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Offender Management Bill

Volume 694: debated on Tuesday 24 July 2007

My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons amendments and reasons be now considered.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

commons amendments AND REASONS

[The page and line references are to Bill 53 as first printed for the Commons.]

Motion A

6: Page 3, line 21, leave out “Secretary of State” and insert “probation boards and probation trusts”

The Commons disagree to Lords Amendments Nos. 6, 9, 12 and 13 for the following Reason-

6A: Because it is an essential feature of Part 1 of the Bill that the commissioning function in Clause 3(2) is exercised by the Secretary of State.

8: Page 3, line 35, at end insert-

“(3A) If it appears to the Secretary of State that sufficient provision of probation services is not being, or will not be, made in accordance with the arrangements under subsection (2), he shall-

(a) make contractual or other arrangements with any other person for the making of the probation provision; or(b) make the probation provision himself.”

The Commons disagree to Lords Amendment No. 8 but propose the following Amendment in lieu-

8A: Page 3, line 35, at end insert-

“(3A) The Secretary of State may make provision for the performance of any function to which section 2(1)(c) applies by making arrangements under subsection (2) above providing for the delegation of that function to the other person.”

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 6, 8, 9, 12 and 13 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 8A in lieu.

Before I deal with the substance of the Motion, I should like briefly to remind the House how far we have come in our consideration of this Bill and how much it has improved as a result. The Government have listened carefully to the points made here and in the other place and we have made amendments on its aims, the restriction of court work to the public sector, national standards, training, pay, local area agreements, plans and consultation. Moreover, even at this late stage, we have made further amendments on conflict of interest and order-making powers for the establishment of trusts. However, we are now reaching the point where we need to finalise the provisions in the Bill. The Commons agreed.

Your Lordships will be aware of the real concerns which existed in the other place when the Bill had its Report and Third Reading stages in February. Your Lordships will also be aware that a number of the Government’s own supporters went so far as to vote against the Bill at Third Reading. But Lords Amendment No. 6 was disagreed to by a majority of 128. The other place has now recognised the improvements which have been made and has given its clear support to the Bill. I hope that this House will now feel in a position to do the same.

The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has tabled amendments to Commons Amendment No. 8A in lieu to propose that the probation trust or local lead provider should engage with the local strategic partnership to agree and implement local area agreements. The amendments also propose that the contract with the local lead provider should reinforce these obligations. That is very much what we expect to happen in practice. My right honourable friend the Minister of State, David Hanson, made it clear in the other place last week that commissioning will be a national, regional and local activity and that the local probation trust will be the lead provider provided that it meets the necessary performance standard. My right honourable friend also said that he would consider reinforcing that in the Bill. I believe that that is what the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, may have had in mind and why she has tabled her amendment today.

I need to point out that the amendment is technically flawed as it employs terms that are not defined in statute, such as “lead provider”, “regional commissioner” and “local strategic partnership”. However, I also accept that that is not the main point that we need to focus on today. I understand why the noble Baroness wants to draw attention to what my right honourable friend said in the other place. I respectfully suggest to the House that what he said is a matter of real importance. My ability to confirm that statement to your Lordships’ House is also, if I may say so, of significance.

My right honourable friend has given consideration to the matter but continues to believe that it is not necessary or appropriate to make those commitments in the Bill. He has made the position very clear on the Floor of the House, as has my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, in correspondence which I hope that a number of your Lordships will have read. That states very clearly how we propose to continue with the matter. All our plans for implementation are based around that concept. The letter makes it absolutely clear how the Government intend to proceed.

I know that it was that assurance that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, was most keen to secure and I am very happy to have been able to repeat the statements made by my right honourable friend in the other place, so that this House has the same assurance on those matters as Members of the other place. I hope that the House will accept those assurances and that the noble Baroness Lady Anelay, will not press her amendments, having achieved with such elegance and success all that she could possibly want.

Moved, that the House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 6, 8, 9, 12 and 13 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 8A in lieu.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

rose to move, as an amendment to Motion A, at end insert “but do propose the following amendments to Commons Amendment No. 8A in lieu—

8B: Line 4, leave out “the other person” and insert “the probation trust, or another local lead provider”

8C: Line 5, at end insert-

“(3B) The probation trust, or another local lead provider, shall engage with other partners in the local strategic partnership to agree and implement local area agreements.

(3C) The regional commissioner shall ensure that the contract with the local lead provider enables the obligations under the provisions of subsection (3B) to be fulfilled.””

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Motion A1 is an amendment to Motion A. The Minister said with flattering tones that I had managed to achieve in some elegant way all that I could expect to achieve. Well, no, what I have achieved is only what the Government sought to achieve by way of reassurance to their honourable friends in another place. However, I accept that the Minister has done as much as the Government are prepared to do. I therefore make it clear at the outset that my amendments were tabled only as probing amendments and remain so. I shall not be inviting my noble friends to divide the House on this matter.

For us, the core issue in the Bill is our objection to the Secretary of State’s plans to take central control of the commissioning of probation services. We prefer local control by local people, who know best what suits their needs. The House agreed with us at Report on 27 June and passed amendments to give effect to that objective. The Government today seek to overturn those amendments after a vote in another place.

The Government have argued that if they are not allowed to give the Secretary of State centralised control, nothing will change—that probation trusts cannot be trusted to extend contracts for the delivery of probation services more widely to private contractors and to the third sector. We had that full debate at Report.

The Government therefore ignore the vehicle for change that they seek to impose in any event: the new business-based membership of the probation trusts, which will rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the probation boards. If the Government trusted their own new system for appointing members of probation trusts, surely they should be able to give them the power to commission services, instead of holding that power centrally in the hands of the Secretary of State. We have the extraordinary spectacle of the Government changing the membership of the trusts so that they will be business-focused, and then undermining them immediately by legislating to give the overall power for commissioning to the Secretary of State. What do the Government say in their defence? They say, “Well, we do not really mean it. Despite what the Bill says, something different will happen. We will delegate our centralised power to probation trusts sometimes, perhaps often, perhaps as a matter of practice”. The terminology has changed, and at times elided, in our debates.

The Government wrote to their Members of Parliament in another place before the Commons’ consideration of Lords amendments last week to put that into print. The noble and learned Baroness has summarised that very efficiently and effectively today, for which I thank her. However, it is right to quote from that letter today, because not all noble Lords will have had the opportunity to see it. I have been able to show it to one or two noble Lords. It has also been posted on the website of the National Association of Probation Officers, so it is a matter of public record although not publicly seen. I shall quote selectively from it, as one does from such letters, but I hope to highlight the matters on which we agree, not disagree. It says:

“We see commissioning as a national, regional and local activity, with the local level playing a crucial role … Some very specialist, low-volume, high-cost services may be commissioned on a national basis. But commissioning at the national level will generally focus on setting the overall objectives, standards and targets for the system”.

Mr Straw went on to claim that the government amendments tabled last week in another place would enable the Secretary of State to delegate his responsibility for commissioning,

“to the probation trust, or another lead provider, and”—

he underlines the following—

“this is what will happen in practice”.

I accept that that is a considerable advance on the Government’s position both at Third Reading in another place and subsequently in debates in this House, but it still does not change the fact that the Bill puts the power for commissioning centrally in the hands of the Secretary of State. I also accept from what the Minister has said that the Government have given assurances, which are on the record. No doubt Parliament will seek to hold the Government to account if they decide to do otherwise.

This matter was debated very thoroughly indeed in another place last week. Unlike the amendment on which noble Lords have just voted, this amendment had a fair and full hearing. Several of the Minister’s honourable friends questioned Mr Hanson, the Minister in another place, very closely—at col. 360 on 18 July. They asked in particular that the structure that was set out in Mr Straw’s letter of 17 July, from which I have just quoted, should be in the Bill. As the Minister has said today, Mr Hanson responded—at col. 366—by giving a commitment that he would look further into the possibility of putting this policy statement into the Bill. The Minister tells us today that the Government have thought about it but think that it is neither necessary nor appropriate to put it into the Bill.

My amendments were tabled with the specific objective of ensuring that these matters were discussed today. Unusually, I tabled them not because I want them to be in the Bill but because I do not. I do not feel that they advance the Bill further towards the purer objective that I seek: that there should be local control. I sought instead to give this House the opportunity to hear what the Minister in another place said in the debate last week and to hear from the Minister in this place the assurances that she has given today. The amendments were therefore tabled to achieve completeness in the debate, but not to achieve the complete satisfaction that would be arrived at only if the Government had accepted them. But there comes a time in the debates between both Houses on matters of principle when we know at some stage that we on these Benches have to say that we have presented our case and that we disagree on principle. Because we are not yet the elected House, these are the times when we have to reflect carefully as to whether we proceed further. That may change in the future, but today is today. On the basis that on this matter I do not seek to return the matter to another place, I will not press my Motion. However, at this stage, because of proceedings, I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to Motion A, Motion A1, at end insert “but do propose the following amendments to Commons Amendment No. 8A in lieu, Amendments Nos. 8B and 8C”.—(Baroness Anelay of St Johns.)

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has been consistent in her comments on this matter. She knows that she has had our support all through the Committee and Report stages. The arguments have been well rehearsed. I do not think that I need to add anything further, except to say that the issue at the centre is about local agreement and central control. I accept that the amendment may be faulty, but we need to look at what it is trying to achieve.

Because of the number of changes as regards this Bill in the past two or three years, I have no doubt that we will be back here before long. If we look at the Government’s legislative programme announced two weeks ago in this House, the emphasis that the Government are to give to local control and involvement is clear. I have no doubt that we will see that. In the mean time, as the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, is not proceeding any further with this matter, I want to assure her that in the future together we may be able to put it right.

My Lords, in recognising the line that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has taken, I should like to quote one further sentence from the letter from the Secretary of State to Mr Neil Gerrard. It refers to the Local Government Association, which is one of the bodies mentioned in our debates as a stakeholder, particularly for local commissioning, if more responsibility is to be passed on to local commissioning and local arrangements. The letter states:

“Local Government has today made clear that their fundamental concerns about local accountability within the Bill have been addressed and that ‘the Bill should provide for genuine local commissioning and offer a real opportunity for increased involvement of other providers such as the voluntary sector, whose expertise and experience has much to offer’”.

That seems entirely in line with what the Motion proposed by the noble Baroness was designed to achieve. As it has achieved it in the words of the Secretary of State, I absolutely understand the line she is taking.

My Lords, I support what my noble friend has said. The matter of who will help people not to reoffend is enormously important. I am very worried that the system being set up by the Government will not work. I do not believe that the central control of this matter will operate successfully. I say this because I was at a meeting before, I think, Second Reading with the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, and the voluntary organisations involved. The voluntary organisations were thrilled that they will get a better opportunity to enter the foray. In discussions with them afterwards, I felt that they did not realise the problems that centralisation would present. My noble friend and many others have tried to persuade the Government that they are making a mistake. They are insisting on doing it this way.

My noble friend said that were we an elected House, she would divide. I applaud her for saying that because I am very sorry we do not feel that we have a mandate to pursue this matter because we are not elected. When I came to this House having been elected in local government, I felt the difference between being an elected person and not being one. I still feel it. It makes me wonder whether we are right to continue as an unelected House. Were we elected, we would certainly not let the Government get away with this one, arranging something that I do not believe will not work. I support my noble friend.

My Lords, I am in danger of striking a discordant note as all this harmony starts breaking out, but, having listened to the previous two or three speakers, I feel bound to point out one or two things that come from a different direction.

It is worth bearing in mind why we started with the Bill in the first place: there had been a failure under successive Governments to get the Probation Service to drive an agenda of bringing in outside providers from the public, private and voluntary sectors that might provide a wider range of services that would benefit offenders and, by association, the public themselves in trying to prevent reoffending. That is where we came from.

In my view, the reason we found ourselves in that position as a Government was well expressed by one statistic, which my right honourable friend the Minister of State in the Ministry of Justice, David Hanson, gave in a debate in the other place on 18 July. He drew attention to the fact that 96 per cent of probation services are now provided on an in-house basis. My understanding is that that is a national percentage figure, so the figures in some places may be even higher.

The Government are entitled to have a degree of scepticism privately about the lack of progress in this area over a long time. It is worth bearing in mind that the previous Conservative Home Secretary, Michael Howard, tried to shift those percentages in the right direction but was, if I may put it this crudely, seen off. There is a great deal of scepticism in the voluntary sector—here I have to declare my interest as vice-president and former chair of Rainer—about whether people will deliver. The voluntary sector has been in this territory for a long time and it wants, and is able, to do more. We should pay attention to some of its concerns, not just to those of Napo and the Probation Service. There are people out there in the voluntary sector who want to see this work but have undoubtedly to take account of some previous practices in this area.

I am glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, will not press the amendment. The Government have come a long way and are committed to local commissioning, but are entitled to hold some things in reserve should the need arise in particular places. I hope they will not and that that will not be necessary, but we cannot altogether ignore some of the lessons of history.

My Lords, I am grateful to all those who have spoken, particularly to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for indicating so clearly that she had no intention to divide the House and that hers was a probing amendment. I am pleased that I have been able to give her the reassurance she seeks, but I agree with my noble friend Lord Warner that it is important that we retain for the voluntary sector, and for those others who wish to help us deliver something better, an opportunity to do so. We will be able to do that regionally, locally and nationally. I beg to move.

My Lords, before we reach that stage I think I must formally withdraw my amendment; then we can leave the Floor open to the noble and learned Baroness. I put on record my thanks to all those who have supported me over the past few months when I have argued for the principle of trusting local people. That has been an important argument in the Bill. I could take time to rebut all of the arguments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Warner, but that would be tempting me to engage in yet another Second Reading speech and that is not what we do at this stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn

On Question, Motion A agreed to

11: Page 3, line 46, at end insert-

“(6) In carrying out their functions under this Part, and in particular in providing any assistance to the courts and to the Parole Board for England and Wales, providers of probation services and their officers shall ensure that such assistance does not give rise to any conflict of interest between their obligation to give such advice impartially and the financial interest of the provider.”

The Commons disagree to Lords Amendment No. 11 but propose the following Amendment in lieu-

11A: Page 3, line 46, at end insert-

“(6) In carrying out functions under this Part in relation to arrangements under section 3(2) with another person (“the provider”), the Secretary of State shall have regard to the need to take reasonable steps to avoid (so far as practicable) the risk that-

(a) the provision, in pursuance of the arrangements, of assistance to a court or to the Parole Board for England and Wales, and(b) the carrying out, in pursuance of the arrangements, of any other activities,might be adversely affected by any potential conflict between the provider's obligations in relation to those activities and the financial interests of the provider.”

My Lords, I beg to move Motion B, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 11 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 11A in lieu.

My right honourable friend the Minister of State made it clear in the other place that the Government fully accept the principle of the original Lords amendment. We have always said that we need to do all that we can to guard against potential conflicts of interest. It became clear in the debates that we had that there was nothing between us on that issue. Having reflected carefully on the points that were made in debate in your Lordships’ House, we accept that it is appropriate to make a clear statement in the Bill about this fundamental issue. I should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for tabling her original amendment to that effect.

Our Amendment No. 11A to Lords Amendment No. 11 is intended simply to make it more technically robust. Our amendment differs in two ways. First, it places the duty on the Secretary of State, rather than the provider. That is because the Secretary of State will be better placed than individual officers or providers to take an over-arching view of where potential conflicts of interest might occur and to ensure that the necessary safeguards are put in place.

Secondly, we have changed the language from,

“shall ensure that such assistance does not give rise to any conflict of interest”,

to,

“shall have regard to the need to take reasonable steps to avoid (so far as practicable)”.

This drafting change has been made simply to cover the fact that it may not always be possible to ensure absolutely that no conflicts of interest arise. Indeed, they are inherent in the system now, with probation boards acting as both report writer and provider of community sentences. I know that the noble Baroness would wish us to continue to have that function, albeit on the face of it, it would look as though there were a natural conflict between those two things. It is not intended to make the duty less robust in any way, but simply to create a duty that works in practice and to the benefit of those who will wish to operate it in precisely the way that this House has indicated it should be operated.

A number of mechanisms are in place to address the risk of conflict of interest. First, when the court requests a pre-sentence report, it also provides an indication of the expected sentencing outcomes, so that the report can be focused accordingly. Secondly, the report must adhere to national standards, which have been strengthened by the amendment we have made to the Bill. Thirdly, there is clear guidance as to the type and structure of report to be provided, based on the seriousness of offence and appropriate response.

More generally, the development of an improved performance management framework, coupled with the introduction of commissioning and contractual relationships, will bring greater transparency to the process and make it easier to spot any potential difficulties. I hope that we will also be able to do that earlier because we will have a process through which difficulties could be ascertained. I can also confirm that, if the Government ever wished to open up the provision of court work to non-public sector providers, we would indeed set out clearly how any risks of conflict of interest would be dealt with in those circumstances. The amendment to the Bill helps to ensure that this happens. It represents a workable, compromise solution which addresses the points of concern raised by noble Lords in Committee and does that which I believe the House wanted us to do in a way that is proportionate, open and fair.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 11 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 11A in lieu.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

rose to move, as an amendment to the above Motion, at end insert “but do propose the following amendment to Commons Amendment No. 11A in lieu—

The Commons disagree to Lords Amendment No. 11 but propose the following Amendment in lieu-

11B: Line 4, leave out from “shall” to “the” in line 5 and insert “ensure that measures are in place that will avoid””

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, what the noble and learned Baroness has just said on the record was extremely helpful. I tabled my amendments in order to elicit from the noble and learned Baroness an explanation of why the Government had seen fit to provide a different drafting of conflict of interest. My first reading of the Government's amendment in the other place led me to believe that the provision had become so wishy-washy that it would not be effective. I always appreciate that parliamentary counsel wishes to ensure that amendments are technically accurate and effective, but I felt that the intent of my amendment had also been watered down. Having listened to the noble and learned Baroness, I suspect that she has said enough already to satisfy me on this matter.

I am particularly interested in what she said about the procedure that would obtain if and when the protections in Clause 4 were removed and one could have in the third sector what one now has in the public sector—that the person who provides a report in a court system as to disposal may also then be the person who is the lead provider in providing the intervention. That will be the most sensitive of times for one to judge whether or not there is a conflict of interest.

I will formally move this Motion in case there are other noble Lords who wish to add anything to the debate. I suspect that that is somewhat unlikely given what the noble and learned Baroness has just said. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to Motion B, Motion B1, at end insert “but do propose Amendment No. 11B to Commons Amendment No. 11A in lieu”.—(Baroness Anelay of St Johns.)

My Lords, I shall be brief on this matter. The Government have certainly moved on this issue. We accept the technical change in counsel’s language and the duty placed on the Secretary of State.

We have raised this issue in the past and I raise it again because it is so important that there are proper standards when producing reports of this nature. I remember in earlier days, when sentencing reports from the Probation Service were examined, we found that there was a degree of racial bias and racial stereotyping, which did a considerable amount of damage to the minority communities in this country. We suddenly saw that people had been sentenced more harshly than would normally be the case. I hope that those factors have been taken into account when we talk about national standards, particularly in looking at the final outcome of sentences. The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, knows that she has had our support in the past and although there will be no further movement on this amendment, I hope that the Government will take account of the issue.

My Lords, I understand why the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, raised the issue in relation to black and minority ethnic offenders and others who may be subject to this provision. There are issues in relation to proportionality and high-quality reports. I can assure him that the Ministry of Justice takes those matters very seriously indeed. I can also assure him that for so long as I remain involved in the criminal justice system, I will not cease to pay attention to them as well.

16: Insert the following new Clause-

“Annual plans etc(1) The Secretary of State shall at least once in every year consult the Welsh Ministers, and such other persons as he thinks fit, about the provision that should be made for the purposes mentioned in section 2(1) for the following year.

(2) The Secretary of State shall, before the end of each year, publish an annual plan for the following year which sets out the way in which the Secretary of State proposes to-

(a) discharge his functions under section 2(1) and (2) during that year; and(b) carry out any arrangements which he expects to be in force under section 3(4) for that year.(3) The Secretary of State shall have regard to the annual plan published under subsection (2) for any year-

(a) in discharging his functions under section 2(1) and (2) during that year; and(b) in making or carrying out arrangements under section 3(3A) or (4) for that year.(4) Arrangements made by the Secretary of State under section 3(3A) or (4) with a person other than a probation trust shall, if the Secretary of State thinks fit, require that person to publish an annual plan for each year in which it expects to carry out any specified activities.

(5) In subsection (4)-

“annual plan” means a plan setting out the way in which the person required to publish the plan proposes to carry out any specified activities during the year to which the plan relates;“specified activities”, in relation to a person with whom arrangements under section 3(4) or (5) are made, means activities of a description specified in those arrangements for the purposes of subsection (4) above.(6) In this section “year” means a period of 12 months ending with 31st March.”

The Commons agree to Lords Amendment No. 16 to which they have made the following Amendments-

16A: Line 18, leave out "3(3A) or (4)" and insert "3(4)"

16B: Line 19, at end insert-

“(3A) Arrangements made by the Secretary of State under section 3(2) with a probation trust shall require the trust to publish an annual plan for each year in which it expects to carry out any specified activities.”

16C: Line 20, leave out “3(3A) or (4)” and insert “3(2)”

16D: Line 24, leave out “subsection (4)” and insert “subsections (3A) and (4)”

16E: Line 25, leave out “person required to publish the plan” and insert “probation trust or other person (as the case may be)”

16F: Line 28, leave out “person with whom arrangements under sections 3(4) or (5)” and insert “probation trust or other person with whom arrangements under section 3(2)”

16G: Line 30, leave out “(4) above” and insert ”(3A) or (4) above (as the case may be)”

My Lords, I beg to move Motion C, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 16A to 16G to Lords Amendment 16.

These amendments need not detain us long. As the House will recall, Amendment No. 16 was added to the Bill during our deliberations in Committee. It gave effect to two commitments which I made at Second Reading. The first was to include in the general duty to consult a specific requirement to consult Welsh Ministers on probation provision in Wales. The second was to require providers to publish plans. Amendment No. 16 was subsequently amended on Report by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, as part of the series of amendments that we have already discussed, which proposed that the power to commission should rest with probation boards and probation trusts.

Amendments Nos. 16A to 16G simply reverse the effect of those changes. Amendment No. 16B reinstates the very important original subsection (4), which requires the Secretary of State’s arrangements with a trust to include a requirement to publish its own plan for the following year. Hence these amendments ensure that the clause on annual plans and consultation is consistent with the rest of the Bill.

Moved, Motion C, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 16A to 16G to Lords Amendment No. 16.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Motion D

22: Insert the following new Clause-

“Procedure for orders under section 12(1) The Secretary of State must not make an order under section 12 unless-

(a) a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House; and(b) each of the resolutions for approving the draft was agreed more than 60 days after the day on which the draft was laid before the House in question.(2) No draft order under section 12 is to be laid before Parliament unless-

(a) the Secretary of State has prepared and published a report containing a proposal for the making of such provision;(b) the report sets out the Secretary of State's reasons for making the proposal;(c) the report has been laid before Parliament and each House has approved the proposal contained in the report, either with or without modifications; and(d) the draft order gives effect to the proposal so far as approved by both Houses.(3) An approval given in either House satisfies the requirements of subsection (2)(c) only if it was given in that House on the first occasion on which a motion for the approval of the proposal was made in that House by a Minister of the Crown after-

(a) the laying of the report; or(b) if more than one report containing that proposal has been laid before that House, the laying of the one laid most recently.(4) In reckoning a period of 60 days for the purposes of subsection (1), no account shall be taken of a day for which-

(a) Parliament is dissolved or prorogued; or(b) the House in question is adjourned as part of an adjournment for more than four days.”

The Commons disagree to Lords Amendment No. 22 for the following Reason-

22A: Because the ordinary affirmative procedure provided for by Clause 33 is sufficient to enable Parliament to consider the reasons for making an order under Clause 12.

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 22 to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason 22A.

Clause 4 of the Bill makes it clear that the assistance that the Probation Service gives to courts may be commissioned only from a probation trust or other public body. This clause was added to support the assurances that Ministers had already given that there were no immediate plans to open up this particularly sensitive area of work to non-public sector providers. Clause 12 provides a power to repeal this restriction, either in whole or in part, by means of secondary legislation. The affirmative resolution procedure applies to this power. The Lords amendment seeks to upgrade this to the super-affirmative procedure.

I accept that the use of the super-affirmative procedure is not entirely without precedent. As the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, pointed out when we last debated this, the Government themselves considered the use of this procedure in the context of the power in the Identity Cards Bill to make ID cards compulsory. But that would have been a decision of huge national significance and of an entirely different order from the power that we are discussing today. For this power, I continue to submit that the affirmative procedure is absolutely appropriate and sufficiently robust.

I assure the House that, in bringing forward any order to repeal Clause 4, the Government would, of course, set out in detail what was proposed and the reasons for it, including how they proposed to deal with any conflicts of interest. Parliament would have a clear basis on which to decide whether to support the Government’s position. This issue would be amenable to the effective use of affirmative procedure in taking the matter forward. It is a sensible compromise, which retains the tried and tested parliamentary procedures, but ensures that the right information is available to enable Parliament to make its decision. The Commons agreed; I invite your Lordships to do the same.

Although the noble Baroness has changed her position to that of Chief Whip on the Benches opposite, I understand her prowess in that regard, and I am sure that she would whip very hard indeed if the Government did not comply with the assurances made by us from this Dispatch Box. I make these comments conscious that she, and the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, will hold me to account, as I am sure will a number of those who sit on the Cross Benches.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 22 to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason 22A.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

had given notice of her intention to move, as an amendment to Motion D, leave out from “House” to the end and insert “do insist on its Amendment No. 22”.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I assure the Minister that I shall have an elephantine memory or, if I do not, a marvellous team of whips who will make sure that I am reminded all the time.

I tabled this Motion because I wanted to ensure that I had a backstop measure if, by any remote chance, the Government were not minded to grant the conflict of interest amendment that had returned from another place. It is a case of ensuring that every “i” is dotted and every “t” crossed. The fact that a definition of a conflict of interest and the principle behind it is in the Bill may resolve some of the objections to other aspects of this Bill and the difficulty that will pertain when they are rolled out. One difficulty is what will happen when the protection of core services in Clause 4 is withdrawn.

The reason why I was so keen in the first instance to pursue the relative innovation of the super-affirmative procedure was to ensure that, if we did not have the assurance of a conflict of interest protection, we might have another lock elsewhere on the system. By granting the amendment on conflict of interest, the Minister has made it possible for me not to proceed on this matter.

I am particularly grateful to the Minister for the way in which she set out the Government’s position. Of course, when the Government bring forward any affirmative order, they are required as a matter of course to set before the House the reasons for their so doing. That goes without saying. But it was helpful that the Minister made it clear that attention would be paid to any removal of the Clause 4 protections and the reasons why that might be appropriate. It is that kind of information that noble Lords on all Benches will thoroughly scrutinise. Throughout our proceedings, it has been clear that all parties—the Cross Benches in particular—have paid close interest to this matter.

I had intended to move the Motion in case other noble Lords wanted to say one or two things, but with the intention of shortly withdrawing it.

[Motion D1 not moved.]

On Question, Motion D agreed to.

Motion E

23: Insert the following new Clause-

“Probation report

(1) Within a period of six months of the coming into force of this Act, the Secretary of State shall lay a report before both Houses of Parliament containing-

(a) a review of the proposals contained within the report published on 11th December 2003 “Managing Offenders, Reducing Crime: A New Approach”;

(b) the collated responses to the consultation document “Restructuring Probation to Reduce Re-Offending”;

(c) a review of the responses referred to in paragraph (b); and

(d) proposals for reform of the Probation Service.

(2) The Secretary of State must include in a report under subsection (1) notification of when he will exercise his power under section 38(1A).”

The Commons disagree to Lords Amendments Nos. 23 and 38 for the following Reason-

23A: Because the proposed report is unnecessary as Part 1 of the Bill has been fully debated in Parliament.

38: Page 24, line 15, leave out subsection (1) and insert-

“(1) Section (Probation report) comes into force on the day on which this Act is passed.

(2) Apart from section (Probation report), Part 1 of this Act comes into force on such day as the Secretary of State may appoint by order made by statutory instrument, but no such order may be made until the end of a period of 60 days commencing with the laying of a report under section (Probation report).

(3) Parts 2 to 4 of this Act shall come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may appoint by order made by statutory instrument.”

The Commons disagree to Lords Amendments Nos. 23 and 38 for the following Reason-

38A:Because the proposed report is unnecessary as Part 1 of the Bill has been fully debated in Parliament.

My Lords, I beg to move that this House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 23 and 38, to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reasons 23A and 38A.

We have previously discussed at some length the procedures that should apply to the implementation of the measures in Part 1 of the Bill, but I confess that the real purpose of these amendments continues to elude me. They would require the Government to lay before Parliament a report containing proposals for reform of the Probation Service. Parliament has spent the last nine months debating a Bill containing the Government’s proposals for the reform of the Probation Service—a Bill that has undergone extremely careful scrutiny, nearly all of it focused on the probation provisions, and which is much improved as a result. That is entirely proper and as it should be; it is a tried and tested process. It is entirely unclear, therefore, how the addition of this novel procedure would add to it in any significant way.

The Bill that is now before us and the proposals for implementing it, on which I have given your Lordships considerable information over the last few weeks, have moved on considerably from the proposals set out in the consultation paper published nearly two years ago. Perhaps I may respectfully suggest that there is absolutely no purpose to be served by looking back at that paper, the responses to it or indeed the report by the noble Lord, Lord Carter, which preceded it. We have had very valuable debates on these proposals and we now need, I suggest as gently as I can, to look forwards, not backwards. We need to move on to implementing the proposals cautiously and gradually, as we have said that we will. This position has been strongly supported by those in the other place, where these amendments were rejected by a majority of 127.

I cannot see what purpose would be served by further delay and asking the other place to think again when it has so clearly spoken. I invite the House to take the admirable stance adopted earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, when she said that there is a moment when one has to give way. I respectfully suggest that this may be one such moment.

Moved, That this House do not insist on its Amendments Nos. 23 and 38, to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reasons 23A and 38A.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

rose to move, as an amendment to Motion E, leave out from “House” to end and insert “do insist on its Amendments Nos. 23 and 38”.

The noble Lord said: I am moving this Motion on behalf of the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St Johns. I am very grateful to the Minister for her remarks. I note that she says that the amendments’ purpose eludes her. Although I have never been involved in Bill preparation, I rather suspect that, as in many other things, two fundamental questions have to be asked: is a proposal achievable, and is it affordable? In all the time that I have been involved with the criminal justice system, I have discovered that what is missing in both prisons and probation is actual detail of how much it costs to deliver what the Government say that they want delivered. Without that sum as a benchmark against which to judge all the proposals put forward and all the costs that they involve, you cannot possibly know whether you can afford it and, therefore, whether it makes sense to put the proposals forward.

The amendments refer in particular to Part 1, which is to do with probation. I am sure that the Government must have ringing in their ears the experience of the introduction of custody plus, which was trumpeted with great assurance. Probation was asked how much it might cost. It assessed that custody plus would add one-third to every probation budget. It was offered sums in the region of £60,000 to do what would cost several million pounds. Of course it could not be done and custody plus—a perfectly valid and sensible idea—collapsed. It was not achievable because it was not affordable.

What has worried me throughout the Bill’s passage—and indeed when the Government say that the Bill has been fully debated in Parliament—is that the costs have been neither presented nor debated. Therefore, the amendments were tabled to encourage an examination of those costs, to make certain that yet another sensible proposal that had received support across the House would not fall flat on its face purely because the issue of affordability had not been worked out in advance.

Having tabled the Motion, I was intrigued to see the remarks of the Chief Inspector of Probation in his annual report. I should like to quote two passages. The first is on “sustainable incremental improvements” and the fact that,

“we also see a major strategic threat to this progress in the form of an ever increasing squeeze on the capacity of the NOMS system to continue to deliver ... By capacity we mean not only resources in terms of money and people in relation to increasing demands, but also the other tools with which to do the job such as the IT infrastructure”.

He goes on to say that,

“it is clear to us that when the costs of new work, new requirements and new infrastructure have been taken into account, resources have in practice still not kept pace with the increasing demands ... Over the past ten years the increasing demands have included new Orders or requirements for drug treatment and testing, for accredited programmes and for managing prolific offenders, extended periods of post-release supervision, increased public protection expectations, enhanced standards of quality for unpaid work and other supervision requirements. Case numbers have also increased by taking in less serious offenders … In addition, a pay deal in 2006 for a layer of managers (excluding Chief Officers) that was agreed nationally must largely be funded locally ... Now the prospect of Offender Management, a principle almost everyone supports as a principle, risks being proven undeliverable in practice due to the additional increasing demands it will introduce. The Government was right to postpone the introduction of ‘Custody plus’ … because of the capacity problem, but even so demands are continuing to increase faster than resources. This exacerbates the problem of public expectations rising faster than the capacity to satisfy them … it will still not be sufficiently established to enable its true purpose of enabling offender managers to manage cases effectively for several years”.

That is the warning from the Chief Inspector of Probation. I had the experience, for five and a half years, of trying to issue similar warnings about what was happening in prisons and they were not listened to. I was, however, hugely encouraged to read the debate in the other place, when Mr Patrick Hall said,

“in practice, how offender management will be delivered at the local level is so detailed and often so complex that it will be practically impossible for the Secretary of State to take over all those functions”.

The Minister, Mr Hanson, replied:

“I need to reflect in greater detail. I have tried to assure my hon. Friend that the approach of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and myself … we have said both publicly and privately … provides the opportunity for us to reflect seriously”.—[Official Report, Commons, 18/7/07; cols. 365-66.]

The purpose of my amendment is not necessarily to insist so much as to ask for an assurance that reflection will be given to all these points before something unaffordable and unachievable is embarked on, with all the difficulties that that will inevitably bring to the Government. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to Motion E, leave out from “House” to end and insert “do insist on its Amendments Nos. 23 and 38”.—(Lord Ramsbotham.)

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, for the way in which he moved his Motion and made clear what assurances he is seeking from the Minister. I also pay tribute to him for the key role he has played in our close deliberations on the Bill.

I still believe that the Government are not in a position to roll out the Bill’s provisions satisfactorily. Like the noble Lord, I still believe that we are not in full possession of information about likely costs and the mechanisms by which, for example, contracting will be satisfactorily carried out. That indeed was the basis of a letter sent by Mr Straw to his honourable friends in another place dated 16 July—the first of two rather interesting letters sent last week. The first letter was a “dear colleague” to all; the second seemed to be to a more selected group. But certainly the first letter appeared to have one objective: to persuade Labour Members in another place to fall in behind the Government and not misbehave.

The letter set out what appeared to be an assurance that the Government were going to take a very long time indeed to implement the proposals in the Bill. It was a case of saying, “Don’t worry. Even if we don’t know what we’re doing now, we will by the time we do it”. That is our concern—that we should hear satisfactory assurances about the way in which these matters will be implemented.

The Government are determined to press ahead with this Bill. The probation services in this country have suffered enough from the Government’s twists, turns and delays over the past 10 years. It is now time to let the Government’s proposals splutter into life, but I hope that none of us lives to regret it.

My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, for the excellent work that he has done on this legislation. The Minister seems to be optimistic about it but doubts still remain and they will continue to do so, more so on the part of probation practitioners, whom we repeatedly mention. Reform will be required and I suspect that it will be sooner rather than later. We shall not wish to say to the Government, “We told you so”. It is well worth looking again at the arguments that have been repeatedly advanced in this House. In the mean time, I thank the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for the very important role they have performed in trying to make something out of this Bill.

My Lords, from his previous work the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, is in a position to know what most people involved in politics know—that there are not very many votes in prisons or in probation and so it is always difficult for Governments to spend enough on them. We all know that and we see the results of it in our national scene.

It will be very interesting to see whether we can get an answer from the noble and learned Baroness which gives us the assurances that the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and my noble friend asked for.

My Lords, I speak rather tentatively. I have been quiet this afternoon because I felt that life was moving on but I feel the need to say two things. First, as far as I understand it, this Bill continues to deal with the margins of the service. Surely the Probation Service has developed enough skills in contracting. Therefore, it will not cost huge amounts to take those contracts forward. Secondly, I absolutely agree with my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham and the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, that not enough money is spent on any of the social care services. I have been a director of social services, set up the National Care Standards Commission and struggled away at the children and families courts service. None of those services is funded to the degree that we would like. That is why the people who run those services are expected to find alternative ways of innovative working that move forward. That is the whole point of this Bill. I have stood rather separate from some of my colleagues in my views on it. It is about giving probation officers opportunities to work in a different way to develop services that will help offenders change their lives, live better lives and thereby protect the public.

I agree that we need more sophisticated ways of measuring these services. Members of another place have tried to achieve that. At least I now know the relevant costs for my service. The Probation Service could do more of that work. However, I still believe that we are tampering at the edges. This is not major reform; it is trying to develop alternatives. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, I hope that we can get on with it because people in the voluntary sector and the Probation Service would like to move forward.

My Lords, like my noble friend I had not intended to say anything but I disagree somewhat with her or rather I put forward a different view. I am certain that we can all improve the way that we spend money and get better value for money, but we must not forget that the Probation Service is dealing with very complex and often very difficult persons who can be dangerous. Therefore, considerably more resources are needed. Having heard the figures mentioned by my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham, I think that the Probation Service is to be congratulated. It has often been castigated in our debates on this Bill. It is certainly not faultless—

My Lords, in case there is any misunderstanding, I should say that I have never castigated the Probation Service. That may not be what my noble friend meant, but there is a danger that it might be inferred. My admiration for the work that it does is absolutely solid. I apologise for intervening, but I should make that absolutely clear.

My Lords, I should make it clear that I was referring not to what my noble friend said but to the debates that had taken place in this House.

I very much hope that the noble and leaned Baroness will satisfy us that we can await what we have to await.

My Lords, I was not going to speak but one must try to put the comments in context, with the honourable exception of those made by the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth. This Government introduced a proper new qualification for probation officers and rapidly increased the resources made available to the Probation Service. Listening to some of the debates on this Bill, one would believe that this had not happened. This is a sensible reform which is long overdue in this public service. This approach has been used in other public services. It has been used in social services for more than 20 years. That comes out of the same training base as the Probation Service. We need to move in this area. If I have a criticism of the Government, it would be to ask them why we did not do this sooner, not that we are rushing our fences. The Secretary of State for Justice has made it clear that he will take this forward in a measured way. It seems to me that he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. His assurance that he is taking this forward in a measured way is interpreted by some Members of your Lordships' House as meaning that he does not know what he is doing.

A sensible reassurance has been given. These amendments and changes in public services are long overdue. We should wish the Bill godspeed and move on.

My Lords, I undertake to be very brief. Having had a very long experience in a wide range of voluntary organisations, I support my noble friend Lady Howe. It may be a good thing that some probation work should be contracted out to the voluntary sector or possibly to the private sector. However, it is totally unrealistic to believe, and to work on the assumption, that this will make things a lot cheaper. Probation services themselves have used volunteers for a very long time. The voluntary and private sectors may use a lot of volunteers, but the safety considerations have already been pointed out and it will not be cheap.

My Lords, I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, that we do not think that it will be cheap either. These reforms are not about doing that which is cheap but about doing that which is effective. There is a great difference between cost efficiency and cost effectiveness. I assure the House that in taking these proposals forward we intend to concentrate on cost effectiveness.

This has been a very enlightening debate, but even at this last stage there may be confusion about the issues that we need to take forward. I very much commend what was said by the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, and my noble friend Lord Warner because they speak of the necessity for change. All those in this House have concentrated on the need to provide a better service for victims and a better service for offenders. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, does not include me among those who have castigated the Probation Service; I honestly believe that I have never, ever done so.

It would be naive not to accept that we need to change, and change quite significantly. We are contemplating that change in a moderate, proportionate and reasoned way. We seek to give assurances that there will be no precipitous change to the way in which we take this forward. It is important for us to look at what is already being done by those who are progressive and who are at the height of their practice. They are including the third sector, they are working with the private sector and they are delivering that which we would aspire for them to achieve. I listened with very great care to everything that was said by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, who has contributed so comprehensively to every single aspect of the Bill. I listened with care to whether he was going to say anything that would support his amendment. I do not believe that he did, but it gave him an opportunity to explore his concerns, and I accept that. The amendment is about delaying the Bill for a set period. I really think this is the time for us to go on.

The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said that this was about allowing the Bill to splutter into life. That is a little ungenerous of her; I have come to expect a little more, but I understand the seduction of the last flush of comments that might actually hit a headline or two. I assure her that this is not about spluttering into life; it is about making a solid foundation for a change that we all aspire to achieve. That solid foundation is worth fighting for, because it is inclusive. We know that if we are going to make the changes that we as a community need to make to the figures on recidivism and reoffending and to be better able to address prevention and crime reduction, we are going to have to do it together—in the public sector, the private sector and the not-for-profit sector—because it will take all of us. That is what the Bill is about.

I hope that I have been able to give a little reassurance to the House, to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, and to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, who raised the issue of how the voluntary sector was going to be included and what this will all cost. We are very conscious of the cost, but we are also very conscious of the cost of not doing this, the cost of not going forward and the cost of staying where we are. That price is a little too high for us to pay. We have spent a huge amount of time and effort—rightly—scrutinising every single aspect of the Bill but, having done so, we should have the confidence to say, “Our job has been well done; let’s get on with it, and let’s let the Probation Service do that which we know it does best, which is working with others”.

Some described the Probation Service before this Government came into being as the Cinderella. We have tried to make sure that it has the training, resources and facilities to allow Cinderella to go to the ball. We think that she is finally dressed; we rather like her and we hope that she will do well.

My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Baroness for her remarks, particularly for her use of the word “reasoned”. One of the purposes of the Motion is this should be reasoned. I am disappointed that the noble Lord, Lord Warner, should have almost entirely misunderstood what I was trying to say. Never at any time have any Members of this House who have been involved in the debates on the Bill had any idea that change should be put back. We were trying to make certain, as far as we could, that change was reasoned and that all the implications had been explored. I was seeking from the noble and learned Baroness, and she has given, an assurance that this and all the matters raised would be considered. She made the very reasonable remark that we cannot afford not to move on. I could not agree more. But we can only afford to go on if we are prepared to pay the costs that will be incurred by making the movement that is suggested. Therefore, one assumes that the Government are going forward prepared to meet the costs that I forecast will be there, which have not yet emerged from our debate. I take this opportunity to thank all those who have taken part in the debate and who have raised many interesting points. In doing so, an awful lot of issues have surfaced.

I know from talking to them that many members of the Probation Service have been particularly glad that their service, in addition to receiving the additional resources that the noble and learned Baroness has mentioned, has had its whole raison d’être and the raison d’être and motivation of its members discussed in a way that has given them a higher profile than they perhaps have enjoyed for some time. It is an added benefit for them that they feel that they are better understood. In the spirit of the reassurance that I have had from the noble and learned Baroness, and the reasoned approach that I understand to be taken by the new Ministry of Justice, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion E1, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Motion E agreed to.

Motion F

35: Page 23, line 1, leave out “under” and insert “or regulations under-

“(aa) section 5(1) or (3)(c),”

The Commons agree to Lords Amendment No. 35 to which they have made the following Amendment-

35A: Line 2, leave out “5(1) or (3)(c)” and insert “5(3)(c)”

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 35A to Lords Amendment No. 35.

In the Bill as originally published, no parliamentary procedure applied to the power in Clause 5(1) to establish, alter the name or purpose of, or dissolve a probation trust. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee noted that precedents existed for that, but it felt that it lacked sufficient information about how trusts were to be established in order to make a recommendation about its appropriateness in this context. The committee therefore drew the matter to the attention of the House.

The Government have now been able to provide much more information about the process for establishing trusts, and that was acknowledged by those who contributed in Committee. Nevertheless, the House supported the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, to apply the affirmative procedure to this power. In the light of the debates that we have had on this subject, we accept that this important power should be subject to parliamentary procedure, but we continue to believe that the affirmative procedure is excessive.

There are currently 42 probation boards. Over the next three years they will cease to exist, and in their place probation trusts will be established. The transition is being conducted openly and in close consultation with the service. We suggest that in most, if not all, cases the establishment of the trusts will be an entirely routine matter as will most future changes. Given the pressures on parliamentary time, it would be quite disproportionate to require debates in each House on these matters as we come to decide on change for each probation board to probation trust status. I submit, therefore, that the negative procedure is much more appropriate. It allows routine business to be conducted in a routine way but, if particular issues of concern arise, it enables either or both Houses to debate them openly if they so wish. It gives us an element of scrutiny that we could use if we thought it was merited. I respectfully suggest that this is a sensible compromise, and I commend it to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 35A to Lords Amendment No. 35.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

My Lords, I am grateful to the Government for considering further, in another place, whether the orders establishing or dissolving probation trusts should be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Initially the noble and learned Baroness resisted such scrutiny, claiming that it would prejudice commercial procedures. Previously, the establishment of probation boards has been subject to parliamentary scrutiny via secondary legislation subject to the negative procedure.

I argued that the powers to establish and dissolve trusts were so wide and significant that it would be right to maintain an element of parliamentary scrutiny. As the noble and learned Baroness said, my preferred route was the affirmative procedure. I recognise fully the arguments she put forward today on why it is more appropriate for the negative procedure to be applicable to these statutory instruments. My honourable friend Mr Edward Garnier took another view, which perhaps goes more to the root of the procedures in another place than to the specific importance of the instruments that may be brought forward. In this House we are still fortunate in that, if we pray against a negative instrument, we are guaranteed time on the Floor of the House, which means that all noble Lords are able to take part in debates in all cases. As noble Lords will be well aware, whether one can take part in debates in Committee off the Floor of the House on such Prayers in the other place is a matter of selection; they may never reach the Floor.

Edward Garnier was absolutely right in seeking to divide another place, but I am able to accept the noble and learned Baroness’s arguments. I am grateful that the Government now have parliamentary scrutiny and accept that the negative procedure should be sufficient.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Motion G

47: Page 32, line 30, at end insert-

“Interpretation Act 1978 (c. 30)In Schedule 1 to the Interpretation Act 1978 (words and expressions defined) there is inserted, at the appropriate places-

““Officer of a provider of probation services” in relation to England and Wales, has the meaning given by section 7(1) of the Offender Management Act 2007;”; and““Provider of probation services”, in relation to England and Wales, has the meaning given by section 3(5) of the Offender Management Act 2007;”.”

The Commons agree to Lords Amendment No. 47 and have made the following consequential Amendment-

47A: Page 3, line 41, leave out subsection (5) and insert-

“(5) In this Part “provider of probation services” means-

(a) a person with whom the Secretary of State has made arrangements that are in force under subsection (2); or(b) the Secretary of State (in relation to probation provision which is the subject of arrangements that are in force under subsection (4)).”

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 47A consequential on their agreement to Lords Amendment No. 47.

Your Lordships will be relieved to know that this is the last of my amendments. It is an entirely technical amendment proposed by parliamentary counsel. Commons Amendment No. 47A simply clarifies Amendment No. 47, which added a definition of “provider of probation services” to the Interpretation Act 1978 at Third Reading. This will enable the further necessary consequential amendments to work effectively. I am confident that the amendment will excite a huge amount of interest and attention in this House, and will be greatly delighted if it does.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 47A consequential on their agreement to Lords Amendment No. 47.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.