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Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: If it is a question of a witness being intimidated, I should have thought that it was perfectly clear to the noble Lord that that would amount to an offence under the law of Scotland. From his own experience, he will know that any accused person, or indeed any person, who has been convicted of intimidating such a witness prior to a trial can expect a fairly rigorous disposal at the hands of the courts.

Apart from the issue of the standard conditions, if it is considered desirable that there should be additional conditions to protect not just the victim, perhaps, but indeed the family of the victim, it would be open to the courts under the proposed new subsection (2) (b) (i) to impose additional conditions that it considered necessary to ensure that those standard conditions were observed. It might, for example, be appropriate to make special provisions for the family of victims to ensure that an accused liberated on bail stays away from that individual and his or her family. In every case those decisions will be taken by the court, having regard to all the information available to it and the specific circumstances of the case.

Therefore, while I share the views expressed from all sides of the Committee that we should give a proper focus to the position of victims, I do not consider that the amendment is necessary.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I am a little concerned that there appears to be some dispute as to whether there is a victim. If an offence has been committed, there are distinct victims. I agree that it is questionable whether or not the accused is the offender.

Perhaps my concern stems from the social worker approach, where it has to be explained to someone who has just been placed on bail what he or she is not to do. It is at that point that I should like to have had those extra words on the bail order paper that has been handed out.

However, I have listened to what noble and learned Lords have said and I should like to consider the matter further. I shall probably come back at Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 3 not moved.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Breach of bail conditions]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 2, line 25, after ("sentence ") insert ("or disposal").

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The noble and learned Lord said: There are minor drafting changes to the structure of subsection (4) in Amendments Nos. 4, 7 and 8. However, the main effect is to require the court, when it has exercised its powers to take into account when sentencing that the offence was committed while on bail, to state how the sentence differs from that which it would otherwise have imposed if the offence had not been committed while on bail and to give reasons for that difference.

We consider that this requirement will ensure that defendants are left in no doubt of the seriousness with which offending while on bail is regarded and how seriously they will be dealt with. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 2, line 26, leave out from ("regard") to end of line 27 and insert ("to—
(a) the fact that the offence was committed by him while on bail and the number of bail orders to which he was subject when the offence was committed;
(b) any previous conviction of the accused of an offence under subsection (1) (b) above; and
(c) the extent to which the sentence or disposal in respect of any previous conviction of the accused differed, by virtue of this subsection, from that which the court would have imposed but for this subsection.").

The noble and learned Lord said: Clause 2 of the Bill gives the court new powers to deal with offending while on bail. The provisions enable the court, in imposing a sentence for an offence committed while on bail, to increase that sentence up to specified maxima to reflect the seriousness with which the court regards the breach of its trust.

As the clause is drafted, however, the court would be required to have regard only to the fact that the offender was on bail at the time. In our view the court should be able to deal more severely with an offender who was subject to several bail orders at the time that the offence was committed compared with an offender who was subject to only one bail order. Similarly, the previous record of an offender in relation to bail and any previous decision by a court under the provisions of this Bill to increase a sentence for bail abuse ought to be relevant to the court's consideration of the appropriate sentence.

This amendment would provide that the courts may have regard to such additional factors in determining the sentence. I beg to move.

Lord McCluskey: I ask the Committee not to accept this amendment. I establish my credentials. First of all, let me say—it was inaccurately recorded in the proceedings of the Second Reading—that I sit as a bail appeal judge approximately one week in four and hear approximately 120 bail appeals on those occasions. I always take into account the matters which are specified in this amendment. I see no reason why one should not take them into account. I should be surprised if one were not entitled to do so. It would mean that I had been behaving very badly for a number of years as a judge.

Before I say anything more, let me tell the Committee that I have just got off an aeroplane at Heathrow having come back from the mud slides and gales of California,

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where I was studying the effects of the Californian appeals system, of which I shall speak a little later. The Committee will therefore not expect from me the fluency that I have sometimes sought to profess in this Chamber and I ask Members to forgive me for that. However, on this particular matter I suggest that these amendments are entirely unnecessary for the reasons that I gave.

It is a bad principle to clutter up the statute book with matters that are entirely unnecessary. First, if we put in unnecessary enactments, we give rise to a greater possibility of error. Secondly, it causes delay. Each person who is considering bail must go through a tick list of items and discover whether or not they have all been met. Indeed, I doubt whether the new subsection (2A) is necessary or desirable for the same reasons.

I want to make a point which applies to a number of provisions in the Bill but I make it in detail only at this stage. Members of the Committee will recall that the Renton Committee, of which the noble Lord, Lord Renton—then Sir David Renton—was the distinguished chairman, produced a report which dealt, among other things, with over-elaboration of statutes. For example, paragraph 6.5 says,

    "Another source of difficulty frequently mentioned is the tendency on the part of Parliament to try to provide for every foreseeable contingency. Because of this tendency statutes are drafted in elaborate detail which makes them difficult to understand. This has called forth criticism from a number of sources".

There is then quoted a substantial passage from the evidence of Lord Emslie and Lord Wheatley, then the Lord President and Lord Justice Clerk of the Court of Sessions for Scotland. They said that,

    "Most of the problems encountered by the Courts flow directly from the tendency of Parliament to ignore the virtue of enacting broad general rules in which the principal and over-riding intention can be readily seen, and to try to legislate in detail for particular aspects of the mischief which presumably the statute is intended to curb".

The report goes on to note that that criticism does not come from the judiciary alone and mentions a number of others, including the National Farmers' Union, though I do not believe that it has any interest in this specific Bill. I shall not go into the matter in any detail. The report elaborates that point and ultimately makes recommendations to the effect that Parliament should try to avoid that kind of elaboration. That recommendation is contained in paragraph 19.41 of the report.

I urge the Government therefore to withdraw the amendment and think again about the necessity for the provision they seek to amend on the grounds that it is unnecessary, unduly complex, wasteful, will cause extra work, and flies in the face of the Renton recommendations. For those reasons we should not waste our time enacting it.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: Perhaps I can add something to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, said. The Bill, as we protested in November of last year, was produced a fortnight after the end of the consultation period—so called—on the part of the Government and here we are in January of this year, a couple of months later, discussing amendments to the Bill at the hand of the Government.

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It was made clear at the Second Reading of the Bill that the Government had taken advice; they had consulted here and there and heard everybody who was interested before producing this magnificent Bill. As a matter of information for the Chamber, and perhaps even those in Scotland may be interested to know, can the Minister say what inspired the amendment? Was it pressure from certain sources—for example, the police? Perhaps the Minister could enlighten the Committee as to what is behind it.

Having said that, on this side of the Chamber we are in favour of punishing people who commit crimes while they are on bail, and that must be looked at in context. But why do we see an amendment within a couple of months of the Bill being introduced in your Lordships' Chamber?

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