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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The Minister is quite right in his last assertion; that the amendments cannot be pressed tonight. I note that, as I speak, the noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn of Charlton, is speaking on the Fire Services Bill. I feel for him that this group of amendmentshis pride and joyhave to pass without his being present, although we are grateful to the Minister for attempting to try to respond to them.
The noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, seemed surprised that I was trying to assist the Government in bringing criminals to justice. Perhaps I may remind him that the slogan I have adopted for the Criminal Justice Bill is, "In this party we believe in being tough on crime, but we don't believe in having rough justice". So I am trying to work the issue both ways.
I accept what the Minister said: courts will have to take many factors into account. The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, raised a good pointI am grateful for his supportwhen he mentioned Ronnie Biggs. It is true that we are talking about rare cases. The Government say that there will be more cases as a result of the Bill. Therefore, one assumes cases will become less rare.
One could have a case of an imprisoned, convicted serial murderer who escaped after one day and who was tracked down only some 30 years later. Of course it must be for the court to decide in each and every case. We are trying to assist the Chamber by looking to see whether the provisions introduced in another place fairly reflect what safeguards should be in the Billnot only against mistreating people who are innocent, but also against treating too leniently those who have been found guilty.
So I shall carefully consider the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, that there could be separate means with which to deal with humanitarian reasons. However, the Minister has gone a long way by putting some good arguments on the record. Perhaps not quite the whole way, but that is a matter for another time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
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