All 1 Debates between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Beecham

Crime and Courts Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Lord Beecham
Monday 10th December 2012

(11 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness D'Souza Portrait The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza)
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My Lords, I should warn your Lordships that if this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment 116B by reason of pre-emption.

Lord Beecham Portrait Lord Beecham
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My Lords, I respectfully adopt and support most of my noble and learned friend’s comments and indeed most of his amendments. If I had a preference between Amendments 116A and 116B, I think it would be Amendment 116B, but it would be interesting to hear which way, if either, the Minister inclines on that particular aspect.

It seems very sensible that other possible consequences of a failure to comply should be incorporated, so I endorse Amendments 116C and 116D. As to the amendment in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Rosser, we return again to the principle of having these novel matters debated openly before the new process is set in motion. In this particular case, it is a matter of having the financial penalties and parameters that would be proposed by the Sentencing Council subjected to scrutiny and debate but not, as I suggested in Committee, to an affirmative procedure. In retrospect, I think that was going too far and perhaps trespassing on the role of the Sentencing Council in an unacceptable way, although I note that there seem to be some judicial misgivings about the operation of the council. Be that as it may, it does not relate specifically to this point.

Again, bearing in mind the need to carry public opinion with us on this new process, it would be helpful to have that debate before the Sentencing Council’s proposals became adopted. The novelty of the process is such that not only would that be justified but it would actually assist in securing public acceptance. I can anticipate the next amendment, which is very much on the same line; again, having it debated should inform both public opinion and possibly the final decision-makers in a way that can only contribute to the success of the experiment, if that is what it is. I suspect that it will be a successful experiment on which we are embarking.

On the question of incentives, my noble and learned friend is right. It is quite clear from the American example—I repeat for the second or third time that very much larger sums are secured under the American system—that an incentive has to be provided. Whether that is a maximum of one-third or not is another matter. I am not entirely surprised that most respondents disagreed with a maximum of one-third; no doubt they would prefer it to be larger, which underlines my point, but there needs to be some open debate about this before a final decision is made.

In these circumstances I hope that the Government will, even at this late stage, acknowledge that there is substance in my noble and learned friend’s amendments, and I hope that they will also agree that my proposal would actually assist in gaining acceptance for this new process, both by the public at large and by those who will potentially be the subject of its operation. In that spirit, I beg leave to move the amendment in my name.