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 Bellamy Lord Bellamy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 3:15, 24 Mai 2024

I thank all noble Lords who have spoken. I will deal briefly with the points made. The point the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, made about the firewall is a difficult one. No doubt it will continue to be discussed in the years ahead. The Government do not feel able to go further at the moment.

On Motion E, which is on the importance of training, I hope we have now put in place something effective, though indirect, to ensure that training will happen properly. That will no doubt be kept under review and be publicly reported in the annual report, so that this House and the other place can monitor how that is going.

On Motion G, which is on MAPPA, I respectfully suggest that the Government’s amendment completes the picture. It includes coercion and controlling behaviour. The point the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, made about the importance of the CPS considering exactly what it charges is important, but I stress my own understanding that a risk assessment will take place in every case so that, even if there is not actually a stalking charge, the fact that it is stalking-like behaviour should be properly taken into account in assessing the risk before HDC is used.

On the commitment in relation to unduly lenient sentences, which the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, mentioned, at the time we envisaged that we would include something in the Criminal Justice Bill. Unfortunately, that has not taken place. The Government’s commitment remains as long as the Government are the Government—no doubt a future Government will wish to take that matter forward as well.

Those are my brief comments on the substantive points that have been made, but I will make some very brief concluding remarks as we reach the concluding stages of the Victims and Prisoners Bill. I once again thank all those who have engaged and collaborated throughout the passage of the Bill. I particularly thank my noble friends Lord Howe and Lord Roborough, who, if your Lordships remember, took over the passage of the entire Bill at a certain stage in Committee and have taken on certain sections of the Bill. My noble friend Lord Roborough has done very important work, particularly on MAPPA and related points, but my noble friend Lord Howe, as your Lordships know, has taken on a major role in relation to the infected blood issues. I am very grateful to them.

I am very pleased that the Bill has made it through this process. We have not lost it and I put on record my own thanks to all the officials who contributed to the Bill. They have already been warmly thanked in the other place, but I need particularly to mention Nikki Jones, Katie Morris and Lizzie Bates, who were among the team leaders. I also personally thank the infected blood team at the Cabinet Office.

Since I may not have another opportunity, I will say, personally, what a privilege it has been to deal at this Dispatch Box with the affairs of the Ministry of Justice over the last two years, and how much one appreciates the courtesy, perspicacity and hard work of this House. Members actually listen to the debates and take on board the points made. I think most people understand that we are trying to find solutions to very difficult problems and there are very often several points of view. My overall impression is that, on the whole, the House works very closely and collaboratively. As a newcomer to your Lordships’ House, I may say personally that that is a most impressive situation—possibly unique among legislatures in the western world.

I reciprocate the kind remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, and thank him particularly as having been my principal interlocutor over the last two years. I thank him for his pertinent questions, unfailing courtesy and wise responses. Although, as he would say, “I am not lawyer”—he is a non-lawyer, albeit a magistrate—I would say that the noble Lord is one of the best non-lawyer lawyers one could possibly have. By which I mean that, in law as in life, technical knowledge is not by any means the whole story. What matters is common sense and wisdom. The noble Lord has those qualities in abundance. I wish him and all Members of this House, from whatever side, all the best in the future. I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Motion A agreed.