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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, the House may or may not recall—it seems it does not recall—that I moved similar amendments in Committee and I made the same comments as have been covered so admirably by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley. At that stage I listened carefully to the response from the Minister. I considered it further when we had our meeting with her on matters to do with children. I also

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read e-mails from the Children's Society and on reflection, having considered the Minister's response carefully, I felt that it was not appropriate for me to go further on these matters and I shall accept the assurances of the Minister.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I invite the Minister to assure the House that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been fully taken into account in the drafting of this part of the Bill.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I can tell your Lordships and the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, that the Bill complies with all the commitments made by the UK in relation to any convention that we have signed and implemented in relation to children.

Amendments Nos. 219 and 220 would require the courts to take into account additional factors about the offender, including his or her welfare and rehabilitation needs when undertaking the assessment of dangerousness in the case of juveniles. I understand why the noble Baroness pressed these issues upon us on the previous occasion and I know the reasons that she does so again. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for indicating her satisfaction with what the Government said. If I shortly respond to the amendment, I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, will be similarly satisfied.

As I stated in Committee, these amendments are unnecessary because the purpose of the assessment is to establish whether the offender poses,

    "a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm".

In order to inform the assessment the court is required to take into account all information available to it about the nature and circumstances of the offence. Additional information about the offender may be taken into account by the court when undertaking the assessment, but it is not considered appropriate to require the court to take such additional information into account as the assessment must hinge upon the risk that the offender poses as opposed to that individual's needs.

We may be entirely sympathetic to the offender and the offender's needs but that does not detract from our need to assess the level of risk that that offender presents for whatever reason, because once the court has identified the nature and quality of the risk and has made an assessment of whether the young offender presents a significant risk of harm to the public, it can then go on to consider, bearing in mind that risk, how best to deal with the offender in all the other circumstances of the case.

The court, to be advantaged in order to make an informed judgment, has to assess that risk. The risk does not involve an assessment of the offender's need because the risk the offender presents to the members of the public is not mitigated by virtue of the fact that the offender may justifiably have had a terrible time, be incapable of controlling emotions, be spontaneously violent, unable to control himself and cannot reasonably be expected to control himself.

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That does not detract from the risk that that individual may present to unsuspecting people who come across him. There is a separation.

I very much understand and welcome the passion the noble Baroness has for ensuring that the welfare of the child is considered at all material points, but, we would say, not at this particular stage. It is a two-stage process.

While I acknowledge that information about the offender and his welfare and rehabilitation needs may in some circumstances be relevant for a risk assessment such as this, it will not be relevant in all cases. The focus of sentencing in this clause is upon the risk that the offender poses in reoffending and the degree of harm that would be caused by the commission of any further offences. The sentences provided for in this chapter are a response to that.

Therefore, we do not wish to place a requirement upon the court to consider this information when it may not be relevant and its inclusion could undermine the relevance of any risks posed, thus potentially jeopardising the safety of the public. I hope that with that response the noble Baroness will better understand why we have made the distinction.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her explanation. It is very clear that we need to separate the welfare of the child from the level of risk to the public. Having accepted and understood her explanation, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 220 not moved.]

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 220A to 220C:

    Page 124, leave out lines 15 to 22 and insert—

"(a) a specified offence,
(b) an offence specified in Schedule 15 (offences under the law of Scotland), or
(c) an offence specified in Schedule 16 (offences under the law of Northern Ireland)." Page 284, line 13, at end insert—

"An offence under section 1 of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (female genital mutilation).
An offence under section 2 of that Act (assisting a girl to mutilate her own genitalia).
An offence under section 3 of that Act (assisting a non-UK person to mutilate overseas a girl's genitalia)." Page 285, line 36, at end insert—

"An offence under section 16 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (meeting a child following sexual grooming etc.).
An offence under section 17 of that Act (abuse of position of trust: sexual activity with a child).
An offence under section 18 of that Act (abuse of position of trust: causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity).
An offence under section 19 of that Act (abuse of position of trust: sexual activity in the presence of a child).
An offence under section 20 of that Act (abuse of position of trust: causing a child to watch a sexual act).
An offence under section 48 of that Act (paying for sexual services of a child).
An offence under section 49 of that Act (causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography).

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An offence under section 50 of that Act (controlling a child prostitute or a child involved in pornography).
An offence under section 51 of that Act (arranging or facilitating child prostitution or pornography).
An offence under section 53 of that Act (causing or inciting prostitution for gain).
An offence under section 54 of that Act (controlling prostitution for gain).
An offence under section 57 of that Act (trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation).
An offence under section 58 of that Act (trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation).
An offence under section 59 of that Act (trafficking out of the UK for sexual exploitation).
An offence under section 67 of that Act (exposure).
An offence under section 68 of that Act (voyeurism).
An offence under section 70 of that Act (intercourse with an animal).
An offence under section 71 of that Act (sexual penetration of a corpse)."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 221 [The Parole Board]:

9.30 p.m.

Lord Thomas of Gresford moved Amendment No. 220CA:

    Page 127, line 26, leave out subsections (5) and (6).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in Committee, on 14th October, I raised the issue of the rules of the Parole Board and indicated that I had been unable to trace them on the Parole Board's own programme. A very interesting and important contribution was made by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, who was a member of the Parole Board. He gave us background to the matter when he pointed out that he and his colleagues had written out their own rules, having failed to obtain from the Home Office rules for governing their procedures in the particular area with which we were concerned. He said:

    "We sent them to the Home Office and said, 'This is the best we can do. We will have to train the members of the Parole Board on the basis of these rules because you will not produce any'".—[Official Report, 14/10/03; col. 807.]

He said that, in the end, he received rules that bore a marked similarity to the draft that had been sent to the Home Office. In reply, the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, made the point that it was not his Bill—that was the case—and said:

    "Having made those two general commitments"—

that rules would be made in time and that training would be provided—

    "and, aware that I am—how shall I put it?—speaking on another's Bill, it is better that I put in writing to those Members of the Committee and others any further points on those issues that go to the heart of what they have raised, so that we provide as much clarity as possible before Report".—[Official Report, 14/10/03; col. 808.]

On that basis, he suggested that our amendments were not pressed. In response, I said:

    "We were tempted to press the matter to a Division, but I have heard what the Minister said and await with interest—within the next two weeks—his further response that will make absolutely clear what is the Government's position on the issue".—[Official Report, 14/10/03; col. 809.]

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That was the state of play on 14th October. I was not cognisant of any communication from the Bill team or any Minister, so I checked, and I understand that there has been none. We do not seem to have got very far. I seek guidance and light, on the basis of which we will consider what to do on this matter. At present, there has been no response. I am obliged to move the amendment to discover the current state of play. However, it looks as though I may well have to wait until Third Reading. I beg to move.

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