HL Deb 14 May 1991 vol 528 cc1564-87

9 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed on Clause 4.

Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 28: Page 4, line 3, leave out from ("offenders)") to end of line 5 and insert: ("(3) In section 47 of the Criminal Law Act 1977, in subsection (2), line 2, leave out "three-quarters" and insert "seven-eighths".").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, yet again I appear to have drawn the short straw in being obliged to introduce an amendment immediately after the dinner hour when the attentions of most of your Lordships are, quite reasonably, focused elsewhere.

At Committee stage I moved an amendment which would have had the effect of allowing the courts to retain their existing power to pass partly suspended sentences. As a layman I was gratified to receive powerful support for the amendment from highly qualified quarters. There are evidently many in a position to know who continue to believe that partly suspended sentences are a very useful weapon in the judge's armoury. That was borne out by the revelation by the noble Lord the Leader of the House that no fewer than 5 per cent. of sentences imposed currently are partly suspended. This is a significant proportion. Accordingly, I decided to return to the matter today.

However, I revised the original amendment to take into account the minor criticisms made of the relevant clause in the 1977 Bill by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, when that Bill was passing through your Lordships' House. The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, felt that it ought to be permissible to suspend more than three-quarters of a sentence. The amendment meets that particular objective by providing for up to seven-eighths of the sentence to be suspended.

In that way it would be possible to sentence somebody to 12 months' imprisonment with 10i months suspended, meaning a maximum time behind bars of six weeks at most. Such a course will enable a short, sharp shock to be imposed upon individuals without jeopardising their job prospects. Obviously an unemployed person who has been convicted once is much more likely to return to a life of crime than someone in a secure job.

I should add at this point that the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, has written to me to say that his views on the merits of the option of partly suspended sentences has not changed by one iota since 1977 and that he would certainly support my amendment if he could manage to be here tonight. Sadly, he has obviously not been able to make it.

There is another consideration which has not yet been mentioned; namely, public opinion. If sentences imposed by courts generally become too out of line with public opinion a very unhealthy state of affairs can result. Sooner or later the pendulum can swing back with a vengeance, as we have seen in the United States. However, for the general run of moderately serious and essentially non-vicious crimes—and I have in mind bomb hoaxes and the case I cited on the last occasion of opening the carriage door of a 125 InterCity express when the train is travelling at 100 miles an hour after the perpetrators have drunk too many cans of strong lager—I am convinced that provided a reasonably substantial initial sentence is passed so as to mark the gravity of the crime in the eyes of the state most of the public are content that justice should be tempered with mercy by suspending most of a sentence, especially for non-habitual offenders. I hasten to stress the word "most" rather than "all" because if sentences are wholly suspended the public quite rightly consider that no effective punishment has been imposed.

An example is the case I read about over the week-end. A middle-aged man of hitherto unblemished character quite uncharacteristically carried out an indecent assault upon a young girl. It was a mild form of indecent assault: the girl was below the age of puberty and was therefore possibly unaware of the significance of what had happened. Nevertheless, it was undoubtedly an indecent assault. The man was convicted and sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment with three-quarters of the sentence suspended. I believe that most of the public in the area where the case was publicised felt that justice had been done.

Were the Bill to become law as it stands the judge would have had to impose a sentence of just over three-and-a-half months to achieve the same result, assuming, as we reasonably may, that a repeat offence is unlikely. One can imagine the public reaction and the press outcry if that were to happen—"Only three-and-a-half months for putting his hand on a young girl's thigh? Shocking! Disgraceful! Outrageous!" Therefore, in order to demonstrate that the state took the offence seriously and justice was done the judge would have to impose a sentence of at least six or possibly nine months. The latter would entail the offender spending almost two-and-a-quarter times as long behind bars as he would have done had the partly suspended sentence still been available.

Like my noble and learned friend Lord Ackner when introducing his Amendment No. 27 before the dinner break, I believe that there are many noble Lords here in the House today who desperately want to see the number of people who are in prison in this country at any one time reduced, for humanitarian reasons or for pragmatic reasons or for a combination of the two. Unless they lend their support at least to the principle of the amendment, their aims are likely to be only partially satisfied. I beg to move.

Lord Renton

My Lords, it so happens that I have taken part in the proceedings, in one House of Parliament or the other, on every criminal justice Bill since 1945. The tendency of all of them until this Bill has been to acknowledge that the nature of criminal cases and criminal offenders who come before the courts is infinitely variable. For that reason, through all those years, the powers of the courts have been extended so that they may deal more appropriately in each case with that infinite variety of offenders.

By disallowing partially suspended sentences we are again—I say "again"; it is for the second time in the Bill—reducing the powers of the courts. That is regrettable because it is a circumstance in which flexibility is needed. I therefore most earnestly support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, and I accept his reasons for proposing it.

Lord Richard

My Lords, it may not come as any surprise to the noble Lords, Lord Renton and Lord Monson, to learn that I cannot support the amendment. This is so for two main reasons. First, as the noble Lord, Lord Renton, said, the structure of sentencing in the Bill is totally different from that in previous criminal justice Bills. As I understand it, it is designed to be so. The question on this amendment therefore concerns the extent to which partly suspended sentences can fit into the new structure proposed in the Bill rather than whether their operation could be improved in relation to the old structure that has existed until now.

The noble Lord, Lord Monson, may be right to say that seven-eighths would perhaps be more flexible for suspended sentences than three-quarters in relation to what I call the old structure. However, if one takes the example that he gave, I sincerely hope that once the Bill is passed the judge would say that a custodial sentence would be low down on the list of penalties that he would impose. Given the constraints imposed on the sentencer in Clause 1, I should be surprised if a custodial sentence would be deemed to be appropriate for that kind of offence.

Secondly, Part II of the Bill concerning the nature of custodial sentences provides that, in the case of all sentences of less than four years, the first half will be served in custody and the second half in the community. In effect, it is already a suspended sentence. If someone offends in the second half of that sentence, he may be brought back to court and will be liable to serve the remainder of his sentence in addition to whatever penalty is imposed for the new offence. In effect, therefore, those sentences will all be partly suspended sentences anyway. It would be confusing and inappropriate to empower courts partly to suspend sentences which will themselves be partly suspended. For that reason, the Carlisle Committee, on whose recommendations Part II is largely based, proposed that the partly suspended sentence should be abolished when the committee's recommendations came to be implemented. Both on general grounds of principle and on that specific ground, I cannot ask my absent friends to support the amendment.

Lord Hutchinson of Lullington

My Lords, I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and, with the greatest possible modesty, ask the noble Lord, Lord Renton, whose long experience in relation to criminal justice Bills is absolutely unrivalled in this House: is not the trouble that the flexibility given to the courts over the years has not resulted in a decrease in crime? It has resulted in overcrowded prisons and in higher sentences which are longer than anywhere else in Europe. One can only say that there has not been a policy of sentencing. Whatever has been going on over the years has not been a success. This Bill tries to do something to improve the situation.

Lord Renton

My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene and I thank him for giving way. Does he not realise that, although only marginally, abolishing the partly suspended sentence may well add to the numbers in prison?

Lord Hutchinson of Lullington

My Lords, that is a view expressed by the noble Lord. There is another view, which has already been expressed many times in this House and which I myself hold. It is a matter of opinion in the end.

9.15 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, should not worry too much about his absent friends. He has friends in all parts of the House and particularly on this occasion.

The noble Lord, Lord Monson, made a case for reducing to one-eighth the proportion of a partly suspended sentence which must be spent in prison.

The Criminal Justice Act 1982 amended Section 47(2) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 to give the courts the flexibility that the noble Lord seeks, and more. The 1982 Act allowed the courts to suspend all but one month of the term. If a two-year prison sentence were imposed, an offender might spend one twenty-fourth of it in prison.

But all this is academic. When we discussed Clause 4 in Committee my noble friend the Leader of the House explained that we saw no place for the partly suspended sentence in the sentencing provisions and early release arrangements that are proposed in the Bill. In future everyone who is sent to prison will be liable to spend at least half of the sentence in prison and the remainder in the community. Once released, he may, if he is convicted of a further imprisonable offence, be returned to prison in order to serve the rest of the sentence. If I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, is quite right. This new provision effectively replaces the partly suspended sentence.

It seems to us that, if a custodial sentence is to be given at all, it should be a meaningful one and one that should correspond to the seriousness of the offence that has been committed. That is the whole point underlying Parts I and II of the Bill. If a custodial sentence of a particular length is not justified by the seriousness of the offence, we consider that a community sentence is the right course. I suggest that a community sentence is likely to be a more effective sanction than would be a custodial sentence of which all but a small proportion is suspended.

In the light of what I have said, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Monson, will consider that his amendment would be best not pressed.

Lord Monson

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, who has enormous experience in both Houses of legislating on matters of criminal justice, that he should support this amendment.

Looked at from a purely abstract point of view it may well be that the noble Lord, Lord Richard, is right. But one must consider the psychology of the matter. In the case of the minor indecent assault that I cited, the noble Lord hoped that the judge would pass a non-custodial sentence, which might well be merited on the facts of the case. But one must consider public reactions and the consequences of flouting so blatantly public opinion. It is undesirable from the point of view of public policy that sentences imposed by the courts should become greatly out of line with public opinion, whether public opinion be right or wrong.

Although I do not normally take the view that justice should take account of public relations considerations, in this case I do, for the reasons that I suggested when introducing the amendment. As the noble Lord, Lord Renton, confirmed, it may very well lead to people who are convicted of what one might describe as a crime of moderate gravity—not a serious crime—spending rather longer in prison than would otherwise be the case.

However, the House is thin and I have not had a great deal of support apart from the tremendous support of the noble Lord, Lord Renton. Therefore I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 [Restrictions on imposing community sentences]:

[Amendment No. 29 not moved.]

Clause 6 [Procedural requirements for community sentences]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 30: Page 4, line 42, at end insert ("authorised by Schedule IA to the 1973 Act").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 31 and 64. These three amendments make minor drafting changes to clarify the Bill's provisions. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 31: Page 4, line 45, leave out ("such requirements") and insert: ("requirements imposed under section 12, 12A, 12AA, 12B or 12C of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 ("the 1969 Act")").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mottistone moved Amendment No. 32: Page 4, line 45, at end insert: ("() "Suitability" in subsection (3) above includes activities which are of benefit to the community and which can be expected to have a positive corrective effect on the offender.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, after Committee stage, I spoke to a group of magistrates from the Isle of Wight Bench about the Bill, in particular about the amendments that I had moved which had been recommended by the Magistrates' Association. When discussing community orders, one of my experienced friends asked, "Could you not put down an amendment to ensure that when made, under whatever categories listed, orders are meaningful?" That is the amendment that I put forward. It is worded so that the provision is optional. My friends considered that an element of service to the community would be very convincing. However, they were reluctant to choose such an alternative to prison where it was a possible option because they were not always sure whether it would have the corrective effect on the defendant. I therefore propose the amendment.

I suggest that such a mild amendment, which merely points the probation service and other bodies in the right direction, deserves insertion in the Bill. It is easier for the magistrates' courts, and the grander courts about which we hear so much in this Chamber, to consider a community alternative if they believe that it is meaningful and has the required effect. I beg to move.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for explaining what his amendment means. I think, however, that the Bill already meets his concern.

Clause 5(2) (a) requires a court imposing a community sentence to choose the particular community order which is most suitable for the offender. Clause 6(3) requires it to obtain and consider a pre-sentence report before deciding on the suitability of one of the particular community orders listed there. I can assure my noble friend that, in deciding whether an order is suitable, the courts will take into account such matters as whether it includes activities that will benefit the community or prevent re-offending. Which of these predominates will of course depend on the offence and the offender. An act of criminal damage might be best met with a community service order, which would highlight the element of reparation for the community. On the other hand, the most suitable sentence for an offender who stole money to fuel a drug addiction might be a probation order with a requirement to undergo treatment. The pre-sentence report would bring this out. It goes without saying that if an order helps to prevent re-offending, it automatically benefits the community.

I believe that the Bill meets the concerns of my noble friend and his friends on the Isle of Wight. I hope that he will be able to accept that.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that explanation. Perhaps I may leave the House with this thought. The amendment would never have arisen if our Bench did not believe that what was offered by the probation service and others did not meet the requirements of the Bill. Perhaps the Home Office will consider more carefully exactly how we shall produce a community order which will achieve the required objective. My friends believe that the existing provisions do not always do that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 33 not moved]

Clause 7 [Probation orders]:

Lord Renton moved Amendment No. 33A: Leave out Clause 7.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do not intend to divide the House on this issue but I have tabled the amendment in order to give your Lordships the opportunity to discuss a fundamental change proposed in Clauses 5, 6, 7 and 8. A probation order would be made into a sentence of the court. That never has been the case and I suggest that it should not be the case. I wrote to Ministers about the matter but they did not receive my letter until yesterday. The issue is so well known that they cannot have been placed at a disadvantage nor been taken by surprise.

Until now, and since early in the century when probation was first introduced, the essence of a probation order has been that the accused is given a chance to reform his character instead of having a sentence recorded against his character. In doing so he is given the help of supervision by a probation officer for a period stated by the court, generally varying between nine months and three years. If the offender wisely accepts the guidance of the probation officer, is not in breach of the conditions laid down by the probation officer, and commits no further offence during that time, he will benefit by having no sentence recorded against him. That provides the offender with an incentive to accept the advice of the probation officer and to go straight. If he disobeys the probation officer, is in breach of any conditions laid down or commits a further offence he will forfeit that advantage. He will then be brought before the court and sentenced for the offence for which he was put on probation and for any further offence that he has committed.

It is now proposed in the Bill that the probation order, instead of providing a chance to reform without the stigma of a sentence, should itself become a sentence—a punishment. There is no question of the offender being given a chance to reform his character in order to avoid a sentence being recorded against him.

In Committee I asked my noble friend Lord Waddington, who then replied on behalf of the Government, what will happen under the new arrangement if the offender becomes in breach of the probation order—let us leave aside the question of a further sentence—and the court has to deal with him for that breach. The court cannot sentence him again—no one in our country can be sentenced twice for the same offence. I was given the strange answer that he will be given one day's imprisonment. Sentencing for the further offence presents no difficulties and never has.

Probation can be of great value not only to first offenders and to those who have never been in custody but to those who have previously been in prison. I remember thinking about a series of sentences of imprisonment which had been given to a man who had committed offences right through his 20s; I remember thinking that they were doing him no good. He would just go on and become a complete recidivist into middle age. I put him on probation order for three years telling him that if he did not observe the conditions of his probation order or if he committed any other offence he would receive a very heavy sentence indeed. For a few weeks he did go straight and took the hint. However, he was then in breach and I sentenced him to a longer sentence of imprisonment than he had had before. He had been given a chance and had not taken it.

I remember another rather similar case which I followed up. A man had been in and out of prison for about seven years. I put him on probation for three years. He observed the guidance of the probation officer, he went straight, it reformed his character and he obtained settled employment.

We must be very careful about what we are doing in this Bill. Perhaps I may say with deep respect—and I respect all those concerned—that there has been a great deal of zealous rethinking going on behind the scenes in the Home Office, largely by people who have never had responsibility in the courts. They have decided that this new look, these changes for the sake of change, are what are now needed. I humbly beg to differ. We must base our future legislation on experience of the past. It is absurd to ignore it.

As I say, I regard this amendment to leave out Clause 7 as a peg on which to hang discussion. If it were the feeling of your Lordships and especially my noble friend on the Front Bench that there should be second thoughts about this matter, then a few simple technical amendments could be moved at Third Reading so that we could do away with the concept of probation being a sentence. There is no problem about that. I earnestly hope that there may be second thoughts about this matter. I beg to move.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I must admit that I am flatly opposed to the course of action advocated by the noble Lord, Lord Renton. First—and I do not wish to make too much of this—I believe it is unfair to suggest that a number of ill disposed officials at the Home Office have dreamed up this idea because they are in favour of change for the sake of change or something of that sort. This proposal is supported by a great many people in the probation service.

Lord Renton

My Lords, but it is not supported by those on the spot and not by the National Association of Probation Officers who have the responsibility of supervision.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I am well aware of the position of that organisation. However, I am also well aware of the position of the National Association of Chief Officers of Probation, whose members are responsible for the service; and the organisation of which I had the honour to be president, the National Association of Senior Probation Officers. Those organisations are wholly opposed to the view of the noble Lord, Lord Renton.

Quite apart from that, the Central Council of Probation Committees is in favour of the approach in the Bill. When the various services were consulted after publication of the Government's proposals, basically the probation services supported the provisions of the Bill. They include the probation services in Norfolk, Hampshire, West Yorkshire, West Glamorgan, Dyfed, Suffolk, Warwickshire, Inner London, Gloucestershire, Northumberland, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Avon and Oxfordshire. There were just six probation areas which did not support the provisions in the Bill.

The reason for that powerful support for the proposals in the Bill is self-evident. Probation orders cover and in many cases require substantial restrictions on an offender's liberty. For example, there may be the requirement to live in a probation hostel away from home for a period of possibly 12 months or to attend a probation day centre for a period up to 60 days. That is a far more substantial sentence—as I would wish to describe it—than a small fine which at the moment is regarded as a sentence of the court. It is for that reason, in my view, that there is such powerful support in the probation service for what the Government put forward.

When we last discussed this matter one of the arguments was that there was a perception by offenders and their families that the situation would be altogether different if a probation order became a sentence of the court. But I wonder whether there is any substance in that argument. Offenders who are given probation orders with conditions see it very definitely as a penalty. They are unlikely to be impressed by being told that, although they must report to a probation officer every week, possibly for a period of two or three years, live in a probation hostel, be in perhaps at 10.30 every evening or attend a day centre, it is not a punishment because they are not being sentenced by the court. That mistaken view was expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Renton.

Speaking for myself, and I am sure for others, we want to see probation orders, with conditions in many cases, extended to far more people who come before the courts. I regard it as entirely reasonable and consistent with that objective that probation orders should become sentences of the courts.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Renton. I am slightly shocked that all the probation departments named by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, are against the amendment. I have not been a probation officer but I have dealt with supervision orders for juveniles which are very much the same as probation.

The basis of probation is the personal relationship between the probation officer and the person on probation. The successful work of a probation officer depends on a good casework relationship between the probationer and the probation officer. I support the noble Lord, Lord Renton, because it is on the basis of such relationships that probationers are helped.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, we debated in Committee whether or not the probation order should become a sentence. As my noble friend rightly said, he recently wrote to me in that regard. We remain of the view that it should become a sentence. There are several very good reasons for that.

Of course it is a change and in some ways it may be a controversial change; nevertheless, there are good reasons for it. One of the most important is that the probation order, and the concept of probation itself, has developed a great deal. Probation is not about giving the first-time minor offender an opportunity to prove himself while a probation officer sorts out his difficulties. It has developed into a very useful way of dealing with more serious offenders; of tackling their criminal behaviour and attitudes, not only their welfare problems, in order to reduce the risk that they will re-offend in future.

The probation order is being used now for more serious offenders. In 1980, 22 per cent. of those starting a probation order had previously received a custodial sentence. By 1989 the proportion had risen to 38 per cent. In 1980 three out of four of those starting probation had a previous criminal record. In 1989, the figure had risen to six out of seven. Nowadays probation work focuses much more on making offenders face up to their crimes. A probation order with a requirement to participate in a programme of activities at a probation centre may make an offender think hard about what he has done and how he can go straight in the future. After all, preventing re-offending is very important. I think that this change of emphasis has done a great deal to restore the confidence of judges and magistrates in the probation order. It is precisely because the probation order has changed so much that the Bill confers on it a sentence in its own right.

That is very much in keeping with the philosophy of the Bill. We all want to make sure that prison is reserved for the most serious offender. That means that there needs to be an effective way of punishing offenders whose crimes are serious enough to merit more than just a fine, but not so serious that they must be sent to prison. Community sentences must make real demands on the offenders. Making the probation order a sentence gives the courts a valuable additional option in dealing with a number of serious offenders; namely, sex offenders, domestic burglars and the like.

My noble friend said that the probation order is similar to a conditional discharge. I do not believe that that is so. The conditional discharge is suitable for first-time petty offenders. It gives them another chance. It will still be there for the less serious type of offender in future. If a court wants to give an offender a chance to prove that he can stay out of trouble, it can impose a conditional discharge. But we ought to face the facts. Probation orders in fact make much greater demands on offenders and they are now being used for a very different category of offender.

My noble friend Lord Renton referred to what happens if an offender fails to comply with the requirement of a probation order. Schedule 2 to the Bill sets out the penalties for the breach itself. These include a fine up to £1,000 and a community service order. Alternatively, the court can revoke the probation order and deal with the original offence in some other way. It is likely to do that if, for example, the breach shows that the offender has no intention of complying with the probation order.

My noble friend was also concerned about the effect on an offender's criminal record if the probation order becomes a sentence. At present under the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973, an offender who is given a probation order is treated for almost all purposes as if he had not been convicted of the offence; though if he breaches the order and comes back to court he is liable to be sentenced in some other way for it. As long as he goes straight he can tell the world afterwards that he has no previous convictions. That will not be true in future. A conviction that leads to a probation order being passed will count as a conviction in the same way as one which leads to a community service order, until in due course it becomes spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

I remind your Lordships that in the main we are not talking about first-time petty offenders. We are talking more and more about people who have in the past committed a number of crimes and who may now have been convicted of a serious offence. I do not see why the records of those kinds of offenders should benefit when those of offenders who have been fined or given community service do not.

It has been pointed out by my noble friend that the National Association of Probation Officers opposes the change introduced by the Bill. That is perfectly true. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, was perfectly fair when he said that almost every other organisation which deals with offenders and which has made its views known takes the contrary view. The National Association of Probation Officers is perfectly entitled to its views. However, I am not sure that those views necessarily reflect the opinion of all probation officers. I am sure that no one would suggest that the views of one organisation should be regarded as tablets of stone in the face of the arguments which I have set out and indeed in the face of the views expressed by just about everyone else, even if they did succeed in shocking my noble friend Lady Faithfull. The opinions of all probation practitioners are worth hearing, as are those of magistrates and judges.

In the light of this further explanation I hope that my noble friend will accept that the probation order of the future is a different kind of beast from what it was in the past. It has a different characteristic and a different purpose. That being so, I hope that he will be able to accept the view which is taken by the Government and which is taken by most other organisations on this matter and will be content to see this clause remain part of the Bill.

Lord Renton

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Faithful] for the support that she gave in the light of her own experience. I am also extremely grateful to my noble friend Lord Ferrers because for the first time in the course of our proceedings we have had a really full description of what is now intended. It is not on the face of the Bill; it was not in the White Paper. We now have a very much fuller picture. I should naturally like to consider that.

Before I go any further perhaps I may say that, in deploying the case which I did, I described and acknowledged the part that probation has to play in the case of those offenders who have been before the courts on several previous occasions. I am glad to know that the Government consider that there is great scope for probation with regard to those people—perhaps an even greater scope than there has been in practice in the past.

As I said, I regarded this amendment as a peg on which to hang a discussion. It has proved to be a much more interesting and full discussion than I had ever hoped for. It is most unlikely that I shall pursue this matter any further, although I must confess that in principle I still dislike the idea of probation becoming a sentence. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 1 [Amendments of 1973 Act]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 34: Page 67, line 7, leave out ("his detention in pursuance of a hospital order under Part III") and insert ("the making of a hospital order or guardianship order within the meaning").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 35, 36 and 44.

Amendment No. 34 to Part II of Schedule 1 extends the scope of paragraph 5(1). This provides at present that a probation order with a requirement to undergo treatment for a mental condition may not be made on an offender whose condition is such that he needs to be detained in a mental hospital under a hospital order. A hospital order under Part III of the Mental Health Act 1983 may be made if two medical practitioners satisfy the court that the offender is suffering from a mental disorder whose nature or degree makes it appropriate for him to be detained in hospital for medical treatment. Such offenders should clearly be in hospital rather than out in the community on a probation order.

We propose that a similar restriction on making a probation order with a treatment requirement should apply if the offender's condition warrants instead a guardianship order under the Mental Health Act. Guardianship orders are similar to hospital orders, in that two medical practitioners must satisfy the court that the offender is mentally disordered and that the nature or degree of the mental disorder warrants his reception into guardianship. The difference is that he would not be detained in a mental hospital, but instead would be placed under the guardianship of a local authority social services department or some other person approved by it. That authority or person would have to be willing to receive him into guardianship.

Under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983, a court may not make either a guardianship order or a hospital order unless it is satisfied that one of these would be the most suitable way of dealing with his case. Amendment No. 34 therefore extends paragraph 5(1) so as to prevent a court making a probation order with a treatment requirement when either a guardianship order or a hospital order would be more appropriate instead. That leaves probation orders under paragraph 5 for those who are mentally disordered, but who can still look after themselves in the community. Amendments Nos. 35, 36 and 44 are minor drafting amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 35 and 36: Page (7, line 16, leave out from second ("a") to end of line 19 and insert ("mental hospital"). Page 68, line 8, leave out subparagraph (10) and insert: ("(10) In this paragraph 'mental hospital' means a hospital within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983 or mental nursing home within the meaning of the Registered Homes Act 1984, not being a special hospital within the meaning of the National Health Service Act 1977.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 37 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord Mancroft moved Amendment No. 38: Page 68, line 16, leave out ("dependent on drugs or alcohol") and insert ("a drug or alcohol misuser").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 39 to 43, 45 and 46. To refresh your Lordships' memory, these amendments were originally put forward in Committee because of a desire to see some clarity in terminology as regards the Home Office, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Security and the various other statutory and voluntary organisations which have to deal with this very difficult group of people about which we are talking. I refer to those who come before the courts charged with a variety of offences which may possibly have been caused by their use or misuse of drugs or alcohol.

It seemed to me in Committee, and it still does, that it is ridiculous that different departments and organisations within the same Government cannot agree on a common terminology, especially when they have to liaise together so often. I believe that the probation service is being given much more funding so that it will be able to make recommendations to judges and magistrates. People from the voluntary sector who will treat these people will also be required to give advice and recommendations to the courts. A variety of other people, including doctors and social workers, will also be called upon. However, none of those people currently use the terminology of the Bill; namely, "dependent on drugs or alcohol". Therefore, there is bound to be confusion at some stage because, historically, such people do not like to use it. In Committee I suggested the phrase "problem user". My noble friend the Leader of the House did not like it. So I went away and considered the matter and, in this amendment, I have used the word "misuser".

One of the reasons that my noble friend the Leader of the House gave in Committee for not accepting the amendment was that he wanted the words in the Bill to be more precise. That is one of the problems; it is too precise. None of the experts, be they doctors, professors or those who are not medically qualified, will use the word "dependency" because there is so much debate as to what it means. That is why it was discarded so many years ago—I believe that it was 15 years ago—by the Department of Health. Moreover, many other people will not use the word because it is so narrow.

The term "drug or alcohol misuse" as set out in my amendments not only encompasses an habitual drinker or drug user; it also encompasses a drinker who on occasions drinks too much and a drug user who uses drugs occasionally but not habitually. A person who commits an offence on the odd occasion that he consumes too much alcohol or uses drugs will not be assessed as alcohol or drug dependent by the agencies who provide care. He will be assessed as someone who misuses drugs or alcohol. The difference is crucial when considering the treatment possibilities, and the severity of the problem concerning drug or alcohol use, which has to be assessed at that time.

Schedule 1 6(10) explains the reference to "dependency", and is the widest possible reference. It says: In this paragraph the reference to the offender being dependent on drugs or alcohol includes a reference to his having a propensity towards the misuse of drugs or alcohol, and references to his dependency on drugs or alcohol shall be construed accordingly". That is not a definition of "dependency"; it is a definition of "misuse" and it is one of the widest definitions I have ever heard. It is like saying that all carpets are blue, including red, green and yellow ones. It is not that way. The people described in that definition are not dependent; they are misusers. It is ludicrous to put on the front of the Bill the narrowest of definitions and then to say at the back of the Bill that that narrow definition is the widest possible definition, when that first narrow definition will not be understood or used by any of the people who will have to use this part of the Bill.

The second reason my noble friend the Leader of the House gave in Committee was that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs did not recommend my earlier phrase "a problem drug user and drinker". In preparing the amendment I took the trouble therefore to inquire closely into the recommendations of the working party on the Criminal Justice Bill of that Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. I found, obviously, that my noble friend was correct. It did not advise the use of the word "problem". However, it also did not advise the use of the word "dependency". My information is that it advised that the word "dependency" should not be used and that the terms of my amendment should be used.

In short, all I am asking my noble friend to accept is the advice of the working party of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs; the advice of the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse, which is the largest co-ordinating body of drug and alcohol treatment organisations; the advice of Alcohol Concern, which is the largest body operating in this field; to use the same terminology as that used by the Department of Health; and to use the same terminology as is used in the Misuse of Drugs Act, which is not the "dependency on drugs" Act. Within the regulations to that Act, the term "misuser" is accurately defined. It is known by the courts and has been used by them for a long time.

This is an amendment which will cost no money. It is an amendment that makes no change to the principle of the Bill. It just makes the Bill more workable for those who will have to work it. I beg to move.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris

My Lords, as your Lordships will be well aware, every Welshman regards a squabble about semantics as second in interest only to rugby football, both as a participatory and spectator sport. Nevertheless, the words "dependency" and "dependent" have proved unsatisfactory to a wide range of opinion, and they have done so for a long time. As far back as 1982 the Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended the use of the term "problem drug taker", about which we heard in Committee, rather than the range of terms that has developed, including the rather odd "drug dependent", "drug addict" and "drug misuser". A few years earlier the Advisory Committee on Alcohol recommended the use of the term "problem drinker". Yet in most cases the phrase "drink or drug misuser" could be used to replace "dependent" or "dependency" without loss.

The Standing Conference on Drug Abuse has often expressed anxiety that there should be some degree of commonality in terminology. In adopting the recommendations of the ACMD and the Advisory Committee on Alcohol, there will be consistency and comprehension when using terms and their definitions, as recommended by the Government's own advisory groups. The Government would surely be wise to follow the advice of those people they had set up to give them advice.

This is more than a matter of legalistic consistency and bureaucratic tidiness; we are in danger of confusing precision with accuracy. As the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, pointed out, the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, was correct in his response on 16th April 1991. He said that the words "dependent" and "dependency" are "more precise". That is exactly the point: they are too precise to be accurate. We fear that they may exclude, by their very precision, those people with a drug or alcohol-related problem from appropriate treatment.

By using the term "drug or alcohol misuse", we could encompass those whose drug or alcohol problem at particular times will bring them into contact with the criminal justice system, as well as those individuals who habitually misuse drugs. The noble Lord, Lord Waddington, earlier queried whether "drug or alcohol problem" would refer to an offender who regularly drinks too much or one who sometimes has one drink too many. That is the same problem as the Band of Hope used to have with the word "temperance". I ask noble Lords to consider: is the temperate man the man who never gets very drunk or the man who gets very drunk but only sometimes? Semantics is a wonderful game and we can play it all night. The term "drug or alcohol misuse" not only encompasses—

Baroness Seear

My Lords, does the noble Lord include the man who gets slightly drunk all the time?

10 p.m.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris

My Lords, I believe that the Band of Hope took that condition into consideration gravely, often and for a long period. The term "drug or alcohol misuse" not only encompasses an habitual drinker or drug user but also a drinker who on occasions drinks too much and a drug user who uses drugs occasionally but not habitually. A person who commits an offence on a particular occasion when he has taken too much alcohol or used drugs will not be described as drug dependent by the people who have to assess him, but he would qualify as someone who misuses drugs or alcohol.

As the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, said, the difference is crucial in talking about treatment when the severity of the alcohol or drug use has to be assessed. Paragraph 6(10) of Schedule 1 attempts a definition of "dependent" by including the phrase, his having a propensity towards the misuse of drugs or alcohol'". That still does not clarify the situation or identify for inclusion those who we fear could be left out of treatment.

I spent a merry half hour this afternoon in the Library of your Lordships' House with the Oxford English Dictionary. I do not mean some little pocket version but the whole 19 volumes of it on the Library shelf. I browsed happily through the entry under the word "propensity". It is not a long entry and I commend it to noble Lords who have an idle half hour. The main, central meaning is inclination, disposition, tendency, bent. For those of a curious disposition, the first use of the word comes in 1570 in Foxe's Acts and Monuments. In that sense, we all have a propensity towards drugs and alcohol, as we all have a propensity towards sin. It means little more than an interest or curiosity, the gravitational pull of our human nature. For our present purposes, "propensity" is far too general, far too imprecise. At the one end we have too great a precision; at the other too much imprecision.

The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, would, we believe, mean that all offenders who commit an offence could benefit from treatment if it is appropriate. No one is excluded from the opportunity because they are not dependent or have a permanent inclination or predisposition. I hope that the amendment will commend itself to the House.

The Viscount of Falkland

My Lords, I have little to add to the speeches of the two noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, covered the ground very well in moving his amendment. It seems—to take a lay view of the situation—that the words "dependent" and "dependency" are far too precise. That was deemed to be so during the Committee stage, when I did not speak on this. However, it seems to me there was some virtue in this precision. Many offenders may go out and offend under the influence of alcohol, and indeed I might feel so moved myself if I became exasperated with a member of my local authority, which happens to be Lambeth. I might become so exasperated that I would go on a binge of alcohol and feel moved to break the windows of the town hall in Brixton, thus committing an offence. It seems to me that it would be unjust and indeed inaccurate if I had to fulfil the requirements of the definition of someone who is dependent on alcohol. There are many, like me, who might become abusers from time to time, although in my own case I think it is unlikely and I use this only as an illustration. I have nothing stronger than a glass of wine occasionally.

It may be that a young man might go out occasionally and create an affray under the influence of drink, but even if he does that regularly he need not necessarily be dependent on alcohol. I am sure that the browsings of the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris, led him to think that a "predisposition" or "permanent inclination", which is the Oxford dictionary definition—or "propensity", which is what supports the Government's definition—is something which is inappropriate to apply to many people who offend.

Briefly, it seems appropriate that all those who commit an offence should come within the definition which is appropriate to their offence. To apply the words "dependent on alcohol" surely is not the right definition. It is a question of people who abuse drink from time to time and who may commit an offence. I think that the definition in the amendment of "misuse" and of being a "misuser" is, for all practical purposes, the most appropriate and will be of the most benefit both to the courts and to offenders.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I could not help envying the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris, in that he should have had half an hour to spare, looking up the definition of "propensity" in the Oxford English dictionary. I am sure that his researches were enormously interesting, but I cannot believe that his totality of knowledge might not have been advanced even more had he spent his time listening to the arguments from all sides during the Report stage of the Criminal Justice Bill.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Mancroft for explaining his amendments. I understand his concern that the Bill should be as precise as possible about the kind of behaviour for which treatment might be appropriate. This is clearly right, and my noble friend was most persuasive in his arguments. However, in fact I think that this is what the Bill already achieves.

My noble friend said that we ought to take account of the views of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, but in drafting the provisions of paragraph 6(10) of Schedule 1, that is exactly what we did. We took full account of the views of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. These are reflected in the definition of drug and alcohol dependency in paragraph 6(10) of Schedule 1 to the Bill. That paragraph makes clear that a requirement to undergo treatment may be made not only in the case of a person who is drug or alcohol dependent but also in the case of a person who may only occasionally misuse drugs or alcohol: that is, someone who may go on occasional "binges".

Paragraph 6(1) (a) makes clear that in either case the court must be satisfied that the use of drugs or alcohol caused or contributed to the offending. In other words, the courts must be satisfied both that the offender misuses drugs or alcohol either to the serious degree of dependency or to the lesser degree of misuse and that the offence of which the offender is convicted is connected with the dependency or misuse.

I believe that paragraph 6 of the schedule is clear enough on the matter. The text uses the words "drug or alcohol dependency". That is qualified by the definition in subparagraph (10). It is simply a question of drafting and does not in any way limit the scope of the provisions.

The expression "drug or alcohol dependency" is also used in the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990. Section 50 of that Act deals with the funding of voluntary organisations which provide care or services for: persons who are, have been, or are likely to become dependent upon alcohol or drugs". Those are exactly the services that may be used for a probation order with a requirement to undergo drug or alcohol treatment. It is helpful to reflect that terminology in the Criminal Justice Bill provisions.

I suggest that this is not a matter of substance but of drafting. My noble friend Lord Mancroft said that his view was supported by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Alcohol Concern and the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse. All of those bodies are experts on drug and alcohol matters but not necessarily on the drafting of legislation. We have taken advice on the matter and I am satisfied that those who are specialists in drafting are in turn satisfied that the drafting is correct, even though to the layman the appearance may be to the contrary.

Lord Mancroft

My Lords, it is probably too late in the evening to divide the House over a matter of semantics. I would not dream of doing so anyway. It might be suggested that I am just playing with words. However, surely the difference between good and bad legislation is the quality of the words. After all, that is what legislation is. The words are important because people must understand them. It does not matter to me what a book written in Czechoslovakian says because I am not a Czechoslovak and I cannot read Czechoslovakian. However, for those who have to deal with people who misuse drugs and alcohol and have to report to the courts on them, the words in this part of the Bill—the words that they will have to use in their work—are very important. As the Bill stands the word "dependency" might as well be double Dutch. They rejected it 15 years ago.

I shall give a classic example. People who take cocaine cannot ever be described as clinically dependent on it. It is not possible to be so. That has long been acknowledged to be the case. However, if one is mugged by a crazed cocaine freak one will not ask him whether he is dependent on it or he misuses it. The answer is that he misuses it, but he will still appear before the court.

My noble friend has said, quite rightly, that the word "dependency" is explained in Part II of Schedule 1 to the Bill. It is indeed. However, the description given there is not a description of dependency; it is a description of misuse.

As I said, it is too late in the evening to pursue the matter. It does not matter to me what is written in the Bill but it matters very much to the probation officers who will be trained to deal with the problem. In their training they will be taught about misuse; they will not be taught about dependency. It will make a great deal of difference to the social workers who at the moment use the word "misuse"; they do not use the word "dependency". It will make a great deal of difference to doctors and psychiatrists who give evidence to the courts, and who do so today and have for many years past. They use the word "misuse" and not "dependency". Needlessly, for the sake of drafting, they will be left with an unclear definition which will make life difficult for them. That is a pity. However, at this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 39 to 43 not moved.]

10.15 p.m.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 44: Page 69, line 19, leave out sub-paragraph (9).

The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment was s Token to with Amendment No. 34. I beg to move.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe):

My Lords, before I put the Question, I should inform the House that, if this amendment is agreed to, Amendment No. 45 is pre-empted.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 45 and 46 not moved.]

Clause 9 [Community service orders]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 47: Page 7, line 39, leave out ("sections 17A and 17B below") and insert ("paragraphs 3 and 4 of Schedule (Reciprocal enforcement of certain orders) to the Criminal Justice Act 1991 (reciprocal enforcement of certain orders)").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 50, 51, 92, 93, 97 and 99 to 104.

This set of fairly substantial amendments makes arrangements for persons subject to certain community sentences imposed by a court in England or Wales to carry out the sentence in Scotland or Northern Ireland if that is their normal place of residence. It also makes arrangements for an offender convicted or sentenced in Scotland or Northern Ireland to carry out the sentence in England or Wales if that is where he or she lives. The amendments bring the existing provisions for reciprocal enforcement up to date in the light of the new framework for community penalties provided in the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 11 [Curfew orders]:

Lord Richard moved Amendment No. 48: Page 8, line 28, leave out ("sixteen") and insert ("eighteen").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I can explain the amendment fairly briefly; indeed, it is self-explanatory. It increases the minimum age for the curfew orders from 16 to 18. If it were accepted, courts would still be able to include a curfew requirement in a super vision order passed on a young offender under 18, but the amendment would prevent them from imposing the new curfew order unaccompanied by social worker supervision on an offender under 18.

There are a number of problems connected with the imposition of curfew orders on young people which are additional to those connected with the use of curfews on offenders of any age. One of the problems is the possibility that the curfew might cause great difficulties within families. In cases where there were already considerable tensions between parents and child, such an order might greatly aggravate those tensions. Curfews might also be oppressive for parents. If the parents are to make a serious attempt to ensure that their children abide by the curfew, that could well require them to stay at home from the early evening onwards. In the case of a single parent in that position, finding himself or herself unable to go out in the evening and, in the case of two parents, being unable to go out together would, I imagine, be a cause of considerable friction and tension within the family.

If there were good reasons for the provision, one could perhaps understand it, but, as the power is already available to pass a curfew order accompanied by a supervision order on a young offender under 18, I do not see why that should not remain the position. If the age was raised from 16 to 18, that would be so. In other words, it would not be open to the courts to pass a curfew order without a supervision order on anyone under 18. That would be an improvement on the present situation. I beg to move.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I too shall comment briefly on the amendment. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Richard. I am no enthusiast for curfew orders. I have never been persuaded that they are enforceable and, to the extent to which we shall now introduce electronic monitoring, I have become even more doubtful. I was not opposed in principle to the experiments with electronic monitoring. I thought that they were admirable. Unhappily, the experiments proved that the thing was a daft idea. It is only because Ministers have—rather foolishly in my view—committed themselves to its use that electronic monitoring is to be introduced when we know, even before it is introduced, that it will be a failure.

I should like to ask the noble Earl one question: will 16 and 17 year-olds who are at school have the appropriate instrument attached to them while they are at school? This will be a truly humiliating position for these children. Is it argued that that will happen? One of the advantages of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, is that that would not be possible because in fact people who were at school would obviously be excluded by the terms of the amendment. However, it would be most unfortunate if we had a situation where some children of school age had electronic monitoring devices attached to them at school. As I said, it is a humiliation scenario and in my view it is quite wrong for it to be introduced in legislation.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

My Lords, it might be the reverse of a humiliation scenario. It might be a scenario for boasting when children have such tags attached to them. Indeed it might prove a signature for the macho child, who would invite others to join him in his daredevil acts. I cannot believe that the Government can have that in mind, but that will be the outcome, if it does not result in the humiliation scenario, which seems to me to be equally likely.

The point about family upset is an important one. Families with children under 16 should not be put under the stress to which this will put them without the support of the social services or probation officers. I support this amendment very strongly. I am sorry that it has been moved so late at night. I hope that it will be received sympathetically by the noble Earl, despite the hour.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, that whether I view this amendment sympathetically or otherwise has nothing to do with the hour. I am quite content to view it in its totality at this hour of night or at two o'clock in the afternoon. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Richard, has never been greatly enamoured by the idea of curfew orders and now the noble Lord, Lord Harris, misguidedly follows in his footsteps. But we believe that the curfew orders will provide the courts with an effective way of dealing with offenders who have committed certain types of crime or whose offending is associated with particular activities. Quite obviously the noble Lord, Lord Richard, does not feel that.

In my view, curfew orders are a valuable new community penalty that could, for example, be used to keep offenders away from particular places, such as shopping centres where young people may get involved in shoplifting, and from particular events, such as football matches, local clubs or discotheques; or from being on the streets at particular times of day when the offender may be subject to peer group pressure to become involved in certain kinds of offending.

There is no other available community penalty that would fill quite this role and we believe it right that it should be available to the courts for 16 and 17 year-olds as well as for older offenders. By keeping young people out of harm's way, a curfew order can help prevent the offender from re-offending and in turn help to protect the public.

The decision to make the curfew order available for 16 and 17 year-olds reflects our general approach to dealing with 16 and 17 year-old offenders. This approach was set out in the White Paper.

Many teenagers of this age are old enough and mature enough to accept full personal responsibility for their behaviour; others are not. The arrangements for dealing with such offenders should reflect that by providing the courts with a wide range of disposals, so that they can match the sentence to the particular needs and behaviour of the young offender. This is why the Bill makes available not only the curfew order but also other community penalties which have not been available before for this age group.

Making available to the courts a range of different community penalties which are capable of being tough and demanding, and which can take account of different patterns of offending, will help to minimise the use of custody. It is an outcome which I think we all want. It will in particular give the courts sufficient confidence in such penalties to use them for offenders who have committed quite serious offences and who are clearly at risk of custody.

The noble Lord, Lord Richard, is right. Night restriction orders are available for offenders of 16 and 17 years. Although they resemble curfew orders to an extent, they are more limited in scope. They can be imposed only as part of a supervision order. They operate only during the evening or at night and the maximum length is only 10 hours. The curfew order will provide the courts with more flexibility. The ability to use electronic monitoring as a means of enforcement will give the courts confidence in the effectiveness of such orders.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris, said that for children to have those electronic monitoring devices attached to them at school is pretty humiliating. Being an offender who has been to court ought to be pretty humiliating too. However, the tags are quite discreet. The new type that I have seen is no bigger than a digital watch. Of course, the courts will be sensitive to the situation of offenders who are still at school. No doubt they would not use a curfew order with electronic monitoring in such a case. But many 16 or 17 year-olds have already left school.

The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, used what I thought was an extraordinary argument. He said that these children should not be put to that stress. We have to stop and consider why they are put to that stress, if that is what they are subjected to. It is because they have offended. It is because we are trying to avoid them mixing with the people who encourage them to offend at the time that they are likely to mix with them. It is in order to encourage them to keep out of mischief and wrongdoing. Those are the reasons behind such an order. If that is stress, so be it. But they are the persons responsible for creating the stress to which they have subjected themselves.

I believe that making a curfew order available for 16 and 17 year-olds will be a helpful and worthwhile improvement to the sentencing arrangements for that age group.

Lord Richard

My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down will he address the point that I put to him? I do not like curfew orders. For some extraordinary reason the Government seem to be attached to them. Will he address the argument that such orders should not be imposed on 16 and 17 year-olds without being accompanied by a social supervision order. The total absence of such orders for those aged between 16 and 18 will probably cause more trouble than the imposition of a curfew.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, a curfew order has one specific effect: it keeps the person away from trouble at the time when he or she might be in trouble. There is no reason why there should not be other orders attached to the individual as well as the curfew order.

Lord Richard

My Lords, I hear what the noble Earl says. I am disappointed. Of course other orders can be imposed with the curfew order. We argue that with the rather sensitive age group between 16 to 18 years one should not have solely a curfew order. It should be accompanied by some supervision; otherwise we shall run into trouble with the curfew order.

I am disappointed. However, at this late hour and with the thin attendance in the House I have no other alternative but to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 2 [Enforcement etc. of Community Orders]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 49: Page 76, line 20, leave out ("it") and insert ("he").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, this is a drafting amendment. It ensures that the Clerk of the Court is properly referred to as "he" and not "it".

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 50 and 51: After Clause 14, insert the following new clause:

Reciprocal enforcement of certain orders

(". Schedule (Reciprocal enforcement of certain orders) to this Act shall have effect for making provision for and in connection with—

  1. (a) the making and amendment in England and Wales of community orders relating to persons residing in Scotland or Northern Ireland; and
  2. (b) the making and amendment in Scotland or Northern Ireland of corresponding orders relating to persons residing in England and Wales.").

Before Schedule 3, insert the following new schedule:

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