Amendment 167A (to Amendment 167)

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (7th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords am 9:15 pm ar 12 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Bellamy Lord Bellamy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 9:15, 12 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, from the point of view of the Government, I am not in a position to accept the premise advanced by the noble and learned Lord. I hear what he says. I do not accept, as I think the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, implied at one stage, that there is anything wrong with the Parole Board processes. I think I heard the word “dodgy” at one point, but I may have misheard. The Parole Board is a body that the Government have complete confidence in in this respect. This exercise should remain with the Parole Board.

I will say again: can we please distinguish between the problem of the released cohort and the problem of the never released cohort? We seem to drift from one to the other a lot of the time. Cases such as those of Matthew Price and, I think, the case of David Parker, which was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, are cases where people have been recalled after having been in the community for many years. That will no longer happen. The question of the recall is very largely dealt with, or very substantially improved, by the Government’s amendments in this Bill. What we are dealing with primarily is the never—not yet—released cohort.

I say again, in the light of my noble friend Lord Moylan’s remarks about the expected possible reaction of those who are still in prison and how to be particularly vigilant in supporting IPP prisoners in the light of these debates and related points, that the action plan is intended to give people hope. It is focused on their future to prepare them progressively with a sentence plan, the psychology services support, and a multidisciplinary progression panel towards eventual release. I think he would accept, even now, that the action plan has made a difference already; I see him nodding. We will take that forward and, as I say, it may well be the case the Government will be in a position to propose to your Lordships that the idea of an action plan should have a statutory basis, that the broad terms of its content should be set out and that the Secretary of State should report to Parliament so that—whatever Government comes into power—we can continue on the process that we have already started. The resentencing exercise is not, in the Government’s view, the way to go.

On that basis, the amendments proposed by my noble friend Lord Attlee would not arise because we are not going down that road. I do not think I need to say anything further about them, save to remark that what is being proposed would impose a very significant burden on our existing probation services. For that reason as well, one would have to reflect very seriously before going down that route. I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment on this point.