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Lord Phillips of Sudbury: Rather untypically on this occasion, I disagree with the noble Baroness. I thought she was on the side of giving the boards more power. These words indeed do just that. They give powers not merely as specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) but others which are implied by the words "for example". I confess that I am not aware of another Bill which uses that formulation in the grant of powers. Perhaps the Minister, in responding, will lead us to another Bill. We are told that these are not non-departmental public bodies. We would rather that they were. We want them to have as much power and as much authority, autonomy and independence as is consistent with a national service. I oppose the amendment.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: In the past I have probably argued against having in legislation expressions like "for example". I am scratching my head metaphorically to recall when that might have been. Perhaps the drafting is inelegant. Nevertheless, I think it achieves its objective. I think that in this respect the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, and I are paddling in the same pool. We want that flexibility. We want it to be there locally. The amendment proposes a minor drafting change which would not--I hate to say this to the noble Baroness--improve the Bill. It would, sadly, fetter the discretion of local boards to make whatever arrangements they saw fit to deliver and administer local services. If the amendment were by some freak of parliamentary procedure to find its way on to the statute book it would have the unfortunate, perhaps even unintended consequence, of restricting the arrangements that could be made to those as described in Clause 5(2)(a) and (b), and slightly qualified by the concluding two lines. I hope that the Committee will not be tempted to support the noble Baroness in her particular objective.

Paragraphs (a) and (b) are really all about other ways of delivering a service. What would be in the gift of the board in these instances is to find other mechanisms, means or organisations for delivering part of the service, perhaps in a contracted form. We are trying to retain flexibility so that that can be carried out in the best interests of the service.

Baroness Blatch: I am happy to accept that criticism. I do not think that it is usual parliamentary language to use "for example" in this way. But I accept the arguments that have been put and I would not want to do anything that fettered their powers to deliver an effective service. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hanham moved Amendment No. 29:

    Page 3, line 13, after ("with") insert ("appropriate").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 29, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 30, 32, 35, 36, 46 and 47. From a previous discussion with the Minister, I fear that he may decide that I am trying to dilute what he proposes. Although my noble friend Lady Blatch has withdrawn her amendment which sought to remove the words "for example", I press on regardless.

The amendments are designed to limit the use of the powers in these subsections to organisations, individuals, persons, accommodation--those are the words used--which are relevant to the responsibilities laid out in those parts of the Bill to which they apply. This may seem a minor matter but where one is giving responsibility to a body to contract and make other similar arrangements, it must be clear that those contracting arrangements are made with bodies or others which are appropriate to the nature of the service. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I am grateful for the clarity of explanation given by the noble Baroness in advancing the cause behind these amendments. However, I am afraid that I shall have to disappoint her. I think that we have been hit by a bout of what I might call "appropriateitus" here. I thought I counted eight "appropriates" in this series of amendments, or perhaps in amendments which had earlier been grouped that way. I do not think they improve the quality of the drafting of the Bill. We are prepared to accept that one can improve the drafting of any Bill. But I am afraid that in this instance the amendments do not.

Specifically, Amendment No. 215 would probably fetter the Secretary of State's powers to contract out when that could achieve better quality of service and/or perhaps better value for money in the operation of a service. In inserting the term "appropriate" I rather suspect that the amendment could render as meaningless anything done by the Secretary of State. I also have a powerful impression that it could raise doubts as to whether the Secretary of State could act inappropriately on occasions where the statute does not require him to act appropriately. It might put a large question-mark over the Secretary of State's actions.

Amendment No. 48 would unnecessarily formalise in legislation who should be consulted if a decision is made under the powers in Clause 8. The Secretary of State will consult as appropriate. It might be wise, and necessary, to consult more widely than perhaps the amendment itself suggests. I urge the noble Baroness not to press the amendments as I do not think they will do what the noble Baroness intends them to do. We will endeavour to ensure that the Secretary of State properly carries out consultations wherever appropriate.

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Baroness Hanham: I am not wholly surprised by the Minister's response to the amendment. I hear what he says. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 30 not moved.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 31:

    Page 3, line 17, at end insert--

("( ) make arrangements with any organisation or individual under which any services provided to the board by its staff are also made available to the organisation or individual,
( ) charge for anything done under arrangements under this section.").

The noble Baroness said: I have tabled this amendment to establish beyond doubt the ability of probation boards to buy and sell services. Before I turn to the specifics of the amendment, perhaps I may quote from a letter sent to me by the Minister following Second Reading, which has proved to be most helpful. On the second page of that letter in the bottom paragraph, he states that:

    "This gives much more freedom than exists at present, where certain activities must be carried out by 'a probation officer'. In addition, under clause 5(7), boards will be able to buy services from other boards . . . as they can at present, and sell them to other boards, which is currently unlawful".

If, say, I represent a board and the Minister represents another board, then when I buy a service from the Minister, he must be selling that service to me. My function of purchasing the service would be legal, but the Minister's function of selling that service to me would be illegal. That is a bizarre circumstance. If selling to a board is deemed illegal, it is not possible for me to buy from the Minister because it is illegal for him to sell to me. Some clarification of the exact meaning of that sentence would be most helpful.

The amendment would give to probation boards the same facility as that given to CAFCASS under the same legislation. Legal advisers maintain that the Bill as it stands does not allow boards the necessary power and that the power to do one thing specifically--namely, under Clause 5(7)(a), to

    "make an arrangement with another board",

and, "charge the other board"--implies no power to do something not mentioned. Indeed, if "make an arrangement" included charging, there would have been no need for Clause 5(7)(b). Therefore the statement in Clause 5(2)(a),

    "make arrangements with organisations or individuals"

requires the same specific reference to charging.

I appreciate that this is a technical point, but if the Government are saying that these powers are to be conferred, then it is important that the legal authority is in place for them to be exercised. Furthermore, it would be helpful to know how one may buy a service from a board when another board is not in a position to sell such a service. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I suspect that the noble Baroness has made a valid point as regards the drafting and I shall wish to study closely her

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comments. However, I think that the amendment is unnecessary. In Clause 5(7) we achieve the effect that she is seeking, although I can see the merit in her line of argument.

The provisions enable the Probation Service to act as an effective law enforcement agency with the aims that we have already discussed in our important debates on Clause 2. The primary purposes here are to reduce reoffending, protect the public and properly administer punishment to offenders through combination orders and licences.

Amendment No. 31 would enable boards to provide services to other organisations and individuals. As drafted, it could dissipate the effect which we feel is necessary for local boards to direct towards the probation work needed for their areas. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, it is our view that provision has already been made in Clause 5(7) where boards may provide services to other boards and to charge accordingly for those services. As we see it, the boards may buy and sell under the terms of the Bill as it stands. The amendment is therefore unnecessary and, on that basis, I suggest that the noble Baroness should find herself able to withdraw it.

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