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Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, with the leave of the House I shall now repeat as a Statement a response to an Urgent Question made in the other place by my honourable friend the Minister of State for Climate Change.
"I am responding to this question as the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change had a longstanding engagement that prevented him from being here. He is currently opening the world's largest industrial offshore wind farm in Cumbria.
The Government have today announced plans to ensure the future of the feed-in tariffs scheme and make it more predictable. These reforms will lead to a bigger scheme, providing better value. The scheme
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The unprecedented surge of solar PV installations in the latter part of last year, due to a 45 per cent reduction in estimated installation costs since 2009, has placed a huge strain on the feed-in tariffs budget. This threatened the Government's ability to roll out these small-scale low-carbon technologies in the numbers we wanted over the next few years. We acted as swiftly as possible to respond to that threat through the changes that we are now making to the tariffs for solar PV.
Today is a turning point for the feed-in tariffs scheme. We are taking the opportunity of the review to put right the many limitations of the scheme that we inherited. We have looked hard at the feed-in tariffs budget and made the most of the flexibility available under the levy control framework to ensure that we keep the scheme going, but we want to do much more than that.
The reforms that I am announcing today are designed to make that budget go as far as possible to maximise the number of people able to benefit from feed-in tariffs. With this new reform package we aim to give plenty of TLC-transparency, longevity and certainty, which were absent from the scheme that we inherited. The reforms will provide greater confidence to consumers and industry investing in exciting renewable technologies such as solar power, anaerobic digestion, micro-CHP, wind and hydro power.
Instead of a scheme for the few, the new improved scheme will deliver for far more. Our new plans will see almost two and a half times more installations than were planned under Labour. This is good news for consumers and good news for the sustainable growth of the industry. We are proposing a more predictable and transparent scheme as the costs of technologies fall. This will ensure a long-term, predictable rate of return that will closely track changes in prices and deployment.
Make no mistake, this will be a challenging package. The tariff degression mechanism we will be proposing will not allow for fat profits or for excessive rents. However, it will also show a serious ambition. We believe that, under our new plans, by 2020 we could see over 20 gigawatts of solar PV in the UK.
The coalition wishes to see a bright and vibrant future for small-scale renewables in the UK, in which each of the technologies is able to reach its potential and get to a point where it can stand on its own two feet without the need for subsidy, sooner rather than later. In opposition we promised a decentralised energy revolution-power to the people. Today we are making a huge stride towards achieving that ambition."
Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement in the House today. I am grateful for the opportunity to debate some of these issues and to seek a few points of clarification on issues where I am not clear.
I welcome the Statement and the comments in the Written Ministerial Statement issued this morning about how the feed-in tariff scheme is an important instrument in meeting the Government's commitments on the take-up of small-scale low-carbon technologies, particularly after the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Marland. I am sorry that he is not with us today because I could have teased him on this; when we debated this issue on 30 January, he declared this scheme as one of the most ridiculous schemes that had ever been set up, and said how bad it was to have a product that needed the sun to shine to produce electricity. I am glad to see that the Government did not take his advice and instead are being supportive in their Statement today.
I sometimes think that I am repeating myself and that this falls on deaf ears, but one of the great frustrations of the debate on the now regular changes that the Government have made to the feed-in tariffs scheme is how it has been caricatured by Ministers as between a Government who recognised that there needed to be changes to the scheme and everyone else who thought that no changes were needed. I would like to lay that to rest: neither we nor the industry have ever argued against change. Our concerns have been that the speed, the scale and the way in which the changes have been made have badly damaged investor confidence across the whole renewables sector and have cost jobs. The industry is in real danger of losing the momentum that it has worked so hard to achieve.
To clarify that, I put forward the principle of degression, which is referred to in the Statement and in the consultation, in a previous debate last November when I suggested that the Minister took the opportunity to look at examples from other countries including the German degression mechanism, which controls volume as well as returns. I also advised the Minister then that these would work in the UK only with a more ambitious approach to the amount of solar PV
There is a lot to digest in the consultations issued today. I hope that there will be much to support, and no doubt we will return to these, but today I would like to raise a few issues with the Minister. The department has said today, and this is confirmed by the Minister Greg Barker in the other place, that DECC commissioned an analysis on the costs of solar PV. My understanding is that the study was commissioned on 10 January but it had to report back just three days later. How many solar PV businesses were consulted as part of that analysis? I also ask for clarification of the community schemes referred to in the consultations.
The Minister may be aware that the previous scheme that was brought in by Labour provided for community schemes because we think that that is an important way forward, particularly for social housing. The Government's first tranche of changes to solar PV and feed-in tariffs divided the market into schemes above or below 50 kilowatts. That not only ruled out the large-scale solar farms that the Government were seeking to take out of the scheme but made community schemes unviable. When I and my colleagues in the other place raised this back in November, Ministers agreed to look at it again and bring forward proposals, so we welcome consultation and will look at the new proposals
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Many in the industry who have had an opportunity to look at the proposals this morning, albeit very briefly, have been alarmed by those that could see incentives for installations with less than four kilowatts of capacity cut by a further 35 per cent to 13.6p. Their fear is that it could lead to a significant contraction of the sector. What consideration have the Government given to the impact that this level could have on businesses, and has any consideration been given to the possibility of a further surge in applications before such a level is imposed?
Can I also seek information or clarification regarding the energy performance rating of homes that will be allowed to install solar under this scheme? The Government have changed the rating from C to D in response to the consultation, which should be welcomed. However, I am slightly confused about the figures on this. Can the Minister confirm that this still means that the 50 per cent of homes that are the least energy-efficient will not be eligible? Given that private rented properties are currently ineligible for the Green Deal to install energy-efficient measures, I am concerned that some of those who would most benefit from both schemes will be eligible for neither.
Can I also ask what weight the Government will give to the responses to the consultation? The noble Baroness will be aware that the previous consultation made huge cuts to the feed-in tariffs. Several consultations followed each other and around 80 per cent of the respondents opposed the Government's plans. To be fair to them, many supported and some suggested other, less drastic alternatives to cutting the costs in that way. However, to ignore 80 per cent of respondents was quite shocking. Therefore, can I make a plea for the noble Baroness to discuss this with her colleagues, so that the Government work harder to discuss the plans with the industry, rather than just tell it what to do? I should like to avoid this constant merry-go-round of consultation, changes, consultation and changes. It would be great to work with the industry to get the changes right once and for all.
My next point is, again, a request for clarification from the noble Baroness regarding the cost of these ongoing legal actions over the Government's changes to the solar feed-in tariffs. I was able to mention this to her, albeit briefly, just before we came in. I know she is aware of my concerns about this merry-go-round of legal actions when my belief is that the Government should negotiate with the industry, rather than go into court after court and lose in court after court. When I asked the noble Lord, Lord Marland, a Question in your Lordships' House on 30 January about the cost to date of legal actions, I think he made a mistake in replying. He gave me exactly the same answer, of £66,400, as was given to my right honourable friend Caroline Flint a week earlier in the other place. In the time between her Question and mine, the Government lost the Court of Appeal case-so they must pay the
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Finally, we all want to consider and look in some detail at the consultation. I hope it will be an effective consultation exercise and that the contents of the documents will be discussed with the industry and others. I look forward to further dates. I appreciate that the noble Baroness may not be able to answer all my questions, but I would be grateful if she could write to me with the details.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her comments. It is unfortunate that my noble friend Lord Marland is not here today. He is overseas and working hard to create new export opportunities for the industry. I know he would be disappointed to miss the opportunity to respond to the points raised by the noble Baroness.
On her first point about his comments in the Chamber the other day in response to an Oral Question, my noble friend is very clear in the way he speaks. He certainly does not require me to interpret anything for him. What he said was certainly striking but there was no mistaking that his point was that the level of subsidy that was available to an industry that has become so successful was ridiculous. That is something that we should certainly welcome.
I will respond to some of the other points that the noble Baroness raised. She questioned the impact of the change in tariff on the industry. As I said in the Statement made by my honourable friend, which I repeated, we are very clear that we see a long-term future for the solar power industry. It is important. We want to put in place arrangements that safeguard the future of jobs in a sustainable way. In preparing for today, it was interesting to learn that, in the six weeks between launching the fixed consultation and its closure, more small-scale PV capacity was installed than in the whole year before. Indeed, the rate of installation continues to grow. This is an industry that is growing; it continues to be successful and we want it to be successful. Today we are announcing changes that will ensure that it has the certainty and the longevity that are important to its success. As I think my noble friend made clear in answering the noble Baroness a couple of weeks ago, as of now no job losses have been incurred. The changes that we are making are to ensure that those jobs are sustainable in the future.
The noble Baroness raised a detailed point about the cost of the analysis that was undertaken by the department after the consultation closed in the small window at the start of this year. The analysis received 80 quotes for PV installation from 10 companies and used a range of intelligence from the industry. However, on something as specific as this, I should like to write to the noble Baroness after today's debate.
The noble Baroness also asked about community schemes. For the benefit of other noble Lords, it is worth pointing out that there are two issues to do with community schemes in what we have announced today.
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On community schemes, in the context of solar PV, we have announced that those who are installing more than 25 units, rather than one, should benefit from the higher tariffs. Previously, it was proposed that once someone had installed more than just one solar panel, they would start to receive a reduced level of tariff. We have increased that to more than 25 to make sure that we do not inappropriately cut off any of the small community projects that have been mentioned in previous debates on this subject. At the same time, we are consulting today on what the definition of "community" should be in the future. As the noble Baroness pointed out, this is a very important issue and we want to get it right. We are consulting and have already talked to organisations such as the National Housing Federation and local authorities about this. The point of that consultation is to make sure that we have a proper scheme so that communities-whether they are local authorities that want to introduce solar panels for a group of schools or community-based projects-receive the kind of tariff that they rightfully should.
I am reminding myself of other points that the noble Baroness raised in her remarks. On the EPC, the definition of environmental change is something else that we took account of in considering the responses to the consultation. As I said earlier-and as the noble Baroness has acknowledged-we have changed the level of environmental grade for those eligible for the tariffs from C to D. I think the noble Baroness was asking whether this would mean that 50 per cent of people would still not be able to benefit from this tariff change without making some changes to their houses. She is right: they will still need to make some changes to their properties. However, whereas under the previous arrangement only 9 per cent of houses had a grade C energy environmental rating, at level D the sort of changes which we would expect those 50 per cent of people who are not covered by the provision to make are measures such as insulating a loft, making changes to the control mechanism of a central heating system rather than the actual boiler and perhaps lagging a cylinder. A householder would need to take account of these small changes, which can be made at reasonable cost, to reach level D. I stress that we carefully considered and have taken on board the responses on that point.
The final point that the noble Baroness raised concerned the answer that my noble friend gave to her a couple of weeks ago when she was asking about the legal costs that the department has incurred in appealing the legal judgment at the end of last year. My noble friend was careful to make clear at that time that the department had incurred costs of £66,400 so far. That was an accurate figure of the costs that had been incurred. As regards any further costs that might be incurred in light of the appeal that the department is pursuing, it is impossible for me to give the noble Baroness an estimate of what they might be. She will know that decisions on the costs that the appellant
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Lord Teverson: My Lords, I very much welcome the Statement. I also very much welcome the fact that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State concentrated on the renewables sector in the first few days of his taking office. I am pleased that the Statement shows that the Government are trying to get stability back into the investment market as I am sure that is something we all want to achieve. I also welcome the emphasis on communities that my noble friend has just mentioned as community schemes are very important.
As regards solar PV, a planning consultation is taking place today in Cornwall on a large-scale solar PV scheme and close to where I live another large-scale solar PV scheme is being rolled out. Therefore, I do not think that we need to worry too much about that industry once we have stability. I have read a DECC Written Ministerial Statement by Edward Davey on the internet. That was perhaps rather naïve of me, but it seems to be slightly different from the one we have heard today. I was pleased to read in that Statement that the department has looked hard at the FITs budget and made the most of the flexibility available under the levy control framework to ensure that it can keep the scheme going.
I very much welcome flexibility and know that it is welcomed by many people in the industry. If my noble friend cannot answer my next point fully, I would welcome a written response. How much flexibility is available as regards different types of technology within the FITs budget? Can that flexibility be increased as regards the FITs budget and the amount that the ROC system is expected to cost? I welcome this greater flexibility but would like to understand how far it might extend into the future. I appreciate that my noble friend might not have all the detail with her at this moment.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I thank my noble friend for his comments. I think it would be better if I wrote to him on his specific question. I am aware that there is definitely flexibility within the department. To put it another way, one of the advantages of the new arrangements that we are putting in place is that we do not have to introduce significant shifts in the way in which we change the tariff as the solar PV industry
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I am grateful to the noble Lord for referring to community projects as it gives me the opportunity to correct something that I said in response to the noble Baroness, Lady Smith. I think that I became a little confused between my "highers" and my "lowers" when I was talking about the number of people who might benefit from the new multi-installation tariffs. Projects of fewer than 25 units will enjoy the higher tariffs. Those above 25 units will not because once you get above 25 you start getting into a different category of people, and clearly they should not be subsidised by the public purse.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I declare an interest as the chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association. That always gets a smile but I feel that I am a lone voice. I add a note of slight criticism: FITs are not just for solar PV. It seems to me that unless I raise AD, it never seems to get mentioned in this House, but FITs are incredibly important for small-scale AD. We are going to be very much more reliant on the renewable energy coming from AD than we are from PV. Although PV is important, the amount of generating capacity is a fraction of that coming from AD.
I seek clarification on two points in relation to the Statement. However, I realise that this is a consultation process. First, DECC has come forward with a 500 kilowatt band. The problem we always have with setting such arbitrary targets is that we then have to build the kit to meet the artificial target. Until recently no technology has stopped at 500 kilowatts, so you end up building new kit to meet the artificial boundary. There is a problem here. With regard to the digressions that have been talked about on small-scale FIT, after you go over the 500 kilowatt point, the amount of money you will get under FIT goes down markedly. The stated aim in the consultation is that farm-based AD should take in food waste. If it is taking in food waste, it will then start producing more power because there are more kilojoules in the food waste, which will take it over the band. However, the very boundary itself, and the digression that is set in there, could bring about a major problem in that people will not take that extra step because they cannot get the funding.
Secondly, the expression "TLC" was used. "Tender loving care" is probably a better expression. The same financiers who have had certain problems with solar PV are the ones who are financing AD. It is extremely difficult to get any debt financing or equity financing for AD at the moment. This is of particular concern regarding the statement that if certain trigger points are met, there would be a retroactive reduction in the feed-in tariff for anything coming on-stream at that point. If we were nearing those targets, that would have a major implication for financiers financing schemes because they would not know which band tariff they
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Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I am grateful to my noble friend for his comments and for widening the debate beyond solar. It is worth pointing out that feed-in tariffs are not just about solar PV but, as I mentioned in my Statement, they are also about micro-CHP, wind and hydro power, and anaerobic digestion, as my noble friend said. As to his specific question about bands for AD, they are the same as in the original scheme, so we are not proposing a change. However, we have announced today two things: one is an outcome from the first phase of the consultation, and the other is the start of a second consultation. I therefore hope that my noble friend will take the opportunity of the new consultation and make his contribution along the lines he mentioned.
Lord Empey: My Lords, I broadly welcome the Statement. As someone who spent three years as an energy Minister in Northern Ireland, I have some grasp of the problems we face. While the announcement today is one step, we must remember that there is no silver bullet for resolving our energy problems. Much of the enthusiasm from various groups conceals the fact that we do not really have sufficient non-fossil fuel and nuclear capacity in this country to make the sort of impact that we hope for in the long term. One of the reasons why we have to approach this matter from a different angle is that we need to do more by way of making what we have more efficient. Can the noble Baroness ask her right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to encourage the retrofitting of buildings to reduce energy demand? One of the levers at his disposal is VAT. We charge full VAT on the refurbishment of buildings and no VAT on the construction of new buildings. We need a twin-track approach-one to develop other energy sources, and another to increase insulation and thereby make buildings more efficient. Would the noble Baroness be kind enough to draw that matter to the attention of her right honourable friend in the other place because the combination of those two directions that we should travel in is absolutely essential? Otherwise we are simply running to follow rising demand when in fact we must make better use of the energy that we are already producing.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I am grateful to the noble Lord for those points and for making the clear remark that there is not a silver bullet. It is important to keep that in mind when we look at the range of different sources of energy that we are using and introducing into our wider energy strategy in the UK. We need a range of different sources and that is precisely what we are doing.
As to the noble Lord's specific point about VAT exemption on new builds, and whether that can be introduced for retrofitting of older buildings in order to make them more energy efficient, which is another important part of our strategy, I will certainly pass that point on to my right honourable friend the Chancellor as I am sure the noble Lord will understand that it is not possible for me to respond today.
When IOC president Jacques Rogge stated that corrupt betting, not doping, was the biggest threat to the London 2012 Olympic Games, his opinion was read by some to be surprising and unexpected. From my perspective, his words were intended to send a signal to Governments, the Olympic family and, above all, the athletes proactively to take seriously a potential scourge that could seriously damage the reputation of the Olympic Games and the integrity of Olympic sport in the 21st century.
Today's debate provides us with an opportunity to assess how well prepared we are for this threat to sporting competition. To date, we have taken only a few tentative steps towards addressing how sport can best mount a counterattack against suspicious betting and event fixing in Olympic and Paralympic sport.
Over recent years, this threat to sport has grown. Significant changes in the betting market during the past decade have provided increased opportunities for those who seek to engage in corrupt betting on sport. Internet betting and new betting platforms-exchange and spread betting-have resulted in increased liquidity in the betting markets and the opportunity for punters to play the bookmaker and bet on teams, individuals and horses to lose. Above all, the industry is increasingly designing every conceivable type of bet, and the greatest danger comes from bets available on specific events that occur "in play" and are televised globally
The strongest and most effective response in the United Kingdom came from the Parry report-a review of integrity in sports betting. It recognised what has become commonplace in the financial sector, where the misuse of inside information-insider dealing-is a criminal offence, and proven breaches are likely to result in a criminal prosecution overseen by the FSA. That remains a far cry from the world of sport, where there is no generic definition of inside information. The lack of any clarity on this issue poses a major
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There are, however, other types of inside information open to abuse that do not bear directly on the final result of the event. Such information may be used for what is known as spot fixing, whereby inside information is misused to bet on certain acts taking place during the course of an event, although those acts may have no bearing on the eventual result of the event. The recent conviction of three Pakistan cricketers for arranging no-balls to be delivered at certain fixed points of the Lords test match against England is an illustration of that sort of inside information, as they knew those no-balls were going to be bowled at that stage of the England innings, which in turn proved very useful information for corrupt betting purposes.
The Parry review led to the establishment of the Sports Betting Group, which advises the British Olympic Association. I pay tribute to that group, which includes Darren Bailey, Simon Barker, Ian Smith, Paul Scotney, James MacDougall and Tim Lamb, for its work on this issue, and its advice to us at the British Olympic Association and to the athletes that we will select to represent Team GB. The Parry review made further recommendations that are relevant to our debate and merit consideration by the Government. The review called for an ongoing risk assessment process, and constant and effective monitoring of betting patterns. This summer that must mean constant monitoring of every televised event in the Olympic Games, and cover every heat and every final.
The decision to establish a joint working party between the Gambling Commission and one IOC representative to undertake that work is a start, but the 205 national Olympic committees and the Paralympic committees need to know what process will be followed when strong evidence of irregular or illegal betting is discovered. To date, there is no guidance on whether the athlete, the coach or the team chef de mission will be immediately informed and what should be done with that information. The athlete may be innocent, but there is no guidance for national Olympic committees, let alone established rules and procedures to follow. At the British Olympic Association, we have embarked on our own far reaching educational programmes and embedded codes of conduct to be signed by every athlete selected to participate in the British team but, for many British athletes, this will be the first time that they know the rules regarding the scope of their ability to place a bet on the Olympic Games; whether their coaches or families can place a bet on another sport in the Olympic calendar; or what to do if they are approached to fix a competition, or part of it, and to whom to report.
A universal code of conduct is required urgently if the scourge predicted by president Jacques Rogge is not to become reality. The IOC's founding working group on the fight against irregular and illegal sports betting has made an important start. Both the Minister
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We need ongoing programmes of education and awareness-raising for all sports participants, particularly on the dangers of the misuse of inside information. It is regrettable that, in all the forums working on that issue, the principal stakeholders-the athletes-are not represented, as they are central to resolving that challenge. A handful of athletes may be the problem. The overwhelming majority of athletes-those of the highest integrity and desirous of contributing to the fight against threats to their sport-are a vital part of the solution. It is notable that the biggest problem by far in cricket is in the three jurisdictions where there is no player association: India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
For London 2012, the Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson, and his colleagues are to be congratulated. The system for the London 2012 Games exceeds any which has been seen before at a multisport event and includes the establishment of a joint assessment unit, which will monitor betting intelligence throughout the period of the Games. Although the progress which has been made by the Gambling Commission and the IOC should be applauded, there is a need to ensure that the communication and disciplinary procedures which will operate at the time of the Games are robust. At present, guidance is needed from the Government on a range of related issues. I put the following questions to the Minister.
What is the process for analysing and reviewing the credibility of any evidence discovered by the joint assessment unit? Are there plans to monitor live betting activity? Will independent experts be recruited to review evidence? Will data be collected in advance of the Games of the betting patterns across both Olympic and Paralympic sports? What procedures will be adopted by the IOC to notify national Olympic committees of any adverse betting activity within their delegations? Are there plans to carry out scenario planning and testing for the JAU? That will be invaluable for all stakeholders to understand how communication processes will work and to test the processes for analysing evidence.
It is not clear whether the IOC Ethics Commission has sufficient understanding of suspicious betting and the appropriate mechanisms in place to act effectively. For example, it worries me that the frequent use of the word "irregular" is often linked by the IOC to illegal betting. The proper definition should be suspicious betting. The reason why that is misleading is that history shows that the challenge for the majority of sports is suspicious betting on legal markets. Irregular betting patterns are a normal everyday phenomenon of all betting markets and can be caused by a number of factors that are not to do with corruption, including the volume of money. Although betting-related corruption on illegal markets can be a problem, that is mainly in the sport of cricket. Recent betting-related scandals in horse racing, football and snooker have all been on legal markets, both traditional fixed odds and the betting exchanges.
We also need to address the problem that many bookmakers operating in the UK do so over the internet and are based overseas in places such as Gibraltar and Malta. That means that they avoid the UK licensing regime as well as tax. As a result, those operators are not statutorily obliged to share information with the Gambling Commission and sports governing bodies. I support Matthew Hancock who, in another place, is urging the Government to put those proposals into effect as soon as possible. Additionally, the existing definition of cheating in the Gambling Act 2005 is not, in my view, fit for purpose. A specific sports fraud definition is necessary. The Parry report was once again right in that respect.
I have sought to set out a few essential components of a comprehensive programme to meet the challenge set out by the president of the IOC. The central threat to the 2012 events is that many of the participants and officials will come from countries where corrupt individuals will pay a life-changing amount of money, which can be as little as $5,000, without thinking as they know that they can make 10 times that, particularly by betting on the exchanges, if they know that someone will definitely not be winning. The use of specific inside information that someone will not be winning an event for any number of reasons is gold dust to those in corrupt betting.
We need a sporting landscape in which universal rules are formulated to tackle betting-related corruption- a landscape that recognises the importance of ongoing monitoring and assessment of the risk that all Olympic sports face from corrupt betting, particularly the misuse of inside information.
With the Olympic Games just a few months away, the threat of match-fixing tactics and suspicious betting grows even greater. In a more perfect world, where Corinthian ideals still prevailed, there would be no need for us to have this debate but, sadly, that dark shadow threatens to undermine public confidence in our Games. Cheating appears to many to be endemic in some sports, with only the most vigorous and determined detection unveiling wrongdoing. Faith in the integrity of athletes and those around them has to be maintained. We bid for the Games not only for the privilege of holding them in London but also to provide a high-profile shop window for sport and to inspire and motivate all of us-perhaps most importantly young people-to become physically active. The prospect of an Olympics where cheats may be seen to prosper is unthinkable. Thus, the role of Her Majesty's Government is vital. Only they have powers to act as guardian of
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In order to put questions to the Government, I will look at the relatively short history of the Gambling Commission, set up under the Gambling Act 2005, to the present day. Under the Act, the commission has powers to prosecute offences of cheating and to void bets. Any money paid in relation to illegal bets must be returned to the person who paid it. The commission's work on betting integrity has a licence condition which requires betting operators to share information of suspicious transactions with the commission and with sports governing bodies.
At present, the Gambling Commission regulates most gambling activities in the UK. As the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, pointed out, remote gambling is a different proposition. Those operators who offer services to British customers but operate entirely from overseas are not subject to regulation by the commission.
In 2009, Gerry Sutcliffe, the then Minister for Sport, established a panel of experts to consider the integrity of sports betting. As a result of their deliberations, a sport betting group was set up administered by the Sport and Recreation Alliance-long known to us old hands as the CCPR-and it, in its turn, established a set of voluntary procedures to constitute a code of practice. That code seeks to help sports to understand and react accordingly to the threat posed by betting.
Moving on in this reflective passage, the DCMS's Consultation on the Regulatory Future of Remote Gambling in Great Britain, which came out in March 2010, strengthens the constraints on operators, promising primary legislation for a new licensing system. Following an inquiry by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, the Government made a response promising further action. Most recently, Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics, asserted that Her Majesty's Government intend to establish a unit to target suspicious betting at the Olympic Games.
All those assurances are designed to give confidence that the Olympic Games will be comprehensively protected, but can that be the case? Is it not evident that the Government's response is classically too little, too late? With only weeks to go, it would appear that the promised legislation is unlikely to be in place, so where will the protection be that is legally enforceable? Are the Government satisfied with the Sport and Recreation Alliance backing a voluntary code of conduct for the governing bodies? What safeguards does such a code provide? And what of the international aspect of illegal betting? What pan-European strategies are in place? Do we enlist the co-operation of our European neighbours to help us to enforce a clean Olympic Games? Are we, indeed, already speaking to our European neighbours? If recent actions at the European summit are anything to go by, it is unlikely that the warmest co-operation will be forthcoming.
Spreading even further abroad, worldwide co-operation is essential. What progress have the Government established with Governments who agree with us about the importance of integrity in sport? What progress has been made by policing units and government departments in setting up appropriate strategies for
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We appear to have a Sports Minister who is rapidly running out of time and a Government who are running out of ideas, all of which fills me with total apprehension regarding the security of the Games. I wait to be told that I am wrong. All the nation's sporting bodies need a detailed account of the Government's pledges so that we can be reassured that the Games are not only fit for purpose but a beacon of integrity for all of us to look forward to.
Lord Addington: My Lords, when I saw the subject of this debate, I initially thought, "Oh, yes. That will be a problem this time, won't it?". When most of us think about betting, we do not think about the Olympic Games or the Games structure; we always think about certain activities. Traditionally it was racing but it has now expanded into football, with possibly boxing or the other martial arts being dominant.
The Olympic Games have not had the best of records, in ancient or modern times, when it comes to the integrity of the events. Not only has there been the great problem of doping but at times question marks have been raised over the impartiality of judges in any sport that requires judging. Casting my mind back to when Torvill and Dean were winning everything, I remember that one or two judges from the eastern bloc gave them high scores and were never seen on the international circuit again. There is a tradition of prestige in controlling what happens.
Now, we have a new threat, which basically is money. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, pointed out-or, at least, he made it clear to me-that the issue of money involves not just the medallists. The fact is that there is money to be made in an obscure market by making sure that an athlete who has made the grade to be a competitor but is expected to reach only the semi-finals does not get that far. One has only to look at the number of events to realise how many attempts can be made to interfere with the odds process by removing the competition at certain points. That is the challenge that faces us.
The noble Lord did an excellent job of going through the activity that has taken place, but I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, is correct that, as has always been the case, we are playing catch-up to events. We are in a reactive phase and have been for quite a long time. The previous Government may have started this but they still said, "Oh, there's a bus ahead. I'm belting after it". How much effort are we putting in to catch up? Perhaps the Government can give us some assurances about how they are progressing in this respect. The answer to this is surely to be open with information and share information in order to see where the flows of money and pressure are and what we should be looking at.
There was the example of a tennis match a few years ago when the person who was ahead suddenly dropped out. On that occasion, people were aware that something was wrong because it became clear from the betting markets. We have a huge ally here-the
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We must take a holistic approach to this problem. Prevention will be better than cure here. It will be necessary to make sure that all countries that have athletes who are capable of winning or influencing the various stages are looked after, and the IOC itself is going to have to look after them. How the Government play into this is vital. There is a history of people trying to change things for the purposes of prestige and profit. Unless the Government encourage greater openness so that we are all aware of what is going on, people will find a way through. We need to put pressure on those who want to be associated with Britain-for example, Gibraltar and Malta-and make sure that we have total access to, and some way of dealing with, irregularities in betting there. That might be a way for those places to reassert how favourably they feel towards Great Britain and how much they want to be involved. I could put it much more strongly than that but life is too short. Perhaps my noble friend can give us some guidance on what we are doing on all these fronts.
One of the primary aims of the Olympics is to create a legacy. It is a legacy of how to deal with an existing problem and a legacy that will continue not only in relation to the Olympics but in relation to all future British sporting events. I hope that when my noble friend comes to reply she will be able to tell us what progress has been made in getting all those involved to pass on all the information they can to the relevant authority. Can she also tell us how soon they will be able to do that and how they will encourage the flow of that information? That is really the only way in which we can nullify, if not stop, the impact of corrupt betting.
Lord Condon: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for raising these very important questions and I apologise for the state of my voice. I declare two relevant interests in this debate. First, I am the Senior Independent Director of G4S Plc, which is the Olympic security contractor, but, more relevant to today's debate on a personal and voluntary basis, I am a sports integrity adviser to LOCOG.
I do not share some of the pessimism that I have heard so far. I believe that London 2012 will be match-fit to deal with the threat of sports event fixing for betting purposes. Yes, there is a great deal to be done but one should not underestimate the huge amount of work that has been done so far. I am certainly not complacent. Vigilance remains the watchword but a great deal of thought, scenario planning, discussion and comprehensive planning has already taken place and continues to take place.
Based on my sports integrity work with international sports bodies in recent years, I believe and recommend that four things have to be in place to combat fixing for betting purposes. This applies to sport generally, but certainly to major events like the Olympics.
First, the criminal law and the sports disciplinary codes must be unambiguous and provide clear guidance and clear offences which may be involved in the event of fixing being alleged or suspected. There can be no ambiguity about what is and what is not allowed either in the criminal law or in the discipline codes of the sports. Certainly, we saw in the prosecution of the errant Pakistan cricketers how the criminal law could be used successfully in the United Kingdom. For the first time, the International Olympic Committee at this Olympics has adopted in its code of ethics comprehensive rules against betting and cheating at sport. These rules will complement the codes of behaviour that are being enforced by the individual sports federations. The regulatory framework, while not perfect, is certainly beginning to be put in place and is more fit for purpose in the London 2012 Olympics than in any previous Olympic Games.
Secondly, there is a need for a comprehensive education programme to raise the awareness of competitors and officials to the risks posed and the methods used by the fixers to groom and entice them into wrongdoing. Some sports are more advanced than others. They have had to be. Cricket and tennis have very comprehensive education programmes for everyone who plays international sport. Much has been done but much still needs to be done to raise awareness. I know that the International Olympic Committee and international federations know that they must do more in the build-up to the Olympics. Raising awareness and education is one of the vital ways of combating fixing in sport.
Thirdly, intelligence on fixing needs to be gathered, analysed, shared and, if necessary, turned into action. This is where there has been a great deal of work which perhaps has not been given sufficient publicity so far. We have planned, scenario-planned, modelled and looked at a variety of situations. During the Games an innovative joint assessment unit-JAU-will be formed. It will meet every day and comprise staff from LOCOG, the Gambling Commission, the Metropolitan Police, the UK Border Agency and the IOC Ethics Commission. There will be daily meetings to gather, share and assess all the relevant information and patterns on fixing and gambling coming in from whatever source-betting agencies, police agencies or the Gambling Commission.
Fourthly, there is a need to have the capacity to take swift and effective enforcement action. I can confidently report that the joint assessment unit has, in its planning and modelling, looked at the whole range of possible scenarios for our Olympics that could trigger criminal investigations and/or IOC investigations and individual sports federation investigations if and when required. Clearly there is no room for complacency, but a great deal of thought and preparation has already taken place and will grow in intensity over the next few weeks.
What is the level of threat to the Games by the fixers? Sports fixtures are not vanity or status fixers: they are not, like a train spotter or a bird spotter, seeking to fix an event at an Olympics because it is a prestigious event. They are grubby, seedy, mainly criminal people who look to make their sports fix wherever and whenever they can. They will target the Olympics only if they think that there are new or very easy opportunities to fix compared with the huge volume of betting and potential fixing that takes place every day of every year.
We must be vigilant, we must be prepared and we must do well, but let us not talk down our Olympics or over-scare about the size or reality of the threat. There is a bigger threat of fixing to sport generally than at the Olympics, because the bad guys are not stupid. They realise that it will probably be harder to fix at the Olympics than at a routine international event anywhere else in the world in a normal year, provided that they can bet and fix. We will remain vigilant and implement a very innovative joint assessment unit. Working together, we will do our very best to minimise the opportunities for the fixers to sour the atmosphere and integrity of London 2012. Your Lordships would expect or demand nothing less. Let us not talk down our Olympics unrealistically. Let us be proportionate about the threat and the response. I believe that although there is a great deal still to be done, a great deal has already been done, and I am confident that there will be a wonderful Games.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I join others in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, on giving us the opportunity to debate this very important subject. He may not be aware of the significance of today's date. It was seven years ago exactly-9 February 2005-when the report of the inquiry into the effects of betting on sport, which I chaired on behalf of the Parliamentary All-Party Betting and Gaming Group, was published.
Your Lordships may remember that that inquiry arose out of the work of the Joint Scrutiny Committee on the Draft Gambling Bill, on which I served. The scrutiny committee had had drawn to its attention a number of allegations over the integrity of betting in a number of sports but did not have time to go into them in detail. The all-party group asked me to chair the inquiry to look at the incidence of, and potential for, irregular and corrupt betting on sports and the proper use of inside information. We took evidence from a number of very distinguished witnesses, one of whom was the noble Lord, Lord Condon, who spoke just a moment ago. Our report contained 15 specific recommendations. I have to tell your Lordships that while a number of these recommendations have been accepted-by government, sports governing bodies or by betting organisations-several have still to be implemented seven years on. They have a direct relevance to this debate today.
Let me deal with just three of them. We proposed that there should be a proper definition of cheating. That call, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said, was echoed in the report of the Sports Betting Integrity
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A second recommendation of ours was that sport should have a direct involvement in determining the type of bets that may be facilitated and that these should be incorporated in future and existing memoranda of understanding between sports and betting organisations. The risk with the Olympics is enormous. All the major betting organisers have said that they will be taking bets on all the events. A lot of that will be spot and so called "in running" betting. These are bets on an event as it happens. The odds are adjusted after the event starts and are continually updated. It is unlikely that many bets will be placed after the start of the 100 metres race, but on something like a marathon or an event based on, say, the best of three attempts, the scope for betting as it takes place is very considerable.
We have seen recently how cricket was corrupted by players taking bribes to do something unusual-in this case bowling no-balls in a test match-to ensure that punters who knew what was going to happen won their bets. The inquiry that I chaired came to the conclusion that there was no one better to judge what sorts of bet should be permitted than the sports governing bodies, as they more than anyone should be able to understand how their sports integrity could be threatened. I asked the Gambling Commission whether any progress had been made in this area. The commission wrote to me on Tuesday and said that the betting operators that it licensed,
The third area is the exchange of information and the licensing of overseas betting operators. The situation here, too, is unsatisfactory and poses a risk to the integrity of the Olympics. Recommendation 6 in our 2005 report was that all major betting operators should sign MoUs with the sports on which they based their business. In some respects this has been a great success. The Gambling Commission's licence condition 15.1 makes provision for the exchange of information between licensed operators and sports governing bodies. This has generally worked well and has brought to light-and to the Gambling Commission's attention-a number of irregular betting patterns and events, particularly in horseracing.
Even though it is now licensed in Gibraltar, the betting exchange company Betfair made much of the large number of MoUs that it had signed with sports governing bodies around the world. The company is part of the IOC's working group investigating irregular and illegal betting in sport. That is fine, and it seems that Betfair does as much as it would legally be required to do if it was still licensed in the UK. However, the situation with Gibraltar as a whole is less satisfactory. There is still no MoU in place between its regulator
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The Government are supposed to be tackling this by introducing legislation aimed at shifting regulation to the point of consumption, which would have the effect of ensuring that all operators that serve UK-based customers would have to be licensed by the Gambling Commission. That would bring Gibraltar and the white-listed jurisdictions together and would lessen the risk of corrupt or irregular betting practices. Bodies such as the Alderney Gambling Control Commission-I declare a past interest as I advised the commission some years ago-have an exemplary record of promoting integrity. However, that cannot be said of all those who need to be brought into the net. It is a great pity that this new primary legislation will not be in place for the Olympics. I hope that nothing awful occurs during the Games that could have been prevented had the Government found time for such a Bill.
Baroness Grey-Thompson: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for securing the debate. I will declare my interests; I am vice-chair of the London 2012 athletes committee, I work with LOCOG in several areas, I sit on the boards of UK Athletics and the London marathon, and I am involved in several other sporting organisations.
I was fortunate to be in Singapore in 2005 when the bid was won. No one underestimated the logistical task of organising 1,000 sessions across 46 sports in the two Games. It is important as we go through the landmarks leading up to the start of the Olympic and Paralympic Games-this Saturday will be 200 days away from the start of the Paralympics-that we not only celebrate the successes along the way but bear in mind the challenges that might be thrown in our path. There is plenty to celebrate. LOCOG's diversity programme has set new standards for procurement, inclusion of disabled people in the workforce, accessibility of venues and customer services. However, we will be remembered not just for organising a great Games but for the other work that we do.
The threat to the Games is relatively minor, but that should not stop us looking at this important issue. A number of stakeholders are focused on tackling match fixing, both from a sport and criminal perspective: the IOC, the IPC, LOCOG, the Government, the Metropolitan Police and the Gambling Commission. However, support is needed to continue this work. We have only to look at the recent court cases in sport to understand that there is a risk that must be managed. Sports people are held up as beacons of virtue but they also need to be protected, along with the integrity of their sport. Spectators need to know that medals have been won fairly.
Work that the BBC published last week, on 7 February, highlighted some of the risks in football. Although football is very different from the Olympics, the risks
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For the Games this year, rules have been put in place to tackle the issue. They are published on the London 2012 website. This is the first time that the IOC has done such work in detail for the Games. An e-mail hotline has been set up by the IOC for people to report any suspicious activity. That should be welcomed and far more publicity should be given to it. Any sport disciplinary action at the Games will rightly be led by the IOC, with the support of the international federations for that sport. It will look at wider sanctions beyond the Games. This is exactly the same process that is followed for anti-doping. Like the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, I am a passionate advocate for ethical sport.
In the same way as we have extensive anti-doping education for athletes, we should look at international and ongoing education to discourage other forms of corruption. I welcome the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Condon, about the clarification and guidance that will be needed for the athletes. That will be incredibly important. A sports person needlessly risking their career for short-term financial gain is something that we should continually and actively discourage, not just in the period leading up to 2012 but far beyond it. We should learn from the anti-doping experience and the benefits of intelligence data gathering. I understand that the DCMS has been leading the consultation to add the IOC and other international sporting bodies to Schedule 6 to the Gambling Act 2005. If these bodies were on the list, the Gambling Commission would be entitled to share its information with them. I hope that there will be a positive conclusion to this.
Finally, I am aware that much of the research available is around the Olympic Games. What measures will be in place for the Paralympic Games? We know that the risk for the Olympics is relatively low, and I assume that for the Paralympics it will be lower still, but as London 2012 raises the bar at all levels, will this be seen as a future potential risk for our athletes or for other international athletes around the world?
Once again, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for securing this debate. I look forward to a fantastic Games this summer and take the opportunity to wish Team GB and Paralympics GB the best of luck.
Baroness Garden of Frognal: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Moynihan for securing this debate, which has allowed us the opportunity to consider how the Government are addressing the problems of match fixing and suspicious betting, and the threat
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It is an honour for the UK to host the 2012 Games, and we want to do all we can to make them a success. We must be prepared to tackle those things that threaten the spirit of the Games and to protect those involved from the corruption in sport that appears to have become a global issue, as a number of noble Lords highlighted in their contributions. It must be stressed that while match fixing is a growing dilemma, for every event tainted by this scourge there are thousands that are contested fairly and honestly at all levels and across all sports and nations. We must believe that those given the opportunity to participate in the Games will feel privileged to be part of such an historic and prestigious event, but we cannot ignore the evidence that there are those who will seek to corrupt the spirit of fair play and damage the integrity and spirit of sport, whatever the event and wherever it is held.
We will do all we can to support this during the London Games. I welcome the announcement from the IOC last week that outlined co-operation in the fight against irregular and illegal sports betting. The UK Government agree that the most effective way to tackle this threat is to ensure effective collaboration between all the parties involved: sports governing bodies, betting operators, law enforcement agencies and the Gambling Commission's Sports Betting Intelligence Unit.
We also welcome the efforts being made within the sporting world, international federations and national Olympic committees to educate those involved about the dangers of corruption. My noble friend Lord Moynihan and the noble Lord, Lord Condon, were among those who emphasised the importance of education. Those education programmes play an ever more important role in demonstrating the importance of integrity. Many use former Olympians and elite athletes to deliver the key message that striving to do your best must always win over bribery and corruption. The risks cannot be underplayed. Not only can corruption have a huge impact on the reputations of individuals and their sport, it can ruin lives and careers. We have seen evidence of this over the past few months with the cases involving the Pakistani cricketers.
I need to stress that currently no specific threat to the 2012 Games has been identified and many of the steps to provide effective protection against potential threats are already in place in Great Britain, as the noble Lord, Lord Condon, made clear. However, the London Games are the first Games where sports-betting integrity has been elevated to the level of focus that doping has warranted, bringing us a new challenge that we must address.
The noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, asked what international plans are in place. I will incorporate my answer to that in the remarks I make about the Joint Assessment Unit and the other mechanisms that are going forward. We are working with global representatives
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The noble Lord, Lord Condon, spoke about the Joint Assessment Unit. We must pay tribute to the major contribution he has made in establishing the unit and drawing on his expertise from his distinguished career in the police force. The Joint Assessment Unit will help us meet the challenge and will provide the mechanism to focus our established, effective protection methods on the 2012 Olympics. Representatives from the IOC, the police and the Gambling Commission are working in partnership to create the unit and to collaborate with sports organisations, betting operators, overseas regulators and the Games organisers, bringing together a wealth of experience and expertise. These initiatives will mean that we are fully prepared to assess and determine the appropriate response to information about potentially corrupt betting activity involving Olympic sports.
The JAU will fully support the key decision-makers in deciding whether further action is justified. If an investigation is deemed to be required, the JAU will decide who should be invited to take the lead. As a general rule, the IOC will deal with sports issues under sport rules and if criminality is suspected the police will deal with it under criminal law. It is possible that a criminal investigation and a sports investigation will run simultaneously depending on the nature of the potential incident. Other relevant organisations will be involved in investigations as and when appropriate or necessary.
The JAU may not stop those determined to engage in corrupt or illegal betting activity, but this collaborative approach will ensure that any incidents of sports-betting integrity can be effectively co-ordinated and managed within existing business-as-usual protocols and processes. My noble friend Lord Addington, the noble Lord, Lord Condon, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, emphasised the importance of publicising what we are doing. Certainly, by publicising this approach, we hope that those considering engaging in corrupt or illegal betting activity may be deterred from doing so.
The concept of the joint unit is new to the Games and provides a unique opportunity for the UK to demonstrate its capability. We can build on the working practices and protocols already established between organisations, and to a large extent this capability has already proved successful in tackling corruption.
The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, raised some key points arising from his valuable 2005 committee report and reminded us of the felicitous anniversary of its publication. His points were echoed in the contributions of my noble friends Lord Moynihan and Lord Addington. The Government accepted the definition of cheating in the Parry report, and I do hear the concerns raised around the Chamber. The review of cheating was not considered a priority at this time, but that is not to say that it has been forgotten. We hope to address that issue. Along with the Gambling Commission, we are looking at the range of offences related to sports-betting integrity to see that we have the suite of powers necessary to combat the threat.
The codes of conduct by sports governing bodies included in the Parry recommendations include provisions that participants shall not use inside information that is not publicly available in relation to betting. My noble friend Lord Moynihan raised concerns about definitions of inside information. It is already within the codes of conduct of the sporting bodies.
The commission has the power to restrict the type of bets offered and to approve sporting bodies' rules before allowing betting on those sports. However, based on available evidence, it does not consider that at the moment intrusive or resource-intensive methods are warranted. It is working with the betting industry-my noble friends Lord Addington and Lord Moynihan mentioned the importance of working with the betting industry. It is in its interest that there is integrity. With the industry, we are looking to see whether the deterrents to cheating or getting others to cheat can be strengthened.
We look forward to the introduction of the recommendations put forward following our recent review of remote gambling. We recognise that one of the benefits that will accrue for tackling sports-betting integrity matters will be the availability of information through licence conditions. The Government are seeking the earliest possible legislative opportunity in a crowded timetable. As far as the Olympics are concerned, we believe that we have satisfactory arrangements in place for the duration of the Games.
The European Sports Security Association is planning a seminar in March and the audience will include betting operators, sports bodies and JAU stakeholders. The Minister for Sport will also attend, diary permitting. The aim of the seminar will be to agree how ESSA members and sports bodies will collaborate to minimise risk and maximise co-operation around Olympic-related incidents.
We are grateful to have the benefit of the advice and guidance of the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, on the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The noble Baroness raised the issue of the Paralympics. She is right that they are outside the scope and remit of the Joint Assessment Unit, which will close shortly after the Olympic Games closing ceremony, but this is because advice indicated that the market for betting on the Paralympics would be small and has not been offered at previous Games. The risk of sports-betting integrity to the Paralympics is considerably lower than that to the Olympic Games. LOCOG reached agreement with the International Paralympic Committee based on this advice that it is not necessary to have the same structures in place for the Paralympics to deal with sports-betting integrity.
The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, asked what will happen if there is strong evidence of an incident and what guidance has been given to national Olympic committees. The IOC has asked national Olympic committees to appoint a nominated representative to be responsible for liaison on betting issues that may occur during the Games. The noble Baroness and the noble Lord asked whether we will be monitoring the betting information. We will be doing so through the ISM and through working with betting operators via the Gambling Commission's Sports Betting Integrity Unit. The noble Lord, Lord
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The UK has proven success in tackling corruption and threats to betting integrity. We will build on the recommendations in the Parry report to develop viable and sustainable solutions so that we can have a legacy to be proud of. I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this valuable debate on an extremely topical issue of international significance. With so much preparation, we can make a real and positive contribution to ensure an inspirational Games and a memorable year that will show the whole world the UK at its very best.
Bill Main page
21st Report from the Constitution Committee
22nd Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights
21st Repors from the Delegated Powers Committee
22nd Report from the Delegated Powers Committee
In Chapter 7 of Part 12 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (effect of life sentence) omit section 269(5) to (7)."
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, this amendment also concerns an innovation introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Prior to that Act it was the practice of the judges trying murder cases to write to the Home Secretary recommending the minimum period to be served in prison as punishment. The Lord Chief Justice always added his own comments, either increasing or decreasing the tariff, as it came to be called. The Home Office usually accepted the judicial recommendation but sometimes the tariff was increased by a year or two. I never in my experience remember it being reduced. Then came the case of Anderson in the House of Lords, in which it was held that Ministers could play no part at all in the fixing of the tariff; sentencing was for the judges and not for the Executive. Section 269 and Schedule 21 of the 2003 Act was the ministerial riposte to that decision. The purpose of Amendment 178B is to repeal Schedule 21.
Schedule 21 lays down an elaborate framework within which trial judges must work when fixing the tariff for a particular case. It has four different starting points: 15 years, 25 years, 30 years and whole life. It has seven different aggravating factors and seven different mitigating factors, all of which must be taken into
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One possible reason would have been that the Government wanted to introduce greater uniformity in the tariff in murder cases. However, that argument will not run now because we now have the Sentencing Council, whose whole purpose and raison d'être is to secure uniformity, so far as it can ever be secured, and to ensure some input, at any rate, from experts and other members of the public. The Sentencing Council is working well. It covers all other crimes-including, as I have said, manslaughter-so why not murder? It is surely far better placed to give guidance on the tariff in murder cases than Parliament could ever be because it has a feel for sentencing as a whole and how murder fits in with other crimes. That is important.
Another possible reason for Schedule 21 is that the Government wanted to raise the general level of tariffs in murder cases-in other words, their view was that the judges were being too soft on crime. If that was the intention, the Government could not have been more successful. The new starting points had an immediate effect. The average tariff in all murder cases before 2003-when the 2003 Act came into force-was just over 13 years. The average tariff now is 17.5 years, which is an increase of nearly five years. No wonder the prisons are overcrowded and that we now have more prisoners-I want your Lordships to listen to this-serving life sentences and indeterminate sentences for the protection of the public than the whole of the rest of Europe put together, including Russia and Turkey. How can that be justified?
Whether Schedule 21 was intended to have such a dramatic effect, I do not of course know. Nor do I know whether there was any impact assessment before Schedule 21 was enacted. But what we all know is the need to reduce the prison population now by some means or another. We know that that is the desire of the Lord Chancellor. Perhaps I may say with great respect that he has made an excellent start by abolishing the indeterminate sentence for the protection of the public. I suggest that he now looks with a very critical eye at Schedule 21.
I said earlier that sentencing is for judges and not for Ministers, but at least when the tariff was fixed by the Secretary of State in murder cases, he would have some knowledge of the facts of the particular case. Parliament obviously can have no such knowledge. The attempt to control sentencing from the sidelines, as it were, has two very great dangers. The first is that you tie the judges down so tight that they cannot do justice in the particular case. The second, which perhaps is even more sinister, is that the level of sentencing will
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Sentencing must always in the end depend on the view taken by the individual trial judge, which is why it is such an anxious process. In my view, the more we can leave it to the judge, subject to guidance by the Sentencing Council and with as little interference from Parliament as possible, the better. We can make a start by repealing Schedule 21. I beg to move.
Lord Carlile of Berriew: My Lords, as has already been said by others, this House should always listen with great respect and interest to the noble and learned Lord. I agree with him to an extent in relation to a number of the issues that he has raised. I agree with him entirely that the sentence for public protection, the IPP, has become extremely undesirable and has resulted in a very large number of people remaining in prison for far longer than is necessary or even proper. I think that he would agree with me in the criticism I have made consistently with others over the years about the mandatory life sentence for murder.
However, I am bound to say that I would urge the Minister of State not to accept this amendment for a number of reasons which I at least regard as cogent and also hope that the House would. The first is that although the noble and learned Lord is absolutely right that sentencing is for the judges, as successive Home Secretaries have emphasised-I am pleased to see a very distinguished former Labour Home Secretary in his place during this short debate-sentencing policy is not for the judges. It is for the Government.
Part of sentencing policy legitimately, I would suggest to your Lordships, is setting the framework in which sentences for murder are imposed. The provision that the noble and learned Lord wishes to have repealed has had two practical effects, apart from setting clear, public and consistent sentencing policy, which is well understood by all the judges who apply it. The first is that in reality, it has diluted, although not completely removed, the offensive consequences of the mandatory life sentence. Those of us who have appeared as counsel for the prosecution and for the defence in many murder cases know that the effect of the provisions that the noble and learned Lord criticises has been to enable those who advise people charged with murder to give a tariff before the judge gives his or her tariff at the end of the case. In reality, people charged with murder are able to be advised as to their likely sentence beyond its being a mandatory life sentence.
The second consequence has been an exponential increase in the number of guilty pleas in murder cases. Lawyers are able to advise the accused person-sometimes with the help of the judge based on these clear statutory guidelines-as to the sentence that he or she is likely to face. With that knowledge-I speak from experience as a criminal barrister-I have seen a number of people charged with murder plead guilty after it has been made clear where on the statutory tariff they lie. Certainly, in my early years in practice, it was almost unheard of for anyone to plead guilty to murder.
An obvious effect of that consequence is that witnesses who may have suffered extremely traumatic events-sometimes the children of the murder victim-do not have to give evidence in court. Surely, that is an advantage. My view is that the current provisions provide for fairness to victims, fairness to defendants and apply a degree of predictability. In my view, they increase, rather than decrease, public confidence in the system.
It is a very nice view, and I wish we could say it with complete confidence, that we should simply leave murder sentencing to the judges, with some guidance from the Sentencing Council. But that does not go far enough. It is the specificity of the statutory provisions that makes the real difference day by day in criminal courts up and down the country, where murder cases are tried these days in most instances not by High Court judges but by circuit judges, with what is rather unhappily called a murder ticket.
In conclusion, my advice to my noble friend-for what little it is worth-would be to leave well alone, albeit with the option, of course, of changing the guidelines from time to time to meet circumstances.
Lord Blair of Boughton: My Lords, I am probably the only person currently in the House who has actually carried out murder investigations. When you knock on the door and say you are investigating a burglary, nobody takes much interest. When you knock on the door and say you are investigating a murder, the reaction is very different. I am fully in support of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, because murder is different. It is not just any other crime. In my opinion, it is actually the crime by which the public judge the criminal justice system.
I find myself somewhat surprised to be arguing against the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, but I think that the combination he used of sentences for murder and indeterminate sentences does not, in this argument, add up, because this is about murder. I am fully in support of almost everything the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, has said. I had expected to speak for longer; I came to the House to speak to this amendment. In fact, the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, has said almost everything that needs to be said-except for this emphasis that I would place before your Lordships' House that murder is different. I believe that Parliament has a right-indeed, a duty-to set the tariffs from which judges then make their decisions about sentencing.
When I started out at the Bar, people did not plead guilty to murder at all. It was a throwback to the time when hanging was the only sentence that could be passed and therefore guilty pleas were sometimes simply not accepted and a person was told to plead not guilty so that the case could be properly proved. We have moved very far from that, to the present situation, which I find mechanistic. The gap between the 15-year
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I do not find that a very helpful way of going about things. Today there are provisions for obtaining some guidance from the judge as to the sort of sentence he would pass in certain circumstances, and that is a better way of going. These artificial starting points of 15 years and 30 years have been laid down by people with no experience of how the courts work or how cases are brought to court, and with no personal contact with clients or anything of that sort, and are not the way we should be conducting our sentencing policy. I agree with everything that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, has said.
Lord Beecham: My Lords, the Front Benches are occupied by somebody from the lowest levels of the legal profession and somebody who is even lower because, as we were told the other day, he has done only a short period of legal education. I do not know about the Minister, but I find myself oscillating between the very eloquent, articulate and lucid explanations of the various positions. I was totally persuaded by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd-until I heard the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. Then-with all due respect to the noble Lord, Lord Blair-I was made to think more by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas. On balance, I am grateful that I was not a member of a jury to be addressed by any of these three eminent lawyers because I am not sure we would have reached a verdict even now-at least I would not.
On balance, I am persuaded by the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, although I am concerned-as everyone in this House should be-at the very disturbing statistic that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, adduced about the number of people held on life sentences in this country being greater than that for the whole of the rest of Europe. That is not something about which the English system should feel at all complacent. Nevertheless, for what it is worth-which is clearly not much-I am persuaded by the argument that the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, advanced. It remains to be seen whether it endorses the position that the Minister will give us in a moment.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): I thank the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, for those comments. I approach any discussions on Schedule 21 with great trepidation because very early in my ministerial career, I was lured by the eloquence of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, into agreeing with him about some of the flaws in Schedule 21, only to be hauled over the coals when I got back to the department and told that this was not departmental policy and I was not to listen to such siren voices.
I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, knows that both the Lord Chancellor and I-importantly, and less so-come instinctively to the view that judging
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I am also grateful for the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Blair, for two reasons. First, he made the unique point-certainly in this Bill-that he was going to shorten his speech because somebody else had made the speech earlier. All I say to the rest of the House is: "Go thou and do likewise". Secondly, he made the important point that I think will come back again and again in our debates-I wrote it down-that murder is "the crime by which the public judge the criminal justice system" above all others. Therefore, as the noble Lord, Lord Blair, said, it is right that Parliament has a duty to set a framework in these matters.
I take the point of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, that it may seem an artificial framework, but in putting forward the 2003 Act Parliament allowed judges the necessary discretion to arrive at any minimum term from any starting point, which allows exceptional cases for minimum terms to depart from the norm. It is not as inflexible as is suggested. The 2003 Act puts in place arrangements for all minimum terms to be imposed judicially-something which I think has general approval. However, Parliament took the view at the time that it was right to have statutory guidance on sentencing for murder. The guidance provides for consistency of approach but still gives the court the necessary discretion to deal with each case appropriately.
I note what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, said about the Sentencing Council and I pay tribute to its work, but the Government still believe, as Parliament believed in 2003, that it is right that Parliament should remain responsible for sentencing guidance for murder. It is for Parliament to reflect what circumstances should be considered as particularly or exceptionally grave for this, the most serious of crimes. With that explanation, I urge the noble and learned Lord to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord and I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas. If it is right for Parliament to give such guidance, how did judges get on before 2003? The answer is that they managed perfectly well. The only effect of the rigid 2003 framework has been to increase the average sentence-I repeat the figure-from just over 13 years to 17.5 years. I do not suppose that anyone did an impact assessment before the 2003 Act was passed, but in my submission it cannot be right that we should suddenly increase the average by so large an amount without considering whether the framework is responsible for it and considering again whether that increase is actually justified.
The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, who made the main objection to this suggestion, has said that the tariff provides valuable help to counsel in advising what the likely sentence will be, but how did counsel manage before the 2003 Act? The answer is that they managed perfectly well and could manage perfectly well even
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All those already serving sentences of imprisonment for public protection for serious offences must either-
(a) have access to relevant rehabilitation programmes, or
(b) have their sentences rescinded,
within 30 days of the commencement of this Act."
Lord Wigley: My Lords, the amendment, tabled in my name and that of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, pertains to the abolition of sentences of imprisonment for public protection, more commonly known as IPP sentences, as provided for in Clause 113. Of course, some of these issues have already been aired in our debates today. The amendments linked to Amendment 179 in this group contain provisions to apply this abolition retrospectively for offenders serving existing IPP sentences and deal with associated issues. Indeed, they may do so more comprehensively than my own amendment, so I will listen with interest to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, and my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham when they speak to their amendments in the group. I realise that I am very much a layman in discussing these issues and that I stand alongside colleagues with a lifetime of professional experience, so I am grateful for the indulgence of the Committee.
As I said at Second Reading, IPP sentences were the result of controversial measures which effectively introduced life sentences via the back door for a great number of offences. Although the courts were able to set a minimum tariff which was to be served before a prisoner could apply for parole, I am told that the system rarely worked as intended. Little thought was given to determining prisoners' tariffs and not enough focus was put on directing IPP prisoners towards relevant rehabilitation programmes, with the result that over 6,000 prisoners are now lingering in our prison system serving indeterminate sentences, over half of whom are past their minimum tariff.
Because of the requirements set by the Government, far too few of these prisoners are able to access the necessary courses which would entitle them to be considered for release. When we consider that these prisoners are serving on average 244 days beyond their tariff and that it costs something like £30,000 to keep someone in prison for that period, it is abundantly clear that the system surrounding IPP sentences is costly and, indeed, unacceptable. The Government are certainly right to abolish the IPP sentence, although I have some misgivings about what will be introduced in its place. Clause 114 will introduce a mandatory life sentence for those convicted of a second listed offence, and my concern is that judicial discretion will be
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Consideration should also be given to the treatment programmes or courses that such prisoners should undertake when in prison in order to get them to understand the gravity of their crimes and the impact on their victims. Introducing what are effectively mandatory life sentences for a second listed offence will strip the courts of their obligation to consider the individual circumstances surrounding each case.
To return to the matter in hand, I welcome the abolition of indeterminate sentences for public protection as provided for in Clause 113, but the reason I have tabled Amendment 179 is to probe the Government on why abolishing the system cannot also apply retrospectively. As I have said, thousands of prisoners are still languishing in the system without hope of rehabilitation or release. Without being directed into rehabilitation courses, this state of limbo will continue. That is why Amendment 179 would require the Government to grant these prisoners access to rehabilitation programmes or to rescind their sentences within 30 days of the commencement of the Act.
I note that a similar principle lies behind the amendments in this group tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, and my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham. However, Amendments 179ZA and 179ZB would require the Government to refer prisoners serving existing IPP sentences to the Parole Board unless there is compelling evidence that they continue to pose a significant risk of reoffending. Amendment 180 goes slightly further, calling for the Secretary of State to ensure that plans are in place to release within three months of the enactment of the Bill all prisoners currently serving IPP sentences. However, the amendments have in common the desire to end the indeterminate legal limbo in which prisoners serving existing IPP sentences find themselves. Perhaps I can put it to the Minister in this way. In the football parlance that he used in an earlier debate, he might be far from happy if a Blackpool player had incurred a red card and did not know for how long he would be suspended. I urge the Government to consider these amendments. I beg to move.
In common with the overwhelming majority of people involved in the penal system, I am delighted to see the back of the sentence of imprisonment for public protection. The sentence has been a disaster for criminal justice and for the prison system, which, as a number of noble Lords have already commented, is now clogged, with more than 6,000 IPP prisoners having no certain release date. It is particularly unjust that many of those prisoners who have passed their
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I share the Minister's concern that everything possible should be done to speed up prisoners' access to these courses so that they do not continue to languish in prison unnecessarily. Will he consider making one other change to help the position of those serving IPP sentences? This matter was referred to also by the noble Lord. The Secretary of State's directions to the Parole Board include a very strong direction that a life-sentence prisoner should normally spend a period in an open prison before release. This is a sensible proposition for many life-sentence prisoners. They usually spend many years in prison; they are often institutionalised; and a gradual adjustment to freedom by going to an open prison will often increase their chances of a successful release.
However, there is another side to this coin. Many IPP prisoners have tariffs as relatively short as one or two years, and many others have tariffs of three, four or five years. When they come before the Parole Board, they have not been out of circulation for anything like as long as most life-sentence prisoners and there may not be the same pressing need for them to spend a period in an open prison before release. Yet the Secretary of State's direction means that the Parole Board will be very reluctant to release them from open conditions. As a result, the board may recommend that they go to an open prison before release, which will lengthen their stay by perhaps another two years. Surely this is unacceptable.
I agree that a period in open prison before release is appropriate for many IPP prisoners, but it by no means applies to all such prisoners. A blanket provision cannot be applicable to all cases. If the Government were to amend the Secretary of State's direction to remove the present strong presumption in favour of a period in open prison, it would enable the Parole Board to make a decision on the merits of an individual case. I would be grateful if the Minister could consider this suggestion and perhaps report to us before the next stage of the Bill.
As one who was involved in the review of the parole system when the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, was Home Secretary, I have no doubt that the Parole Board would welcome this change, which after all fits in with the rehabilitation element of a sentence.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, I have Amendment 179ZA in this group. The Minister can surely take pride in the abolition of IPP sentences and in the fact that he and this Government are leading public opinion in this area. The Minister suggested earlier that the Government were not given enough credit for leading public opinion, but here they most certainly are.
There were many weaknesses to the IPP regime. It was imposed in far more cases than was ever expected when the regime was introduced, but a major weakness was that a defendant, a convicted person or a prisoner
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The new provision for extended sentences unhappily retains the necessity for a prisoner to prove that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that he be confined, so that great weakness in the existing system is being continued in the system of extended sentences.
I propose in this amendment that the whole system should be tightened up in relation to those who are beyond their tariff date and are serving at the present time. It should be tightened up to the point of becoming, for the first time, a fair system. In subsection (1) of my amendment, there is a duty on the Secretary of State to "immediately refer" the case of a prisoner who has served the entirety of his tariff to the Parole Board. That should not be a discretion; he must do it immediately. Then it is the duty of the Secretary of State-not a discretion-to release the prisoner,
"The Board must direct P's release unless the Board is satisfied, on the basis of clear and compelling evidence which post-dates P's conviction, that there is a strong and immediate probability that P will commit a serious violent or sexual offence on release".
If the tariff is 10 years, the Parole Board should look not at what happened 10 years earlier but the current situation and what sort of risk the prisoner now threatens the public with. What is the evidence that he will commit a serious, violent or sexual offence if he were released? At the moment, we ask the Parole Board to make that judgement without evidence, relying merely on certificates of programmes completed and so on. A judgment without evidence is otherwise called a guess. A person's liberty should not be decided by how the Parole Board guesses the future.
In other words, P will not be left languishing with no programmes presented to him for an indefinite period of time. I happen to know that someone I represented has done all his programmes and got all the certificates but he is still being kept in. On what evidence has that been decided? It is just the way that the Parole Board guesses he will behave if he is released.
Most importantly, subsection (5) contains a limit-or final stop, or buffer-which means that if a person has been in prison for five years after his tariff expired he must be released in the case of specified violent offences, or after,
That limit for existing prisoners serving IPP sentences is based on the limit contained in the new provisions for an extended sentence. That limit-or final stop, or buffer-is put into Clauses 115 and 116.
Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I entirely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, said about congratulating the Government on introducing change. I have to admit that, along with many others, I have hated IPPs ever since they were introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
Of course there are people from whom the public must be protected, some of whom have been awarded sentences of natural life. I freely admit that all is not well with the release of prisoners about whose risk of committing violent or sexual offences prison governors feel uneasy. Yet I knew of the inability of the Prison Service to provide sufficient offending behaviour programmes for those who require them. Also, 60 per cent of lifers serving determinate sentences are already one year over tariff, mainly because of the inability to satisfy what the Parole Board requires before sanctioning release, so I simply could not see that such an ill thought through introduction could result in anything other than the prison population being needlessly increased by a steadily increasing number of those whose release date was deliberately made uncertain.
Cynically, having become used while Chief Inspector of Prisons to Home Office Ministers and officials living in a virtual criminal justice system and being unwilling to accept objective advice based on facts, I feared that no notice of any outsider warnings would be taken-and how right I was. Since then, attempts have been made in this House to alleviate the IPP problem by raising the minimum tariff threshold, but the numbers of those above the original ministerial forecast and those who have exceeded their tariff already have continued to grow.
I was therefore delighted to hear the Secretary of State announce that IPPs were to end and see that confirmed in Clause 113. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, has stated, the Government have not said that they intend to alter the arrangements for those currently serving IPPs to earn their release,
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Before I speak to the amendments, I beg the indulgence of the House while I say something about some of the residual effects of indeterminate sentences, because they must not be disregarded when any meaningful consideration of the problem is taken. Prisons are fragile places in that, to work effectively, they depend on relationships of mutual trust, if not affection, between staff and prisoners. Let those break down and you are in trouble, which is precisely why it is so important that numbers of prisoners are kept as low as possible and that our understaffed and overcrowded prisons are looked at very carefully. As chief inspector, I introduced what I called the healthy prison test, in which I asked whether everyone felt and was safe, whether prisoners were treated with respect as fellow human beings, were enabled to improve themselves by access to purposeful activity and were enabled to prepare for release and maintain contact with their families.
IPPs fail every test on every account. The uncertainty that they introduce has encouraged too many of those awarded IPP sentences to take their own lives, and has also brought on much mental distress. It is inhuman to award anyone a sentence of 99 years, which is how indeterminate sentence length is described on the internet, when the prisoner does not know how or when he may qualify for release. It is patently wrong for release to be dependent on courses and programmes that simply are not available. I have lost count of the numbers of letters of complaint that I have had from families who simply do not know when their relative or loved one can qualify for release. In other words, IPPs have been an obscene, inhuman and expensive disaster.
My amendments are in two parts. Amendment 180 links with Amendment 179, tabled by my noble friend Lord Wigley, in that it seeks to establish a proper end game to the issue through a statement from the Secretary of State that individual plans have been made for the release of all those currently serving IPPs. I am not suggesting that all IPP prisoners should be released in three months, but that plans should be made in that period. For them all to qualify for that release, plans must ensure that those qualifications are both available and satisfied. Urgent plans must be made for the release of the 3,750 prisoners who are already over their tariff, which I accept will demand much detailed work, and probably resources.
However, urgent remedial action is required to put right a situation that should have never been allowed to develop, before it costs the taxpayer yet more millions of pounds. In saying this, I am conscious that the Parole Board, under its excellent chairman Sir David Latham, is already under extreme pressure, and that any alteration to current arrangements, such as the introduction of six-monthly reviews, would need to be very carefully considered because, at present, it would be unworkable. I know that Sir David is sympathetic
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Regarding coherent planning, I have said many times in this House that in every organisation I can think of, named individuals are made responsible and accountable for particular functions or activities. That is done not least because history tells us that unless someone is made responsible and accountable for making things happen, nothing happens. The only organisation in the world that I have come across where that is not the norm is our Prison Service, and it tells. That is why there is such inconsistency in the performance of individual prisons, and why overall progress never seems to be made. Management of an operational organisation is not easy and I am not criticising individuals currently in post. I merely point out that management is made a million times easier if someone is responsible and accountable for overseeing the execution of policy.
I do not believe that the IPP prisoner logjam will be cleared until and unless someone is made responsible and accountable to the Secretary of State for clearing it. Had such an appointment been made years ago, coherent release plans would already be in existence and problem areas, such as a shortage of courses, identified. Similar appointments are required for all other types of prison and prisoner, as well as groups of lifers, sex offenders and foreign nationals. I know that life would be much easier for Ministers and their officials if they could exercise their responsibilities through named, responsible and accountable subordinates. In order to give the resolution of the IPP problem the slightest chance of success, I must therefore ask the Minister to consider making such an appointment, which would be recommended by any management consultant-let alone a frustrated former Chief Inspector of Prisons.
I admit that the other amendments to which I have added my name are more prescriptive, and possibly more suited to a code of practice, but this is not a virtual problem and the details need to be spelled out. I do not need to say anything about Amendment 179ZA, because that has been more than ably spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas. Amendment 179ZB refers to "prisoners" rather than P, because of my unfamiliarity with judicial wording, but I am suggesting consideration of changing the burden of proof in the case of those whose tariff has expired. At present, prisoners are required to prove their qualifications for release but I am trying to suggest that once a tariff has been exceeded, it should be up to the Prison Service to prove to the Parole Board why a prisoner should not be released.
Amendment 179BZA is consistent with Amendment 179BZB which, thanks to the legal background of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, expands, updates and is to be preferred to Amendment 179BZC. Amendment 179BZD
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Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I was not involved in criminal law during my practice as a barrister, but I became very interested in IPPs in 2009 because we were then dealing with what became the Coroners and Justice Act. I became particularly concerned at this because Dame Anne Owers, who was then the Chief Inspector of Prisons, together with the Chief Inspector of Probation had written an absolutely devastating report on the defects of IPP. The defects disclosed in the inspector's report are several. There is a lack of accurate pre-sentence reports on prisoners, which has led to a number of unjustified IPP sentences being imposed on people who should not have had them applied at all. There is a lack of resources for the Parole Board to enable it to determine the fate of prisoners after the prisoners have passed their tariff date. This means that the prisoners may languish for months or even years in prisons where they can not get the training that they require before they can apply for release, so prisoners under IPP are serving what is potentially a life sentence.
There have been some improvements of IPP as a result of amendments made in 2008 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003, but those improvements were not enough. By 2009, it was clear in my view that IPP was a disaster. It could work only with a lot more money put into it; if it did not have that money, it was grossly unfair to at least some of the prisoners. The Parole Board does not have the money that it needs and, as matters now stand, it will not for the foreseeable future.
"The IPP is wrong in principle and wrong in practice. English courts have a long-standing system of sentencing. Under that system, only the most serious offences can be punished by life imprisonment. It is unnecessary and wrong to impose a de facto life sentence on convictions for an offence which does not carry the life sentence. The IPP is even more wrong in practice. It is wrong because many pre-sentence assessments are inadequate and lead to the imposition of IPPs on those who should not be subject to it. It is wrong because many IPP prisoners, especially in local prisons, have no access to training, without which they cannot get a hearing before a Parole Board panel".-[Official Report, 28/10/09; col. 1249.]
Little has been done to correct the situation that was so clearly stated by Dame Anne Owers and her colleague. Now we have Clause 117 of the LASPO Bill and some further amendments from the Government. These are not good enough. What would be good enough is Amendments 179ZA and 179ZB in the names of my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford and the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, which are nearly identical; I hope that they will be merged in time for Report. What the amendments would do has already been explained to your Lordships: they would
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Indeterminate sentences are deeply unsatisfactory. Amendments 179ZA and 179ZB come more than close enough to this test and I strongly support them. I also strongly support other amendments including Amendment 180, to which I am one of the signatories.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, the real scandal is that IPP sentences have gone on for so long. The previous Government had the chance to do something about them in 2008, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, has indicated, when it was already obvious that IPP sentencing was going badly wrong. I remember tabling an amendment at that time to raise the bar and therefore reduce the number of those eligible for IPP sentences. The noble Lord, Lord Bach, was sympathetic but met me only half-way. The Conservatives, I am sorry to say, opposed the amendment. As a result, we have the situation in which we now find ourselves. I entirely share the indignation so well expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham. I add only that in my view something must be done, and done soon.
Lord Beecham: My Lords, it is quite clear that more people are serving longer sentences under the system introduced by the previous Government than was anticipated. It is also clear that insufficient resources were devoted to meeting the requirement that people should undergo training and courses, on programmes to be provided within the custodial setting, as a condition of release. As the Prison Reform Trust has pointed out, the situation is even worse for prisoners who are mentally ill or suffer from a learning disability. There is certainly a very real problem with how prisoners are to be assisted in demonstrating their fitness to be released. That undermines what would potentially have been a valuable way of protecting the public. It undoubtedly caused the system to fall into disrepute. The fifth report of the Justice Select Committee of the House of Commons made a number of perfectly valid criticisms of those matters.
Not the least irony of the situation is that referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Wigley. He pointed out that the cost of keeping substantial numbers of people in prison is excessive in relation to the cost that would arise from investing in the necessary programmes to assist people to make their case and earn their release. I am bound to say that that position is likely to recur in conjunction with the Government's proposals for extended sentences.
I do not dissent from the critique of indeterminate sentences, although I remain far from convinced that extended sentences necessarily resolve the problem. In that context, will the Minister indicate in replying what additional resources are planned for rehabilitation and the like under the new system? How will people who remain under the old system be dealt with? As has rightly been pointed out, a substantial number are still in that position.
I do not know whether the Minister is aware of the Answer given by the Minister in the House of Commons to a Question from Andy Slaughter MP about the number of people who were likely to be retained in prison as a result of the extended sentence programme. That was a very illuminating document. It showed that around 550 people a year would be sentenced and treated in that way, so that over 10 years 5,500 people could be in the same position as those who were sentenced under the previous regime. That is a formidable figure and, as the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, implied in respect of the existing system, a very costly one. I am not aware of any impact assessment or analysis of the cost of that new proposal. I do not know whether the Minister can direct me to any such analysis. In any event, the figures suggest a very significant cost.
Having said that, I have difficulties with various amendments that are being proposed. In particular, as has already been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, it is asking too much, even if the system were to receive an injection of money, for courses and the like to be laid on in such numbers and in so short a time as to meet the targets that some of the amendments suggest. Therefore, the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, to require that within 30 days of the Act coming into force prisoners must have,
There is also an issue about the nature of the condition that would be imposed on those currently undergoing indeterminate sentences. The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, directs the board to authorise release,
In my submission, there are two problems with that wording. The first concerns "probability". That seems to me to set the bar too high in respect of the protection that the public are entitled to expect. It amounts to almost a certainty that a prisoner would commit an offence. As I say, I think that is too high a bar.
The second problem, however, concerns the definition of the offences for which the test would be applied. A serious violent or sexual offence obviously should be included, but there are many other offences of a very serious nature which would not be caught by that definition. For example, arson and some terrorism offences would not be caught by it. A whole series of things could lead-although they were not necessarily intended to-to serious harm to individuals or the community at large. They would not be covered by the criteria suggested in this amendment. That would apply to a number of the proposed new clauses after Clause 113 and the relevant amendments to Clause 116.
That leaves us with two critical issues. The first is to deal with those who are currently held. To do that, it is clearly necessary-unless one is simply to open the doors, as it were-to provide precisely the originally intended programmes to facilitate their return to society,
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As has been explained, the situation in terms of numbers is much worse than was originally envisaged. However, it is somewhat curious that the Northern Ireland experience appears to be rather different. At the behest of Paul Goggins, who I think was a Northern Ireland Minister in the previous Government, correspondence took place between the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice and, I think, the Lord Chancellor-it might have been the prisons Minister; I cannot recall who was involved. That correspondence set out a rather different experience because-one might think, counterintuitively-the number of people who were sentenced to indeterminate sentences in Northern Ireland was significantly less than had been anticipated, whereas on the mainland, or at least in England and Wales, the situation was the opposite and there were significantly more. I do not know whether that issue has been explored to any extent. The Government might think that it is not necessary to do so because they are changing the system. On the other hand, it might also be worth exploring in the context of the Government's own new system because unless something is done, on the basis of the figures already available and to which I have referred in terms of the parliamentary Answer, there will be a steady increase in people suffering the same sort of regime under extended sentences while the number on indeterminate sentences declines-one hopes more rapidly than hitherto-given the right resources. I should very much welcome the Minister's views, either today or subsequently, on that interesting comparison with Northern Ireland.
Essentially, the Opposition cannot therefore support most of the amendments in the group, although we would certainly endorse the view-as the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, suggested-that there ought to be a report to Parliament on the plans for release and how they are to be funded.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: I am grateful to the noble Lord who is pointing out all sorts of difficulties. I am bound to say that I would be happier if he could at least feel the same sort of indignation that some of us feel at what has already gone wrong, and support the need to do something about it now. That is for the Government to do.
Lord Beecham: I share that view. I had hoped that I had made it clear that I think the previous Government did not invest anything like sufficient resources to fulfil their intentions. The intentions were reasonable but the means to fulfil them were not provided. That has to be acknowledged. However, I am afraid that the present Government are, to an extent, following the same course, if they do not look to avoid repeating
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Lord Goodhart: My Lords, would it not be more expensive to keep in prison these people who should not be there rather than going through the relatively simple processes that would be required to stop them having to remain on an indeterminate sentence?
Lord Beecham: Indeed, but the Government have, as I understand it, no real plans to deal with the 3,000 people who are still held on indeterminate sentences. My whole point is that just as the previous Government did not invest in this sufficiently, this Government are in danger of doing the same. Across your Lordships' House there would be a view that this investment would repay itself in financial terms as well as in social terms.
Lord McNally: My Lords, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, and the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, mentioned, IPP was identified long time ago as a train crash in waiting. I take pride that this Government have taken forward this reform. I note that, as always, there are those who say it does not go far enough-and that is the nature of reform. I was also pleased that there was a certain cross-examination of the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, because he is such a reasonable and likeable person that one would think he was going to slip past the responsibility that the previous Administration have to carry for bringing in these reforms.
We are trying to disarm a time bomb and it has to be done in a careful and measured way. This afternoon, we have heard unanimity of views on prison reform. I have to say, in trying to argue the case for prison reform to both Houses and the public at large, it would be easier if the Labour Party, for which I retain a residual affection, had resumed some of its old and traditional campaigning for penal reform, instead of indulging in a kind of "We're tougher than you" arms race with those who need to be convinced of the case.
That is a fact of modern political life. The Labour Party of Sydney Silverman and Roy Jenkins is perhaps not here any more. Successive Labour Home Secretaries were very keen not have the term "liberal" attached to their term of office. Thus we face a problem such as IPP. We are trying to deal with the issue. The National Offender Management Service prisoner co-ordination group is chaired at director level. It certainly does not meet the catchiness of the request by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, for a named person, but that group is trying to manage the specific problem of IPP prisoners. The new specification for offender management, which will provide for the prioritisation of resources based on risk, will be phased in from April 2012. It means that the higher the level of identified risk or the likelihood of reoffending, the higher the level of service that will be provided. In particular, that will result in improved targeting of rehabilitative intervention for IPP prisoners.
To take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, the key rehabilitation stage for those prisoners is being able to demonstrate in open conditions or temporary release that they have learnt new behaviour. NOMS has identified special issues surrounding waiting lists for IPP prisoners who have been assessed as suitable to be held in open conditions. Work is under way to improve the speed of allocation to open prisons, and a temporary release policy is being reviewed to consider whether suitable prisoners might be given access to temporary release from closed prisons.
The Government took the view from an early stage that IPPs must be replaced, and we have brought forward proposals in the Bill to do so. Once those provisions are commenced, no further IPPs can be imposed, even for previous offending. That is a major step forward. We are now concerned with those who have or will receive an IPP sentence prior to abolition. A range of amendments have been tabled on the subject, which we are now debating. The noble Lords, Lord Ramsbotham and Lord Thomas of Gresford, have tabled amendments proposing that the Parole Board release tests be changed. Their amendments also propose the conversion of current IPP sentences to automatic release sentences; that cases are referred back to the Parole Board every six months; and that the Secretary of State should be required to demonstrate that he has made programmes available to prisoners who are refused parole.
The amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, proposes that those offenders should either have access to a relevant rehabilitation programme or that their sentence be rescinded. By that, I presume he means that they should be given automatic release if programmes are not available. The noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and other noble Lords have asked through another amendment for the Government to plan release for those prisoners. I should make it clear that, as the statute stands, the Government could not implement any such plans, because the power to direct release would remain with the Parole Board. Again, a conversion to automatic release would be required.
Let me start with the question of the conversion of IPP sentences. We do not think that it is right or appropriate retrospectively to alter sentences that were lawfully imposed by the court simply because a policy decision has now been taken to repeal that sentence. That is what would be required to make release automatic for those prisoners. Generally, sentences already imposed are not substantively altered by subsequent legislation. In this case, it would be particularly difficult, as the court would have to impose the sentence with risk management issues in mind.
Several of the amendments relate to the availability of programmes for IPP prisoners. There is rightly concern that those currently serving IPP sentences should be supported in progressing their sentence and achieving release on licence. The National Offender Management Service is using a range of measures to improve the progression of those prisoners through sentence, including improvements in assessment, sentence planning, delivery and the parole review process. We continue to monitor outcomes to ensure that further improvements are identified and implemented.
There have historically been issues concerning the timely assessment of offenders and the supply of the necessary level of interventions to meet demand. NOMS has already made significant improvements to increase the supply of rehabilitation interventions for this group: almost all IPP prisoners now have comprehensive needs assessments; better use is already being made of sentence plans to prioritise interventions for existing IPPs where the need is greatest; work is under way to ensure that programmes can be delivered more flexibly, supporting greater access and the inclusion of offenders with more complex needs such as learning difficulties; and a greater number of rehabilitative programmes have been completed.
The Ministry of Justice has recently undertaken research into Parole Board decision-making in these cases to better identify barriers to release. The points that have come out of that research are now being taken forward by NOMS in its work on improving support for IPP prisoners. They are points that one might expect: good-quality risk management proposals for community life; evidence of sentence progression, including appropriate courses; and time spent in open conditions and on temporary leave. It is clear that courses are not the only issue for these prisoners, but it is one that we will continue to address, alongside others. A new specification for offender management, which will provide for the prioritisation of resources based on risk, will take effect from April 2012. Once embedded, this will result in the improved targeting of rehabilitative interventions for IPP prisoners.
A key rehabilitation stage for these prisoners is being able to demonstrate in open conditions or on temporary release that they have learnt new behaviours. Work is under way to improve the speed of allocation to open prisons, and other measures are being looked into.
Lord Wigley: Before the noble Lord comes to a conclusion, perhaps I may press him on one matter. He has given a list of steps that are currently being taken. When does he assess that all those who are currently being held back on IPP because of the non-availability of courses and rehabilitation will have been cleared? Have the department or the Government set themselves a target for getting this done?
Lord McNally: I do not think so, my Lords. I do not think that it would be sensible to go into such targetry. We are talking about individuals of whom individual assessments will be made. As I said, we are disarming a time bomb; we are looking at a backlog of, in many cases, extremely dangerous prisoners. Therefore, it is not just, as someone pointed out, a matter of throwing the gates open; this has to be a managed process. However, I hope that I have made it clear that that process is being managed-a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham-and that we are trying to target resources to make sure that this is carried forward with due urgency.
Lord McNally: I do not know the detail of how the group is managing its work, but I do know that we are bringing forward a coherent programme to deal with what I readily acknowledge is one of the problems to which the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, and others referred. In some of these cases, there was a definite and horrible Catch-22 situation for prisoners. They were being asked to prove their fitness for release by carrying through certain programmes but were then told, "By the way, those programmes are not available". That Catch-22 was not fair to those prisoners. We are trying to address that problem and focus resources on it. I will write to the noble Lord about whether the group to which I referred is an umbrella strategy group or an action group, but I know that all IPP prisoners will be assessed carefully and, where progress can be made with due concern for public safety, that will happen. I think that we can manage this safely and constructively out of the prison system very rapidly once the legislation is in place.
I should also say that parole hearing processes have become more streamlined, with reviews made through a combination of written evidence and oral hearing, and significant resources have been deployed to increase the ability of the Parole Board to increase its throughput. That has significantly reduced backlogs and significantly increased the number of parole dossiers produced on time. I note the suggestion that prisoners should be referred back to the Parole Board every six months. The maximum period that can elapse between the post-tariff review hearing is two years. All decisions on the timing of the next review are based on the individual circumstances of the particular case. Review dates are determined taking into account the extent and nature of the outstanding work that the prisoner needs to do to address his or her risk factors, and where necessary the testing and monitoring needed to demonstrate the impact and efficacy of the work done to address those risk factors.
A fixed period of six months between review periods would not take into account the prisoner's individual circumstances, so could be counterproductive as it would require prisoner cases to be reviewed without consideration for the time needed to address the risk factors presented. Currently, review periods of between 12 months and two years are usual, but review periods of less than 12 months have been set.
On the Parole Board's release test, to which several amendments relate-we are also debating whether Clause 117 should stand part of the Bill-I should say that I do not think it appropriate at this stage to change the release test in this legislation. Clause 117 gives the Secretary of State a power to change the release test, which is set in statute for IPP prisoners and prisoners serving the new extended sentence. We will continue to monitor the progress of current IPP prisoners and will consider the use of the power to change the release test, alongside careful consultation.
The Secretary of State is committed to such prior consultation. It is absolutely not the Government's intention to use the power to make it harder for prisoners to demonstrate reduced risk. However, by way of safeguards, the use of this power is subject to an affirmative procedure in both Houses. I fully
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Lord Wigley: My Lords, I have listened carefully to the Minister but his opening remarks remain in the back of my mind-that IPP was something akin to a train crash. The victims of that train crash have been left in the wreckage for an indeterminate time before these issues will be sorted out. Of course, there has to be reference to the Parole Board and it may not be appropriate for some to come out. Surely, when the Government themselves have recognised that the system is not fit for purpose for the future, to continue it for those who are incarcerated without any indication of a timescale is doing them and the whole system a grave disservice.
I accept entirely that my amendment has faults and that there may be a version that meets the theme, which I suspect is accepted on all sides of the Committee, that further work needs to be done by the Government on this.
I very much hope that between now and Report the Minister will seriously consider how the Government can respond to the pressure that has come from so many sides, with many different suggestions for relieving the problem. I hope that they will consider this, and that an amendment will be tabled on Report so that their mind is focused on the issue and we do not allow the people who listened to the debate in this House to have all their hopes snuffed out by the response of the Front Bench. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, I say at once that Clause 114 seems to be wholly pointless. The only explanation for it that I can imagine is that it was a quid pro quo for the abolition of the indefinite sentence for public protection in Clause 113, in case somebody should say that the Government were getting soft on crime. Since the official position of the Opposition is not to oppose Clause 113-I am very glad about that-I suggest that the Government might now look again at dropping Clause 114.
In brief, the clause states that if a person commits an offence for which he serves 10 years in prison, and then commits another offence for which he might
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Considering the sort of facts that might give rise to a life sentence under Clause 114, the judge would almost certainly have a life sentence in mind anyway. If he does impose a life sentence, Clause 114 serves no purpose. If he does not, because it would be unjust to do so, Clause 114 adds nothing. Have the Government made any estimate of the number of people who will get a life sentence under Clause 114 who would not be given a life sentence anyway under the existing law? There is no point in replicating existing law with ever more offences.
Is Clause 114 perhaps meant to be a deterrent? Let us consider that for a moment and imagine a man coming to the end of his 10-year sentence in prison. How will he hear about Clause 114? Will he be warned by his solicitor, or will he hear about it from a fellow prisoner who is something of a barrack-room lawyer? The idea that this would ever act as a deterrent is ludicrous.
In debating a previous amendment, I warned of the dangers of Parliament becoming too closely involved in the sentencing process. At one extreme, it results in the sort of sentencing complexity of which we have plenty of evidence in the Bill. At the other, one finds clauses such as Clause 114 which, as far as I can see, serve no purpose at all and simply clutter up the statute book.
Baroness Mallalieu: My Lords, I support the noble and learned Lord. "Pointless" is a very good description of Clause 114. It is pure political posturing. That is the trouble in the area of criminal law; there has been too much of this going on in recent years, and to little effect. Why on earth can we not leave the detailed business of sentencing in cases such as this, with the guidelines that already exist, to the people who hear the evidence and see the cases: namely, the judges?
We have seen far too much interference with the criminal law. As a practitioner, I go along to courts and am asked by people in the robing room, "How on earth did you let this happen? Didn't you speak up and point out that it's a waste of time or has consequences that are totally adverse to the interests of justice?". Well, I am speaking up, but without a great deal of hope that my words will fall other than on stony ground. Surely we can avoid, at the very least, complicating the statute book with clauses such as this which do not do anything.
Lord Carlile of Berriew: My Lords, I, too, support what has been said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, and I agree entirely with the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, that this kind of provision is ill understood by those who have everyday contact with sentencing provisions and looks more like political posturing than legislation based on merit.
This provision is strangely contradictory within itself. It seeks to introduce mandatory life sentences for people aged 18 or over convicted of a specified offence that is serious enough to justify a sentence of imprisonment of 10 years or more who have previously been convicted of a specified offence for which they were sentenced to imprisonment for life or for a period of 10 years or more, yet it raises the possibility of situations in which defendants who commit two wholly different scheduled offences separated by many years, or even decades, receive mandatory life sentences. On the face of it, it looks tough and even unfair. Yet new Section 224A(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 as set out in the Bill provides for a series of exceptions that seem to negate the provision in its entirety. So what is all this about? If there is a mandatory life sentence, but the judge thinks it would unjust to impose one, he has the discretion not to do so. I welcome that but, if that is the provision, why bother?
Lord Clinton-Davis: I find myself in complete agreement with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd. As far as this clause is concerned, the onus rests firmly with the Government. Nobody around this Chamber-Labour, Conservative, Cross-Bench or Liberal-disagrees. It is vital for the Government to prove that this clause is relevant. So far, they have not done that. There has been a chorus of disapproval surrounding this clause from all Members who have spoken, and it is virtually impossible for the Minister to be able to convince us that this clause is relevant. I will listen with bated breath, as I always do, to what he has to say, but I have dismissed it already.
Baroness Stern: My Lords, I shall add a few remarks to the chorus of disapproval. I welcome the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, raising this matter. I shall say a little about the use of life sentences in our law. I have some comparative figures for 2008 about the use of life sentences per 100,000 of the general population. For England and Wales, including IPP sentences, the figure is 20.9; for life sentences that are not IPP sentences, it is 12.71. I suppose the Minister might regard those as reasonable comparators. For France, the figure is 0.85, for Germany 2.41, for the Netherlands 0.14 and for Sweden 1.68. On the face of it-and I am reasonably confident about the accuracy of the data-there is an extraordinarily different way of sentencing within the criminal law in this jurisdiction from in the jurisdictions of continental Europe.
It says nothing about sentence length-that is an entirely different question-but it says a great deal about the admiration and affection that we seem to have for indeterminacy as a way of dealing with people. In the last group of amendments, the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, spoke eloquently about the impact of indeterminacy on the sentenced person. The sentenced person is left in limbo. He has a very vague idea of what the future holds and of whether a sensible plan could be made for the years that stretch ahead. He has no idea of who has the power to decide whether, and when he is released, how those decisions are made and how he can have an influence, by behaving in a certain way, on what happens in the future. I would imagine that it is a less desirable option than a fixed sentence,
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Lord Beecham: My Lords, in replying to the debate on the last group of amendments, the Minister spoke of his residual affection for the Labour Party in terms that he might have used about an elderly relative. I half expected him to cross the Floor and offer me a cup of tea and a biscuit. I appreciate his kind thoughts.
On the substance of what we are now discussing, I am not at all comfortable with the line the Government are adopting. I entirely support the amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd. Either the Government intend there to be an effective mandatory life sentence policy, which would be wrong in principle; or they want to give the impression of so doing when they do not intend that, which would be disreputable. I am sorry that the noble Lord appears to be lending himself to either of those approaches.
The Minister referred to the party to which I belong as being less than liberal. Those who know me within the party I represent, here and elsewhere, know that I have not been uncritical from time to time of the penal policy of the previous Administration, for what that is worth. I was going to say that the noble Lord should perhaps look behind him, but there is only one Peer from the Conservative Party in the Chamber and she has the respect of us all.
That was the style of an election campaign of the noble Lord's current partners. I do not for a moment imagine that he or his colleagues on the Liberal Democrat Benches, then or now, would approve of that approach.
One can debate the merits or otherwise of various party policies but that does not get us very far. However, the Minister talked about disarming a time bomb. The fear is that while he is disarming a time bomb he might be planting a minefield in terms of the effect of this provision about life sentences if it is carried out. Here I must plead guilty, before being charged, to inadvertently misleading the House when I gave statistics earlier, which I said related to the extended sentences. In fact, they related to the mandatory sentence provision. But they are the statistics and they demonstrate that over a decade around 5,500 would be added to the very long-term sentences if this provision should pass into law. A great proportion of them would involve serious crimes of violence against a person, as well as other offences. That was the substance of the Written Answer to the parliamentary Question to which I referred.
The noble and learned Lord has more than adequately, as one might expect, disposed of the case, such as it is, for Clause 114. I hope that the Minister today will agree that it should cease to form part of the Bill or at the very least undertake to look again at the provision and come back at Third Reading on the issue.
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