is that, far from exaggerating the increase in crime, the figures for reported crime probably understate the situation.

That makes the point on which we are both agreed, however, about the dearth of adequate research on some of these issues. If we look at the British crime survey and the figures for reported crime, we have some reason for confidence that the figures that I am quoting, which are Government figures, are not exaggerated.

A moment ago, I quoted the figure for robbery, up 324 per cent. The Minister's figure of a 105 per cent. increase in resources for the criminal justice system does not look too bright against that. Burglary is up 148 per cent.; vehicle crime, up 162 per cent.; and criminal damage, up 182 per cent. Those are the figures in which the Minister should be taking a, real interest, rather than mentioning 105 per cent. for resources—a far lower figure—with such complacency.

Mr. Maclean

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the British crime survey shows that the increase in recorded crime is about double the rise in actual crime?

Mr. Michael

I believe that there is great suspicion about those figures, and I gave the reason for that. There is a great feeling throughout the country, illustrated in all sorts of ways, that there has been a diminution in recording.

If the hon. and learned Member for Burton thinks that people are reporting crime in increased numbers and with increased confidence, he should speak to some of the communities, young people and senior police officers to whom I have spoken recently. He will find that the view that he has just expressed is not one that any of them endorse.

The need for courts to have all the necessary information in front of them is dealt with in another amendment, but some of the Government's decisions are not helping in that regard. The Government must set the pattern of facilities that is necessary for those options to be available to the courts. It is not much use a court having information about a very limited range of options if that means that its hands are tied.

Resources are involved—I am glad that the Minister noticed that point. Modest investment is needed to deal with and diminish this problem of offending while on bail, instead of tolerating it, and therefore tolerating the massive increase in money that will be needed to lock away anybody who offends or reoffends, as seems to be the desire of the hon. Member for Congleton (Mrs. Winterton).

If the Minister—I thought that this was one of the most remarkable pieces of complacency from a Home Office Minister for some time, and there is quite a bit of competition for that accolade—thinks that bail is not being treated with contempt by some youngsters and groups of youngsters, in particular, and by some adults, he certainly needs to listen more to police, young people and communities in my constituency and in other constituencies throughout the country. He should listen to the views of other hon. Members. His complacency on that issue will not be reflected by comments from Labour Members or, I suspect by comments from Conservative Members, either.

Mr. Maclean

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that I was making the point that if bail was treated with contempt by some people, which I accept, his code of practice was not the solution to the problem?

8 pm

Mr. Michael

The code of practice would contribute to solving that problem, but it would not solve the problem in itself. There is a need for sentencing, punishment, disposals while on bail and disposals in the community to take into account the need to diminish reoffending.

I said earlier that the current system was showing signs of strain and that there were many occasions on which police, magistrates and others felt that it was being treated with contempt. I should have thought that the Minister would act in two ways: first, he should accept the proposed code of conduct as a constructive, small step in the right direction; and, secondly, in his capacity as Minister, he should set about providing resources to enable the establishment of a full pattern of bail support and enforcement and the whole range of constructive options that I mentioned.

I advise the Minister to consider the remarks of his predecessors in office. He will find that they praised projects of the sort that I mentioned and said how effective they have been. I urge the Minister to take a bit of time to consider my options and to work them more and more into the implementation of Government policy, and not just to do as his predecessors have tended to do and pay lip service to them.

The hon. and learned Member for Burton acknowledged the important need for research. Perhaps the Select Committee on Home Affairs, of which he is Chairman, may take a view on that. The hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware that the former Chairman of that Select Committee, the right hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler), has led an investigation by the all-party group on penal affairs—of which he is chairman—which I hope will make a useful contribution. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman and the Minister will consider the outcome of those considerations.

This is the first time for a number of years that the right hon. Member for Westminster, North has not been involved in the debate on the Criminal Justice Bill. He has always made a significant contribution and it is a little sad that he is precluded from participating, having taken up ministerial office. Bearing in mind his. contributions to such debates over recent years, it is only appropriate to congratulate him on his appointment.

Reference was made to aspects other than those in the new clause. Of course the new clause is not the whole answer. The Bail (Amendment) Bill, promoted by the hon. Member for Arundel (Sir M. Marshall), made its way because of the help that I gave it in Committee, because some of the Opposition amendments were accepted and becasuse we smoothed its way through the rather difficult procedures that normally make it impossible for any continued support—as a result of which, I hope, we shall hear soon that that Bill, with the right of appeal for courts against the granting of bail in appropriate circumstances, will be back before the House at the end of the week.

With all honesty, my hon. Friends and I have shown that we are not concerned with just one aspect of the fight against crime and the fight against reoffending while on bail. We are concerned that there should be a proper and balanced range of ways in which to deal with such problems, which will include punitive and preventive measures, as well as constructive measures such as those that we urge in the new clause.

The Minister's response was most disappointing. However, in our debates in Committee, the Minister showed an interest in constructive ideas from the Opposition. I hope that this is an idea that he will steal, expand and bring back to the House, claiming ingenuously that it is his own. I look forward to that opportunity before too long.

Question put and negatived.

Forward to