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Offending On Bail

Volume 229: debated on Thursday 22 July 1993

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5.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received regarding offending on bail; and if he will make a statement.

We receive representations from time to time; we share the concern about offending on bail. We have supported the Bail (Amendment) Act introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Mr. Stephen) and we have introduced an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 1991 to give courts powers to increase sentences for those who offend on bail.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that by supporting that Bill, the Government have declared that they intend to deal with bail bandits, a subject which worries many hon. Members? Is not it the case that Conservative Members are convinced that my hon. Friend is endeavouring to deal with the problem, unlike Opposition Members, who have difficulty expressing a united opinion?

My hon. Friend comes straight to the point. We are determined to tackle those who offend while on bail. Bail is a right, but it is also a privilege. We cannot tolerate for much longer those who offend on bail, when there may be no good reason for them to do so. We have already taken measures. We keep the law under constant review. If my hon. Friend has any suggestions of sensible further improvements, I shall look forward to hearing them.

What action is the Minister taking on a case that I have twice referred to the Minister of State of a Bradford man who had a disgraceful history of breaching bail conditions, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, was granted home leave and has since absconded? The prison authorities tell me that he would not have been granted home leave if they had been told of the breaches of his bail conditions. What action is being taken to ensure that such a disgraceful incident does not happen again?

We have revised the rules on home leave, but I shall be happy to receive the detailed information of that case from the hon. Gentleman and look into it personally.