Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

I repeat that the Government have listened to Parliament. Two of the amendments from the Commons, which the noble Baroness suggested should be rejected—they are mentioned in her Motion—would make the Cabinet Office in charge of the statistics legislation and operational matters. That is the very thing that this House voted for and which the Government have sought to comply with, hence the amendments, which the noble Baroness suggests we should not agree to.

Wherever possible, we have moved to meet the views of all sides and have made real changes to the Bill. We have done so on the governance of the board—in particular on the role of the National Statistician—and on where residual responsibility for the board should lie within government, which was the subject of earlier amendments. It will be recognised that the Government have been responsive. We have had further clarification of the board’s important role in relation to pre-release. That is probably the last remaining area of contention. The Government are proposing real and significant reforms to the current pre-release regime, with a meaningful and strong role for the board in determining the new arrangements.

Although I have heard a great deal about the question of trust in statistics, let us not devalue ourselves too far. Despite the persistent belief expressed, there is little evidence to support systematic abuse of our current arrangements. The Statistics Commission, which

9 July 2007 : Column 1259

investigates alleged breaches of the current protocol on release practices, makes it clear that the number of breaches is an extremely small percentage of the mass of statistical releases. The Phillis review of government communications three years ago found no evidence that the right of pre-release had been abused. A recent Statistics Commission survey found that, as regards quality, the official outputs in the United Kingdom are considered by the public to rival the best in the world. They do; our statistics have enjoyed a reputation across the world. Therefore, the Bill is a conscious attempt to enhance trust in statistics. It improves control arrangements, but we should not sell ourselves short on the basis of our current regime.

I hope it will be seen that the Government’s proposals create a significant role for the board with regard to pre-release. The noble Baroness derided the sanction that the board would have in identifying a national statistic produced outside the code of practice, the development and monitoring of which it would be responsible for. That would be a highly significant sanction for anyone who was responsible for such a statistic, and of course the role of the board is clearly identified.

The sooner the Bill receives Royal Assent, the sooner can begin the important business of making a reality of the new system. We have had very intensive debates about these issues, but the Minister in the other place expressed the view that the Government do not propose to move on this narrow issue. I emphasise that this Bill is too important to be put in jeopardy, and its definition has been much improved by debate here and in the other place. I hope it will be recognised that the best way to enhance confidence in our national statistical system is to ensure that the Bill gets a ready passage, and I hope that the noble Baroness will not press her Motion.

Baroness Noakes: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate—in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Moser, who paid tribute to a number of parties, including the Statistics Commission. I associate myself with those remarks.

The Minister referred to the commitments made at the Dispatch Box about the 24-hour period and consultation. We accept the force of those commitments, but that is not the issue. The issue is who should set the rules, and that can be seen most clearly in the wording of the Commons disagreement:

We do not agree with that. We think that it is more appropriate that the independent Statistics Board sets those rules. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

5.08 pm

On Question, Whether the said Motion (No. C1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 181; Not-Contents, 151.

9 July 2007 : Column 1260

Division No. 2


Addington, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Armstrong of Ilminster, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Avebury, L.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Best, L.
Biffen, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blaker, L.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Bruce-Lockhart, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cathcart, E.
Chidgey, L.
Cobbold, L.
Colville of Culross, V.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Cotter, L.
Courtown, E.
Craigavon, V.
Crickhowell, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
De Mauley, L.
Dearing, L.
Denham, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
D'Souza, B.
Dykes, L.
Eccles, V.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Falkland, V.
Fearn, L.
Feldman, L.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Fowler, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Garel-Jones, L.
Geddes, L.
Glasgow, E.
Glenarthur, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goodlad, L.
Greaves, L.
Greenway, L.
Hamilton of Epsom, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hannay of Chiswick, L.
Harris of Richmond, B. [Teller]
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Inge, L.
James of Blackheath, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jones of Cheltenham, L.
Jopling, L.
Kingsland, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Leach of Fairford, L.
Lee of Trafford, L.
Lindsay, E.
Listowel, E.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
Lyell of Markyate, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
McNally, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Montrose, D.
Moser, L.
Murphy, B.
Naseby, L.
Neuberger, B.
Newby, L.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Palmer, L.
Palumbo, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patten, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Plumb, L.
Ramsbotham, L.
Rawlings, B.
Razzall, L.
Reay, L.
Rees-Mogg, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogan, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Sainsbury of Preston Candover, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.

9 July 2007 : Column 1261

Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Selsdon, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shephard of Northwold, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Slim, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Steinberg, L.
Stern, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Holbeach, L.
Tebbit, L.
Tenby, V.
Teverson, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomas of Winchester, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tonge, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Trenchard, V.
Trumpington, B.
Tugendhat, L.
Vallance of Tummel, L.
Verma, B.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walpole, L.
Warnock, B.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Windlesham, L.
Young of Hornsey, B.


Adonis, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Anderson of Swansea, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B. [Lord President.]
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bhattacharyya, L.
Bilston, L.
Borrie, L.
Boston of Faversham, L.
Boyd of Duncansby, L.
Bradley, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Corston, B.
Crawley, B.
Crisp, L.
Cunningham of Felling, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Drayson, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L. [Teller]
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkender, B.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Ford, B.
Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.
Foulkes of Cumnock, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grantchester, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haskel, L.
Haworth, L.
Henig, B.
Hollick, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Jones, L.
Jones of Whitchurch, B.
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kinnock, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Leitch, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McCluskey, L.
McDonagh, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Malloch-Brown, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Maxton, L.
Meacher, B.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.

9 July 2007 : Column 1262

O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.
Oxburgh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prashar, B.
Prosser, B.
Quin, B.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rooker, L.
Rosser, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sewel, L.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Snape, L.
Soley, L.
Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Bolton, B.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Triesman, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
West of Spithead, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Norwood Green, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion C1 agreed to accordingly.

Motion C, as amended, agreed to.

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill

5.19 pm

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons amendments be now considered.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

commons amendments

[The page and line references are to Bill 19 as first printed for the Lords.]

MOTION A“(d) a duty owed to anyone held in custody.”““custody” includes being held in prison, secure mental healthcare facilities, secure children’s homes, secure training centres, immigration removal centres, court cells and police cells, and being subject to supervision by court, prisoner and detainee escort services;”“Power to extend meaning of “relevant duty of care”

9 July 2007 : Column 1263

(a) is in any specified form of custody or detention, or is otherwise on premises of a specified description or on premises in specified circumstances, and(b) is by reason of that fact a person for whose safety the organisation is responsible,(a) may amend this Act so as to restrict or disapply exceptions as regards the application of any provision contained in this Act as a result of such an order;(b) may make any amendment to this Act that is incidental or supplemental to, or consequential on, an amendment made by such an order.““premises” includes land, buildings and moveable structures;”

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I beg to move that this House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 5, 6 and 10 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 10F to 10I in lieu.

We are again called on to consider the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill. The issue remains the difference in position between this House and the other place on the appropriate way for the Bill to deal with deaths in custody. Your Lordships were due to consider this Bill last Monday. That debate was postponed while further consideration took place. I am extremely grateful for the time that the noble Lords, Lord Ramsbotham, Lord Hunt of Wirral, Lord Dholakia and Lord Lee of Trafford, have taken to discuss this issue further with me.

This has also been a period in which new Ministers have taken up their posts. The Government have given extremely serious consideration to your Lordships’ concerns. We have explored the different options available with great care. The Government have offered considerable movement in response to your Lordships’ concerns. We have accepted the principle of the offence extending to custody and provided a means in the Bill to bring that about. That is a great deal of movement when measured against the Government’s very clear view when introducing the Bill that the offence should focus on health and safety duties and not apply to the discharge of specific public responsibilities.

Your Lordships have therefore secured a very considerable compromise by the Government. Since that was adopted in the other place, your Lordships have asked the Government to reconsider the position twice. We have done so, and we have given careful thought in doing so. My discussions with noble Lords will, I hope, have demonstrated how seriously we have taken the issue, and that we have been prepared to look at the range of options. Nevertheless, there comes a point at which, as a responsible Government,

9 July 2007 : Column 1264

we must say that we have gone as far as we can. Following careful reflection, the Government have concluded that the position adopted in the other place is as far as it is right for the Bill to go.

Strong concerns have been raised by your Lordships on the issue of deaths in custody. The Government have taken those concerns seriously and have sought to steer a path between those who wish to see the offence extended and the Government’s view that any such extension must be delayed while the implications of the lifting of Crown immunity in practice are considered. There are considerable uncertainties involved in applying the new offence to Crown bodies. The prosecution of government departments represents uncharted territory and there will inevitably be difficult questions about how exactly that will work in practice, not least what the consequences will be for extending the criminal law to the organisation and activity of very significant public functions.

The Bill steers a careful path and sets out a number of areas where the offence will apply across the board, private and public sector, Crown and non-Crown alike. These cover key responsibilities towards employees and in the occupation of premises, and other important health and safety duties in the provision of services and the use of plant and equipment.

Your Lordships’ House and the other place have both recognised that the exercise of some public functions must stand outside this offence. The Government have recognised the very strongly held concerns of a number of your Lordships on the issue of deaths in custody and have provided a means in the Bill for addressing them. In doing so, we have recognised the principle of extending the offence beyond the traditional ambit of health and safety matters to wider concerns. That is very considerable movement.

The arguments since put by your Lordships have rightly caused the Government to go back and consider their position, but we have reached the conclusion that it is not right to go further. That position is accepted by the other place, and I urge your Lordships to accept the clear insistence of the other place.

Before sitting down, let me bring two matters to your Lordships’ attention. Noble Lords will recall that following the concerns raised on deaths in custody in the context of this Bill, the Government offered to put the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman on a statutory footing. I am pleased to inform your Lordships that a criminal justice Bill was introduced in the other place on 26 June and will give effect to that.

I also want to draw your Lordships’ attention to changes made to the amendments in lieu. The first is to address a point raised in the other place by the right honourable gentleman, Douglas Hogg. He was concerned about the inclusion of scope in subsection (2) of the proposed power to specify exceptions to the forms of custody to which the offence would extend. As we wish to address that concern, the scope to specify exceptions has been removed. Moreover,

9 July 2007 : Column 1265

changes have been made to make it clear that the definition of “premises” in subsection (1) of the power is the same definition as already contained in Clause 2. That definition will now appear in the wider interpretation clause inserted by other amendments made in your Lordships’ House and already accepted by the other place.

There is much that is good in this Bill. It will set out a new basis for holding organisations to account for gross corporate negligence. The identification principle will no longer present an obstacle to prosecution in such cases. The Bill will usher in a new type of sentence for organisations—the publicity order. In passing the Bill, Parliament will send out a clear message that the law will bear down hard on those organisations that do not take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.

The Bill has come a long way—not just in discussion in this place and the other place, but in a long journey from a clear need to reform the law being identified to this House standing on the threshold of putting a new offence on a statutory footing. I urge this House to take that final step today.

Moved, That this House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 5, 6 and 10 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 10F to 10I in lieu.—(Baroness Ashton of Upholland.)

Lord Ramsbotham: rose to move, as an amendment to Motion A, leave out from “House” to the end and insert “do insist on its Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 5, 6 and 10 and do disagree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 10F to 10I in lieu.”

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am most grateful once again to the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for the way in which she has explained her case and pay great tribute to her for the fact that she has been at great pains to consult and keep those of us interested in the amendments in the picture—in the loop, as it were—of what has been going on. I know that it has not been easy for her, not least because, at the time, she has been taking over other responsibilities.

Therefore, we were extremely pleased when she came with the information that the Secretary of State for Justice was minded to include custody in the Bill and asked if we would be happy if there were a delay while he considered. We were immediately happy to give that assurance and did so. I wrote to him saying that I was extremely happy and glad that he was doing that. We were happy to consult with him if he would like that. Because “time” and “if”, as opposed to “when”, were mentioned in the previous letter, I suggested to him a date that might be acceptable to everyone in this House. That was a date sometime ahead, 1 January 2009, which gives a considerable amount of time for all the concerns that the Government have expressed to be considered.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page