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Minor And Consequential Amendments

Volume 116: debated on Tuesday 12 May 1987

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`The Contempt Of Court Act 1981 (C 49) …

(1) In section 15 (penalties for contempt of court in Scottish proceedings) after subsection (5) there shall be inserted the following subsection—

"(6) For the purposes of section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 (release on licence of prisoners serving determinate sentences) a penalty of a period of imprisonment imposed for contempt of court shall be treated as a sentence of imprisonment within the meaning of that Act."

(2) Section 15, as amended, shall have effect as regards any penalty imposed before as well as after the coming into force of this paragraph.'.

In a sense, this is a victory by default for the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar). The amendment meets the point that I anticipated that he would have spoken to in Committee on his amendment, but out of courtesy, in view of the shortness of time on that occasion, he did not move it. It is a technical amendment, but it is necessary to correct an anomaly in the present law in relation to Scotland alone, whereby prisoners are excluded from review or from grant of licence for early release on parole if they are serving a single sentence of imprisonment for contempt of court, or a sentence of imprisonment for contempt of court that is consecutive to an ordinary sentence of imprisonment. The amendment returns this aspect of the operation of the parole scheme to that which was originally intended and brings the law of Scotland into line with the current position in England and Wales. I believe that the amendment will meet with all-party support and I commend it to the House.

I am grateful to the Minister. It is a sensible amendment. The amendment that was not reached in Committee, for a variety of practical reasons, was well-founded. As he has introduced a small reform that will improve the working of the parole system, I intend to provide the Minister with a number of excellent suggestions, backed by the Chief Inspector of Prisons and a very large number of other people on the Parole Board for Scotland, that would greatly improve the working of the parole system. However, you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would not allow me to do that now. Therefore I promise the Minister that either from that side of the House or, if we are not fortunate enough to form the next Government, in other circumstances, we shall pursue those suggestions. For the small improvement that has been tendered, I am prepared to thank the Minister, even though my thanks are somewhat muted.

Amendment agreed to.

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.— [Mr. Lang.]

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will be aware that earlier this afternoon Mr. Speaker kindly said that he would look again at the selection of amendments. I have not heard from him, but I imagine that he has advised you about whether he has reviewed the selection.

At the commencement of consideration of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill I announced to the House that Mr. Speaker had selected the new clauses. I recall calling the hon. Gentleman's name, but he was not in his place when we began our proceedings on consideration.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.