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Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Blaker, L.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Bowness, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bramall, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Broers, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Browne of Belmont, L.
Bruce-Lockhart, L.
Burnett, L.
Butler of Brockwell, L.
Byford, B.

24 July 2007 : Column 725

Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cathcart, E.
Chester, Bp.
Chidgey, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Cotter, L.
Courtown, E.
Craigavon, V.
Crickhowell, L.
De Mauley, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
D'Souza, B.
Dundee, E.
Dykes, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Falkland, V.
Fearn, L.
Feldman, L.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Fowler, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Garel-Jones, L.
Geddes, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Glasgow, E.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goodlad, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanham, B.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Higgins, L.
Hooper, B.
Howard of Rising, L.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hylton, L.
Inglewood, L.
James of Blackheath, L.
Jones of Cheltenham, L.
Kimball, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Laird, L.
Lee of Trafford, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lindsay, E.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Listowel, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lucas, L.
Luce, L.
Ludford, B.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Maclennan of Rogart, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monson, L.
Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Montrose, D.
Moore of Lower Marsh, L.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L. [Teller]
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O'Cathain, B. [Teller]
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Paisley of St George's, B.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Parkinson, L.
Patten, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plumb, L.
Quinton, L.
Ramsbotham, L.
Razzall, L.
Reay, L.
Rees, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rogan, L.
Roper, L.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandberg, L.
Sandwich, E.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Sheikh, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Southwark, Bp.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Sutherland of Houndwood, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Holbeach, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Tebbit, L.
Tenby, V.
Teverson, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomas of Winchester, B.
Tonge, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Trumpington, B.
Tyler, L.
Ullswater, V.
Verma, B.

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Waddington, L.
Walker of Worcester, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walpole, L.
Walton of Detchant, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Wolfson, L.


Adams of Craigielea, B.
Adonis, L.
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.
Billingham, B.
Bilston, L.
Blood, B.
Boothroyd, B.
Borrie, L.
Boston of Faversham, L.
Boyd of Duncansby, L.
Bradley, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, 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.
Cunningham of Felling, L.
Davidson of Glen Clova, L.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dixon, L.
Drayson, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
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.
Giddens, L.
Golding, B.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grantchester, L.
Griffiths of Burry Port, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hannay of Chiswick, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haskel, L.
Haworth, L.
Henig, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Jones of Birmingham, L.
Judd, L.
Kilclooney, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Leitch, L.
Lewis of Newnham, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McDonagh, B.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Malloch-Brown, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Maxton, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Handsworth, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Morris of Yardley, B.
O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Quin, B.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rooker, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sewel, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Finsbury, L.
Snape, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Bolton, B.
Temple-Morris, L.
Tomlinson, L.
Triesman, L.
Truscott, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Vadera, B.
Warner, L.

24 July 2007 : Column 727

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.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion E1 agreed to accordingly.

Motion E, as amended, agreed to.

Offender Management Bill

5.06 pm

The Attorney-General (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons amendments and reasons be now considered.

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

commons amendments AND REASONS

[The page and line references are to Bill 53 as first printed for the Commons.]

Motion A(a) make contractual or other arrangements with any other person for the making of the probation provision; or(b) make the probation provision himself.”

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 6, 8, 9, 12 and 13 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 8A in lieu.

Before I deal with the substance of the Motion, I should like briefly to remind the House how far we have come in our consideration of this Bill and how much it has improved as a result. The Government have listened carefully to the points made here and in the other place and we have made amendments on its aims, the restriction of court work to the public sector, national standards, training, pay, local area agreements, plans and consultation. Moreover, even at this late stage, we have made further amendments on conflict of interest and order-making powers for the establishment of trusts. However, we are now

24 July 2007 : Column 728

reaching the point where we need to finalise the provisions in the Bill. The Commons agreed.

Your Lordships will be aware of the real concerns which existed in the other place when the Bill had its Report and Third Reading stages in February. Your Lordships will also be aware that a number of the Government’s own supporters went so far as to vote against the Bill at Third Reading. But Lords Amendment No. 6 was disagreed to by a majority of 128. The other place has now recognised the improvements which have been made and has given its clear support to the Bill. I hope that this House will now feel in a position to do the same.

The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has tabled amendments to Commons Amendment No. 8A in lieu to propose that the probation trust or local lead provider should engage with the local strategic partnership to agree and implement local area agreements. The amendments also propose that the contract with the local lead provider should reinforce these obligations. That is very much what we expect to happen in practice. My right honourable friend the Minister of State, David Hanson, made it clear in the other place last week that commissioning will be a national, regional and local activity and that the local probation trust will be the lead provider provided that it meets the necessary performance standard. My right honourable friend also said that he would consider reinforcing that in the Bill. I believe that that is what the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, may have had in mind and why she has tabled her amendment today.

I need to point out that the amendment is technically flawed as it employs terms that are not defined in statute, such as “lead provider”, “regional commissioner” and “local strategic partnership”. However, I also accept that that is not the main point that we need to focus on today. I understand why the noble Baroness wants to draw attention to what my right honourable friend said in the other place. I respectfully suggest to the House that what he said is a matter of real importance. My ability to confirm that statement to your Lordships’ House is also, if I may say so, of significance.

My right honourable friend has given consideration to the matter but continues to believe that it is not necessary or appropriate to make those commitments in the Bill. He has made the position very clear on the Floor of the House, as has my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, in correspondence which I hope that a number of your Lordships will have read. That states very clearly how we propose to continue with the matter. All our plans for implementation are based around that concept. The letter makes it absolutely clear how the Government intend to proceed.

I know that it was that assurance that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, was most keen to secure and I am very happy to have been able to repeat the statements made by my right honourable friend in the other place, so that this House has the same assurance on those matters as Members of the other place. I hope that the House will accept those assurances and that the noble Baroness Lady Anelay, will not press

24 July 2007 : Column 729

her amendments, having achieved with such elegance and success all that she could possibly want.

Moved, that the House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 6, 8, 9, 12 and 13 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 8A in lieu.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: rose to move, as an amendment to Motion A, at end insert “but do propose the following amendments to Commons Amendment No. 8A in lieu—

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Motion A1 is an amendment to Motion A. The Minister said with flattering tones that I had managed to achieve in some elegant way all that I could expect to achieve. Well, no, what I have achieved is only what the Government sought to achieve by way of reassurance to their honourable friends in another place. However, I accept that the Minister has done as much as the Government are prepared to do. I therefore make it clear at the outset that my amendments were tabled only as probing amendments and remain so. I shall not be inviting my noble friends to divide the House on this matter.

For us, the core issue in the Bill is our objection to the Secretary of State’s plans to take central control of the commissioning of probation services. We prefer local control by local people, who know best what suits their needs. The House agreed with us at Report on 27 June and passed amendments to give effect to that objective. The Government today seek to overturn those amendments after a vote in another place.

The Government have argued that if they are not allowed to give the Secretary of State centralised control, nothing will change—that probation trusts cannot be trusted to extend contracts for the delivery of probation services more widely to private contractors and to the third sector. We had that full debate at Report.

The Government therefore ignore the vehicle for change that they seek to impose in any event: the new business-based membership of the probation trusts, which will rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the probation boards. If the Government trusted their own new system for appointing members of probation trusts, surely they should be able to give them the power to commission services, instead of holding that power centrally in the hands of the Secretary of State. We have the extraordinary spectacle of the Government changing the membership of the trusts so that they will be business-focused, and then undermining them immediately by legislating to give the overall power for commissioning to the Secretary of State. What do the Government say in their defence? They say, “Well, we

24 July 2007 : Column 730

do not really mean it. Despite what the Bill says, something different will happen. We will delegate our centralised power to probation trusts sometimes, perhaps often, perhaps as a matter of practice”. The terminology has changed, and at times elided, in our debates.

5.15 pm

The Government wrote to their Members of Parliament in another place before the Commons’ consideration of Lords amendments last week to put that into print. The noble and learned Baroness has summarised that very efficiently and effectively today, for which I thank her. However, it is right to quote from that letter today, because not all noble Lords will have had the opportunity to see it. I have been able to show it to one or two noble Lords. It has also been posted on the website of the National Association of Probation Officers, so it is a matter of public record although not publicly seen. I shall quote selectively from it, as one does from such letters, but I hope to highlight the matters on which we agree, not disagree. It says:

Mr Straw went on to claim that the government amendments tabled last week in another place would enable the Secretary of State to delegate his responsibility for commissioning,

he underlines the following—

I accept that that is a considerable advance on the Government’s position both at Third Reading in another place and subsequently in debates in this House, but it still does not change the fact that the Bill puts the power for commissioning centrally in the hands of the Secretary of State. I also accept from what the Minister has said that the Government have given assurances, which are on the record. No doubt Parliament will seek to hold the Government to account if they decide to do otherwise.

This matter was debated very thoroughly indeed in another place last week. Unlike the amendment on which noble Lords have just voted, this amendment had a fair and full hearing. Several of the Minister’s honourable friends questioned Mr Hanson, the Minister in another place, very closely—at col. 360 on 18 July. They asked in particular that the structure that was set out in Mr Straw’s letter of 17 July, from which I have just quoted, should be in the Bill. As the Minister has said today, Mr Hanson responded—at col. 366—by giving a commitment that he would look further into the possibility of putting this policy statement into the Bill. The Minister tells us today that the Government have thought about it but think that it is neither necessary nor appropriate to put it into the Bill.

My amendments were tabled with the specific objective of ensuring that these matters were discussed today. Unusually, I tabled them not because

24 July 2007 : Column 731

I want them to be in the Bill but because I do not. I do not feel that they advance the Bill further towards the purer objective that I seek: that there should be local control. I sought instead to give this House the opportunity to hear what the Minister in another place said in the debate last week and to hear from the Minister in this place the assurances that she has given today. The amendments were therefore tabled to achieve completeness in the debate, but not to achieve the complete satisfaction that would be arrived at only if the Government had accepted them. But there comes a time in the debates between both Houses on matters of principle when we know at some stage that we on these Benches have to say that we have presented our case and that we disagree on principle. Because we are not yet the elected House, these are the times when we have to reflect carefully as to whether we proceed further. That may change in the future, but today is today. On the basis that on this matter I do not seek to return the matter to another place, I will not press my Motion. However, at this stage, because of proceedings, I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to Motion A, Motion A1, at end insert “but do propose the following amendments to Commons Amendment No. 8A in lieu, Amendments Nos. 8B and 8C”.—(Baroness Anelay of St Johns.)

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has been consistent in her comments on this matter. She knows that she has had our support all through the Committee and Report stages. The arguments have been well rehearsed. I do not think that I need to add anything further, except to say that the issue at the centre is about local agreement and central control. I accept that the amendment may be faulty, but we need to look at what it is trying to achieve.

Because of the number of changes as regards this Bill in the past two or three years, I have no doubt that we will be back here before long. If we look at the Government’s legislative programme announced two weeks ago in this House, the emphasis that the Government are to give to local control and involvement is clear. I have no doubt that we will see that. In the mean time, as the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, is not proceeding any further with this matter, I want to assure her that in the future together we may be able to put it right.

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, in recognising the line that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has taken, I should like to quote one further sentence from the letter from the Secretary of State to Mr Neil Gerrard. It refers to the Local Government Association, which is one of the bodies mentioned in our debates as a stakeholder, particularly for local commissioning, if more responsibility is to be passed on to local commissioning and local arrangements. The letter states:

24 July 2007 : Column 732

That seems entirely in line with what the Motion proposed by the noble Baroness was designed to achieve. As it has achieved it in the words of the Secretary of State, I absolutely understand the line she is taking.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I support what my noble friend has said. The matter of who will help people not to reoffend is enormously important. I am very worried that the system being set up by the Government will not work. I do not believe that the central control of this matter will operate successfully. I say this because I was at a meeting before, I think, Second Reading with the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, and the voluntary organisations involved. The voluntary organisations were thrilled that they will get a better opportunity to enter the foray. In discussions with them afterwards, I felt that they did not realise the problems that centralisation would present. My noble friend and many others have tried to persuade the Government that they are making a mistake. They are insisting on doing it this way.

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