The Joint Committee on Human Rights made some key observations when looking at the provisions regarding the release and recall of prisoners in Clauses 6 to 13. The committee was right to be unconvinced that the introduction of powers by the negative resolution procedure to enable offenders to be electronically tracked was adequate, and to recommend that the Bill should be amended to make the code subject to some form of parliamentary procedure to ensure that Parliament has the opportunity to scrutinise the adequacy of the relevant safeguards.

Clause 14 regarding the mandatory drug testing of prisoners and the creation of a power for the Secretary of State to specify in secondary legislation drugs that are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, for which prisoners can be tested, is a sensible move and should help to deal with drug misuse in prisons.

Clauses 15 and 16 make changes in respect of the use of cautions and stop their use for all indictable-only offences and certain specified either-way offences. Will the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, tell the House in his response why the Government think that the negative resolution procedure is acceptable in respect of the specification of the either-way offences, as I am more of the view that this should be done by the affirmative resolution procedure to give Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise further what is being proposed?

I think that we have all been horrified at reports of the ill treatment, abuse and wilful neglect of vulnerable people who have been entrusted to the care of others. With the provisions listed in Clauses 17 to 22, the Government seek to close the loophole that Professor Don Berwick identified in his review of the events that took place at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, but they were added late during the passage of the Bill through the Commons and will require

30 Jun 2014 : Column 1621

considerable probing and testing. I find it odd that these proposals do not extend to volunteers. This, I believe, is a serious omission. You have only to look at the activities and offences committed by Jimmy Savile, while he was acting as a volunteer at a number of NHS and other establishments, to be concerned that these proposals are in themselves inadequate and do not go far enough. I hope that your Lordships will amend the Bill accordingly so that what is agreed will give the maximum protection to vulnerable people in the care of others, be they employees or volunteers.

The murder of a police or prison officer is one of the gravest offences that can be committed and the whole-life tariff in Clause 24 sends a powerful message of how much we value these public servants and place the highest value on their safety. The noble Lord, Lord Blair, made a powerful point when he talked about the role of the courts in handing down sentences for the murder of police or prison officers, and said that Harry Roberts is serving the 48th year of his prison term for murdering police officers.

I am sure that we will return to the issue of possessing a bladed weapon in public or on school premises. We supported the amendment in the Commons, with Back-Bench Conservative MPs, and we will support it in this House as well. It sends out a strong signal that carrying a bladed weapon is serious and has serious consequences if you are caught for a second offence. The noble Lord, Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, was right when he expressed concern about the reduction of judicial discretion, but I would point out that the proposals we supported for possessing bladed weapons in public places or school premises do have judicial discretion—unlike the proposals that the Liberal Democrats supported in the LASPO Act for the carrying of a knife, which are mandatory.

The proposals for dealing with offences committed by disqualified drivers are well intentioned, but their adoption, as they stand, would be quite confusing. The law at present is inadequate and needs improving. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, can explain how these proposals will fit in with a review of the road traffic sentencing framework that the Government are committed to carrying out in the next few months, because if there is a review, there could possibly be changes. Will those changes require primary or secondary legislation?

The clause in the Bill concerning malicious communications has the support of the Opposition. As technology becomes ever more sophisticated and can be used to threaten people with offensive and distressing material, we agree that the courts should have tough powers at their disposal to deal with offenders. My noble friend Lady Thornton made a powerful argument about what needs to happen in the case of extreme pornography and the proposals from the Government need amendment and revision. I hope that the meeting between my noble friend and the Minister will go some way in that respect.

My noble friends Lord Beecham and Lord Ponsonby, and the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, highlighted our concerns about the proposals on secure colleges. These proposals in particular need proper pre-legislative

30 Jun 2014 : Column 1622

scrutiny. The Minister is right to say that we need to be better at rehabilitating young people, but I am not convinced by what I have heard from him so far today. We on these Benches are not convinced that housing 300 children together on one site—potentially miles away from their family, making visiting difficult and expensive—is a good way to provide a proper education and reduce their propensity to reoffend.

We share the concerns expressed by a number of organisations, including the Howard League for Penal Reform and others. The Government will have to provide much more information and set out their proposals more clearly. Issues such as the use of restraint, concerns about the effects on younger children and the problems that girls will confront in this establishment in particular will need thorough examination. I agreed with all the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Linklater of Butterstone, about secure colleges, and those of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile.

Moving on, while the section of the Bill on courts and tribunals can be seen as administrative and time-saving measures, we on these Benches have some concerns about the single-magistrate hearings and weakening the principle of justice being seen to be done, and how the system will operate. I look forward to discussing in Committee these further proposals and the ideas from the Magistrates Association that my noble friend Lord Ponsonby referred to. No matter how well intentioned, we have to ensure that we get these right. I am also worried about the proposal for trying to get money out of penniless defendants. As my noble friend Lord Ponsonby said, I have sat as a magistrate for many years. I used to sit on the Coventry Bench when I lived in the city and I can tell your Lordships that imposing fines and court costs that individuals have no hope of ever paying off is a complete waste of time and could actually be damaging.

I am fully in support of people convicted of offences having to pay compensation to victims, fines and court costs, but it must be left to the discretion of the courts to decide what is reasonable and what is not. We have no objection in principle to leapfrog appeals, though it does always follow that every issue of national importance will go straight to the Supreme Court and it may be that in some cases, that will not be the best thing to do. I always thought that the case brought by Lewisham Council and others—and I declare that I am a member of Lewisham Council—about the decision of the NHS to close the A&E at Lewisham Hospital, would end up in the Supreme Court. In the end, having lost in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, the Government decided to draw a line there and instead changed the law to stop other organisations doing what Lewisham Council did.

We generally welcome the proposals to update the jury room process. However, we want to press the Government on what support they intend to give juries, so they can clearly understand their role and what they can and cannot do. Social media have a vast penetration and that will only increase. People can be active on a number of platforms numerous times a day. They may have no idea that they are doing something wrong and that could be a very serious offence.

30 Jun 2014 : Column 1623

I have been on a jury only once, and that was about 30 years ago. I do not recall being told very much at all, but there were no mobile phones, e-mail or internet. The noble Lord, Lord Faulks, and many other noble Lords will be much more aware than I am of what is said to juries today. I would hope at a minimum that they can be given clear “dos and don’ts” in writing and a proper briefing from a court official before they enter the courtroom—followed up, if necessary, by the judge at the start of the trial telling them what is and what is not appropriate. We have no objection to raising the age for jury service to 75, and in fact this could be a very positive move. The only thing that I would say is that some account may need to be taken of health issues.

The section that deals with judicial review contains some of the most controversial parts of the Bill and we have serious concerns about these proposals. My noble friend Lord Beecham, the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and the noble and learned Lords, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood and Lord Woolf, all skilfully highlighted the concerns of many noble Lords in this House. For the Justice Secretary to describe judicial review as a promotional tool for countless left-wing campaigns is a disgrace. The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, repeated the full quote. I accept fully that for the Government, local authorities or other public bodies it can be irritating to have their decisions challenged—but without such provisions, bad decisions can go unchallenged, and that is bad for all of us, for democracy and for civil society.

The noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Surbiton, made key points when she talked about the use of judicial review, as did my noble friend Lord Bach. It is about holding people to account, and without a written constitution, judicial review is the one important tool for holding the Executive to account. Over the past four years, we have seen cuts to legal aid, limitations on no-win no-fee cases, and threats to the Human Rights Act and the European convention. The proposals here are another attack on the rights of the citizen.

The noble Lords, Lord Faulks and Lord Hunt of Wirral, both referred to the activities of some claims management companies. I have spoken many times in this House about the industry and the problems it can sometimes cause. I am happy to pay tribute also to Kevin Rousell and his claims management team, which does a fantastic job. I should be delighted to put my name to some more amendments that can give him and his team even more power to deal with the problems of this industry.

As I said at the outset, this is a rushed and bad Bill, and we on these Benches will seek to work with others across the House to try to persuade and, if necessary, defeat the Government in the Division Lobbies if they will not listen to reasonable argument. I will draw my remarks to a close and I am sure that we will return to these matters in Committee.

9.07 pm

Lord Faulks: My Lords, I said in opening that I anticipated that the Bill would receive scrutiny of the highest order by your Lordships, and this Second

30 Jun 2014 : Column 1624

Reading debate has given an indication of the level of scrutiny that your Lordships’ House can anticipate where all these provisions are concerned.

It has been a full debate and I will have an opportunity to read carefully all the contributions that have been made—as indeed will the Secretary of State. I hope that noble Lords will forgive me if I do not respond to every single point that was made, time being what it is. If I single out some points, I hope those whose points are excluded will not feel that they have gone unrecognised or that they will not be appropriately responded to in due course. It has been an intensely serious debate, although references to Philip Larkin, John McEnroe and Walter Matthau provided slight light relief during its course. Unfortunately, few noble Lords were as brief or as accommodating as my noble friend Lord Black.

I can, however, begin with what I hope will be one or two reassuring propositions. First, there was a suggestion that there might need to be an amendment to deal with what has been described as “revenge porn”, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Marks, and my noble friend Lady Barker. There seems to be a great deal in that, and I am happy to meet them and consider any suggestions to include it in the Bill.

I said in opening that I would also consider amendments to satisfy, I hope, some of the concerns about the role of interveners in judicial review proceedings. I do not want to give the House the impression that I am thereby, as it were, handing over a blank cheque, but I am anxious, if possible, to accommodate some of the concerns of many noble Lords in this area.

The noble Lords, Lord Blair and Lord Low, referred to a campaign, if I can call it that, from Families Left Behind and the suggestion that there should be some statutory duty imposed on the sentencing tribunal to take into account the effect of the sentence on those who may be left behind when somebody is deprived of their liberty. In my limited experience as a judge, this, and the consequences thereof, will first of all be considered by a judge in sentencing. The probation service will be aware of the consequences and local authorities have their own duties that will usually be triggered by the information that is available in court. Noble Lords may be right that some slip through the net. I will certainly consider any suggestions along the lines that have been described.

On the question of the meaning of the words “et cetera”, raised by my noble friend Lady Barker in the context of malicious communications, I think it is defined in the Malicious Communications Act 1988. It deals with all the various communications one would expect it to cover in the light of modern media.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, raised, as he has done many times before, the question of IPP prisoners and their plight. I look forward to debating any amendments in that respect in more detail. I responded to a debate on 27 March this year—in some detail, I hope—but I fear I will not be able to satisfy him today. There are no current plans by the Secretary of State to exercise the power to amend the Parole Board’s release test for prisoners serving such sentences.

I noted that the party opposite was silent on IPP prisoners. I am still not quite sure what its position is, and whether it opposes the very fact that the sentencing

30 Jun 2014 : Column 1625

power was repealed as a result of the intervention of the former Lord Chancellor. I fear that I cannot help the noble and learned Lord for the moment, but I hope he will acknowledge—if not overtly, then tacitly—the fact that Ministry of Justice officials have been endeavouring hard to help him by providing details for the purposes of preparing this speech, and, indeed, any further interventions.

I was not aware that I had the pleasure of a meeting forthcoming with the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, to describe better the definition of rape on the internet. I look forward to that. I am sure that the Government, the Opposition and all noble Lords have similar intentions where this is concerned. We welcome any advice on trying better to define what the evil is that we all aim to stem.

I respectfully endorse what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown, said about personal injury claims and the evil that the Government are trying to eliminate. Frankly, we do not think that a judge will have any difficulty recognising fundamental dishonesty. We are talking not about a schedule that contains some slight exaggerations or minor inaccuracies, but about fundamental dishonesty. If we ask a jury to decide a question of what is dishonest or not, surely we can entrust a judge to decide whether, in appropriate cases, there is fundamental dishonesty. The Government are appalled by the explosion of litigation in claims that involve, frankly, lying and fraud. Whether through the Claims Management Regulator or through this particular clause, I am sure that we share with all noble Lords the desire to reduce, and, if possible, eliminate it.

The redefinition in statutory terms of misconduct in public office was broadly welcomed, although not by the noble Lord, Lord Blair. There are some areas where it may not possibly apply. We do not think that police officers should be singled out, but on the other hand they are in a position where they serve the public in a very high-profile context. We cannot avoid the fact that there have been instances of police corruption. The Government consider that putting a clear offence on the statute book is not to persecute the police or to single them out as opposed to other public employees but to make clear the nature of the offence and, in appropriate circumstances, to provide the basis for a prosecution.

A number of noble Lords asked about the Parole Board and about the impact on its workload of the provision in Part 1. The provisions that will have the greatest impact on the Parole Board are the new discretionary release arrangements for extended determinate sentences and certain child sex and terrorism offences. However, it will be quite some time before the first of these cases starts to filter through the board and we have taken account of that. We are working with the Parole Board to assess the impact of the Osborn judgment. Additional in-year funding has been provided to the board, as well as an increased budget allocation for 2014 and 2015.

The offence of wilful neglect was mentioned by, among others, my noble friends Lord Hunt and Lady Barker. The House is well aware of the background to this offence and why it was considered necessary to make it part of the statute book. I listened carefully to

30 Jun 2014 : Column 1626

concerns about the range of legislation that may apply in neglect cases and I accept that there may be a degree of overlap. However, where that occurs, it is for the police and the CPS to determine the most appropriate offence to pursue. The CPS regularly provides guidance in this respect. We think that it is far better to close any gap in working practice to arrive at the best solution than to retain even the possibility of any lacunae in the law.

My noble friend Lady Barker had a specific query in relation to Section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act. If I may, I will consider the point that she raised and write to her.

I come to the area of perhaps the most difficulty—the question of secure colleges. The noble Baroness, Lady Stern, said in her excellent and informative speech that it was one thing to point out the number and cost of young offenders who were currently accommodated in various institutions and who reoffended but another to move to the proposition that secure colleges were the answer. I hope that I do not mischaracterise what she said. Equally, one could turn that round and say that those bare facts simply do not justify the status quo. The status quo is not, we suggest, an appropriate response to this dreadful cycle of reoffending. We suggest that secure colleges, with their emphasis on education, are a solution. Of course, no one can guarantee the success of any solution to this recurring problem but we hope that this one will provide a real concentration of education, which most of these young people have never had before.

A number of anxieties were expressed in very firm terms about secure colleges: the question of different ages and different genders, and the possibility that secure colleges will be remote geographically. I will be hosting an open session for interested Peers to share our initial designs for the pathfinder secure college. As I mentioned in my opening speech, we will consult on our approach to the secure college rules ahead of Report.

I was asked whether it was our intention to replace all secure youth accommodation with secure colleges. Our long-term vision is for a network of secure colleges across England and Wales. That transformation cannot happen overnight, and we are committed to improving existing provision for young people in custody.

I very much hope that as a result of no doubt probing amendments and further information, which I shall be happy to provide, your Lordships’ House will share the Government’s vision of secure colleges to deliver high-quality and broad-ranging facilities that can meet the diverse needs—often special needs, I accept—of young people in detention. It requires something that simply cannot be achieved in a small local facility—desirable though such facilities are, as was well described by my noble friend.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: Before the noble Lord leaves the point about the network of secure colleges, does it follow that there would be three secure colleges to deal with the whole of England and Wales? There would be around 300 children in each college, making about 1,000 altogether? The noble Lord said that a few secure children’s homes would be retained. Does it therefore follow that there are to be three secure colleges for the whole of England and Wales?

30 Jun 2014 : Column 1627

Lord Faulks: I understand the noble Lord’s mathematics and on the current numbers there would be a logic behind them, but this is a pathfinder college and as such we are not committed to going further. However, it may well be that we will be moving in that direction. If your Lordships’ House or Parliament does not share our vision for secure colleges, the construction of the next generation of facilities will have to take place within the existing framework for young offender institutions in secure training centres. But we believe that a fresh approach and a new framework will provide a better way of ensuring that our planned new institutions educate and rehabilitate more effectively than the existing ones.

A great deal of anxiety has been expressed about the rules, in particular the use of force. In answer to my noble friend Lord Carlile, private providers will not be able to make up their own rules on the use of force, and it is not true that they will be able to do so. Rules on the use of force will be clearly set out in the secure college rules and we have committed to consult not just on the rules but on the content of the rules.

Lord Beecham: Can the noble Lord confirm that the rules will be subject to parliamentary approval?

Lord Faulks: They will be part of the consultation in the course of amendment but not specifically subject to parliamentary approval as such. I say that subject to correction, but I think that that is the position. My noble friend Lady Berridge asked about reporting restrictions and made an important point about the youth court. I can confirm that the Government are looking carefully at that particular issue.

The question of juror research was raised by noble Lord, Lord Blair, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood. I have some sympathy with the point about the need for greater understanding of what is or is not permitted in terms of research into juries. I cannot commit the resources of the Ministry of Justice to provide the information being sought, but I will take this back and try to provide some form of clarity. Professor Cheryl Thomas appears to encounter no difficulty in analysing the information and I think the contrary argument is that any other information tends to be anecdotal. It does seem to me that simply to accept that jury trial is the right answer without proper examination is not a proper approach to this matter. I also note the comments made by the noble and learned Lord about Lord Roskill’s commission all those years ago, and I take his point about the reduction in costs. Sooner or later, viscerally attached though we are in this country to trial by jury, that does not obviate the need to examine and re-examine whether it is appropriate in all circumstances. As he quite rightly said, the Defamation Act 2013 is a recent example of where trial by jury is no longer to be available.

Perhaps I may conclude with some comments on Part 4. To say that this part was not entirely welcomed would be something of an understatement. Noble Lords have made some remarkable speeches in the course of the debate and it is absolutely clear that the relevant clauses will be subject to the degree of scrutiny

30 Jun 2014 : Column 1628

that one would expect on a series of provisions of this sort. I hope that noble Lords will forgive me if I keep my remarks short and respond in detail to the many amendments that I expect to receive on these matters in due course.

It was suggested that there had not been much growth in judicial review as most of them were either immigration or asylum judicial reviews. I would like to set out to the House that, as is shown in the published national statistics, the number of civil judicial reviews, not including immigration and asylum claims, increased by 27% between 2000 and 2013, albeit that we accept that such claims continue to represent a small proportion of the total number of claims. However, the Government continue to believe that there are fundamental issues with how judicial reviews are brought that require proportionate reform. Although I know there was little support for these changes, I think it was accepted that from time to time this area of law can need examination, re-examination and amendment. I said in opening and I repeat now that it is no part of the Government's approach to this that judicial review is not a vital part of the checks on administrative action, whether on central or local government or other arms of the state. We are concerned by these various provisions to restrict the costs of obtaining judicial review and to ensure that interveners’ participation in reviews is at least more circumscribed than it is at the moment. I accept that interveners can provide valuable assistance in judicial reviews having—I declare an interest—taken part by representing one of the parties and on more than one occasion acting for an intervener. However, there has been a proliferation of interventions. If one looks at reported cases now, almost any case at Appeal Court level appears to attract a considerable level of intervention and some of it is duplicated. It often takes the form of very lengthy skeleton arguments and many volumes of authorities. Although judges do their best to make economic use of the available material, all parties involved in the case are thereby put to the expense of having to deal with the magnitude of the contributions made by interveners.

While I do not reject the proposition that interveners can add value, we must look at the cost consequences of those who use judicial review as a form of campaign. That word was used during the course of the debate by the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Surbiton. Campaigning organisations have an enormous value, but it should not be thought that judicial review is simply a method of campaigning. Judicial review is concerned with unlawful activity: it is not just another way of expressing the various objectives of a campaign.

Lord Beecham: Does the Minister accept that no intervention can take place without the leave of the court? What he is saying is surely somewhat derogatory of the decision of the judges to permit interventions.

Lord Faulks: My answer to that is that the hypothetical Mr Justice Beecham on a busy list is told that there might be an intervention of one sort. He may not be able to anticipate the level of the intervention that is then forthcoming in terms of its size and the number of others who intervene. The noble Lord scowls, but I am endeavouring to answer his question so perhaps he should not do so. Then, in due course, a hearing takes

30 Jun 2014 : Column 1629

place by which time an enormous amount of material can be provided and the scope of the case can expand. This is not an evil, but it ought to be controlled. It is difficult without continuity of the judges involved in this to control it in the way that it should be.

Lord Woolf: Does the Minister accept that it is very important to look at the situation again with regard to these matters of management after the burden of immigration and asylum cases has been removed from High Court judges? They were struggling to keep abreast of those cases and they were deprived of the time that they should now have to look after the proper management of these cases.

Lord Faulks: I absolutely understand what the noble and learned Lord is saying about that. Such was the volume of their work that it may have been difficult to make the decisions that having more time available would have allowed them to make. I take that point. As I have indicated, the Government are listening on the question of interveners. There is merit behind the Government’s provision and we are looking for the best way of reflecting that in any amendment that finally finds its way on to the statute book.

Lord Woolf: I make one further point, if the Minister will be patient—I apologise for interrupting him again. Are these matters not best dealt with by discussions

30 Jun 2014 : Column 1630

through the usual channels between the Ministry of Justice and the judiciary, rather than by going to litigation, which removes the judge’s discretion? I urge the Minister to think about whether this could be achieved in that way.

Lord Faulks: I am grateful for that advice and, if I may, will perhaps respond no further at this stage.

The information about financial resources is also a matter that will be probed in some detail, although time does not permit me to go into a detailed response on that now. I have heard the arguments that have been raised, and there will no doubt be profitable scrutiny of those provisions.

Judicial review is important but it is not a vase that would be caused to crack by simply touching it. We need to look carefully at the remedy but, none the less, it is one where change should be made.

I said at the outset that I could not cover everything. I have covered, I hope, some of the points that have been made and I look forward to dealing with them all in Committee—if, of course, your Lordships are prepared to give this matter a Second Reading. I conclude my speech by asking the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House adjourned at 9.32 pm.