HL Deb 16 October 1972 vol 335 cc1544-68

2.58 p.m.


My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purpose of the Criminal Justice Bill, has consented to place her interest, so far as it is concerned on behalf of the Crown, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)


My Lords, I feel that we should not miss the opportunity provided by the Third Reading of this Bill to raise three short points and enable the Minister to make some observations on them, should he choose to do so. First, as the noble Viscount knows, from the start of this Bill we have regretted that it contains nothing about the procedures for complaints against the police. We then said that we did not think that the good relations which used to exist between the police and the public would be fully restored so long as complaints against the police were decided solely by policemen. If I have understood the position rightly, since then the Police Federation have themselves expressed the same view. If that is so, may I ask the Government, who have so far given no indication of what their view about this is, what their view may be?

Secondly, as the noble Viscount knows, every Amendment dealing with bail—including legal aid for bail—has been opposed by the Government, and they have consistently said that we must await the report of the Home Office working party. May I therefore ask the noble Viscount; who are the working party and when is their report expected? I have a Question down for Thursday, and if the noble Viscount is able to answer the question to-day, my Question can be vacated in favour of somebody else.

Thirdly, we are concerned at the fact that it seems to us useless to have good ideas in the field of penal reform if they are ideas which cannot be implemented without enough bricks and mortar and without the necessary personnel. We did at an earlier stage draw attention to the fact that it is a quarter of a century since by legislation we provided for senior attendance centres. But, after a quarter of a century only two exist. We shall now need further centres, somewhere from which to organise community service orders, and certainly day training centres. We are still crucially short of probation officers. We have added to their welfare work in prisons, after-care, supervision of those on parole, and now, with the alternatives to imprisonment contained in this Bill—which we greatly welcome—many of us think that the estimate, or the target, of 4,700 in three years' time is woefully inadequate.

My Lords, these views, of course, are fairly general. I do not know whether the Minister noticed in The Times on Thursday a report of a speech made to the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency by Mrs. Becke, a Metropolitan Police Commander, which disclosed (what your Lordships may not have known, and I certainly did not know) that in January, which she said was an average month, 100 boys and 37 girls were kept in London police stations for one night or more because the local authorities could not find accommodation for them. She said that the local authorities had her complete sympathy. The task they had been given to do was almost impossible with the facilities of bricks and mortar and manpower at their disposal. The Minister gray have noticed that The Times on the same day, in a leading article headed, "The Failure of the Children's Act", said: —the intentions enshrined in the Act are being frustrated because local authorities are equipped neither with sufficient buildings nor with sufficient trained staff fully to discharge their new responsibilities. And it ended by saying: But experience with this Act is a warning against making legislative reforms which depend for their success on a sufficiency of bricks and mortar and of professional staff without also making sure that that condition is fulfilled. Yet the same risk is being run over the Criminal Justice Bill of this session, with its promotion of alternative forms of penal treatment outside prison. In saying this, I am in no way criticising the present Home Secretary. I read the reports in the Press of what he said in the field of crime and punishment at the Conservative Party Conference, and subsequently I heard him on television; and I did not disagree with anything that he said. It is rather an appeal to his colleagues to give him the money for the bricks and mortar and for the additional personnel. The public must, I think, realise that we shall never decrease the present increase in crime without expenditure. In the past we have had a good deal of legislation which was very well meant. I think that the Children and Young Persons Act was admirable in its conception, but I know that the noble Viscount himself recognises that it is causing the deepest concern—I know to the Home Office, as well as to the Magistrates' Association—simply because we have not provided enough money for bricks and mortar or for personnel.


My Lords, I wonder whether it would be more convenient if we were to do the Amendments first. I was going to make a short speech on the Motion that the Bill do now pass, in the course of which I will deal with some of the noble and learned Lord's points as best I can.

On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.

Clause 26 [Electoral register as basis of juror selection]:

3.5 p.m.

VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No.1: Page 25, line 13, at end insert— ("(3) The reference in subsection (2) of this section to a register of electors does not include a ward list within the meaning of section 4(1) of the City of London (Various Powers) Act 1957.")

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this is really a technical Amendment. Under private legislation in the City of London there are some things called Ward Lists. If we do not provide expressly in the Bill that these shall not count, for the purposes of jury service, as registers of electors the people on them may get called for jury service twice as often as anybody else in the country. That is unfair and undesirable. This is a pure technicality. If we exclude the City of London Ward Lists the inhabitants of that area will serve on juries exactly the same way as everybody else and not be at risk of doing it doubly and twice as often. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 37 [Restrictions on imprisonment, etc., of persons not legally represented]:

LORD STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 2: Page 29, line 46, leave out from ("proceedings") to end of line 5 on page 30 and insert ("in relation to sentence, whether or not it is available for other proceedings in the magistrates' court or the Crown Court").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in proposing this Amendment to your Lordships' House, I would not wish to be taken for one moment as in any sense seeking to depreciate the great value of the change proposed in Clause 37 of the Bill. I venture to trouble your Lordships with this drafting Amendment—because that s really what it is—only because, having read the speech of my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner on Report, and the very careful letter that the noble Viscount wrote to him on the topic that he raised in his speech, I still wonder whether one could not, by the change in language, and almost in arrangement, which I propose, make the purpose of the clause more specific with the result, as I would hope, that it would be more effectively enforced.

My Lords, I quite agree that if one analyses the wording in Clause 37 as it stands, as the noble Viscount put it in his letter to my noble and learned friend, the result of the constituent component parts of the clause is that the court which proposes to impose a sentence on a prisoner previously not sent to prison must ask itself whether the prisoner has been offered legal aid to cover that period in the proceedings which relates to the imposition of the sentence. That conclusion one arrives at when one makes—so I would put it—a rather careful and thorough analysis of the draftsman's language.

Having said that, I should like to invite the attention of the House, and particularly that of the noble Viscount, back to what, as I understand it, both from what he said when he moved the Amendment to the Bill and from the discussion at that point, is the real purpose of this clause. The excellent objective of the Bill is to try to provide alternative ways of dealing with offenders without sending them to prison. We would all applaud that. And strictly in line with that general objective, Clause 37—and I feel sure that I shall have the noble Viscount's assent to this—is designed to ensure this. One has before the court, whether the magistrates' court or the Crown Court, an individual, an accused, who has never been sent to prison; who has never been sent to a borstal establishment; who has never been sent to a detention centre; he is by definition a person who hitherto, even if he may have transgressed the law, is not a person who has transgressed in such a serious sense that a custodial sentence of one of those three characters may be thought necessary to deal with his transgression. For a court to have to come to the conclusion that it must impose one of these three types of custodial sentence—if the last two, borstal and detention centre, are appropriately described as "custodial"—is a very serious step. Up to that stage, and after the stage when he has passed through his custodial sentence, marks a big break in the existence of the individual. Before then he is a very different citizen from what, unhappily, often emerges afterwards. I understand it to be the intention of the Government, and particularly of the noble Viscount, who, I think, is really the parent of this—I think he considered it very carefully with his advisers—that it is crucial either that the magistrates' court, if it devolves upon the magistrates' court to impose the sentence, or that the Crown Court shall have every possible assistance in coming to that conclusion as to whether or not they should take this—I do not think I exaggerate—momentous step in the existence of that particular individual.

I agree that if you analyse it the effect of the clause is that the person accused cannot be given a custodial sentence if he has not previously had one unless in fact he has been offered legal aid which will cover the period which relates to his sentence. That I accept as a matter of drafting. But if I may respectfully say so, I think it could be put very much more clearly and forcefully so as to bring clearly and always to the mind of the sentencing court that they have got to stop and ask themselves whether this individual, who may have refused the legal aid certificate earlier, has had drawn to his attention specifically the fact that now that there is a question of serious punishment being imposed upon him he can if he wishes, be represented at public expense. That is the critical point of the proceedings.

How is it going to work out? Take the case of a person who is accused before a magistrates' court. The offence may be one that can be tried summarily; it may be one that ordinarily the magistrates would try summarily. When they start to hear the case they have no idea whether the individual has previously undergone a custodial sentence; they do not know his record. I know that the judges in the Crown Court do know it and they have to know it, although many judges have expressed cordial dislike about being informed about the previous record. But the magistrates do not know it. There may be several issues involved in those proceedings. They can decide to convict and inflict a sentence which is within their powers as magistrates. They may think the matter is too serious and that the case should go for trial, or that the accused should be committed to the Crown Court for sentence, if they think it is that serious.

When they start, they do not know which of those possibilities will eventuate. In the last two lines of subsection (2) the clause envisages that at the outset the magistrates are going to say to the individual concerned: "Do you wish to apply for a legal aid certificate?" I believe they have to fill in two separate forms, according to whether the certificate is to apply to proceedings in the magistrates' court only or is to apply also in the Crown Court, should the case go there. It is right at the beginning of the case that that would normally happen. Is it envisaged that they should at that stage in effect say to the accused person," We do not know whether you are going to be acquitted or convicted; we do not know, if you are convicted, whether you are a person who has previously had a custodial sentence and therefore comes within Clause 37. We know none of that. We are deciding, if we give you a legal aid certificate, whether your certificate is to cover the Crown Court proceedings, should you go there, and we do not know whether you are to go there or not. It will cover sentence in the Crown Court should we decide to send you for sentence."? It is really putting the magistrates in a rather unrealistic position.

I suppose what will normally happen is that at the outset of the case they will raise the matter and tell the accused that he can have a legal aid certificate. It has been the experience of many of your Lordships who are privileged to sit in magistrates' courts, and certainly the experience of counsel, that quite often the accused person thinks: "I will get the case over here. I will not get much if I am convicted. I will do the case myself I do not want all the bother of legal aid. "Many people do not ask for legal aid certificates. If magistrates say in a general sense," You may have a legal aid certificate if you want one for this and the subsequent court if the case goes there", very often the accused says, "I do not want a legal aid certificate". He is then, when he refuses, far from envisaging that he may be in the very serious situation of having the case sent to the Crown Court and perhaps be subjected to a long term of custodial punishment. It is essential, surely, if one really wants to achieve the objective of this clause, that whichever court one is talking about, whether the magistrates' court or the Crown Court, they should have it clearly brought to their mind by the drafting of the clause itself, not by a Home Office circular, that should there be a conviction, whether in the magistrates' court or the Crown Court, they cannot proceed further, if the accused is a person who falls within the scope of this clause, without it being specifically and directly brought to his notice that the question of sentence has now arisen and that he can have legal aid, so that the court may have the maximum assistance they may require in deciding whether or not to proceed to the extreme step of sentencing him to prison or detention in borstal or in a detention centre.

I do not claim any great expertise in drafting, but I would ask the noble Viscount to take this very seriously into consideration. I suggest that the draft I propose is so drawn as to bring it much more directly to the notice of the court that at that critical stage in the proceedings the accused must have it brought to his notice that, while he may continue to represent himself if he so wishes, he may be legally represented so that everything that can possibly be said on his behalf in mitigation of sentence will be prominently brought to the notice of the magistrates or the judge at the Crown Court, should the matter go there. This is purely drafting; it is largely rearrangement. I think I am right in saying it will not in the least affect the result, in strict terms of legal terminology, of the clause: the result is the same, but the arrangement is different and emphasis is different, and in my submission this is a necessary improvement to this clause. I hope that the noble Viscount will say that he will carefully consider it with the draftsman who advises him and will perhaps see his way to accept the Amendment. I beg to move.

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, I wonder whether it would help if at this stage I were to make a short comment on this subject, because what I am going to do in a moment, if the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, moves his next Amendment, is to suggest to the House that they should accept it. I have considered again with my advisers the speech that the noble and learned Lord, and I think others, made about trying to clarify the last limb of subsection (2). I am entirely with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, and the noble and learned Lord opposite, that we want to get this matter as clear as possible. There is something to be said for trying to improve the present drafting, and I think that the noble and learned Lord has an Amendment on the Marshalled List which will have that effect.

There are slight difficulties about Lord Stow Hill's Amendment. It is not a matter of huge import, but I start off by saying that the noble and learned Lord has correctly expressed the object of this new clause and I do not think that in any way he is overdoing it by referring to it as a momentous decision by the courts to impose on a person a custodial sentence of one sort or another for a first time. Where I think that he may slightly have misunderstood the situation is when we come to the stage at which Clause 37 bites. As the noble and learned Lord said, a person might think, I will defend myself. It won't be very difficult." He therefore does not ask for legal aid in front of the magistrates' court, and at the end of the hearing the magistrates announce that they find the case proved. If at that stage he still has not got legal aid two things could happen, if there is going to be, or is in their minds, a custodial sentence.

First of all, they could send a person to prison themselves, but in practically all cases their powers are limited to six months; or they could say, "Well, now we have seen the record and heard the police officer, I am afraid that this is a case we have to send to the Crown Court because of the gravity of the record and the various other matters, as the Crown Court has greater powers." In either of those circumstances—but not necessarily before, because this clause does not necessarily bring in legal aid at an earlier stage of the proceedings—the magistrates have in mind the likelihood or possibility of a custodial sentence. Therefore, under the Widgery criteria, of which this is one, they would, and they ought, at that stage to say, "Legal aid", if this is a case where it is not otherwise precluded, either on the grounds of means or because the person himself refuses it. It is therefore at that stage that the clause bites.

All that we want to do is to make certain that before the magistrates sentence, if the man or the woman is not already represented he or she should be told, "We have it in mind that you may have to go to prison for his offence. We are not allowed by law to sentence you to prison until we have had the assistance of listening to counsel or a solicitor on your behalf, if it is your wish to have one. "So they offer him legal aid, or they consider whether he could afford to have counsel or a solicitor of his own and therefore would be disqualified from legal aid. They can say to him also, "We are not going to deal with this to-day. It is a serious matter and it will have to go to the Crown Court, who have powers to impose greater sentences than we have". The very strong implication in their minds may be that he may very well go to prison as a result of what the Crown Court says. In either of those circumstances we want, under this clause, to make sure that legal aid is offered if the man is eligible for it. The only problem about the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, is that if, for instance, at that stage, after the case has been found proven in the magistrates' court and the court has decided to send him to the Crown Court for sentence, they look at his means, he not having been previously represented, and discover he is not eligible for legal aid because he has sufficient means to instruct his own solicitor, then they can make the decision that he is not eligible for legal aid; but, under the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, it appears that when he goes to the Crown Court the Crown Court will have to go through that process again. This is a technicality in the drafting of the Amendment. That study having been once done. I do not think that the noble and learned Lord would wish to waste the time of the Crown Court in going over it ail again, but I am afraid that would be the result of the drafting.

On the other hand, under the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, it will be perfectly plain, as we have all I think intended, that if the man is dealt with by the magistrates' court then it is the magistrates' court who have to offer him the legal aid; if he is dealt with throughout by the Crown Court, it is the Crown Court who have to offer him legal aid; but in one of these composite cases, where he first appears at the magistrates' court and is sent for sentence to the Crown Court, we want to make sure that he is offered legal aid in either the one or the other. If he is offered legal aid, and either is found ineligible or refuses it in the magistrates' court on the question of sentence, then that will do in the Crown Court; they need not go through the process again. If the question does not arise in the magistrates' court, he has not been offered it, and he goes to the Crown Court, then it is for the Crown Court to make sure that the offer is made to him. This way, with the danger of imprisonment before him, he is bound to get the chance to ask for legal aid. That is what the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord. Lord Gardiner, makes perfectly plain. It makes it even plainer than it is in the Bill already, and that is why I suggest that in due course, if he moves it, the House should accept it, as it has not the slightly unfortunate effect of Lord Stow Hill's Amendment.


My Lords, the noble Viscount has put me in rather a dilemma. I was about to say that, having considered the Amendment which is now before the House, put down by my noble and learned friend Lord Stow Hill, I thought that his Amendment was better than mine. I think that my Amendment completely covers the position where the case goes to the Crown Court, but I think that my noble and learned friend's Amendment is better because it also covers the case which does not get to the Crown Court but is dealt with at the magistrates' court. The magistrates come to the conclusion that it ought to be dealt with by a custodial sentence for the first time. At the outset they have asked him whether he wants legal aid, and he says "No", it may be because he is going to plead guilty, or thinks that he can manage the trial himself. Then, when he is convicted and is told," Now, for the first time, you may have a custodial sentence passed against you" it seems to me, on reconsideration, that my Amendment does not really cover the position, whereas that of my noble and learned friend's Amendment would.

I agree that something has to be done. We all agree upon what the clause is intended to do; the sole question is whether it does it. I have always felt that one of the difficulties is that there is a definition of the phrase "legal aid" as it appears in subsection (1)(a) and (b). That definition is on page 29, lines 45 and 46. Then, when we come to page 30, line 4, there is again the expression "legal aid", which is not defined at all. I think the point needs reconsideration. This is my noble friend's Amendment, and I must leave it to him entirely to decide what course he wishes to take. It seemed to me, on reconsideration, that one should try to cover the case where somebody has been offered legal aid and has refused it—not in relation to sentence—either in the magistrates' court or in the Crown Court. It appeared to me that my Amendment adequately covered the position in the Crown Court but perhaps not in the magistrates' court, and I thought that my noble and learned friend's Amendment covered the position in both cases.


My Lords, until my noble and learned friend rose to his feet and put me in a dilemma, I was proposing to accept the invitation extended to me by the noble Viscount and ask the permission of the House to withdraw my Amendment. Perhaps I may ask the permission of the House to withdraw my Amendment on the understanding that the noble Viscount will consider the arguments to which we have just listened from my noble and learned friend in deciding which of the Amendments he will accept, or whether he thinks some further Amendment and some further thinking is desirable here. He has been so good as to say that he feels that the drafting requires reconsideration. If he is able to tell me that he would like to flunk the whole matter over again, I certainly would ask the leave of the House to withdraw my Amendment.


My Lords, by leave of the House I will deal with these two Amendments. Although the noble and learned Lord's Amendment was put down only comparatively recently, we have studied it quite carefully and I have attempted in the letter already referred to to set out the way in which we think this works. I know that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, is still not happy about the drafting, but the technicalities of this have been looked at carefully. I will look at this again, but I cannot promise that when it goes back to another place they will be advised to agree to our Amendment with a further Amendment because I am not certain that that will be the outcome. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, will withdraw his Amendment if for no other reason than the technicalities that I have mentioned. I should like to get the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, into the Bill now. I hope that we may eventually agree to do this. I want to get as far as we can on this Bill in this House, hearing in mind the stage of Parliament that we are at.


My Lords, if I may have the permission of yourLordships to address the House once more I would certainly ask leave to withdraw my Amendment. The noble Viscount having said already all that one can expect him to say, that he will think about it, and that he would advise the House to accept my noble and learned friend's Amendment, I shall he perfectly content. If on further thought he thinks that in spite of what he has said some further change is necessary, perhaps it can be introduced in another place, although he has made it clear that he is giving no indication that that will happen. Upon that basis, I ask your Lordships to allow me to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD GARDINER moved Amendment No. 3: Page 30, line 4, after ("legal aid") insert ("in the Crown Court").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I would only add to what I said before that I am sorry that I omitted to thank the noble Viscount for the very courteous letter which he kindly wrote me about this matter in which he said that there will probably be a Home Office circular explaining how the thing is supposed to work. It is much better, I am sure, if we can get the drafting clear so that one can tell by reading the Bill what the law is supposed to me. I beg to move.


My Lords, as I have already suggested, I hope that the House will accept this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Ineligibility and disqualification for, and excusal from, jury service]:

3.34 p.m.

VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 4: Page 49, line 15, at end insert— ("A member of a police authority within the meaning of the Police Act 1964: a member of any body (corporate or other) with responsibility for appointing members of a constabulary maintained under statute.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, is not here to enjoy this moment: it is one where Her Majesty's Government have changed their mind. The Morris Committee originally suggested that among those who should be ineligible for jury service should be members of police authorities, and this proposal has gone to and fro in my Department, under consideration. As the jury clauses were first introduced, this particular recommendation of the Morris Committee was not incorporated in the Bill, and members of police authorities were left, like practically everybody else in England and Wales, as subject to the new rules on jury service.

My Lords, the Committee did say that there is no wholly satisfactory line that can be drawn between those who in the interests of preserving the jury as an impartial lay element should be ineligible and those whose connection with the professional occupation of the administration of law and order is sufficiently tenuous to justify their not being excluded. The majority of police authorities are those connected with county councils, and we thought that, as a rule, what they did, and much the most important part of their job in so far as they were not magistrates already and so excluded under the Schedule, was to deal with administration, equipment, vehicles, radio sets and matters of that sort and to see that they have an adequate and sufficient police force in their area. We felt, looking at this matter, that there was no direct connection with the workings of particularly criminal trials such as would give rise to any suspicions in the minds of the public. Nevertheless, they do appoint the chief constable, though they cannot give him any instructions. In addition they get annual reports, and can ask for special reports on any aspect of policing in the area. Perhaps most important of all, they can be aware of individual disciplinary investigations against a police officer in their force. I suppose it is arguable that this sort of knowledge might just be said to give them that extra insight or that extra edge over other members of the public if they were then to go and sit on a jury. I cannot imagine that it would do so, but we must be careful to see that there is nobody on a jury against whom any suggestions can be made of a possible source of bias.

Therefore, under this Amendment, first of all we make ineligible members of the ordinary police authorities under both the existing law and the law as it will be under the Local Government Bill, when it becomes an Act. We have logically to extend this to the smaller number but rather complicated collection of private police forces, like the British Railways police force, the British Airports authorities, as in logic and in conscience they must be in the same position as county authorities. We have therefore put down this Amendment. There have been certain representations made to us upon it and we have thought about it again, and it is better in this rather difficult field to play safe rather than take any risk.

I must point out, and I am hoping that we shall be able to make this perfectly plain, that those who are ineligible under Schedule 2, Part I, of this Bill are in danger of a fine if they then sit on a jury, not only while they are members of a police authority but for ten years afterwards. I want to make it certain that nobody is jeopardised by not knowing about this. The wider one draws the bounds of ineligibility the more danger people get into, but we will do our best to see that nobody is placed in jeopardy by this provision. We must see that people are properly warned, and I believe that there will be no difficulty about the extension covered by this Amendment and in ensuring that nobody is unaware of the trouble he may get into if, as a good citizen, in the future he obeys an order for jury service served on him even though he is ineligible. It is a balance of judgment. We have changed our minds; we think it better to make members of police authorities ineligible after all. I hope the House will agree, and I beg to move.


My Lords, this seems to me to be right. May I ask just one question? Some of us are a good deal concerned about those who are called unofficial police. I think there are something like 10,000 men employed by Securicor. What is their position?


My Lords, this Amendment does not cover them they are not the official police. The Amendment relates to statutory constables, those who are appointed constables under a statute. Securicor are not governed by any statute and the men are not involved in any way.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved Amendment No. 5: Page 58, line 2, at end insert— ("(a) at the end of paragraph 9 there shall be added the words ' or under section 14(4) of the said Act of 1952 (proceedings relating to suspended sentence supervision orders and community service order)' and (b)").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this is really nothing more than a drafting Amendment to make sure that the provisions for enforcement of orders for costs, those costs being put into the existing law by earlier provisions in this Bill, are assimilated with the existing arrangements for enforcing costs in other cases. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 6 [Repeals]:

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, this Amendment should relate to page 60, line 28, and not to line 26 as printed on the Marshalled List. Apart from saying that, however, the Amendment is pure drafting and I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 60, line 28, leave out ("paragraph 11") and insert ("paragraphs 11 and 50").—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)

On Question. Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. I should like, if I may, to try to deal with the noble and learned Lord's points as I go on. I do not think that I need say a great deal about the Bill, because it has already been so widely discussed. I believe that it is something which has been generally welcomed on all sides of the House by all those who have taken part, and I am immensely grateful to Members of this House for the trouble which they have taken with suggestions for improving the Bill in every way. There has been singularly little Party division, and I think that that which there has been has to some extent been ironed out by subsequent Amendments which I have brought forward to the House. I believe that the Bill is substantially improved by what we have done to it, and that it will improve the framework for the administration of justice in this coun- try and our methods of dealing with people who are convicted by the courts; particularly in regard to the adequacy of the powers that the courts have and the range of those powers to sentence somebody according to the circumstances of what he needs, both for himself as well as for the protection of the public.

I do not think I need say anything much about the first part on reparation and bankruptcy, except that we have made improvements there and have put down some Amendments, particularly on criminal bankruptcy, which will make the law more effective. Suspended sentences has been one of the arenas in which political controversy has arisen. I recognise—though, as it happens, I do not myself share them—the anxieties of those who fear the ending of the system under the 1967 Act. We believe that that has been unsound in principle—I know that noble Lords opposite do not agree with me on this—and we believe that the courts will welcome and respond to and will not misuse the discretion which the Bill restores to them.

One fact is quite plain; that is, that the Bill is not intended to be a green light for short prison sentences. We have made perfectly certain of this in other provisions of the Bill. We have what is now Clause 11(3), which provides that an offender shall not be given a suspended sentence if nothing but a prison sentence itself will do for him; we have Clause 14—the extension of the First Offenders Act—on which we pin a great deal of faith and which is really a key point in the Bill; and we now have Clause 37 which we have just been discussing, which I think is an important addition to the Bill. I hope that this, together with the other facilities which they are given, will enable the courts to develop a new sentencing style and that we shall not have increases in the prison population which will give rise to any degree of excessive overcrowding or other difficulty; although I am bound to say, yet once more, that I cannot state how many more people will go to prison as a result. Everybody has welcomed the imaginative and constructive ideas on community service and day training centres, the provisions for deferring sentences and the extension in the programme of probation hostels. All of these are methods of keeping people out of prison altogether. We have discussed them and I think nobody has said a word against them. I hope that we shall now go ahead imaginatively and get these methods implemented.

At this point I think I should mention the noble and learned Lord's third point which he made in his earlier speech. I do not want to get involved in Party politics on this matter, but there is no doubt at all, as it has happened, that the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 was not thought through on to the ground at the time it was passed and we are now suffering from the results of that omission. It is not for me to say what is the situation and what should be done about it; it is no longer anything to do with the Home Office. But I understand the concern for young people who are kept in police stations and, my word!, I also understand the concern of magistrates who have to deal with a young thug who cannot be given any form of custodial sentence. They put him into the care of the local authority and the local authority send him home straight away, because there is nowhere else that they can put him. I feel with those magistrates who say that this is an absurd situation which should be cured, but I am afraid that the fault lies with those who did not think this problem through at the time when that legislation was being passed.

By contrast, what we are doing under this Bill is to bring all our experiments in gently (noble Lords will remember all the points at which I have mentioned this); the way in which orders can be made by the Secretary of State to lower the length of sentence to which certain things can apply; the way that we are bringing in community service in selected areas in order to experiment. We have all these things so that we can go along step by step, in line with our provision of bricks and mortar and staff, and we will keep an eye on the effect on the Probation Service. I have stressed again and again in the course of the proceeding on the Bill that we will not try to go ahead any faster than we properly can with the staffing that we can and should give to these experiments. This is a very important element in the whole process of the implementation of the Bill.

I do not think I need say much more about the Probation Service because, again, we have discussed it. We are immensely reliant on that Service. We take the point about the target of 4.700 which the noble and learned Lord made. If we can properly raise it, and if we see that the training and the recruitment is there, I am sure we shall be prepared to reconsider this target as soon as maybe. But that is the position at the moment and it is something to which we are very fully alive indeed. I do not think I need say much about juries although there is a major innovation in this Bill. There has been pressure for reform for a long time and I think it is right that we should now, at last, abolish the existing property qualifications in England and Wales which have been so long the rule. In that way, among other things, we shall get the proper quota of women and young people on juries, so that we shall really be able to have a jury which represents the population instead of one artificially defined by the system as it has been heretofore.

Then of course there have been a number of miscellaneous and other Amendments which we have made to the Bill, all of which add up to quite an important series of changes which I will not go through in detail. Of course we have discussed subjects which are perhaps left in a less than satisfactory situation, so far as finality is concerned. One of them is bail, which again is one of the points that the noble and learned Lord raised. I think I can tell him this. If he wants to make way for another Question from his noble friend Lord Brockway on Thursday, then it may be that my fate will be in no way alleviated because I shall still have to answer it. But the membership is this. I do not know whether I ought to go right through the whole list, but I can tell the noble and learned Lord the sort of people who are sitting on this Working Party. We have justices and magistrates—


My Lords, if the noble Viscount will give us the list, it will then be in Hansard and we shall all know.


Then, my Lords, I shall do so. There is Mr. Graham Harrison, from the Home Office, who is the Chairman; Mr. Angus, the Chief Constable of Leeds City Police; His honour Judge Babington, who is a circuit judge; Mr. Bradbury, who is a magistrates' clerk; Mr. Bradley, who is a stipendiary magistrate; Mr. Edgar, who is a justices' clerk; Mr. Faulkner from the Home Office and Mr. Guyler, who is a justices' clerk. I am afraid that the note I have here is not very easy to read, but I believe the list goes on with Mr. Halliday from the Metropolitan Police. Mr. Humphrey Cooper from the Home Office, who is magistrates courts' organiser and has a good deal of background knowledge of this subject; Professor Jackson, who is a magistrate and Mr. Jones, Mr. Pratley and Mr. Rawsthorne from the Home Office. So it is quite a broad and knowledgeable committee, and we hope that it will be reporting in the first half of next year.

When I went to Holloway the other day I obtained one of the information cards about bail which are in the cells; and, as the noble and learned Lord knows, I have already had one from the police. I must say that l had a fit when I looked at the one from the cell and, for better or worse, I have been trying to redraft it. I should think the result will be absolutely disastrous, but I am sure it could be put more simply than it is at the moment. This is something we can do without waiting for any Working Party to report at all, and it is something I am very keen on and should like to press ahead with.

Departing from bail, another field in which we have to wait is the whole area of young offenders. To some extent this brings in attendance centres and matters of that sort; and the Report in that respect we are expecting perhaps even before the other one I have just mentioned. My Lords, I must say that the debates on this Bill have been an astonishing teach-in for me, and I think perhaps for a number of people who were not so familiar with the administration of criminal law in our courts; and it has been wonderful to be able to draw on the experience of noble Lords and noble Baronesses, from all their background, covering an enormous spectrum in this regard. As I said before, I am very grateful for the trouble they have taken.

I think the last of the noble and learned Lord's points—and I have not so far mentioned this—concerned complaints about the police. I, too, was listening with fascination to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary in Blackpool, and one of the things that he has said he will do about this arises out of the Report of the Select Committee of another place on immigration and racial problems. In that connection my right honourable friend said that he will reconsider the whole question of complaints against the police, and how it is to be done. Further than that I cannot go, but my right honourable friend has made that promise; he has made it publicly, and I think that the noble and learned Lord is probably glad to hear of it.

My Lords, if those who stand in my place at this Dispatch Box on the occasion of another Criminal Justice Bill are lucky enough to have the same constructive and careful scrutiny afforded to their Bill as that which has been afforded to this one then they will be fortunate indeed. We are now almost at the end of the proceedings on the Bill. I hope that it will be possible to bring the major part of it into force pretty early next year, and in a large number of cases on January 1, and then we shall be able to get on with implementing all these experiments and these other changes that we have been discussing. I feel that it is a useful collection, if in parts a somewhat miscellaneous one, of provisions for the improvement of the administration of our criminal justice; and for the last time I commend it to the House.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)

3.54 p.m.


My Lords, I do not desire to add anything at this stage except, first, to thank the noble Viscount for being good enough to answer the questions which I raised. Secondly, as to the Working Party on bail, may I ask whether I understood rightly from him that there is no woman on it at all and no one who is accustomed to appearing for those who are in need of bail? He mentioned one or two names towards the end of the list without, I think, saying who they were. I follow that, quite naturally and properly, there are a good many Home Office people, magistrates' clerks and so forth, but I did not understand whether there was any barrister or solicitor, or person who is used to dealing with less educated members of the public who do not understand about bail; and I should like to know whether I am right in thinking that there is no woman among them.


My Lords, there is not a woman but there are more than one of the members of this Committee who, although not at the moment either a barrister or a solicitor, certainly have been in the not too distant past, and I should have thought there was probably a great deal of experience at either barrister or solicitor level in those in the courts themselves. But the noble and learned Lord is quite right: there is not a woman.


My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Viscount one question, because I was going to bring up the same point as my noble and learned friend. The noble Viscount said he went into a cell in Holloway where he saw a notice which nearly gave him a fit, and that he is going to have it redrafted. Presumably the notice was drafted by some man. The noble Viscount emphasised the point in the next few lines of his speech, when he announced to the House that this Committee which is to consider bail—bail for both sexes, presumably—is to be composed of men only, with the male line of thought. Does he not think that this is in contradistinction to what he has already said about a new and humane approach to the administration of justice? Yet the noble Viscount and his friends and advisers have set up this important Committee to consider bail for these unfortunate human beings without having on it one woman, who might possibly adopt a more humane approach. May I have an answer?


My Lords, before the Question is put I should like to support my noble friend, because of a particular job I am doing for the House at the moment with regard to sex discrimination. I feel that this matter comes home very closely to what my colleagues and I are discussing at the moment in our work on the Anti-Discrimination Bill. If we are discussing things of that sort, so far as discrimination is concerned, at the moment, is it not rather a shocking thing that the Government are setting up a Committee of this kind without a single woman on it?


No, my Lords; I do not think I can accept the situation that every single Committee, whatever it may be, must have on it the statutory woman. I entirely agree—and I am sure this is right—that the people chosen for any Committee of this sort, or any other sort, should be chosen on pure merit and on pure experience, so as to be most familiar and helpful with the matter under discussion. It does not matter whether they are men or women; and this is something I would support wholeheartedly. It so happens that on this particular Committee there is no woman. Whether or not there was anybody more eligible, more useful, who happened also to be a woman than any of those already on it, I just do not know. But this is, I am afraid, a matter of chance, and I am not prepared to set the Committee back to scratch by trying now to reconstitute its composition. What I will do is to see whether there is any particular problem that arises on the female side of the prison system and on bail which does not arise anywhere else—though on a question such as bail I very much doubt it—and see that this also is taken into account.

On the redrafting of the information card about bail, I did not actually see the card in the cell because I asked for a number of them to be brought to me so that I could take them away. That sort of information should be made plain in terms which anybody can understand, whether the person is a man or a woman; and, with the greatest respect to the noble Baroness, the sort of technical information on it is such that it is immaterial whether it is drafted for a woman or a man, as long as it is simple, clear and accurate—and that is what I wish to see. As for any other particular feminine aspects of this point, I shall draw to the attention of the Committee what the noble Baroness has said to see whether, on the very experienced female side of the Prison Service, there is anything they can usefully add. But, really, my Lords, to go back and reconstitute the Committee at this stage would I think be a great mistake and would lead only to delays which none of us would be able to applaud.


My Lords, in view of the noble Viscount's astonishing statement, may I ask him whether there is evidence that the treatment of the female offender and of the male offender is entirely different? Because already we find that Holloway is only one-third or a quarter full, while the men's prisons have three men in a cell and we are having to build more prisons. Does not this in itself prove that the treatment of the female and of the male should be different? Furthermore, is it not a fact that, whereas women prisoners had male governors for many years because noble Lords like the noble Viscount in charge of this Bill said, "Why have a woman?", thanks to Herbert Morrison it was decided to have a woman governor, and that woman governor has been followed by another woman governor and yet another woman governor? I must ask the noble Viscount to read what he has said and to recognise what a reactionary approach he has taken to-day; and how devoid of compassion it is.


My Lords, will the noble Viscount inform us whether putting a woman on this Commission was considered at the Home Office? In my experience of administering criminal law over a pretty long period, some of the most difficult cases that I have ever come across were in connection with bail for women defendants.


My Lords, this is a debate on the Motion, "That the Bill do now pass". I think that I have made three speeches and, with the greatest respect, the noble Baroness has made two With the leave of the House, I will briefly answer. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, I do not specifically know whether a woman was chosen. I do know how my Department works; it is the way which I earlier described. We choose people on merit and usefulness and on their ability to contribute, and not because they happen to be man or woman. This is something that I support and applaud and consider to be right. As for the noble Baroness's remarks, I may say that this particular Working Party is dealing with the subject of bail and not the subject of treatment of offenders in general. It does not cover a wide spectrum at all. With respect, I cannot relate what she has said to the particular subject of bail. I hope that she, with all of us, will await the recommen- dations of the Working Party, when she will have an opportunity to study and to criticise them if she thinks that there are still any defects on the feminine side.


My Lords, bail includes treatment; bail is a most important part of the treatment for any human being. A woman may have children waiting at home. How the noble Viscount can say that bail is the same for both women and men I do not know. What utter nonsense!

On Question, Bill passed and returned to the Commons.