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Lord Kingsland: I rise to support this amendment. I can see the technical difficulties arising from the report arriving on the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General's doorstep at the end of July, but I am sure that that is a matter that could be accommodated by agreement.

There may be circumstances in which the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General will be faced with a debate on the report in your Lordships' House and, in those circumstances, the noble and learned Lord, or his successors, may wish to have time to reflect on what they are going to say. However, I am sure that time will be given by the normal procedures that flow from tabling any Motion for debate in your Lordships' House. Therefore, I can see no circumstances in which the amendment by the noble Lord should inconvenience the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General.

4.30 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I am very grateful for what the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, said about the Prison Service. This is a completely new statutory regime. Therefore those will be statutory reports. I believe them inevitably to be regarded rightly as the property of the public. I am happy to assure noble Lords that I would expect, as I am sure my successors would expect also, to lay the annual reports as soon as I receive them and, in any event, well within the one month period that is suggested by both noble Lords. There may be the occasional rare circumstance where that is not possible, as in the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland; namely, were I to receive a report at

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the end of July shortly before the Summer Recess. But as far as I can give any assurance--and I give it--I shall be laying these reports before Parliament substantially before the one month period. I shall not need a month to read, digest or otherwise seek to find an excuse for what is in the reports. In fact, it was a benefit to everyone, including the Prison Service, that the prison chief inspector's reports were promptly published. Therefore, I give that assurance and hope that it meets the purposes of Members of the Committee.

Lord Dholakia: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, for his support. I am very pleased with the assurance I have received from the Minister,

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that not only will he ensure, as far as possible, that he will publish the report but that he will ensure also that his successor will take that issue into account. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: That concludes the Committee's proceedings on the Bill.

The Committee adjourned at twenty minutes before five o'clock.

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