Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Division No. 3


Ackner, L.
Barker, B.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Colville of Culross, V.
Craigavon, V.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dholakia, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hereford, Bp.
Hylton, L. [Teller]
Listowel, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar, C.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Monson, L.
Palmer, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Stern, B. [Teller]
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tope, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walpole, L.
Weatherill, L.
Worcester, Bp.


Acton, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B. (Lord President)
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Borrie, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L.
Chandos, V.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jones, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lloyd of Berwick, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Mitchell, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Nicol, B.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Radice, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rogan, L.
Rooker, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sewel, L.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5 Nov 2003 : Column 860

7.23 p.m.

Clause 165 [Intermittent custody]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 218:

    Page 99, line 18, at end insert—

"( ) An order under subsection (8) shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we now come to Clause 165, which establishes the framework for the new sentence of intermittent custody, which was recommended in the Halliday report. It would allow certain offenders who are serving short sentences of imprisonment to serve part of the week in prison and part on licence in the community. The classic example, of course, is weekend jail where an offender is allowed into the community during the week, perhaps in order to keep his job or look after his family, but is then required to return to prison at the weekend. The difficulty is that Clause 165 does not lay out in detail how the new proposals are to work. Subsection (8) leaves the mechanics of when offenders will be required to be in prison and when they will be allowed to leave prison entirely to secondary legislation to which only the negative resolution procedure is to apply.

In Committee, the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, said of this order-making power:

    "That power allows the Secretary of State to make an order specifying that intermittent custody licence periods will consist of a prescribed duration; that they will begin or end at prescribed

5 Nov 2003 : Column 861

    times of day; or that they should include or not include certain days of the week . . . The specifications in the order will be drawn up and if necessary amended for the optimal functioning of intermittent custody"—

not a very felicitous phrase, but I think that I know what she meant—

    "as shown by the two pilot schemes that are due to be launched in January".—[Official Report, 8/10/03; col. 381.]

We agree with the Government that it is important to learn from those pilot schemes to see what works well and to identify any difficulties, so that before the scheme is applied more generally the Government would know better what to do—or, as the Minister colloquially said, the Government would have a better handle on how it should be crafted.

The difficulty is that we are yet again being asked by the Government to give our blessing in statute to something that is very shadowy. The Bill gives complete discretion to the Secretary of State to determine the way in which intermittent custody will work. Over the past two years, since the Halliday report, the Home Office's own assessment of how this custody is to work has been sketchy to say the least.

As we have said, because of the level of uncertainty surrounding the detail of the Government's plan so far and the wide-ranging scope of this order-making power, we believe that the whole procedure should be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure instead of the negative. I beg to move.

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: My Lords, I support my noble friend Lady Anelay. We have really been told nothing at all about how intermittent custody will work. I think that it is a very good idea in principle. I support it and said so in Committee. However, I do not think that we have had any explanation of how it will work. I raised one simple point in Committee—that all previous arguments against such an arrangement were based on the difficulty of accommodation. I do not know what thought has been given to where these people who are to spend merely their weekends in prison will in fact be imprisoned. Will the beds in those cells be available for the rest of the week? There are many such problems.

Moreover, it is not at all clear how this clause and these proposals on intermittent custody fit in with the previous clause dealing with custody plus. If I understand the position correctly, one person could commit an offence and receive a sentence of nine months but then be told that his custody period is only two weeks. Another person could be given a sentence of six months but be told that he has an intermittent custody period of up to 90 days. Which is the longer sentence? Which is intended to be the graver sentence? I am not sure that full care has been given to how to marry the two. I find it very difficult to understand. As I am sure the Minister herself has said, one of the problems with sentencing is the complaint that the sentence bears little relation to that which is served. On this basis, people who serve up to nine months may come out after 14 days, but someone with a shorter sentence may stay inside longer.

5 Nov 2003 : Column 862

I make those remarks in as helpful a tone as my cold will allow. I hope that the Minister will be able to say a little more about how this important new proposal will operate.

7.30 p.m.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, as the Minister will be looking for accommodation that is free at weekends and not in the week, and looking also for purposeful activity for the prisoners concerned, and prison education is the responsibility of the Department for Education and skills, perhaps we could find space in schools and do something with these prisoners who are often in need of education. The point has been well made on many occasions that short periods of custody generally do not have a beneficial effect because the people concerned do not get involved in anything. I hope that the two departments, having decided to co-operate, might co-operate on this issue too.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, that matter is slightly wide of this amendment but I can certainly reassure the noble Lord that we are getting the highest level of co-operation with our colleagues from the Department for Education and Skills who have worked with us on a number of issues in relation to education in prisons. I am sure that we shall continue to work diligently together to improve the educational opportunities that are made available in our prisons, as the noble Lord suggests.

Amendment No. 218 seeks to change the negative resolution procedure to the affirmative resolution procedure. I understand the noble Baroness's arguments in that regard, but I respectfully say that I do not agree with them on this occasion.

This order-making power is necessary to enable the Secretary of State to prescribe the duration, times or parts of the week for the period of intermittent custody. That will ensure that we are able to administer the sentence effectively through the Prison Service and the probation service. The details of the length and timing of licence periods is best left to delegated legislation given the need to respond flexibly in the light of experience of the two intermittent custody pilots.

What we have in mind for the first order is a choice between weekend and weekday release. This new sentence will require close working between the Prison Service and the probation service throughout the term of the sentence. We need to ensure that the sentence patterns are manageable for many of the reasons that the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle of Bucklow, identified. How will this work, if it is to work effectively? What are the schemes which the court can be invited to adopt in dealing with a particular offender? We believe that the negative resolution procedure provides an appropriate level of parliamentary scrutiny given the non-controversial nature of the subject matter. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee shared that view and did not raise any concerns about the nature of the order-making power. Therefore, Amendment No. 218 is one with which I cannot agree.

5 Nov 2003 : Column 863

I wish to say a few more words about the pilots. We hope that pilots will take place in two purpose-built sites in Derbyshire and Lancashire. We hope too that those pilots will start about the end of January 2004. We obviously want to create these opportunities in a way that makes sense for the service that has to deliver them and for the offenders. Custody plus, which will involve longer sentences, will enable the court to do something slightly different. The court may decide, because of the nature of the defendant's offending pattern, that there is a process through which the defendant might successfully be able to go which would include in part imprisonment and in part proper controlled supervision in the community. That will enable the defendant to be rehabilitated so as to reduce the risk that that defendant might create of continuing in the cycle of crime. For example, one could have a block period of a number of months in custody followed by—because of the assessment process that the offender has gone through—either DTO or curfew or some other form of therapeutic intervention with supervision. It enables the court to look at the nature of the offence, the nature of the offending behaviour and any underlying difficulties which may cause or contribute to that offending. For example, if there is abuse of drugs or alcohol or something of that sort, that cycle has to be addressed and dealt with. Those are the two differences. We believe that the negative resolution procedure will enable us to do this.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page