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24 Oct 2006 : Column 1477

Nick Herbert: If the Solicitor-General has no objection in principle to transferring the responsibility for sentencing from magistrates to the prosecutors, where does he think that that should end? Why has he drawn the line where he has? Why not extend the principle by taking more cases out of the magistrates courts and dealing with them by issuing conditional cautions? Where does he propose to draw the line?

The Solicitor-General: We have looked at the ways in which these cases could be determined, and at where the line should be drawn. Having looked at the approach taken in the pilot areas, we concluded that some of the cases that we thought might be the subject of conditional cautions were probably not appropriate for them at the moment. We need to look at all the facts and see how things develop. Clearly, contested cases could never be dealt with using conditional cautions; that would be nonsense. Similarly, the more serious cases in which someone was being considered for a custodial sentence would obviously be singularly inappropriate, because we would effectively be taking that option out of the process. So there are natural barriers to some cases being dealt with by issuing a conditional caution.

There is also a range of cases that would be appropriate, however, and when we can deal with such cases appropriately by introducing elements of reparation and rehabilitation as well as a penalty, it will be the victims who will benefit. It will be the victims who will get their compensation earlier, who will see justice done, and who will see the criminal justice system operating for them. It is the victims who ought to be at the heart of the criminal justice system, and that is what the Government are in the process of doing. The Conservatives do not seem to be worried about that, but we want to see those who are dealt with by conditional cautions being properly fined. The Conservatives are opposed to fining. They seem to be proposing to allow conditional cautions to be restricted to a group of people who could have only rehabilitative or reparative conditions attached to them. We want to see proper justice being delivered for victims much more quickly. We are doing that, but the Conservatives have failed to do it. I want to ensure that the Lords amendment that would damage the process of helping victims more is reversed.

Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

Tony Baldry: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I hope that it is in order.

There are occasions when I feel ashamed to be a Member of this House. The next group of amendments relates to Her Majesty’s chief inspector of prisons. Because of the guillotine process, when the Bill was last before the House of Commons there was no opportunity for us to debate that issue on Report or Third Reading. The Bill then went to the other place, where the subject was debated for almost a day. The Government were defeated and the other place said that the inspector should remain. The Government purported to make a concession, which they withdrew on Third Reading by giving the Secretary of State powers of intervention and direction.

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Tonight we shall reach 10 pm without having had any opportunity to debate the inspectorate of prisons at all. I submit that that is something of which this House should feel thoroughly ashamed, in view of the work done by people like Judge Tumim and Anne Owers the present inspector of prisons. It is a disgrace. I can do no more than ask for you, Mr. Speaker, or someone else to start giving the House and Back Benchers some protection. Otherwise, I do not think that people outside can begin to understand how the House conducts its business.

Mr. Hogg: Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I reinforce what my hon. Friend has just said? [Interruption.] I am doing my best to speak up, but unfortunately I have lost my voice. I was the Minister with responsibility for prisons for two years, and I have a very high regard for the work of the prisons inspectorate—and to think that it could have been abolished! It is a scandal that the House does not have an opportunity to express its confidence in the inspectorate of prisons or to affirm the significance that we attach to it.

Mr. Speaker: Let me say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and to the hon. Gentleman who first raised the point of order, that we are effectively discussing the programme motion, and it is for good reason that the Speaker is kept out of these matters. Other Parliaments do not keep the Speaker out, but I am glad that this Parliament does. All I can say is that I meet the Chief Whip and the Opposition Chief Whip, so I can express the concerns that have been expressed on the Floor of the House tonight. That is the best I can do without interfering further.

The House having divided: Ayes 300, Noes 217.

Division No. 323]
[9.28 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Corbyn, Jeremy

Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael

Merron, Gillian
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, Edward
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Ian Cawsey and
Steve McCabe

Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John

Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jones, Mr. David
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Key, Robert
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Price, Adam
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew

Shapps, Grant
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Angela Watkinson and
Mr. Henry Bellingham
Question accordingly agreed to.
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Lords amendment disagreed to.

Before Clause 26

Lords amendment: No. 10.

Mr. McNulty: I beg to move amendment (c) to the Lords amendment.

Mr. Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 11 to 14 and the Government amendments thereto, and Lords amendments Nos. 15 to 27, 42, 43, 46, 53, 78 to 80, 86, 93, 101, 110 and 112.

Mr. McNulty: I shall concentrate on the Opposition amendments, but colour in the background. I do not, incidentally, accept the points raised in the point of order, especially if we reflect back on the time and opportunity that the hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) and others had to make their points. The point related to a vote on the programme motion and in my recollection there was no such vote, so it was not a well made point at all— [Interruption.] It is not a matter for me, but for the usual channels who agreed the programme motion. [Interruption.] Conservative Members would do well to sit and listen rather than—

Mr. Speaker: Order. It is important to speak to the amendment. I have already spoken to the point of order, which is fine.

Mr. McNulty: I fully accept that, of course, Mr. Speaker.

I now turn to the Opposition amendments. We have largely dispatched much of part 4, which dealt with the compulsory amalgamation of the five inspectorates, not least because of some of the concerns expressed in the House, in the other place and in campaigns outside the House. I am happy to report that the five inspectorates have come together and, as a result of discussions, reaffirmed a series of matters that meet the policy points that we sought to implement through a
24 Oct 2006 : Column 1483
compulsory amalgamation. However, I shall come to that after I have dealt with the amendments.

The first of the amendments would make provision, in a voluntary rather than compulsory context, for the chief inspectors to consult Ministers and other inspectorates only if they wish to do so. I recognise the spirit in which the amendments were tabled—the wish to dispense with additional bureaucracy created by the original provision of the merging of the five inspectorates—but I do not consider it proper for a chief inspector to have a discretionary rather than mandatory requirement to consult Ministers or inspectorates. That would risk the chief inspectors being detached from the priorities that Ministers properly set. I emphasise that the duty is only to consult: the Ministers may not in any way direct or control the inspection programme. That is right and proper. Nor would it give them any mandatory duty to deal with or consult other inspectorates.

9.45 pm

I am confident that the Government amendments will remove the burden that was complained of in terms of the broader requirement to consult other inspectorates, and the inspectorates have said that that is something that they would do as a matter of course anyway. The additional benefit of the Government amendment is that it ensures that both parties agree when consultation is not necessary, thus obviating the need for that layer of bureaucracy. One cannot expect a single inspectorate to be aware of the interests of all other inspection bodies. The consensual element guards against the danger of one inspectorate unilaterally deciding that another inspection body does not have an interest in a particular matter. Much of the force behind all that the Government are doing with inspectorates is the fact that we live in an ever more complex world. It is important that inspectorates talk to each about inspection processes.

The second Opposition amendment would remove the power of Ministers, in the case of HMIP, to specify the form that the inspection programmes and frameworks are to take. I know that my reassurance will not work, but I will try anyway. I assure the House that the power is an administrative provision that relates only to the form of the documents in question. That is necessary for consistency and ease of planning. It could not be used to specify the content of the programmes or frameworks. I hope—but I doubt it—that that assurance and the amendments that we have tabled meet the concerns raised.

The inspectorates have met and said to the Government, in terms, that they reaffirm their commitment to the streamlined and modernised inspection programme as set out in the policy statement of November 2005, and to the Government’s 10 principles of public service inspection. They have agreed to develop a joint business planning process to provide a framework for joint inspection work to be developed from priorities indicated by the three Ministers concerned with the five inspectorates. They will produce a first joint plan for 2007-08.

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