Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill: Committee day ten

15 February 2012

The House of Lords continues line by line scrutiny of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill during committee stage day ten today(Wednesday 15 February)

Lords will continue the debate, on what is expected to be the last day of committee stage, with Amendment 182A which suggests the creation of a body called the Women’s Justice Strategy Commission for England and Wales. The new commission would develop a strategy to reduce offending by women.

Following amendments examine conditional cautions and the circumstances in which police may give youngsters a 'youth caution'.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act will also be discussed in Amendment 185F with some insertions covering rehabilitation time for adult offenders.

Catch up on committee stage day nine

Lord Beecham (Labour) started the day's debate with his Amendment 178, which inserts a clause allowing the 'right to appeal bail decisions'. He started his speech with reference to a case where a man was given bail and then committed murder.

He explained: 'This amendment and the government amendment arise from the brutal murder of Jane Clough, a 26 year- old nurse and mother of a baby daughter, by the partner with whom she was living who had been charged with very grave sexual offences. The partner was granted bail in the magistrates' court and the brutal murder occurred shortly thereafter'.

Lord Beecham met the Clough family before the day's proceedings. He said: 'This morning I have had the humbling privilege of meeting Jane's parents - John and Penny Clough. I salute the dignity and courage with which they are not only bearing the loss of a beloved daughter in the most appalling circumstances but the way they have campaigned, with support from a wide range of individuals and organisations and across party, for a change in the law to allow an appeal against the granting of bail.'

Lord McNally, Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, addressed the campaign by the Clough family: 'I can assure the House that what the government are doing, supported by Her Majesty's Opposition and, as the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, made clear, supported firmly by the other place, is approving Jane's law.' The amendment was withdrawn at this stage of the bill.

The discussion followed with technical changes to the Bail (Amendment) Act 1993 and cases for electronic monitoring.

Read all member's suggestions for change in the ninth marshalled list of amendments.

The bill's progress so far

The previous stage of this bill to be completed in the Lords was the second reading, which took place on 21 November 2011.

Some key areas of the bill:

  • The bill takes certain types of case out of scope for legal aid funding and provides that cases would not be eligible for funding unless specified in the bill.
  • It abolishes the Legal Services Commission.
  • It makes various provisions in respect of civil litigation funding and costs, taking forward the recommendations of the Jackson Review.
  • It makes changes to sentencing provisions, giving courts an express duty (rather than the current power) to consider making compensation orders where victims have suffered harm or loss, reducing the detailed requirements on courts when they give reasons for a sentence, allowing courts to suspend sentences of up to two years rather than 12 months and amending the court’s power to suspend a prison sentence.
  • It introduces new powers to allow curfews to be imposed for more hours in the day and for up to 12 months rather than the current six.

What is the committee stage?

During committee stage, detailed line-by-line examination of separate clauses and schedules of the bill takes place. Any member of the Lords can take part. It can last for one or two days to eight or more. This stage usually starts no fewer than two weeks after the second reading.

The day before committee stage starts, amendments (proposals for change) are published in order in a Marshalled List. Amendments on related subjects are grouped together and a 'groupings of amendments' is published on the day. Lords must agree to every clause of the bill and vote on the amendments. All proposed amendments can be discussed and there is no time limit for discussion.

After the committee stage, the bill is reprinted with all the agreed amendments and is moved to report stage for further examination.

Further information

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