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The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I have some sympathy with the noble Lord, but a meeting with the supervising officer is not monitoring. I believe that the Bill has in mind the type of human monitoring that has been trialled. In that scheme, the offender was monitored either through visits by monitoring staff at home or a previously agreed place, or by telephone. I quite like the scheme, which does not seem to have proceeded beyond trial. It had the merit of some human contact but perhaps one drawback was that the monitoring staff were untrained, so the counselling contact was perhaps not good enough.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, does the Minister consider that Clause 8(2)(i) means that one alternative of the terms of the programme is:

Or is that paragraph supposed to attach to the whole subsection? There is something strange in the wording. When I first read that subsection, I thought it meant that the terms of the programme might be any of those things, which would enable,

    "the offender's compliance with the programme to be supervised and recorded".
If that is the case, monitoring is not needed and can be ruled out. If subsection 2(i) is simply one of the considerations, it seems that one has to monitor or there could be misunderstanding in the wording. One has to find out whether the person has been at school or a mediation session. Does the Minister understand the problem?

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, Clause 8(2) makes it plain that the terms of the programme may include,

    "provision for any of the following",
so any of the provisions (a) to (i) can be included.

The noble Lord, Lord Cope, dealt with his stance on electronic tagging. I understand that is outwith the purpose of Amendment No. 20, so I am not being discourteous in failing to deal with electronic tagging.

We included the phrase "electronically or otherwise" in subsection 3(a) to ensure that the legislation will be sufficiently flexible to accommodate advances in technology. Having seen the amendment, I was concerned that the Bill's wording may be too prohibitive in the way that the noble Lord suggests. By precluding the monitoring of the offender's whereabouts by electronic means or otherwise, we may prevent a young offender team member from checking up on a young person, to ascertain whether they are complying with a particular element of his or her contract. We would not want that consequence and it was not our intention. I am most grateful to the noble Lord for tabling the amendment.

If our preliminary view remains, we will be looking to alter the wording and, if necessary, I will put it right on Third Reading. I am grateful to the noble Lord, not for the first time, for raising an issue that we had overlooked, possibly, because we were focusing on electronic monitoring rather than personal monitoring. I undertake to give the matter further careful thought and, if necessary, come back to it on Third Reading.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his response. I am not sure what technology other than electronic could be pressed into service. Perhaps ultrasound, but that would involve electronics as well. The Minister acknowledges that there is a real if small point here, which he will consider. It could be dealt with by including a definition of "monitoring" that would restrict its meaning, to permit the sort of controls that we both have in mind. In view of the helpful nature of the Minister's reply, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 8, line 35, at end insert ("unless it has already expired.").

The noble Lord said: This group includes Amendments Nos. 22, 23, 24 and 26 and has been tabled to clarify the role of the panel and the powers of the court after the referral period has expired.

In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Cope, was concerned that the courts might be constrained in dealing with a breach of contract if the compliance period expired by the time that the case returned to court. He was understandably concerned that if the courts could only discharge orders in those circumstances, a young offender who failed to co-operate could evade sentencing. I am happy to

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reassure the House that that is not the case. The expiry of the compliance period does not constrain the courts. There is no automatic time bar in the arrangements.

Following the noble Lord's intervention, which I again found helpful, we considered again the panel's role at the end of the compliance period. The Bill sets out the expectation that the final meeting will be held before that period expires. The first amendment to Clause 12 strengthens the arrangement by stipulating that the meeting shall be held before it expires. The duration of the referral period and attendance at panel meetings is ordered by the court.

The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Cope, would have the opposite effect. I cannot see a compelling reason to do anything other than to encourage the team to operate in the most efficient and timely manner, to ensure that all the business with the young offender is completed within the compliance period. The purpose of the final meeting is to consider the young offender's compliance with the contract. If compliance is satisfactory, the panel has the power to discharge the order. Where it is not, the young offender may be referred back to the court for breach proceedings. There will be cases where the young offender fails to attend that meeting, and non-attendance at a panel meeting is one of the triggers for the panel to return the young person to court.

There may be a good reason for the young person's absence--perhaps ill health--and, in all other respects, the young person may have complied in full with the requirements of the order. It would be a waste of the court's time for the case to be referred back, so I have tabled a further amendment to Clause 12 to make it clear that the panel may, where appropriate, discharge the order in the young person's absence. Written confirmation of that decision will follow, as required in Clause 12(2)(b).

Compliance will not always be so clear, however. The panel may have serious doubts about the reasons for the absence of the young offender from the meeting, and may already have concerns about compliance with the contract terms. While the government amendments will preclude the panel from adjourning and readjourning to prolong their discussion with the young offender, they will not preclude the panel from referring the case back to the jurisdiction of the court for the breach to be considered. Where it is agreed that a breach has taken place, the court retains the power to resentence. This is made clear in the amendment to Schedule 1.

In light of the fact that breach proceedings may take place after the period of the referral order, the amendment to Clause 9 clarifies the position with regard to revocation. It makes clear that where formal revocation takes place after the expiry of the referral order, that does not have the effect of extending the period of the order beyond the original expiry date.

The government amendments have been drafted to deal with the noble Lord's concerns, and I hope that they meet his purpose. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I am rather puzzled by the Government's insistence, reinforced by

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the amendments, that the last meeting of the panel--at which it will take the final decision that an offender has complied with the contract--should take place before the end of the contract period. From memory, I believe that that will be between three and 12 months, and will be set at the time the offender first appears in court. It may end, for example, just after Easter or just after Christmas. Indeed, the only possible or reasonable date upon which to hold the last meeting of the panel falls before the holiday period. Therefore, if it is obliged to be before the end of the contract period, it could actually be quite a long time--some weeks, in some circumstances--before the end of the period. To oblige the panel to make up its mind whether or not the offender has completed all the conditions of the contract over the whole period when there are still some weeks to go seems to me to be unwise.

Ideally, I would want the panels to hold their final meeting on more or less the last day of the period, so that the matter is dealt with promptly. Nevertheless, at the same time, the panels would have the opportunity to see how offenders have behaved during the whole period. If panels are obliged to have such meetings before the time has expired, which seems to me to be the purport of the Government's amendments, they will sometimes have to make a premature decision about the final completion of the offender's terms under the contract.

My amendment would provide that panels could meet after the period has expired. It is perhaps too permissive and it may be that the circumstances in which they would do so should be restricted. However, it does not seem to me to be sufficient just to say that, if necessary, a panel could meet without the young offender concerned being present. If such an offender were available to be present for some reason a day or two after the expiry date, that would seem to me to be perfectly satisfactory and would enable the panel to make a better decision about whether he has complied with the terms of the contract. Therefore, my amendment has a justification over and above the amendments that have been tabled by the Government.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

6 p.m.

Clause 12 [Final meeting]:

[Amendment No. 22 not moved.]

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