Crime and Courts Bill: Lords committee stage day seven

31 October 2012

Lords completed committee stage of the Crime and Courts Bill yesterday (Tuesday 30 October)

Speaking on behalf of the government, Lord McNally (Liberal Democrat) opened the debate summarising the purpose of the bill and highlighting the government amendments made.

The government amendments were agreed in a second reading style debate. Lord McNally gave assurances that the House would be able to have a committee stage examination of the amendments in November.

The House first focussed on community sentencing proposals. Lord McNally explained: 'I believe that these amendments will build on the strength of our current community sentencing framework to ensure that such sentences strike the right balance between punishment, rehabilitation and reparation when they are effectively enforced.'

Lord Rosser (Labour) expressed concern, saying: 'The proposals indicate a considerable lack of confidence by the government in the judgment of the courts to get the balance right between punishment and rehabilitation when imposing community orders.'

He added: 'Many who appear before the courts need to be punished in clear and unequivocal terms for the offences they have committed. Equally, for others, that may not be the appropriate road to go down when there is evidence that the prospects of reducing reoffending would be maximised through addressing the causes of their offending with challenging sentence requirements.'

Lord Ramsbotham (Crossbench) queried the prospects for the probation service. He argued: 'The role of the probation service is offender management; it is the public sector responsibility to manage offenders who are sentenced by the courts. I hope to goodness that whatever happens does not include dilution of that.'

Members then focussed on deferred prosecution arrangements. The Crime and Courts Bill will move to report stage on 13 November.

About the Crime and Courts Bill

The bill was introduced in the House of Lords at its first reading stage (formal introduction) on 10 May. It aims to establish the National Crime Agency and suggests abolishing the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the National Policing Improvement Agency.

It also examines the structure, administration, proceedings and powers of courts and tribunals and addresses issues like border control and drugs and driving.

What is committee stage?

Detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of the bill takes place during committee stage. Any member of the Lords can take part.

It usually starts no fewer than two weeks after the second reading and can last for one to eight days or more.

The day before committee stage starts, amendments (changes) are grouped into related subjects and placed in order - a marshalled list.

During committee stage every clause of the bill has to be agreed to and votes on the amendments can take place. All proposed amendments can be discussed and there is no time limit, or guillotine, on discussion of amendments.

What is report stage?

Report stage gives all members of the Lords further opportunity to examine and make changes, known as amendments, to a bill.
Report stage usually starts 14 days after committee stage. It can be spread over several days (but usually fewer days than at committee stage).
Before report stage starts, all member's amendments are recorded and published. The day before a report stage debate the amendments are grouped into related subjects and placed in order - a marshalled list.

During report stage detailed line by line examination of the bill continues. Any Member of the Lords can take part and votes can take place.
After report stage the bill is reprinted to include all the agreed amendments. The bill then moves to third reading for the final chance for the Lords to debate and amend the bill.

Previous Crime and Courts Bill news stories

Further information

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