Debates between Lord Faulks and Lord McNicol of West Kilbride during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 26th Jan 2021
Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill

Debate between Lord Faulks and Lord McNicol of West Kilbride
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 26th January 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill 2019-21 View all Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill 2019-21 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 129-I Marshalled list for Committee - (21 Jan 2021)
Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord McNicol of West Kilbride) (Lab)
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We have been unable to reach the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, so we now move to the noble Lord, Lord Faulks.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, the Bill has been broadly welcomed, in light of the Fishmongers’ Hall and Streatham attacks, by noble Lords across the House. One could add to that sad litany of attacks the murder of three men in Forbury Gardens, Reading. Noble Lords accepted the need for legislation such as this with something of a heavy heart. There have been anxieties expressed in Committee today and at Second Reading about some aspects of the Bill. I particularly noted the comments at Second Reading of the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, and the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, who described himself as “horrified” by the reduced role of the Parole Board.

I share, I am sure, with all noble Lords very considerable respect for what the Parole Board does. Decisions about serious offenders are particularly challenging. The boards, which have enormous experience, are given a great deal of material to make their decision, which they do with scrupulous care. I do not see that the purpose of the Bill in any way excludes or marginalises the board. The purpose, surely, is to ensure that serious terrorist offenders spend longer in prison and longer on licence, and it is that fact that removes the Parole Board from the picture, not any lack of respect for what it does.

I listened carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, said about the statistics on reoffending by terrorist offenders who are released, and I am sure that he is absolutely right to make that point. I would add just one gentle caveat, in the sense that a terrorist who commits another offence, maybe of the most extraordinary gravity, is not comparable to, say, a burglar who breaks into a house repeatedly, serious though that can be.

The offenders who will no longer be susceptible to review by the Parole Board will have their licence condition, when they are released, set by prison governors on behalf of the Secretary of State. As I understand their position, prison governors will be informed by the probation service, the multi-agency public protection panels, and presumably by information gathered about the prisoners in the prison or prisons where they have served their sentence, which will be something of an incentive for them to behave well. Prison governors have much experience of this process.

The Bill is certainly concerned with the protection of the public. Keeping the most serious offenders in prison for longer and removing their opportunity for early release is what causes the reduced role of the Parole Board. The removal of its involvement for what I understand is likely to be a very small cohort of 50 or so—perhaps the Minister can help—seems to be justified in the public interest.