Debates between Lord Faulks and Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 11th Jan 2023
National Security Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage: Part 2
Mon 19th Dec 2022
Thu 31st Mar 2022
Judicial Review and Courts Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage & Report stage
Mon 21st Feb 2022
Judicial Review and Courts Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee stage
Wed 15th Dec 2021
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 1 & Lords Hansard - part one & Report stage: Part 1

National Security Bill

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames
Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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My Lords, I will be asking for leave to withdraw this amendment, not on the basis that it will go away but on the basis that, first, there is room for further discussion, even though only a chink has opened up in what the noble Lord, Lord Murray, has had to say; and, secondly, on the basis that I accept that the amendment is not perfectly drafted and we would like to take further advice and further consider a number of matters in the drafting of the Bill. What I will say, very briefly if I can, about the amendment and the response of the Minister and the other speeches we have heard, is that this question has to be taken in the context of the introduction of the Bill.

There can be no doubt that the Bill will manifestly broaden the ambit of national security and protection legislation: first, because it is targeted not at individuals who have an obligation to the state but generally at citizens; and, secondly, in the way that the Bill is drafted. We talked about this a great deal last week, when we noted the inclusion of expressions such as, “know or reasonably ought to have known”, “conduct that it is reasonably possible may materially assist a foreign intelligence service” and all those peripheral expressions. Indeed, we note the use of the phrase “prejudicial to the interests of the United Kingdom” when we know “the interests of the United Kingdom” are determined by what the Government of the day believe those interests to be. All those broaden the ambit of these criminal offences.

I completely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, that this issue is not going to go away. All the briefings we have had from journalists and organisations tell us how important a public interest defence is. I completely take on board the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller, repeated by the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, and by the Minister, that Article 10 on freedom of expression is a qualified right. Of course, people of legal distinction can disagree, but it is entirely wrong to suggest that the Law Commission does not contain people of legal distinction.

If it were translated into a consideration of this Bill, because there is no material distinction on the disclosure points, I feel confident that the Law Commission would come out with the same recommendation as it did in 2020. We also have the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Human Rights in relation to a public interest defence. It is very difficult to argue that the fact that it is a qualified right under Article 10 does not mean that it would apply. Of course, we, the Law Commission and the Joint Committee on Human Rights have read the whole of Article 10 and understand the qualification, but the overwhelming point is the phrase

“necessary in a democratic society”.

Everything else is subject to that in the qualification.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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Just so that I understand, is the noble Lord saying that the absence of a public interest defence, whether framed in the manner of this amendment or in a similar or a different way, means that the Bill would automatically be a violation of Article 10 of the European convention?

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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As drafted, I fear that it would. Since we have had absolutely no indication that concessions will be made to all the amendments we discussed last week—I rather doubt that we will get them—it seems to me that investigative journalism will be seriously affected in a way that risks being a serious breach of Article 10. It might be saved by the qualification suggested by the noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller, but I do not accept that that case is made out.

I entirely accept the noble Baroness’s point that the damage of publication cannot be recalled, but a balance must be struck which takes into account the interest in disclosure against the interest in secrecy. We emphasise the importance not just of free investigative journalism in a democratic society but of the control of wrongdoing. For my part, I cannot see anything in what the Minister said which comprehensively puts paid to the idea that there could be a cover-up of wrongdoing not possible for citizens to redress by disclosure without being subject to criminal proceedings under this Bill.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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I accept entirely that this is a very difficult issue and that the balance to be struck is very difficult. The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, mentioned the case of Clive Ponting, where there was undoubtedly government misinformation and wrongdoing. Clive Ponting was not a journalist; he was a former civil servant. In fact, he wrote books as well, including one on the truth about the “Belgrano”. Nevertheless, what he did was important. It is vital to our democracy that juries have the right—as one did in that case against the direction of the judge, because there was not a public interest defence—to say, “No, we will not convict because there has been wrongdoing.” A jury should not have to defy a judge and misapply the law because of the absence of such a defence to avoid covering up wrongdoing.

Of course I accept the point about drafting from the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, and that this amendment is not perfect. Indeed, it was he brought up the Ponting case at the very first instance in these proceedings. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, said, we cannot run away from drafting a public interest defence, if that is necessary, because the drafting is difficult. It is a different topic, but in Section 4 of the Defamation Act 2013 we have a defence of reasonable comment on a matter of public interest. I was on the pre-legislative scrutiny committee for that Act, and we considered very carefully how that would work. However, at that stage—although they are rarer now as a result of that Act—these were matters for determination by a jury, and a jury can determine such a public interest defence.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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First, with great respect, jury trial was effectively abolished by the Act that the noble Lord is talking about. Secondly, it put into statutory form a so-called Reynolds defence in a civil claim. Here we are talking about prosecutions of criminal offences of the most serious sort. The analogy is not appropriate.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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I disagree—a fortiori, if such a defence is appropriate in a defence to a civil claim, it is appropriate in a defence to criminal proceedings that carry maxima of 14 years and life imprisonment. We may differ on that; nevertheless, of course I note that jury trial was abolished for defamation by that legislation. However, when we were considering the public interest defence, the abolition of jury trial was not then in mind; we had always had jury trials, and still can do in rare cases.

The only other point I wish to make is in answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller. Of course, in the case of whistleblowers, there are other avenues to pursue for those employed by the security services, but there are two answers to that point. The first is that we are not just concerned with those employed by the security services, or those employed by anybody in particular. We are concerned with offences designed to be used and prosecuted against ordinary citizens. Secondly, we have included in our amendment—it is one of the best drafted parts—that one of the factors to be taken into account would be

“the availability of any other effective authorised procedures for achieving the purpose of the alleged conduct and whether those procedures were exercised”.

That will always be an important point, because it answers the point that you could have gone to an authorised body for the protection of whistleblowers.

This issue is not going to go away. I suspect we shall come back to it on Report, and that there will be a vote on it. The amendment may be in a very different form, but nevertheless, with these very serious criminal offences, I cannot accept that a public interest defence is not in the interests of the public and the nation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

National Security Bill

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames
Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I had two points to make, the first of which, about foreign power, has just been made by the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, so I will not repeat it. The second is more of a question. The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, asked, “Why not charge theft?” I have no doubt that I will be advised by the Minister, but is there not a requirement that you have to deprive somebody permanently of something to constitute the offence of theft? I can see some potential argument that somebody charged under that offence would say that they had no intention to deprive that person permanently of that information.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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My Lords, I have not yet spoken to Amendments 9 and 10, which I was proposing to do before my noble friend spoke for us. Before doing so, I join my noble friend Lady Ludford in opposing the protection of all trade secrets without any requirement for there to be prejudice to the interests of the United Kingdom. That amendment, which has been proposed on behalf of the JCHR, seems to me to be sensible. I also share her bemusement, and that of others, that trade secrets are included in the Bill, because the way in which they are included is extremely wide.

The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, has pointed out that Clause 2(2)(b)—he read it aloud, but I will not repeat doing so—is so wide that it effectively covers any information which has any commercial value of any significance. Of course, that information is important, and, to that extent, I accept the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. However, state actors may also steal, or act nefariously in respect of, trade secrets—as may others, be they state actors or not. They may be from the United Kingdom or abroad. They may be connected to national security, but if the Bill will deal with trade secrets, they need to be defined in such a way that it is confined to trade secrets that present a threat to national security. The Bill goes far too wide if we include wide threats to trade secrets in the criminal proceedings—which, as my noble friend Lady Ludford said, carry very heavy sentences—without the need to prove the threat to national security as an element of the criminal offence. As the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, said, threats to trade secrets are normally dealt with in the civil courts, where the protection to intellectual property is customarily and very frequently dealt with every day.

It is absolutely right, as the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, pointed out, that there is a requirement that the foreign power condition must be met. However, the foreign power condition in Clause 29 is not a very difficult hurdle to surmount. The present drafting does not require any prejudice to the security, defence or other interests of the United Kingdom. It is met if conduct is carried out not by a state Government but by any entity controlled or financially assisted by a foreign power—so that could be a commercial organisation that happened to be state-controlled. For “foreign power”, we have to read that as any power or any other state, including any friendly Government from anywhere in the world.

Our Amendments 9 and 10 tighten up the wording on trade secrets in Clause 2, but only in a limited way: by requiring that a trade secret must be subject to measures to prevent it becoming generally known or available to rival experts in the field. We suggest that it is simply not satisfactory—

Judicial Review and Courts Bill

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames
Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, the IRAL came to the firm conclusion that Cart ought to go. It did so carefully considering the fact that Parliament should be slow before reversing decisions of the Supreme Court. It made the recommendation in relation to Cart and the case of Ahmed only, despite a number of other cases which were drawn to the panel’s attention as being possibly wrongly decided. As I pointed out in Committee, this was also the view of Lord Carnwath, who had specialist knowledge of the genesis of the Upper Tribunal. I believe it is the view of many, though of course not all, judges.

There are, as we have heard from the noble and learned Lord, a cohort of judges who have to consider what are almost always hopeless applications. They consider them very conscientiously. There may be an argument as to how much time precisely is spent and at what cost, but with very great respect, I am not sure that that is the point. The applicants have, in effect, already had three bites of the cherry. In the extremely unlikely event that a specialist tribunal has made an egregious error of law, I am sure the House will be aware of the fact that the qualified ouster clause contained in Clause 2 provides that, if there is a bad faith decision by the Upper Tribunal or one that is procedurally defective in a way as to amount to a fundamental breach of the principles of natural justice, there will still be an opportunity to challenge it. For the most part, there will not be.

Of course, I have enormous respect for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, and other noble Lords who support this amendment, but I respectfully submit that we need to grasp the nettle. The poor prospects of success have not deterred applicants from making Cart judicial review applications in the past. I accept that this amendment would further reduce the avenues of challenge, but it would not, I suspect, put anybody off. I am sorry to say that this amendment seems to be something of a fudge. It will frustrate the purpose of the Bill. I fear that, if passed, a Cart JR application will continue to be the most popular JR application. The IRAL found that, of all the possible avenues of judicial review, this is the most popular and that statistic has not been challenged. Perhaps that is not surprising. If you are seeking asylum, it is not surprising that you would seek out every avenue in the hope that you would somehow be successful the next time.

On Amendment 6 from the Labour Front Bench, the potential review which this amendment envisages seems almost impossible to provide—although, no doubt, hard-working civil servants diverted from many other tasks would do their best if this amendment were to become part of the Bill. An asylum application will of course usually involve arguments that include references to Articles 3 and 8 and possibly even the Equality Act. By definition, these arguments have been rejected at all stages of the process. What precisely is this report supposed to do? Is it supposed to conduct a quasi-appeal of all those decisions? How will the material be obtained to enable the report to be provided? With great respect, the House really needs to know how this work will help, before committing the Government to an expensive and possibly fruitless exercise.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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My Lords, I support the amendment in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, to which the noble Lords, Lord Pannick and Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, and I have added our names. I suggest that the amendment is a sensible compromise between abolishing Cart JRs altogether and setting a defensible limit on the prospect of excessive satellite litigation by limiting appeals.

We see and acknowledge the risk posed by large numbers of unmeritorious challenges to decisions of the Upper Tribunal dismissing appeals from the First-tier Tribunal, but believe that risk has been exaggerated by the Government, in terms of both the time and judicial resources expended on Cart JRs, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, has explained, and the low success rates, which are contended and relied upon by the Government. In particular, we doubt that the Government’s figures take into account the full overall impact of successful JRs on the judicial review climate as a whole, particularly in the area of immigration, to which Cart JRs generally apply.

The Minister is not alone in overestimating the time and judicial resource that would be saved by the abolition of Cart reviews. I say now what I should have said during the debate on the last group: I am very grateful to the Minister for the time he spent discussing with us the issues arising in this Bill, including on Cart reviews. However, in spite of those discussions, we agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, that any savings achieved by the abolition of Cart JRs are not worth tolerating the injustice that would be caused by their abolition. Every successful Cart application signals an injustice that would be done to a future applicant were this clause to be enacted.

As many of us said in Committee, this clause, unamended, would set an ugly precedent for ouster clauses in future legislation, building on the general purpose template in this clause, which is designed to insulate unlawful executive action from judicial review. I suggest that the amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, elegantly avoids that pitfall and it is very important that we support it for that reason, as well as others.

The bar to launching a Cart review is and will remain high: the applicant for judicial review always has to surmount a difficult hurdle in securing permission to bring an application. That is as it should be, given the nature of the supervisory jurisdiction. Indeed, the conditions set out in the Cart case itself were restrictive and stringent, and they will not change. The provision outlined by the noble and learned Lord, whose amendment would allow for an appeal from a decision of the supervisory court directly to the Supreme Court only, in the most limited circumstances only and subject to very short time limits, is a sensible safeguard—and no more—to ensure that important points of law can be considered by the Supreme Court in appropriate cases. I suggest that the Government should not be concerned about that.

Amendment 6, to be spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, seeks a review of the operation of the provisions in Clause 2, with particular reference to the consequences for persons with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 and the enforcement of rights under the Human Rights Act 1998. We support it in principle, but of course we await hearing from both the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, and the Minister on this.

Judicial Review and Courts Bill

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames
Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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I am most interested in the way in which the noble Lord analyses this. Is he essentially saying that this Bill is giving too much power to judges—power that ought to be vested in Parliament—and that a judicial review reform of this nature goes far too far and that judges should not be allowed to have these powers in case they exercise them inappropriately?

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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It is a two-pronged attack. I do not believe that the judges should have the power to make lawful what they have already found is unlawful with retrospective effect. That means that prospective-only orders are, in principle, wrong. However, if there were a case for changing regulations or for altering government action so as to bring it within the limits that Parliament wanted, that is for Parliament; that is for legislation, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, argued. It is not for the courts to say, “We find the act unlawful, but it is only going to take effect as unlawful for the future.” It is, in the example of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, an ex tunc approach; but an ex tunc approach, frankly, is right, whereas the removal of flexibility by ruling out the Part A power—the power to delay—would be a removal of flexibility, which would be unnecessary, and we support that. We do not support the presumption, but that is a different point.

The real important point, about retrospective charges and the points in Amendment 6, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, is that they accept the unlawfulness—if that was the only amendment that was passed—but would go on to say, “You can rely on the unlawfulness as a defence in criminal proceedings and you can still apply for other financial remedies for judicial review, but the quashing order will only take effect prospectively.” That, in my respectful view, is to fudge the whole point of unlawfulness, and the universality and the universal application of judicial review, which lies at its heart.

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Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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I thank the noble Lord for giving way. Of course, new subsection (8)(f) refers to

“any other matter that appears to the court to be relevant.”

So a court can decide that there are other matters that it thinks are important. This is not restricting or fettering the discretion of the court. Why is it so offensive?

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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It is absolutely right that the court can consider any other matter, but it must consider all the factors in new subsection (8)(a) to (8)(e). That is mandating the court where some of those factors may not be of any interest to the court at all. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, was right to point out that there is a potential conflict between the factors in subsection (8)(c) and (8)(d). For Parliament to be telling judges how they should exercise their discretion and what factors they should have regard to without giving them the option of disregarding some factors is wrong.

The court is exercising, as we all know, a supervisory jurisdiction over executive action or the claimed abuse, or excess, of delegated powers. The noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, was right to argue that the way in which judicial review has worked in practice—and I suggest that it is the most important development in civil or administrative law over the past 50 years, above any other development that we have had—is that the judiciary, the Executive and Parliament work not exactly together but in balance, so that the powers are exercised in accordance with the law. With respect to what the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, says, it is inappropriate and regressive for the Executive to tell Parliament what factors they should consider when performing that supervisory role. The courts should be left to consider executive action in accordance with the law passed by Parliament and to grant remedies accordingly. They do not need, and should not be tied down by, restrictive provisions that prevent them doing justice taking into account factors that they think are important.

Amendment 2, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, would at least limit the exercise of the provisions in Clause 1 to powers where the court was satisfied that it would be in the interests of justice to do so. I suspect that that amendment will be opposed on the basis that it would introduce an unnecessary fetter on judicial discretion—and I suggest that that is entirely ironic, because the whole of new subsections (8), (9) and (10) are precisely targeted at fettering the courts’ discretion, and it is to that that we object. It is also ironic that, if passed, this would be the only mention of the interests of justice in the clause.

Amendment 7 would make the new subsection (8) factors permissive, rather than mandatory. Therefore, it removes the point that I made in answer to the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, that the court must consider factors which have an inherent conflict.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames
Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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My Lords, in those circumstances I think that it is for me to respond. I do not know whether the Minister wishes to respond to any question—although there has not really been a question.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I believe this is in order, because I did not suggest for a moment that it was for the Government to send people to prison or to make up their mind. Ultimately, the policy that is reflected in this amendment is something that a Government would have to decide upon.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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My Lords, at the end of this interesting debate, I say first that I am very grateful to all who have spoken and to the noble Lord the Minister for his careful response. Two things strike me: first, this amendment enjoys overwhelming support and, secondly, there has been a distinct theme to the contributions to the debate from noble Lords from all around the House, expressed perhaps by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, when he talked about a comprehensive and strategic approach. Others have talked about a holistic approach.

The aim has been to address the failures of the criminal sentencing system, as part of the criminal justice system, identified by, among others, the noble Lords, Lord Cormack and Lord Ponsonby. It is a rethink that is required—to use the expression of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones. Another important matter was identified by two dissimilar figures in general approach. The noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, talked about taking the political sting out of issues arising on sentencing. This was put in a similar way by the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley. I share the slight surprise of the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, at being told that she was a bleeding-heart liberal, but I take the point.

I do not intend the royal commission that we have described in this amendment to prejudge the issues. What we are calling for overwhelmingly is an evidence-based approach to sentencing, rather than a politically based approach or one that simply responds to public opinion or the perception of public opinion. I completely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, that the question is not one where the Government are excluded from making decisions. The point about the royal commission is, as he put it, that the royal commission recommends and the Government then act on those recommendations. What distinguishes a royal commission, I suggest, is that its recommendations are widely seen by the public, the Government and the Opposition as authoritative. It is that quality of being authoritative that I believe gives the royal commission its weight.

It is a question not of outsourcing the decision-making process but of setting up a process to advise and direct the future. This Bill does none of that. It contains sentencing in its Short Title, yet it is piecemeal and bitty and lacks a philosophy. The Minister set out a philosophy that is two-sided, but only one of those sides is reflected in the Bill. We believe that a royal commission would address that, which is why I would like to see this amendment agreed. That said, however, what the noble Lord has said about the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice as a whole is of some encouragement, because I take criminal justice to include criminal sentencing. I hope I see him nod in agreement with that. I am waiting—he is not going to commit to the terms of reference, but it seems to me that that offers some hope for the future.

I am concerned about the use of the word “paused”. It should not be paused; it is urgent. If the Government take anything from this debate, I hope they will take the feeling around the House that this is an urgent matter requiring urgent attention and will revisit it. That said, and in the confidence that they will approach it in that way and that the royal commission will proceed, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames
Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl)
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The noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, identifies the need for consistency, and he is right. I wonder whether this amendment was not provoked by the appalling case of Phillip Leece, who not only committed rape but named the victim and posted grossly insulting material on the internet. That is something that was probably outside the scope of those who drafted this legislation. Newspapers are regulated—as I know, as the regulator of newspapers—but social media remains wholly unregulated. There is significant work to be done in this regard, which Parliament will grapple with when looking at the online safety Bill. This is just the sort of matter that a duty of care should deal with, in a proper system to prevent this sort of posting taking place.

I am sure that the Attorney-General is thinking carefully about contempt of court aspects. Of course, there is a power on the part of the judge to deal with the matter much more seriously than with the derisory fines that are currently imposed, but it is something that has to go to the administration of justice, and it is not always predictable or easy to identify what cases will or will not constitute contempt of court—so I welcome that.

Although I wholly understand why this amendment has been proposed, it seems that it would be stark and inconsistent with other provisions—but it addresses a mischief that very much needs to be addressed.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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My Lords, I shall speak briefly to this group of amendments. First, I turn to the minimum sentence for rape of seven years, subject to an exceptional circumstances disregard or permitted departure. We acknowledge and endorse everything that has been said to the effect that rape is the most appalling crime. The terribly low success rate of prosecutions of which the noble Baroness, Lady Chapman of Darlington, spoke is acknowledged by everyone and has been the subject of a great deal of research by parliamentarians, policymakers and the Government. It needs addressing. The problems that she talked of, of low reporting rates and very high withdrawal of support, along with very low conviction rates, all need addressing. However, I am not convinced that a minimum sentence would address any of those things. Furthermore, for all the reasons, which I shall not repeat, I believe that the use of an exceptional circumstances test for the ability of judges to depart from a minimum sentence is simply wrong.

I also agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, when he pointed out that, as anybody who has dealt with rape cases in criminal courts knows, rapes are so very different, the one from another. He was right to point to the very wide range of sentences endorsed in the sentencing guidelines, which mean that courts treat rape very differently, from the milder cases to the very serious cases that merit life imprisonment. I also have some concern that, in some cases, it would make juries even less likely to convict if they knew that there was a minimum sentence of seven years. I cannot support, and I do not think that we cannot support generally, the proposition that this seven-year minimum sentence should be legislated for.

By contrast, Amendment 78B, which would increase the sentence for publishing the identity of sexual offences complainants, is one that we do support. I suspect that it is not often realised quite how serious an offence this is. Sometimes there is a substantial risk of further harm when the identity of a complainant is published. There is very often significant fear on the part of the complainant if her name—as it is usually, although it may be his name—is published. There is almost always really significant distress caused by an unlawful publication. It is of course open to complainants to waive anonymity if they wish. But if they do not wish their identity to be published, to have the law flouted in the way the offence requires seems to me to justify a sentence of imprisonment in some cases. It is important to hear that these are only maximum sentences that we are dealing with.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, that there are other cases of unlawful disclosure that should be considered and reviewed but, that being the case in an ideal world—and we all know that these things do not happen as fast as they should—that is no reason for not doing anything at all. So we support Amendment 78B.

For all the reasons given by my noble friend Lady Brinton and, no doubt, to be given by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby—the noble Baroness, Lady Chapman, has already spoken to it—we support Amendment 78D on the duty to inform under the unduly lenient sentencing scheme, as well as the extension of the time limit for complaint in respect of unduly lenient sentences. In Committee we went through the reasons for the whole-life order to be taken as a starting point in cases of abduction, sexual assault and murder, and we do support that—again, because it is only a starting point—and this ranks right up there with the other serious offences for which a whole-life order is appropriate.

We support for the reasons given by my noble friend Lady Brinton her amendment on home detention curfews as well.