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Mr. Hilton Dawson (Lancaster and Wyre): I am especially grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your efforts to support the rights of Back Benchers and for providing an opportunity to address one really important issue that has not so far been considered. I refer, of course, to clauses 208, 210 and 211, and the associated Liberal Democrat amendments Nos. 484 to 487, 489 and 490, with regard to life sentences, extended sentences and sentences for public protection of children and young people under the age of 18.

Those aspects of the Bill are serious, quite mistaken and wrong. It is wrong for adult provisions to be applied to children, and it is important to note that provisions on life sentences, sentences for public protection and extended sentences could apply to 12-year-olds and, potentially, 10-year-olds. It is wrong to apply indeterminate sentences to children and it is wrong and thoroughly inappropriate for there to be circumstances in which it is mandatory for such sentences to be passed. I cannot believe that the provisions are in accordance with the United Nations convention on the rights of the child. Indeed, the way in which the Government operate youth justice is a stain on their otherwise fine record on children and social policy.

I was delighted to hear from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary that there will be more work on the principles behind sentencing children. We need a youth justice Bill and a child justice Bill for this country to ensure that we develop a youth justice system with the fundamental principles that children's welfare should be the paramount consideration, that deprivation of liberty should be used only as a last resort and imposed for the shortest possible time, and that any decisions on youth justice should be made in the best interests of the child.

I am extremely disturbed by evidence from answers to written questions that suggests that the Bill could lead to 30 young people a year being detained for life, 10 young people a year receiving extended sentences and one or two young people a year receiving sentences of detention for public protection. Those figures compare with the 43 young people who are currently serving sentences of detention for life. We would massively increase the number of young people facing very long sentences. I cannot believe that it is appropriate to apply the same provisions to children as to adults. It would not be right in any way for children who had committed very serious offences to have so little prospect of rehabilitation and to be given so little hope for the future. I earnestly hope that the Government will thoroughly review their policy on youth justice—I believe that they will—and create a far better youth justice system for this country.

Yvette Cooper: I shall try to respond briefly to the points that have been made. The Sentencing Guidelines Council is not intended to overlap with the Sentencing Advisory Panel. The panel will be a more intensive working body that will conduct research and work on public consultation. The Sentencing Guidelines Council will make decisions and its membership will include those who have the credibility in their fields to command respect across the board.

The hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) said that there should be a parliamentary vote on each guideline. That would not be an appropriate use of Parliament's time and expertise because guidelines are likely to be considered for 2,000 offences. Parliament's job is to set out the maximum sentence and to focus on specific concerns, as was demonstrated by the previous group of amendments. It is not, and should not be, Parliament's job to make judgments on sentencing on a day-to-day basis—that would be a rather scary prospect.

We should recognise both our role and that of the courts. The purpose of the guidelines is to provide a bridge between Parliament and the courts. It is important that the process does not become a parliamentary take-over through an insistence that Parliament must vote on each guideline. It is also important for the process to have the confidence of the judiciary, given that it will have to take decisions on the basis of the guidelines.

The extension of magistrates' sentencing powers is a vote of confidence in the magistracy. It is right to extend their powers in that way. We have made it clear many times that we take seriously the need to review that before there is a prospect of extending sentencing powers further. There is a proviso to do that through affirmative resolution, which means that the House will have a chance to debate it and vote on it again.

Mr. Grieve: Will the Minister give way?

Yvette Cooper: I am afraid that I do not have time.

We have made it clear that drug trafficking is a serious offence. We know that drug trafficking on a large scale is linked to organised and violent crime and to some of the most dangerous criminal networks. That is why the strong signal that we are sending on trafficking offences is different from our approach to possession, as reflected in our appropriate response to that offence and related sentencing provisions.

The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) mentioned hate crimes. He will know that provision has been made to deal with race and religion in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. In addition, we recognise that other groups may be vulnerable to attack or vilification. The courts can consider a premeditated attack on a person—perhaps because of their sexual orientation—to be an aggregated offence that merits a more serious sentence. The Government think that the case has not been made for a wider offence given that the courts can already respond and that it would not be appropriate to legislate now.

I agree that it is right to try to avoid imprisonment for fine default where possible. The courts have powers to introduce community punishment, curfew orders and driving disqualifications when imprisonment might be a possibility. The Courts Bill also introduces new powers that will hit people's credit rating and allow for defaulters' cars to be clamped. We are also considering community alternatives because we have to recognise that some people simply cannot afford to pay. However, magistrates have strongly and repeatedly argued that we need to keep the prospect of imprisonment as a last resort for some offenders who persistently will not pay.

The hon. Member for Beaconsfield mentioned amendment No. 120, which relates to an offence under trade union legislation. That offence was created more than 125 years ago to deal with workers who breach their contracts by participating in strike action, for example. That has led to only one prosecution in the past 10 years, which resulted in a £25 fine. Frankly, in this day and age it is inappropriate to imprison people for going on strike on the basis of an industrial dispute. I recognise that the hon. Gentleman's party might be keen to lock up strikers, but this is 2003 and we think that it is inappropriate to retain that offence on the statute book, so we reject that amendment and others tabled by the Opposition.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

It being four hours after the commencement of proceedings, Mr. Deputy Speaker, pursuant to Orders [2 April and 19 May], put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of business to be concluded at that hour.

New Clause 6

Increase in sentences for hate crimes

'(1) In considering the seriousness of an offence which falls under the category of "hate crime" as set out in subsection (2), the court—
(a) must treat that fact as an aggravating factor (that is to say, a factor that increases the seriousness of the offence), and
(b) must state in open court that the offence was so aggravated.
(2) An offence is to be considered a hate crime for the purposes of section if—
(a) at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrates towards the victim of the offence hostility based on the victim's actual or perceived race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation; or
(b) the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility towards people on the basis of their race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.
(3) In this section "race" may be defined by reference to race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins.'.—[Mr. Heath.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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

The House divided: Ayes 53, Noes 326.

Division No. 209
[5:28 pm


Allan, Richard
Baker, Norman
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Beith, rh A. J.
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Campbell, rh Menzies (NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Chidgey, David
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Doughty, Sue
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David
Hermon, Lady
Holmes, Paul
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Lamb, Norman
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Moore, Michael
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
Öpik, Lembit
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Trimble, rh David
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Andrew Stunell and
Tom Brake


Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, rh David
Boateng, rh Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, rh Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, rh Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Dodds, Nigel
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Hendrick, Mark
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Singh, Marsha
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James (Glasgow Baillieston)
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Phil Woolas and
Mr. Nick Ainger

Question accordingly negatived.

20 May 2003 : Column 936

Amendment proposed: No. 67, in page 81, line 8, leave out Clause 140.—[Mr. Grieve.]

The House divided: Ayes 197, Noes 320.

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