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Amendment 187C seeks to add to the skills of judicial members in Schedule 13,
Of course the judicial members of the council will be experienced sentencers; they will all be experienced in evaluating evidence of many different things. On the other hand, there will also be non-judicial members who are specialists in research and academic fields. We therefore we do not think that this addition is a necessary requirement.
Amendments 188B and 188C would mean that in proposing sentencing guidelines the council must have specific regard to one factor; namely, the comparative effectiveness of the different sentencing options. The amendments give the comparative effectiveness of sentences first place in the list of relative factors which inform the work of the council in preparing guidelines. We do not think that that approach is right. The Government's concern is that these amendments seek to give priority to one factor when there is no prioritisation of the factors in this list. Prioritising one factor would be at the cost of the other equally important factors. In some guidelines, especially for more serious
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Lord Elystan-Morgan: In the case of R v Martin in 2007, the Court of Appeal said that guidelines are guidelines and no more. Is it intended that that basic situation should be fundamentally changed by this legislation?
Lord Bach: I do not want to escape entirely from answering the noble Lord's question today but we will be debating these guidelines and the form that they will take in some detail when we come to discuss other amendments. Undoubtedly the form these guidelines take will be different from what they have been in the past, but it will be very much a question of argument whether they actually change the judges' discretion-which I know is in the back of the noble Lord's mind-in what they are able to do. I put it guardedly because we shall see how the other amendments play out.
I take the point of my noble friend Lord Borrie, who is much more supportive than I am able to be of the noble Baroness's amendments. She said that we did not know enough about how sentencers follow guidelines. This is covered to some extent by Clause 114, which places duties on the council to monitor departures, the effect of the guidelines and consistency. Other duties in Clause 113 relate to assessing the impact of guidelines. Indeed, under our provisions the council will need to collect new data in order to discharge these duties.
I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Linklater, would prefer statutory purposes, but some of the matters that she raises in her amendments are, I agree, to be found in Clauses 113, 114 and 115. Although it is always tempting to follow the suggestions of the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss-I think that her description of them was "bold"-I am not really in a position to do so this evening and doubt that I will be even when the Bill has progressed further. It is for those reasons that I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment, not out of any deep hostility to her proposals but because, in our view, the purposes should not be statutory. I have no doubt that we will return to this matter on another occasion.
Baroness Linklater of Butterstone: I thank the noble Lord for his very kind opening remarks, which I greatly appreciate. I thank other noble Lords as well for their extraordinarily interesting and important contributions.
I still want to stick to my basic premise, which is that we have an overarching sense of priorities, and that reducing reoffending and the effectiveness of sentencing are key. All the other elements that the Minister then referred to come, as it were, within that framework-for example, the fact that a long custodial sentence for a very violent crime is entirely appropriate. In such circumstances, you can argue-as I did-that there is a place for prison for certain offenders and certain types of offences and that prison is able to do the very constructive work which ultimately will prevent reoffending in the same way as many other different situations. I do not think, in making that case, that the Minister has undermined mine. I will think very hard
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