HC Deb 14 March 2001 vol 364 cc1059-75

'In section 34A of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 (power to release short-term prisoners on licence), after subsection (2)(b) there is inserted— (ba) the sentence is for any of the following offences—

  1. (i) an offence under section 89 of the Police Act 1996 (assaulting, obstructing or resisting a constable);
  2. (ii) an offence under section 38 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (assault with intent to resist arrest);
  3. (iii) an offence of common assault or an offence under section 18, section 20, or section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (wounding, causing grievous bodily harm and causing actual bodily harm) which was committed against a constable in the execution of his duty, any member of staff of the emergency services in the course of his duty or any member of staff of the National Health Service in the course of his duty.".'.—[Mr. Heald.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Heald

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

Madam Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to consider the following: New clause 2—Exclusion of prisoners convicted of offences against children from power to release short-term prisoners on licence

'In section 34A of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 (power to release short-term prisoners on licence), after subsection (2)(c) there is inserted— (ca)(i) the sentence is for an offence listed in paragraph 1 of Schedule 4 to the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000; or (ii) the sentence is for an offence listed in paragraph 2 of Schedule 4 to the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 which is committed against a person under the age of 18; or (iii) the sentence is for an offence which causes the prisoner to fall within paragraph 3 of Schedule 4 to the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.".'.

New clause 3—Court to state the existence and effect of section 34A of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 when passing sentence'When passing a custodial sentence under which a prisoner would qualify to be released under the provisions of section 34A of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 (power to release short-term prisoners on licence), the court shall state in ordinary language—

  1. (a) the existence and nature of the power of the Secretary of State to release the prisoner under that section;
  2. (b) the minimum term the prisoner would serve were the Secretary of State to release him immediately after having served the requisite period as defined in subsection (4) of that section.'.

New Clause 4—Exclusion of prisoners convicted of offences punishable by maximum sentence of ten years more from power to release short-term prisoners on licence

'In section 34A of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 (power to release short-term prisoners on licence), after subsection (2)(a) there is inserted— (ab) the sentence is for an offence for which the maximum term of imprisonment is ten years or more;".'.

Mr. Heald

The Government refer to it as the home detention curfew scheme, but we call it their special early release scheme for prisoners. As the House is aware, we have covered this territory on other occasions, so I shall not put our case in tremendous detail. We are discussing the policy that allows those who have been sentenced to up to four years in prison to be let out up to two months earlier than the normal halfway point of their sentence, so someone sentenced to three years can be let out after 16 months. The Government are quite shameless about it. They say that it is not a secret, but the basis of the scheme.

The latest figures show that from 28 January 1999 when the scheme began to the end of January this year, 31,540 criminals were released early under the scheme. The figure has since risen to 32,000, as the Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng), told us this week. Among those released are 64 criminals convicted of manslaughter, seven convicted of attempted murder, 4,152 convicted of wounding and assault occasioning actual bodily harm or grievous bodily harm, 2,919 burglars, 1,348 robbers, 4,310 drug dealers or traffickers, 80 blackmailers, 50 kidnappers and almost 1,300 guilty of affray and violent disorder. We consider that those are serious offences and that it is ludicrous for the Government on the one hand to say that they are trying to be tough on crime, and on the other to let out these sorts of people when they have not served even half their sentences.

Since the scheme was introduced we have tried to get it changed and we have succeeded. My hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison), who has run a substantial campaign on the matter, was finally able to persuade the Government that registered sex offenders should be excluded from the scheme altogether. That became law last year.

New clause 4 takes our campaign a stage further because it would stop the release under the scheme of the most serious criminals—those who are convicted of offences where the maximum penalty is 10 years or more. It would mean that somebody guilty of manslaughter, attempted murder or causing death by dangerous driving or of drug dealing or trafficking would be excluded from the scheme. The scheme should concentrate on those who have not committed the most serious offences. If the scheme is to continue, which seems to be the Government's fixed intention—I have to be honest with the House and say that we would scrap it—it should concentrate on the less serious offenders.

The Government have consistently rejected our new clause 1, which would stop the release of those who have been found guilty of assaulting a police officer. So far, 15 criminals convicted of obstructing an officer, 13 of assaulting with intent to resist arrest and 246 who assaulted a police officer in the execution of his duty have been let out early under the scheme. Indeed, 25 further assaults on police officers have been committed by those who were released early under the scheme when they should have been in prison. The 246 guilty of assaulting police officers were sentenced to an average of 4.8 months in jail, but served only six weeks. In my view it makes a mockery of the comments of the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), who said: Assault is a serious offence and assaults on police are deplorable … We recognise our responsibility in supporting the police to protect the community. We expect the courts to use their full powers when considering sentences in cases where the police are assaulted."—[Official Report, 15 February 2001; Vol. 363, c. 255W.] As I said in Committee, it is ludicrous to say to the courts, "Come on, pass tough sentences on these people who assault police. Let us back up the police" and when they do, let prisoners out when they have served far less than half their sentence. Almost five months is the average sentence, but only six weeks is served. It is ludicrous and it is letting our police down. It is quite wrong to blame the courts in this way. If we ask the courts to hand out tough sentences and then let the criminals out early, it really beggars belief.

In Committee, the Minister of State described our arguments as a gimmick. That was wrong because not only are these serious points, but they are supported by the official Opposition and by the Liberal Democrats. To some extent the new clause is a combined operation.

In Committee, the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) put forward the idea that the exemption should apply not just to those who assault police but to those who assault emergency service and health service workers. There is no doubt that it is a major problem. Doctors and nurses in accident and emergency departments are most concerned about the fact that people assault them. Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members have combined on this matter. I have to say that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey is a bit of a late convert, having previously said something different about police assaults, but I pay tribute to the fact that he has thought the matter through and has reached this conclusion. In Committee we were united in pressing the Government on this point. If the official Opposition and the Liberal Democrats agree on an issue and ask the Government to think again, in my view it is incumbent on them to do so. I have found the Government's arguments on this point very feeble and I hope that the Minister who replies to the debate will put forward a stronger argument. He might even agree. That would be good, but we will have to wait and see.

6 pm

New clause 2 would exclude from the scheme any person convicted of an offence against a child. In Committee, the Minister of State's response to the new clause was unsatisfactory.

New clause 3 deals with what we would call honesty in sentencing, and what the Government occasionally call honest sentencing. The new clause is right at the centre of the debate about honest sentencing. Before the election, the present Home Secretary called for sentencing courts to explain exactly what a sentence means. That was included in the Labour party's manifesto for the 1997 general election. On page 23, it said: The courts will have to spell out what each sentence really means in practice. In January 1998, the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, sent out a practice direction to judges on the matter, requiring them o explain the effect of the sentence passed in practice—that is, how long an offender would serve in custody before release. At the time, the Home Secretary said: Judges will now explain what a sentence means in terms of time spent in prison, the period of supervision after release and the period during which the offender might be recalled to prison. This … fulfils our own policy commitment to make sentences easier to understand. The practice direction therefore makes it clear that judges should sentence a prisoner and then explain the early release arrangements that apply. Therefore, a judge sentencing someone to three years should say, "The sentence is three years. You will be released on licence after 18 months and may be returned to prison if you commit any further offences while on licence." That was the position at the time that the practice direction was issued.

After that, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 was passed, which included the special early release scheme for prisoners. The effect of that is that a prisoner is released not after serving half a sentence but up to two months earlier. The discretionary power of the home detention curfew scheme was introduced on 28 January 1999.

I have considered how the matter has been dealt with in the courts and I am not satisfied. Other lawyers take a similar view, or at least their view is somewhat different from that of the Government. Last year, in the other place, my noble Friends moved an amendment to prevent the release under the scheme of a prisoner who had not been given the proper explanation when he was sentenced. That was prompted by the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) who sits as a recorder, a stipendiary magistrate, and who, speaking on Report, said: As I understand it, when we pass a sentence, we do not mention the home detention curfew scheme at all. It is purely an administrative rather that a judicial matter."—[Official Report, 12 June 2000; Vol. 351. c. 669.] He went on to explain exactly what he did do. I have asked other lawyers who sit in court and they tell me that they agree with my hon. Friend.

In the other place on 31 October 2000, the Attorney-General opposed our amendment which stated that one could not be released without being told in advance. He said clearly that it would be entirely wrong for judges to mention the home detention curfew scheme at all when passing sentence. He went on to explain his reasons for that at column 915.

On 31 October last year, despite the manifesto promise about the court spelling out what a sentence means in practice, it was clearly the Government's view that the existence of the scheme should not be mentioned by judges, and it is our experience that judges were not doing that. Therefore, we were somewhat surprised when, in answer to a question from me, the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Norwich, South, who is no longer present—I wonder why—said: The Government are committed to ensuring that the implications of sentencing are explained in open court, but believe that this is best achieved through the issue of practice directions from the Lord Chief Justice. The then Lord Chief Justice issued a practice direction in January 1998 requiring a court imposing a custodial sentence to explain the practical effect of that sentence for the benefit of the defendant, any victim and members of the public. Although the practice direction was issued before home detention curfew became available, it specifically states that if the statutory provisions governing early release are materially amended, then the model statements annexed to the direction will require modification. Courts are therefore already expected to explain the possible effect of home detention curfew on the offender."—[Official Report, 22 January 2001: Vol. 361, c. 485W.] We want to know what the position is. On the one hand, the Attorney-General says that judges must not, at any cost, explain the home detention curfew scheme to defendants as they are sentenced. On the other, the Minister of State says that they are expected to explain the possible effect of the home detention curfew scheme on the defendant. Who is right—the Attorney-General or the Minister of State? If the Minster of State is right, can the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, the hon. Member for Wyre Forest (Mr. Lock), give the House a cast-iron assurance that, when the 32,000 criminals released from prison early under the scheme were sentenced, the possible effect of the home detention curfew scheme on release dates was mentioned in court? It is our belief that, for the past two years, the effect of the home detention curfew scheme has not been mentioned by the court, but that the Home Office thought it was.

I commend the new clauses to the House and I hope that we will have a firm and positive response from the Minister, particularly on new clause 3.

Mr. Simon Hughes

As the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) said, new clause 1, in the name of Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members, is a composite of two clauses moved by each party in Committee—the one to which the hon. Gentleman alludes in relation to assaults on police officers, which we supported, and one tabled by the Liberal Democrats dealing with assaults on ambulance, fire service and NHS personnel. We are happy that those matters have been rolled together, resulting in a portmanteau proposal.

In Committee, the Minister put forward certain arguments for not accepting the new clause or one like it. I am aware that two relevant matters are in the background—the review by Lord Justice Auld of the criminal justice system and the review on sentencing, both of which are due to report shortly. Whoever takes office after the next general election will be obliged to consider both of those, take advice and consult on them, and may well be minded to introduce legislation as a result.

I understand that in relation to all the new clauses, it is perfectly reasonable to say that they might properly be left until those two reviews are complete; I accept and understand that. I think that the Minister of State accepted that, although the criteria for home detention curfew were arrived at in a different way, there was nothing to preclude an exemption from that criteria by category of offence, and that it would be perfectly proper to review the system to achieve the results that we wanted.

I urge the Minister to be more positive and, ideally, to accept the new clause, even though there is a review coming. I am not naive enough to pretend that the argument that we should wait for the review is not reasonable, but the proposal has already achieved a great deal of agreement.

In addition, the concern about the issues addressed by the proposal is very great. Therefore, if we want to ensure that our legislation is credible and that we appear to respond to reasonable public demand by means of joined-up government, it would be logical to give a signal to the police that officers will be better looked after by the criminal justice system. The same signal must also be sent to personnel in the public services and emergency services.

I do not doubt for a moment that Ministers and hon. Members of all parties representing constituencies across the United Kingdom want us to support and work with those who carry out those key, front-line jobs. Sometimes, those people are attacked, assaulted, injured or even, in some tragic cases, killed while on duty. We must reduce the chances of that happening.

Dr. Ladyman

As I understand it, the new clause would exempt certain prisoners from the early release scheme not because of what they did, but because of who they did it to. That strikes me as a very illiberal concept. I believe that the hon. Gentleman accepts the principle of the early release scheme, but does he not agree that it should apply across the board, irrespective of whom a crime is committed against? That should not be the criterion that should inform a judgment.

Mr. Hughes

That is a perfectly proper consideration, and I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. In fact, two different types of criterion exist. The first has to do with the type of offence committed; the second with the risk associated with releasing people early, as the Minister set out very clearly. Liberal Democrat Members have been careful to refer to the scheme as the home detention curfew scheme. Under it, people are still detained, technically; they are not at liberty and they must meet certain requirements. The scheme means that a risk assessment has found it to be safe for the person involved to serve the final part of a sentence at home.

In fact, the scheme has proved to be safe in more than nine out of 10 cases. All we argue is that a third consideration should be that, for some people, the person against whom an offence was committed is relevant. That is why I and my colleagues have been careful to limit the new clause to people whose work requires them to be in uniform in places that are obvious, unarguable and logical to the public. It would be difficult to widen the scope of the proposal to include all public sector workers. Some public sector workers might not wear a uniform, for example, and there would be difficult debates about private sector employees who are contracted out to public bodies.

I understand the argument, but a severe problem exists, as Ministers from the Department of Health and others have made clear. There are assaults on NHS staff, on emergency workers in the fire service and, especially—as I have heard myself—on workers in the ambulance service and on police officers.

The present law contains offences against a police officer and defines an assault on a constable as a separate offence. There is no offence of assault on a Member of Parliament, and I am not arguing that there should be. However, I merely want to show that the law already contains a provision similar to the one contained in the new clause. It is not new in law, and the public policy requirement makes it proper to introduce the proposed measure now.

As I indicated in Committee, Liberal Democrat Members are not minded to support the other new clauses in the group at the moment. I hope that I said straightforwardly then that we were reserving our position on the proposal that is now new clause 2 and the other proposals. We believe that it is better to wait for the review and a general debate about sentencing policy in the context of a debate about criminal justice policy. That debate can be reasonably held later in the year, whether or not a general election is held in the meantime.

6.15 pm
Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough)

I wish to make a few remarks in relation to new clause 3. There is some confusion about what the Government think goes on in the courts, and what in fact goes on there. The same confusion is evident also within the Government.

I discussed this matter with the Minister of State when we met at a criminal counsel consultative committee reception in Lancaster house before Christmas. He candidly admitted that the Government had failed to implement many of the intentions expressed in the 1997 general election manifesto and in other public pronouncements since the election.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Malins), I am a Crown court recorder. I sit in court and sentence defendants who have been found guilty by juries of criminal offences. From time to time, I sentence them to prison, but I also deploy sentences involving a community penalty. However, at no time in the several years that I have been a recorder have I ever mentioned in my sentencing remarks the home detention curfew scheme.

I made some inquiries of the Judicial Studies Board, which is located just above Labour party headquarters in Millbank, to see whether I was in error in that regard. I telephoned and asked whether, since January 1999—when the Government's amendment to the criminal law came into force—I should have made mention of the scheme in my sentencing remarks. However, the JSB staff to whom I spoke were unable to tell me anything at all about the need for sentencers to mention the HDC scheme in their sentencing remarks.

I wrote to the JSB, either just before or just after Christmas—I cannot remember exactly when—but have yet to receive a substantive reply. However, I am reasonably sure that, were I required as a recorder to mention in my sentencing remarks the effect of the HDC scheme, the JSB would have issued amended sentencing guidance. That has not happened, and the board is usually very good at keeping us up to date with procedure and the law.

I comply with the practice direction of January 1998, as do full-time judges and other recorders. That direction was issued by the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham. Last autumn, I attempted to give some young offenders a non-custodial sentence that involved being tagged and kept at home. That sentence was within the law, but those people in the Home Office or the Prison Service who administer the home detention curfew system were unable to carry out the sentence. They did not have the required bits of equipment, nor any ability to monitor the young offenders whom I had sentenced. In the case that I was dealing with, it seemed sensible not to send the teenage offenders into custody. That would not have done the public much good, and I came to the conclusion that custody would have done the offenders a great deal of harm.

A month or so later, in my capacity as the recorder with the carriage of that particular case, I received a letter telling me that, unfortunately, I could not hand out the sentence that I proposed as the relevant department lacked the necessary equipment. I therefore had to reconstitute the court and call back to it, at some public expense, the lawyers involved—both solicitors and counsel—and the defendants. In essence, I had to set them free, because there was nothing that could be done that lay within the competence of the prison service, the Home Office or the police, or for which those bodies had the appropriate equipment.

I was told—either in the letter that I received, or in some other way that I cannot now recall—by the relevant administrator or civil servant that, given the absence of any monitoring equipment, the home detention curfew system would have worked only if the police had, by chance, picked up the defendants for some other offence. If that had happened, I was told, it was possible that the police would have discovered that the defendants should have been in doors at the times specified by the sentence—say between 7 pm and 7 am.

I was not very happy with that, and neither, I think, was the Minister when I told him about it at Lancaster house last year. He made an excellent speech at Lancaster house, on the occasion of the funeral of Donald Dewar—the hon. Gentleman can check the date. He spoke about his work and the Government's intentions in this sector of public policy. Unfortunately, the Government have failed to implement the promises that they made in their manifesto and in their other public pronouncements.

Mr. Charles Clarke

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his generous remarks. I draw his attention to document CJ2010, which we published a few weeks ago. It attempted to put flesh on the bones of my remarks to the criminal justice organisation group about trying to get the whole of the criminal justice system working together, an aim that I know the hon. and learned Gentleman supports.

Mr. Garnier

I am glad to hear of this document. I hope that, after four years, the Government manage to achieve that objective. However, my example of the sentencing exercise that I went through in the Crown court last autumn demonstrates that a little before the hon. Gentleman made his speech, that was not the case.

I appeared on a television programme in the midlands with my constituency neighbour, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz), whose name has recently come to wider public attention. I drew to the hon. Gentleman's attention the fact that the Government had failed to implement the policy in any practical form. I think that he undertook to telephone the Home Office to see what was happening.

The television programme was shown on the last Sunday of November last year. Shortly afterwards, Carlton Television wag rung up by the Home Office for a transcript or a video of the programme, so that it could find out precisely what I had alleged. I said on the programme more or less what I have told the House this evening with regard to the sentencing dilemma that I faced and the Government's failure to implement their promise. The matter can and should be dealt with.

Another matter that needs to be sorted out is referred to in new clause 3. We have the practice direction of January 1998. We have the remarks of the Attorney-General in the other place on 31 October last year when he said that it would be wrong for sentencers to mention the home detention curfew. I am not quite sure why he said that it was wrong—were I to study all that he said on that occasion, I might understand. However, I gather that that is the import of what he said. In addition, in his written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) on 22 January, the Minister said that the implication of any sentence was explained in open court to the defendant and the public. If that means that the home detention curfew early release scheme is mentioned in sentencing, that is not the case.

Mr. Heald

We have seen the Minister of State's written answer of 22 January. The view of the Home Office is that the courts are expected to explain the possible effects of the home detention curfew scheme on the offender. That fits in with Labour's manifesto commitment to honest sentencing. Does my hon. and learned Friend think that the Lord Chancellor's Department is obstructing what the Home Office and the Home Secretary want to achieve in terms of honest sentencing? What does he think is happening?

Mr. Garnier

I do not think that anyone is doing anything on purpose. That is the problem. I think that one Department is not talking to another. We have two Ministers from two different Departments sitting on the Front Bench, and they may well have discussed how best to approach the new clauses. However, it would be more helpful to me as a sentencer—let alone as a member of the Conservative parliamentary party—if the Government could provide certainty for sentencers.

Judges come under a lot of criticism from all politicians, largely because there are so few practising lawyers in the House of Commons now. The Minister laughs—all Ministers laugh at lawyers and it is a pity. Indeed, the Lord Chancellor is outright rude to them, as is the Home Secretary, for no great purpose other than to poison the public climate against legal aid lawyers. It is a matter of huge regret.

The problem is that judges and the courts will do what Parliament requires of them when Parliament passes criminal justice legislation. They may have private views about the good sense of some of the implications of the criminal justice legislation that seems to get passed year in, year out. This is not a party political point; I think that the previous Government was responsible for far too much criminal justice legislation, and this Government are in danger of doing the same.

Just as the courts are getting used to the new sentencing framework, along comes a smart new Home Secretary who says, "We must jig it all up again. I must make a name for myself—I have a party conference coming up." We then have to go through the whole process of research and learning all over again. It does not, by and large, improve the state of our criminal justice system, but simply causes confusion. The politicians themselves may be becoming confused by their own over-activity in this area of public policy.

Mr. Simon Hughes

I am conscious that we are in danger of having a seminar as much as a debate, but I have two brief points. Does the hon. and learned Gentleman share my view that it would be a good thing to have a much clearer statement of the sentence implications by the judge at the end of the trial if that were possible? Secondly, if I have understood it correctly, the Conservatives call for that to happen, which they will be arguing for at the coming election, is not backed up by a call by them for a longer sentence regime. The Conservatives want "honesty in sentencing", but they are not calling for something that would make sentences longer. They have rejected that for all sorts of reasons that we could argue about elsewhere.

Mr. Garnier

On the hon. Gentleman's first point, I accept what he says as a matter of natural justice and probably also in compliance with the European convention on human rights, now introduced under the Human Rights Act 1998. However, as a matter of general good sense, when a defendant is sentenced, he and the public should know precisely what that sentence means. At the moment, when a judge sentences a defendant to a given period in custody, he then says, in compliance with the January 1998 practice direction, "This will mean that you will serve 50 per cent. of your sentence in custody and the balance will be served on licence." Judges do not say, "And by the way, you will get a bit more off because you may be released early under a home detention curfew scheme."

The philosophy behind new clause 3 is that to make sure that honesty in sentencing means what it says, if the Government want there to be earlier release under a home detention curfew scheme the sentencer should make that clear at the outset. It should be a matter of sentencing, not of administrative order by the Prison Service or whomever at a later stage.

On the hon. Gentleman's second point about sentencing, we want honesty in sentencing, so that when a judge says that a defendant will be sentenced to five years, the sentenced, the public and the victim in particular know that that individual will serve five years, unless other factors which were not contemplated at the time come into play. It does not mean that when a judge sentences a man to five years and he is released after two and a half, we want the five-year sentence doubled to 10 so that he serves five. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire agrees that the arrangement ensures that although some of the tariff sentences will be cut in half, they will mean what they say. I hope also that I have explained that point to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey.

6.30 pm

I have made a simple point and I hope that the Government will sort it out. Judges are annoyed only by being told to do one thing on Monday, another thing on Tuesday and then a third thing on Wednesday—let alone being told on Thursday to return to Monday's orders. That is a recipe for order, counter-order and then disorder, and it does nobody any good. I do not want to ruin the Minister of State's career by flattering him too much, but I urge him to apply his considerable intelligence and political acumen to this matter, which is easily soluble. It merely requires those in the Departments that are responsible for the criminal justice system to speak to one another, to read one briefing paper rather than half a dozen of them, and occasionally to tell the House what they have decided.

I suspect that the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department has not had the experience of sentencing people. Although he is a civil practitioner, he may have appeared in the courts from time to time, perhaps in the early part of his career at the Bar, and I suspect that the story that I have told today might resonate with him.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Mr. David Lock)

This has been a good and interesting debate. As the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) said, new clauses 1, 2 and 4 would add prisoners who have committed specific offences, or those who could have attracted long sentences but did not do so, to the class that renders them ineligible for a home detention curfew.

In the Government's view, home detention curfews do not work like that and Parliament did not intend them to do so. The groups of currently disbarred prisoners fall into five categories, whose common thread is risk to the public or the danger of breaching the curfew. The first category are those who have previously breached trust, perhaps because they failed to return from temporary release, were recalled to prison while on licence, or breached previous home detention curfew. Secondly, those subject to immigration enforcement action are excluded. I do not think that I need say any more about that category, on which the House agrees. Thirdly, the provisions exclude those who are required to register with the police as sex offenders on their release. Fourthly, they exclude those whom the court considers pose a serious risk of reoffending with regard to violent offences, and whom it has therefore sentenced to imprisonment with extended supervision. The final category covers offenders whose offending was brought about by mental illness that has prompted the court to make a hospital order or similar provision on the basis of risk to the public.

No class of prisoner is excluded from home detention curfew simply to demonstrate society's disapproval of an offence. To be fair to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), I point out that he accepted that that is what he was seeking to do by supporting the new clause. The length of a sentence is a matter for the court to decide. Parliament's involvement rightly consists of setting the maximum duration for any offence, but individual sentences are for the court.

The hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) referred to manslaughter, which can vary in degree enormously. It can be an attack that is just short of murder, a mercy killing, or an assault by a victim of domestic violence who has exceeded self-defence in an attempt to protect herself. The risk to the public would be low in such cases. In some tragic cases—especially mercy killings—such offences are committed by somebody who was previously of entirely blameless character.

The court would mark such cases with a breach of the law or perhaps a custodial sentence, but would recognise that it would be inappropriate to mark them with an extended sentence. As a matter of principle, it would not be right to remove the possibility of home detention curfews merely because offences that fall into the category of manslaughter, but which were committed in far more serious circumstances, ensure that other people receive far longer sentences. That is why listing exclusions from home detention curfew in accordance with offence is not right in principle. Such exclusions must be made in terms of risk.

Mr. Heald

That point used to be made about the proposed exclusions but we pressed the case hard in respect of sex offenders and the Government gave way because of the nature of the offence, not because of risk. Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree that assaulting a police officer is a serious offence that demonstrates a wanton contempt for law and order? Is not that another example of grounds for an offence-based exception?

Mr. Lock

The home detention curfew legislation excludes people who are required to register as sex offenders because a judge has decided that they pose a serious risk of reoffending, perhaps during the curfew period. That is why it is right to exclude them from the scheme. With regard to assaults on police officers and ambulance workers, the hon. Gentleman is a lawyer, so he will know that assault can vary from slight interference with the person to a serious attack. The range is very wide. He referred to serious assault on a police officer, but such an offence might be deemed a substantive assault under sections 18 or 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. In respect of serious offences, I do not disagree with his analysis, but it does not apply to every case of assaulting a police officer. The only criteria should be the risk to the public and the risk of breaching trust. It must be borne in mind that those who receive sentences of four years or more are not eligible for the home detention curfew in any event.

Mr. Heald

The point is that police officers are among the guardians of law and order—there are, of course, other such guardians—and that those who work in the emergency services are trying to help others. I find it unacceptable that yobbos are pushing such people around and that others should be interfering with the way they do their job. I object to such interference, whether it constitutes a small infringement—I am speaking in the Parliamentary Secretary's terms—or a serious incident. That is why we would like the change to be made. Does the Minister accept that logic?

Mr. Lock

I entirely accept that it is appropriate for courts to mark seriously those who assault employees or officers who are carrying out public service duties. However, they are not the only ones who provide public services. For example, other such people include those who work on the railways late at night, and cab drivers, who are isolated in their cabs and need protection. We could carry on saying that there are a number of people who serve the public and that their assault deserves to be marked by the court when it determines the sentence that should be given. That is different from the question whether there is a risk of reoffending, and from arguing that the best way of reintegrating offenders back in society so that they pose a lesser risk to the public in future is to keep them in prison.

Mr. Heald

Will the Parliamentary Secretary give way?

Mr. Lock

I should like to make some progress.

The proposed exclusion of all who have committed certain offences against children again misses the point. The home detention curfew legislation excludes those who are required to register because they have been judged to pose a serious risk of reoffending. The offences listed in schedule 4 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000 disqualify the offender from working with children. The list was never intended to be applied to anything else, and it is not an appropriate guide to who may or may not be at risk of reoffending while subject to a home detention curfew.

Many of the offences dealt with in schedule 4 appear also in the list in schedule 1 of the Sex Offenders Act 1997. People who are guilty of those offences—those whom Parliament deemed to carry the greatest general risk of reoffending—are already ineligible for home detention curfews.

Mr. Hawkins

Will the Minister accept that we are concerned not only about what he has just said about other groups that might need protection, such as cab drivers working late? Not only is that a reason to repeal the whole scheme, as the incoming Conservative Government will do, but the risk assessment process clearly is not working—so many people who have been on home detention curfews have reoffended during the period when they have been on the curfew. The risk assessment that the Minister is talking about just is not working.

Mr. Lock

I shall deal with risk assessment in a moment. If the hon. Gentleman will bear with me, I am sure that I shall be able to answer those points.

The proposal to exclude prisoners whose offence attracts a maximum term of 10 years, even though the prisoner received a much lower sentence, is illogical. It is a matter for the judge or magistrate to decide the gravity of the offence, and to pass sentence. The right approach to the concerns of Opposition Members is to ensure that every eligible prisoner who is considered for release on a home detention curfew is subjected to a most rigorous risk assessment, which will take into account the prisoner's dangerousness, propensity to reoffend and propensity to breach the curfew. That is precisely what the present arrangements are due to achieve.

Only about 30 per cent. of eligible prisoners have been released on home detention curfew, which shows that the risk assessment is a serious business. Of those, around 95 per cent. of those subject to curlew have successfully completed the curfew, and of those who have not, a very small number have been found to have reoffended while on curfew. As at 31 December last year, 533 of the 30,409 prisoners released on home detention curfew were in that last category, or less than 2 per cent.

New clause 3 would require judges to state the potential effect of home detention curfew on a sentence when passing judgment. I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Harborough for raising that issue. The Minister of State, Home Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), will respond to him about the individual circumstances of the case, but I appreciate the wider point that he made. It is very important that there should be clarity for judges.

A similar amendment was tabled to the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 in another place. In rejecting it, the Attorney-General said: That means that the court would have to be asked to determine whether a given offender should be eligible for consideration for release on such a scheme … The sentencing court has no basis at all for determining whether a given offender will be eligible because it does not know what will happen in prison. Behaviour in prison, response to therapeutic regimes, response to probation guidance, and how the sentence plan is fulfilled in prison are critical criteria for the determination of eligibility."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 31 October 2000; Vol. 618, c. 915.] The practice direction to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred does not require the judges to explain the possibility of a home detention curfew, and the Government's view is that no judge is at present required to do so.

Mr. Garnier


Mr. Heald


Mr. Lock

Can I just finish this point?

The majority of prisoners eligible for home detention curfew do not get it: only about 30 per cent. do. So it would be misleading of the court to suggest to the prisoner at the time of sentence—and misleading for the public, who have come to hear how long the offender will spend in prison—that he was likely to be released early.

Mr. Garnier

In order to keep the transparency of the sentencing system alive, and to allow sentences to be altered by the courts rather than by prison governors, would it not be an idea, if a prison governor wished to release someone on early release-for good behaviour, perhaps-that some public announcement could be made in a court so that the public could be informed? Failing that, the defendants would be released early, without anyone's knowing about it except the hapless victim of their next offence.

6.45 pm
Mr. Lock

I hear the hon. and learned Gentleman's point. However, it contrasts with what he said previously about his experience on the case to which he referred. He spoke of all the cost, time and trouble of bringing everyone concerned in a case back to court on a subsequent occasion, unless it was really necessary, and, clearly, there would be no point in making such an announcement to a court if no one in court had personal knowledge of the case.

Another point that is important for the hon. and learned Gentleman is that new clause 3 refers to the release, but as the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire said, this is not a release in the traditional sense of the word. It is not a release on licence, but a home detention curfew with very strict conditions that will be appropriate to the individual circumstances. Thus to suggest to the public that an individual might be released would represent only a small part of the picture, because this really concerns a transition—for someone who is going to be released in any event—back into society in a way that will minimise the risk of reoffending.

Mr. Heald

The whole purpose of this honest sentencing, as the Home Secretary described it and as set out in the Labour party manifesto, is that the victims will know exactly what is to happen to the person who committed the crime. How can the Minister give the answer that he has just given, when the Minister of State, Home Office told me on 22 January: Courts ares…already expected to explain the possible effect of home detention curfew on the offender."—[Official Report, 22 January 2001; Vol. 361, c. 485W.]? How can those two views be reconciled?

Mr. Lock

I am going to do something that the hon. Gentleman will find extraordinary: I am going to recognise that there is a contradiction here. I accept that the view expressed by the Attorney-General and the expectation—although not, in the practice direction, a possibility—referred to by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office are not entirely on all fours. However, I think that the experience of the hon. and learned Member for Harborough as a sentencer is correct. My experience of the courts is that home detention curfews are not explained by judges, and that is also the view of the Attorney-General.

I hope that I have made it clear that the Government support the Attorney-General's position, which is that it would not be right for anyone to explain, at the time of sentencing, the possibility of a transition to final release that would include a home detention curfew over a period of a few months, because that will not become a reality for 70 per cent. of defendants, according to the present risk assessment.

Mr. Simon Hughes

Does the Minister accept that all the arguments about explaining home detention curfews and the nature of how they should be arrived at do not necessarily or logically preclude a certain view? It is that one could say to a defendant on sentencing, "You have committed this kind of offence, and you have this kind of victim. One of the implications of this is that you will not be eligible for certain advantages available to other good prisoners. That is part of the punishment for this kind of offence." That would be a perfectly logical position to take.

Mr. Lock

I understand the hon. Gentleman's view, but that is implicit in an offence for which the sentence is more than four years. Also a home detention curfew is not about punishment, but about risk assessment and transfer back into society, so that would not be an appropriate issue for the judge to determine at the time of sentencing.

I understand hon. Members' concerns. These matters are being considered by the Auld review and by the Halliday review of sentencing. The present position is that a judge is not expected to explain home detention curfews. I hope that that is now clear and that any confusion has been cleared up by this helpful series of exchanges.

The amendments demonstrate an attitude to home detention curfews fundamentally different from the one the Government take. I understand why the Opposition are pushing the ides that they should be part of the punishment, but the Government's view is that they form part of the rehabilitation, to reduce the risk of reoffending. Of the 30,000 individuals who have been through this system, less than 2 per cent. have reoffended. The evidence therefore exists that the public are being protected in the long run. Such offenders have to be released, as they have been sentenced to less than four years.

There are two different views on the purpose of the measure and we cannot reconcile them. None the less, given how the system is working, I encourage the Opposition to withdraw the new clause.

Mr. Heald

We shall not do so. As the Parliamentary Secretary knows, Conservative Members often say to the Government, "All talk and no delivery." Here is an example of that. The Labour party manifesto says: The courts will have to spell out what each sentence really means in practice. The Minister of State says: Courts are therefore already expected to explain the possible effect of home detention curfew on the offender."—[Official Report, 22 January 2001; Vol. 361, c. 485W.] Then tonight, the Parliamentary Secretary tells us, "Well, no judge does that and—my goodness!—judges should not." He also says, "We have these marvellous risk assessments in place so we are all safe." Then we find out that 1,000 offences have been committed by people released on home detention curfew.

Mr. Lock

I was careful when giving the hon. Gentleman the figures. I am not sure how he has turned 533 into 1,000. The figure is 2 per cent.

Mr. Heald

I understand that the figure is 1,000. The Parliamentary Secretary probably gave his for the end of last year, but a number of parliamentary answers have been made since, including one last week from the Minister of State, Home Office, the right hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng). The Parliamentary Secretary may be a bit behind the times.

Released offenders have committed 246 offences of assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty. That is unacceptable to Conservative Members, and it is also unacceptable that the Parliamentary Secretary should say, "Oh well, an assault on the police could just be a nudge or a push. It doesn't necessarily have to be serious." To us, police officers going about their duties are the guardians of law and order. For some yobbo to push them or interfere with the execution of their duty is always serious.

I feel sorry for nurses and doctors in accident and emergency departments who have to put up with people's unacceptable behaviour towards them, which is why I support what the hon Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) said in Committee. We have addressed the matter in the new clause, which we shall press to a Division and over the next few weeks, while the matter proceeds in the other place, I hope that Ministers will think again, as they did over our amendments on sex offenders. I also hope that we get the measure we need. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey having changed his mind, I say, "Come on Ministers, it's your turn."

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr. Brian White (Milton Keynes, North-East)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When we tried to come here from our offices to vote, we found that the door between Norman Shaw South and Portcullis House was still locked. We managed to arrange for it to be opened, but can steps be taken to ensure that it is open in future when votes are taking place, and at other times?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for informing the House of that. I will certainly ensure that the matter is inquired into, so that the incident is not repeated.

The House having divided: Ayes 183, Noes 286.

Division No. 154] [6.53 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Evans, Nigel
Allan, Richard Faber, David
Amess, David Fabricant, Michael
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Fallon, Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Feam, Ronnie
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Foster, Don (Bath)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Baker, Norman Fox, Dr Liam
Baldry, Tony Fraser, Christopher
Ballard, Jackie Garnier, Edward
Beggs, Roy George, Andrew (St Ives)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Gibb, Nick
Bell, Martin (Tatton) Gidley, Sandra
Bercow, John Gill, Christopher
Beresford, Sir Paul Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Blunt, Crispin Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Body, Sir Richard Gray, James
Boswell, Tim Green, Damian
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Greenway, John
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Grieve, Dominic
Brady, Graham Gummer, Rt Hon John
Brake, Tom Hague, Rt Hon William
Brand, Dr Peter Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Breed, Colin Hammond, Philip
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hancock, Mike
Browning, Mrs Angela Harris, Dr Evan
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Hawkins Nick
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Hayes, John
Burnett, John Heald, Oliver
Burns, Simon Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Burstow, Paul Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Butterfill, John Horam, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth Gerald (Aldershot)
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Chidgey, David Jackson Robert (Wantage)
Chope, Christopher Jenkin, Bernard
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh) Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Keetch, Paul
Cotter, Brian Key, Robert
Cran, James Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Curry, Rt Hon David Kirkwood, Archy
Davies, Quentin (Grantham) Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice) Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Day, Stephen Lansley, Andrew
Donaldson, Jeffrey Leigh, Edward
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Letwin, Oliver
Duncan, Alan Lidington, David
Duncan Smith, Iain Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) St Aubyn, Nick
Llwyd, Elfyn Sanders, Adrian
Loughton, Tim Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Shepherd, Richard
McCrea, Dr William Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
McIntosh, Miss Anne Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Maclean, Rt Hon David Spicer, Sir Michael
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert Spring, Richard
McLoughlin, Patrick Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Madel, Sir David Steen, Anthony
Maginnis, Ken Swayne, Desmond
Malins, Humfrey Syms, Robert
Mates, Michael Tapsell, Sir Peter
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian Taylor, John M (Solihull)
May, Mrs Theresa Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute) Taylor, Sir Teddy
Moore, Michael Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Moss, Malcolm Thompson, William
Nicholls, Patrick Tonge, Dr Jenny
Norman, Archie Townend, John
Oaten, Mark Tredinnick, David
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury) Trend, Michael
Öpik, Lembit Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Ottaway, Richard Walter, Robert
Page, Richard Waterson, Nigel
Paice, James Webb, Steve
Paisley, Rev Ian Wells, Bowen
Paterson, Owen Whitney, Sir Raymond
Pickles, Eric Whittingdale, John
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Prior, David Willetts, David
Redwood, Rt Hon John Willis, Phil
Rendel, David Wilshire, David
Robathan, Andrew Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry) Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Yeo, Tim
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham) Tellers for the Ayes:
Ruffley, David Mr. Peter Luff and
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.
Abbott, Ms Diane Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Ainger, Nick Browne, Desmond
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Buck, Ms Karen
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald (Swansea E) Burden, Richard
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Ashton, Joe Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Atkins, Charlotte Campbell-Savours Dale
Austin, John Cann, Jamie
Bailey, Adrian
Banks, Tony Casale, Roger
Barnes, Harry Caton, Martin
Barron, Kevin Clapham, Michael
Beard, Nigel Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield) Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Bennett, Andrew F Clelland, David
Benton, Joe Clwyd Ann
Best, Harold Coaker, Vernon
Betts, Clive Coffey, Ms Ann
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel Coleman, Iain
Blizzard, Bob Connarty, Michael
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Corbett, Robin
Bradshaw, Ben Corston, Jean
Brinton, Mrs Helen Cousins, Jim
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon (Dunfermline E) Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland) Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Davidson, Ian Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Joyce, Eric
Davis, Rt Hon Terry (B'ham Hodge H) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Dawson, Hilton Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Dean, Mrs Janet Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Dismore, Andrew Kemp, Fraser
Dobbin, Jim Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Donohoe, Brian H Khabra, Piara S
Doran, Frank Kilfoyle, Peter
Dowd, Jim King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Drown, Ms Julia Kumar, Dr Ashok
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Eagle, Maria (L 'pool Garston) Lammy, David
Edwards, Huw Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Efford, Clive Laxton, Bob
Ellman, Mrs Louise Lepper, David
Ennis, Jeff Levitt, Tom
Etherington, Bill Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Field, Rt Hon Frank Linton, Martin
Fisher, Mark Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Fitzpatrick, Jim Lock, David
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna Love, Andrew
Flint, Caroline McAvoy, Thomas
Flynn, Paul McCabe, Steve
Foster, Rt Hon Derek McDonagh, Siobhain
Fyfe, Maria McDonnell, John
Galloway, George McFall, John
Gerrard, Neil McGuire, Mrs Anne
Gibson, Dr Ian McIsaac, Shona
Gilroy, Mrs Linda McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Godman, Dr Norman A Mackinlay, Andrew
Godsiff, Roger McNulty, Tony
Goggins, Paul MacShane, Denis
Golding, Mrs Llin McWalter, Tony
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) McWilliam, John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Mallaber, Judy
Grocott, Bruce Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Hain, Peter Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Hanson, David Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Healey, John Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Martlew, Eric
Hendrick, Mark Maxton, John
Hepburn, Stephen Meale, Alan
Heppell, John Merron, Gillian
Hesford, Stephen Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Hill, Keith Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Hinchliffe, David Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Hodge, Ms Margaret Miller, Andrew
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Mitchell, Austin
Hope, Phil Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Hopkins, Kelvin Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Mudie, George
Howells, Dr Kim Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Hoyle, Lindsay Naysmith, Dr Doug
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford) Norris, Dan
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Humble, Mrs Joan O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Hutton, John O'Hara, Eddie
Iddon, Dr Brian Osborne, Ms Sandra
Illsley, Eric Palmer, Dr Nick
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead) Pearson, Ian
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Pendry, Rt Hon Tom
Jamieson, David Pike, Peter L
Jenkins, Brian Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris Stoate, Dr Howard
Pound, Stephen Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Powell, Sir Raymond Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Stuart, Ms Gisela
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Sutcliffe, Gerry
Primarolo, Dawn Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Radice, Rt Hon Giles Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Rammell, Bill Temple-Morris, Peter
Rapson Syd Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough) Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland) Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Rogers, Allan Todd, Mark
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff Trickett, Jon
Rooney, Terry Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Rowlands, Ted Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Roy, Frank Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Ryan, Ms Joan Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Sarwar, Mohammad Vis, Dr Rudi
Savidge, Malcolm Walley, Ms Joan
Sedgemore, Brian Ward, Ms Claire
Sheerman, Barry Wareing, Robert N
Shipley, Ms Debra Watts, David
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) White, Brian
Singh, Marsha Wicks, Malcolm
Skinner, Dennis Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S) Wills Michael
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch) Winnick, David
Smith, John (Glamorgan) Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Woolas, Phil
Soley, Clive Wray, James
Spellar, John Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Squire, Ms Rachel Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Steinberg, Gerry Wyatt, Derek
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E) Tellers for the Noes:
Stewart, Ian (Eccles) Mr. Mike Hall and
Stinchcombe, Paul Mr. Don Touhig.

Question accordingly negatived.

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