Motion A

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Commons Amendments and Reasons – in the House of Lords am 3:15 pm ar 24 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:15, 24 Mai 2024

My Lords, we welcome the discussions that have taken place in the usual channels to ensure that the calling of the election does not unduly disadvantage victims who have waited for many years for this legislation to be brought forward. We on our side have strived to be collaborative throughout the Bill’s progress and, while we have not been able to achieve everything we would have liked, we acknowledge that the department has been willing to negotiate on some matters and make a number of amendments in lieu.

It is a shame that my noble friend Lady Royall’s amendments on stalking were not successful as part of the negotiating process. On stalking and the eligibility for home detention curfew, I thought that the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, made a very interesting point about the CPS charging stalkers with alternative offences as well. As I have said in other debates, I have dealt as a magistrate with stalking matters relatively recently. If lesser charges of harassment can be pressed in the alternative, the court would have better choices to make when determining guilt or otherwise. I thought that that was an interesting point.

The noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, did not mention unduly lenient sentencing. While that was not part of the wash-up agreement, the Government nevertheless committed from the Dispatch Box to keep unduly lenient sentencing under review. As far as I can or cannot commit any future Government, I think it is something that any Government would want to keep under review, as the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, is important.

We also welcome the amendment in lieu, Amendment 32A, on the duty for agencies to co-operate with the Victims’ Commissioner. I congratulate her on all her sterling work on this Bill. This does not go quite as far as we asked, but it is an improvement, nevertheless.

The Labour Party remains committed to introducing a statutory duty of candour. It is a shame that the Government have not felt able to go further, but at least there is a review in the Bill.

We are pleased that the infected blood provisions will make it on to the statute book and be commenced at Royal Assent, and we welcome the recent government Statements and hope that compensation will get to people as early as possible.

On IPP, we have tried to work collaboratively across party lines and there is further work to be done. We want to ensure that solutions proposed are robust and assessed with public safety in mind, and we will work at pace, consulting widely on potential ways forward.

We of course welcome the concession on controlling or coercive behaviour and the MAPPA process, in Amendment 99A. It is an important marker, but only part of a bigger picture where violence against women and girls needs to be addressed. There is more work to do, but passing this Bill is an important step towards a new era of transparency and advocacy for victims of crime.

In conclusion, I thank my honourable friend Kevin Brennan for steering Labour’s response to the Bill through the other place and my noble friend Lady Thornton for her support for me during the passage of the Bill. I also thank our advisers, Catherine Johnson and Clare Scally.

Finally, I thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy. I also thank his civil servants, who have been extremely helpful to me and, I know, to many other noble Lords who have taken an interest in this Bill. Turning back to the noble and learned Lord, I know he will say that he works as part of a team, but the team needs a leader and he has been the leader for this Bill in this House—and that has been to the benefit of all noble Lords who have taken an interest in the Bill.

The Bill is an accomplishment. It is only a step in the road, and I hope we can work on the progress that has been made in any future Governments who may be formed.