Prisons: Foreign National Offenders

Lord McNally Excerpts
Thursday 25th April 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

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Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, if a foreign national offends while being a guest in our country, we have every right to deport them, but we must not pretend that this is any more than a flea bite compared with the challenges of prison overcrowding and court backlog, which are at the heart of the crisis in our criminal justice system. Nevertheless, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, for securing this debate, and at a time that gives those of wishing to take part a goodly time to expound our views.

My interest goes back to the time between 2010 and 2017 when I was, first, Minister of State and then chair of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales. For the first couple of years, I served with the noble Lord, Lord Clarke of Nottingham, who was then Ken Clarke and served as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice with the much-missed Igor Judge as Lord Chief Justice. As a non-lawyer, I found my contact with them both extremely educational, although I probably learned more about the goings on of the east Midlands circuit than was strictly necessary. I count it a great privilege to have worked with them both.

When we came into office, we found that prison numbers had roughly doubled since Ken had been Home Secretary in the early 1980s. We sent some modest proposals over to manage prison numbers down to below the 80,000 mark. The message came back from No. 10 that our proposals were “not politically deliverable”. When some of our ideas did surface, a Labour spokesman in the Commons immediately denounced us for planning to liberate all kinds of dangerous criminals.

That, in a nutshell, is the problem that faces Governments. They are always trying to run up the down escalator with prison numbers. We all know that our prisons are full to bursting yet, on 13 March, the Government announced actions on sentencing, with those committing the most serious crimes being sentenced to 40% longer behind bars, increased sentence maximums for the worst offenders and the blocked release of offenders where it would pose an unacceptable risk to society. All this was with the promise of 10,000 new prison places by the end of next year and 20,000 new places overall. That means that, sometime within the next decade, we will see 100,000 people in our prisons.

It is against this background that we look at proposals to reduce the number of foreign national offenders in our prisons. At present, they account for about 10,500 people—12% of the prison population. Each costs £40,000 or more a year.

During my time at the MoJ, we had a number of exchanges and training programmes with Balkan countries, including Albania. They provided for the development of probation and other support services that facilitated the safe repatriation of prisoners.

In the excellent briefing provided on the current state of play, it states that exceptions to the powers to deport in the Borders Act 2007 include an offender being under 18 at the time of the offence. However, cases have been drawn to my attention where offenders have been brought to England as a child, committed a serious offence under the age of 18 and faced deportation to a country when, in many cases, they do not know its language or have any knowledge of it at all. In replying, could the Minister spell out the rules for such offenders? Could we also hear whether any special programmes are available in advance of deportation, akin to those in place before domestic release had been put in place? I refer to how we have continually urged, as I know the department is trying to make sure, that the best chance of rehabilitation is to make proper plans in advance about where a prisoner will go on release, where he will live and, if possible, where he will be employed.

As has already been referred to, the UK has 110 prisoner transfer agreements with other countries. The noble Lord, Lord Jackson, mentioned the one with Albania, and we also concluded one with the Philippines. Are we in negotiations with any other big countries? Is there a big gap? The noble Lord referred to Ireland—but, with a name like McNally, I understand the reasons why Ireland has exceptions, and they go back many decades. It would be interesting to know where we are going.

I find the Albanian agreement encouraging, as I went to Albania as a Minister to help with the establishment of its probation service and with the early stages of an agreement on prisoner exchange. I later discovered that the number of British prisoners in Albanian jails at that time was nil and the number of Albanian prisoners in our jails who voluntarily wanted to return to the Tirana Hilton was also nil. We do need to beef up these agreements.

The other things that the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, referred to were the early removal scheme and the facilitated return scheme. As he said, these were severely criticised by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, who said that the schemes were “not being administered effectively”. The noble Lord mentioned the four-point plan that was put forward by the Chief Inspector; as the noble Lord requested, could we be updated on those key recommendations?

I quote the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, who said recently that

“a measure of this kind involves making a series of balances between the possible effects on victims and the possible effect on deterrence”.—[Official Report, 26/10/23; col. 688.]

What consultation takes place with victims of crime before the process of deportation? For us, it may be attractive to say that we are getting rid of somebody who has committed a serious crime; to the victim, that might sound like an easy release from punishment for the crime.

All in all, I enjoyed my seven years at the MoJ. Perhaps “enjoyed” is the wrong word; I certainly came away with great respect for the work that people do with prisoners and in prisons in terms of this difficult task of dealing with foreign prisoners. I hope that the raising of this issue by the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, will give the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, an opportunity to assure us that the challenges of this area are well in hand.

Prison Officer Pension Age

Lord McNally Excerpts
Monday 18th March 2024

(3 months ago)

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Lord Bellamy Portrait Lord Bellamy (Con)
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My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend that it was a great pity that the arrangements negotiated in 2016 were rejected by the Prison Officers’ Association in 2017. Since then, Ministers have done their best to reopen the matter. As my noble friend Lord Attlee said in opening, it is a matter ultimately for the Treasury. The Treasury is currently besieged by many calls on its resources, including in the pensions sphere, with very large sums of public money being taken up by the McCloud Remedy, which I can explain to noble Lords in more detail—if your Lordships would remain awake. The overall position is that, of course, this matter should continue to be pursued.

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, in this House, 68 may seem only early to mid-career, but the general public will be worried at the thought of prison officers of that age carrying on in a very difficult and dangerous job. As part of a broader programme of prison reform, should the Government and the service not be thinking of allowing an earlier retirement age and using the experience gained in other parts of the prison and probation service in the proper through-treatment of prisoners?

Lord Bellamy Portrait Lord Bellamy (Con)
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My Lords, I take the point the noble Lord is making. When I had the honour to join this House, I was told that life begins at 70, which has a certain amount of truth in it these days. What the noble Lord suggests is very close to what is currently happening. A typical position is for an older officer to step back from front-line duties, be re-employed by the Prison Service and continue to earn a pensionable salary, as well as having his earlier pension. I am not completely convinced that that is not a perfectly sensible solution to the problem.

Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Suitability for Fixed Term Recall) Order 2024

Lord McNally Excerpts
Monday 18th March 2024

(3 months ago)

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Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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I can sort of see the rationale for this, but it is completely misguided. Every time the Government talk about tougher sentences and being tougher on crime and the causes of crime, they start packing out the prisons. Of course, there is now no capacity. This is a rather cynical move to clear out the prisoners so that we can pack other people in.

I have a much better idea, which I will come to in a moment, but I do not understand why the Government are wafting this statutory instrument through yet find it impossible to do something fairly fast for IPP prisoners. I would like an explanation from the Government.

Part of the problem is that we tend to send people who committed low-level drug abuse crimes to prison. I suggest a constructive way forward, which is that we automatically release anyone in prison for low-level drugs offences, because they are less dangerous to other people and really only dangerous to themselves. Please could we have some rationale about the prison system, which is crumbling with this Government and could be better?

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, apparently it is my turn. In a way, this is a continuation of the Question put by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. The Minister knows the crisis in our prison system. That crisis has been made partly by legislation that we have passed in this House over the last decades.

I remember that, when I went into government with the noble Lord, Lord Clarke—Ken Clarke, who I still consider my friend—we had some ideas about reducing the prison population, which had then crept over 80,000, double what the noble Lord had experienced 20 years before when he was Home Secretary in the early 1990s. We sent a little package across to the No. 10 Politburo, but the message came back: “Not politically deliverable”. That has been the problem with Governments of all shades over the last 20 years: not being able or willing to try to bring down our prison population.

The noble Baroness is right that this is gesture politics, but it is a gesture in the right direction and therefore we support it. There is a concern that it is another example of central government moving responsibility to local government and local voluntary services, which then find themselves under pressure. If more probationers are in society and still needing supervision, will there be any more help for the voluntary services?

Apart from pointing out the ridiculous idea of putting in prison too many prisoners who do not need to be there and could be better managed in society, my argument, going back to the Question put by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, would be to look at the whole process of managing the way out for prisoners at the end of their sentences, which is expensive, difficult and almost impossible in an overcrowded prison. It came up in that Question—and the Minister indicated that it may already be happening—that some of the experience and wisdom of prison officers towards the end of their careers could be used in a management and mentoring role. Otherwise, we give this SI our support.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab)
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My Lords, I apologise for arriving late for the Minister’s introduction of this SI. We too support the SI as far as it goes, but I agreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, when in the first part of her speech she pointed out quite rightly that, on the one hand, here we are reducing prison sentences while, on the other hand, other legislation down the other end of the corridor is increasing prison sentences. Of course, we have the overarching problem of a Prison Service running at capacity while the Government are struggling to build new prisons. That overarching problem will confront whichever party is in government; I need to acknowledge that.

The central point is about support for prisoners as they come out of prison, so that we do not have a revolving door. As the noble Lord, Lord McNally, said, various charitable and voluntary organisations working with local authorities can properly support prisoners as they come out of prison. As we also know, the most difficult cohort is prisoners who are on relatively short sentences; they are the prisoners most likely to reoffend.

As the Minister knows, I myself am a sentencer. I do short sentences—that is part of our bread and butter within the magistrate system—and it is always with great regret that I give an offender a short custodial sentence, but the reality is that we have found ourselves in a position where we have no alternative. Very often those offenders have been on multiple community sentences beforehand, so we as sentencers feel we have no choice.

Criminal Jurors

Lord McNally Excerpts
Wednesday 6th March 2024

(3 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Lord Bellamy Portrait Lord Bellamy (Con)
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My Lords, I would like first, if I may, to thank my noble friend for raising this issue and for organising a recent stakeholder conference. The Government are aware of the question that she rightly raises, but are not, at present, planning for a call for evidence as such. We already have regular jury satisfaction surveys, which generally express high levels of jury satisfaction and a willingness to serve again. We do know that a minority of jurors suffer stress, and we are exploring options that we intend to test in the Crown Courts later this year and to issue further guidance to courts on the circumstances in which ad hoc support can be arranged.

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, I wish the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, well with this campaign. Does the Minister, from his own vast experience, think that judges could take more responsibility, particularly in cases that have obviously affected the mental health of jurors, and also where judges can push against the law’s delay, which Shakespeare talked about 400 years ago and is still very much a factor in our legal system?

Lord Bellamy Portrait Lord Bellamy (Con)
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My Lords, speaking from the experience of a sometime, extreme lowly, recorder of the Crown Court, the first thing that one is taught as a criminal judge is to ensure the well-being of the jury. I am sure that all judges go out of their way to ensure that the jury is properly looked after—as do the court ushers and the jury bailiffs—and they are, generally speaking, warmly thanked for their participation. There will be occasions when further support is needed, and the Government are, as I said, planning trials and tests, later this year, to explore the options.

Judicial Pensions (Remediable Service etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2023

Lord McNally Excerpts
Wednesday 10th January 2024

(5 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Bellamy Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bellamy) (Con)
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My Lords, your Lordships last considered matters relating to judicial pensions following the McCloud judgment on 15 June, when the Judicial Pensions (Remediable Service etc.) Regulations 2023 were before them. On that occasion, in answer to a question from the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, I said that I hoped your Lordships would not be troubled by this matter again. Unfortunately, a small technical point has arisen on those 2023 regulations that we were then considering; these amendment regulations address that point. Perhaps I could briefly explain.

As your Lordships may recall, in 2015 the Government introduced new pension arrangements across the public sector following a report from the Public Services Pensions Commission. As far as judges were concerned, the new arrangements were set up in the Judicial Pensions Regulations 2015, which I will refer to as the 2015 scheme. Those aged over 55—that is, those approaching retirement —were allowed to remain in their previous legacy schemes and were not required to join the 2015 scheme, as every other judge was required to do.

Those judicial arrangements were then challenged by younger judges who said that they were victims of age discrimination in being required to join the 2015 scheme without the option to remain in their previous legacy schemes, which were supposedly more favourable. The challenge succeeded in the McCloud case in 2018 so, after various consultations and actions, Parliament passed the Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Act in 2022; in effect, it remedied the McCloud judgment by giving everyone the option to choose between their previous legacy scheme and the 2015 scheme. I understand that around 3,000 judges were affected by the McCloud judgment and that the process of allowing them the option to choose is currently in train and is so far proceeding according to plan. However, a group that apparently numbers between 30 and 50 judges has a particular situation: largely prior to the McCloud judgment, they made payments into the 2015 scheme. Typically, it was top-up payments, pension transfer payments or other supplementary payments.

However, as it turns out, through the effect of the McCloud judgment and what is thought to be the effect of Section 61 of the Equality Act, they were never technically in the 2015 scheme. In law, they always remained in their legacy schemes, so what is the status of the payments that were made into the 2015 scheme to which these judges did not, in law, belong? It is simply to correct that issue that these regulations are being put before your Lordships.

Effectively, the regulations simply say—one sees it in particular on page 2 of the regulations in the new Regulation 38A, which is introduced into the 2023 regulations—that the value payments made into the scheme are referred to as purported value payments and are to be treated as having been received by the scheme. Although there was doubt about whether they could be received by the scheme, this now deems them to be treated as having been received by the scheme. There are similar parallel provisions in relation to the various kinds of transfer payments that we are referring to.

That is, as I understand it, the essential purpose of these regulations: simply to tidy up a point. I have to say that it is not a particularly clear point, but the Government feel they should make assurance doubly sure by putting that matter beyond argument.

Finally, another group of judges numbering no more than three, I gather, benefit from an earlier judgment—the O’Brien judgment—which said that fee-paid judges were actually entitled to a pension. Those judges similarly made some payments into the 2015 scheme and the question is about the exact status of those payments. These regulations again provide that those payments are deemed to be in the 2015 scheme. I know there is a famous phrase that we have too much damned deeming going on in the legal system, but this is simply there to clarify the position.

Unless I have omitted some fundamental point or made any misstatement, that is the essential purpose of the regulations and I beg to move.

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy. I held his position in the Government between 2010 and 2013. I became Minister of State at Justice with the now noble Lord, Lord Clarke—Ken Clarke—as Lord Chancellor. One of our first visits was to go across Parliament Square to pay a courtesy call on the Supreme Court. He was, of course, in his element as a QC and a former Home Secretary, but I was filled with trepidation when soon after we arrived three Supreme Court judges bore down on me, clearly to seek some discussion on some high point of law—some difficult and abstruse point. I need not have worried: what they wanted to press me on was judicial pensions. There was some passion in that. I remember one of the first stages in the coalition Government, which probably ended up in the 2015 Act, was to try to address the various anomalies and uncertainties in judicial pensions, so it is with a sense of closure that I come this afternoon to support what the noble and learned Lord memorably described at an earlier stage as

“44 pages of the densest technical complexity one could imagine”.—[Official Report, 15/6/23; col. GC 375.]

Why am I not surprised that that should be the legislation dealing with judges’ pensions?

I am sure that we share with the Minister the hope that this is the final tweak to the regulations. In voicing our support from these Benches, I ask him how the regulations fit in with the more general objectives of judicial reform. Will we see a judiciary—particularly a senior judiciary—more diverse in social, gender, ethnic and educational background than hitherto has been the case? Does the Minister agree that it is important that our legal system should as much as possible reflect the society it serves? There is much to admire in the intellectual quality, integrity and independence of our judiciary. Its members are most certainly not “enemies of the people”, but they must not be seen as a Brahmin caste, separate from society as a whole.

The direction of travel in recent years has been slow but steady. I hope that a sensible and secure pension scheme will underpin the flexibility and social mobility necessary to retain confidence in and respect for our judiciary.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab)
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My Lords, I too remember when the noble Lord, Lord McNally, had his time in office as a Minister of State.

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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The noble Lord was a lot of trouble.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab)
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Well, one of my roles is to be a lot of trouble—although I will not be a lot of trouble in this particular debate.

The noble Lord spoke about the Supreme Court judges talking with passion about judicial pensions. As a lowly magistrate, I have sat in magistrates’ retiring rooms with district judges, and I can say that they talk with equal passion about judicial pensions—I have heard about it for a number of years. A number of them are of course part-time district judges, and the matter is of great importance to them.

The noble Lord said that he approaches this debate with “a sense of closure”. I think that everybody hopes for a sense of closure on this issue, so the first question that I put to the Minister is: are we right to think that this is the last time that we will hear about this issue? It would be interesting to hear his reflection on that.

Previously when I have taken part in these debates, I have had sitting behind me my noble friend Lord Davies of Brixton, who is an actuary and an expert on these matters. The particularly interesting question that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, raised was on how these pension reforms will fit in with the wider objectives for the judiciary as a whole in building diversity and flexibility and other desirable objectives, which will affect pension entitlements, one way or another. If the Minister could say something about this in the wider context, that would also be of interest.

I have a further question about the likely timetable for implementing this remedy. Is it already under way and when might it be complete? A final question is on whether any judges would need independent advice on whether they should accept these proposals. Is it their responsibility to get their own independent advice? I do not know how that works. Is there an expectation that judges should take independent advice before receiving these pensions?

Other than that, we clearly support the measures as far as they go. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal (Composition of Tribunal) Regulations 2023

Lord McNally Excerpts
Wednesday 10th January 2024

(5 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Bellamy Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bellamy) (Con)
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My Lords, this draft instrument will delegate the power to determine the composition of employment tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal to the Senior President of Tribunals. The regulations form part of a wider ongoing policy on the part of the Government to create a single judiciary in which all parts of the judicial system form a seamless whole, whether courts or tribunals, and to further the work of ensuring consistency of operation within the tribunal system.

Your Lordships may recall that, in the very old days —I am not completely sure but this may even predate the noble Lord, Lord McNally—tribunals were, in effect, almost a part of the department to which they were associated. Down the end of the corridor in the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Social Security, there would be a tribunal that was supposed to review the decisions of the department. Over the years, however, it has been the Government’s policy, pursued particularly by the Labour Government and later by the coalition, to create a proper, independent, separately administered tribunal system.

From mid-2007 onwards, we have had a formalised, unified tribunal structure, in which all the various tribunals form the first tier. We have First-tier Tribunals, which consist of a series of tribunals dealing with social security, educational special needs, immigration and asylum, and various other things, with an appeal to the Upper Tribunal. The whole is presided over by a Senior President of Tribunals, who is currently the right honourable Sir Keith Lindblom. The Senior President of Tribunals decides on the composition of those various tribunals, across the board.

For historical reasons, employment tribunals have been an exception to this system. As your Lordships will recall, employment tribunals have a rather special history: they were originally called industrial tribunals and were set up at a time when, to gain public confidence, it was thought—rightly so—that those tribunals should have a particular statutory set-up shared jointly by what are now the Department for Business and Trade and the Ministry of Justice. The composition of employment tribunals was set out separately under the Employment Tribunals Act 1996. As your Lordships know, the original idea, dating from the 1970s, was that there would always be someone representing the workers, someone representing the bosses and a legal chairman of that composition.

Times have moved on a lot since. The Judicial Review and Courts Act 2022 set out a new framework, which provides that the Lord Chancellor has the power to determine the panel composition of employment tribunals, which he can delegate to the Senior President of Tribunals. These regulations implement that provision and allow the Lord Chancellor to delegate to the Senior President of Tribunals powers to determine the panel composition of employment tribunals, thus bringing them more fully within the unified system of tribunals and making the panel composition the same as all other tribunals.

The Senior President would be able to issue practice directions of the types of cases that can, for example, be heard by a judge alone, but he has to consult the Lord Chancellor about any practice direction that he is minded to make. The idea is to update the system, to create a more flexible process and to bring arrangements for employment tribunals and employment appeal tribunals in line with those that apply across the unified tribunal system.

Your Lordships will know that, particularly following the Covid pandemic, the tribunal system has been under great pressure. There is a need to be as flexible as possible to tackle these backlogs and to implement processes that are as efficient as possible. I take this opportunity to say that tribunals, particularly employment tribunals, have recovered well from the pandemic; the outstanding case load is falling and is below the pandemic peak. Members of employment tribunals and the judges in this sphere have done great work to tackle the backlog.

There is a matter that relates to what the noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked about on the previous statutory instrument: the status of non-lawyers who work in the judicial system. I will not call them lay members, as that phrase is not particularly appealing to them. It is not the Government’s intention that this should be a kind of backdoor to reduce the role of non-lawyers in our legal system. The Government’s view is that, from time immemorial, non-lawyers—citizens—have played an essential part in our legal system as a whole. That might have been as magistrates—the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, is a notable example—in a jury, or as members of tribunals.

We feel that this “lay participation” brings an extra texture, adds extra confidence, brings extra insights and greatly enhances the system as a whole—particularly from the point of view of diversity, which was the point made by the noble Lord, Lord McNally. You are drawing on a wide pool of potential appointments to tribunals and, generally speaking, that is an avenue in which you can enhance diversity in the wider judicial system. The regulations are not intended to undermine that in any way. I have had the great privilege of sitting as a judge in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, where the effect of the lay members was particularly striking. I will follow the noble Lord, Lord McNally, with a moment of personal reminiscence. In those days, the Employment Appeal Tribunal had some very distinguished trade union members: I think of George Wright of the Transport and General Workers’ Union; Norman Willis, the former secretary-general of the TUC; and others— I think I just missed Jack Jones, but only by a short margin. They brought enormous skill, wisdom and common sense to the operation of the appeal tribunal, and one would not wish to jeopardise that.

I thought that I would take the opportunity to make the Government’s position on that point clear. This statutory instrument is designed to bring employment tribunals in line with the rest of the system and to enable us to be as flexible as possible without in any way undermining the principle of lay participation, which I have just emphasised. On that basis, I beg to move.

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, it is perhaps one of the wonders of our system that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, and I should both have had the same job in government. I am not a lawyer, whereas he is a very distinguished lawyer and indeed a very distinguished judge. I used to be—if you are going to invite people of my age to speak at these gatherings, you are going to get some reminiscences—very nervous of that. At any meeting, I would say, “I have to explain that I am not a lawyer”. Then I entertained a distinguished jurist from the United States and explained that I was not a lawyer, and he said—very slowly—“Then I will speak very slowly”, so I stopped doing that.

I should also say that, in background and upbringing, I belong to a generation that was—and is—supportive of dialogue rather than confrontation in industrial relations. The Employment Tribunals Act and the setting up of the tribunals certainly underpinned and strengthened that approach to industrial relations. Of course, we will probably give a nod to it today.

Offenders (Day of Release from Detention) Bill

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Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, I am very grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leeds for his intervention, reminding us of the important work that the faith sector does in this area, and to the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, for pointing out that at the heart of this system is a horrible cycle of reoffending that is costly in financial terms and in personal terms for those who have to suffer from the reoffenders’ work. So I congratulate Simon Fell MP and the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for bringing the Bill thus far with such impressive cross-party support—I always think that “Bird on bird” is worth listening to. I also congratulate, as did the noble Lord, Lord Bird, the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, NACRO, on the success of its campaign highlighting the problems of Friday release. One of my mentors in the criminal justice system was my colleague and noble friend Lord Dholakia, who cannot be here today but was for a long time the president of NACRO.

As a non-lawyer, I am a little surprised that we need an Act of Parliament to micromanage the handling of prisoners: perhaps the distinguished Minister can say. We are talking about amending an Act that is 60 years old. Perhaps it is a sign of how important we consider the restriction of freedom in our criminal justice system, but it does seem odd that we need the full panoply of an Act of Parliament in order to manage prisoners’ release. I share the plea of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, for all of us to work for alternatives to prison: it is an extremely expensive and in many ways not effective and not cost-effective way of protecting society. I also share my noble friend Lady Bakewell’s worry about a system that is set up to fail.

I was seven years at the Ministry of Justice, both as Minister and as chair of the Youth Justice Board. I will detain the House only a short time with just two things that struck me during that time. First, just over 10 years ago I went to Birmingham to see the new public library being built. There was a scheme of ex-offenders being employed on its construction and I met a young man in his 30s who talked about his experience. He used the words that my noble friend Lord Thomas used. He said “Lord McNally, you can’t imagine the shock when the prison doors shut behind you and you’re leaving prison. You don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know how you’re gonna make a living and you’ve got 40-odd quid in your pocket. It’s a very lonely place”. I think that that, sadly, is still going on.

The second thing is something else that has come through this debate, which is that there is another way. I was chair of the Youth Justice Board for three years and we see in the record of the Youth Justice Board, which is now coming up to its 25th anniversary, the attention of cross-disciplinary expertise in both diversion and resettlement which does bring results. We see in the report of Professor Rosie Meek of Royal Holloway College, University of London, the impact of sport on rehabilitation. I have some personal knowledge, because she is local, of a young lady called Jules Rowan, who gained qualifications in prison and then used them outside to help others meet the challenges of release. She now works with a fellow ex-inmate, Zak Addae-Kodua, on a programme of advice on national prison radio.

So, what I am basically saying is that there are other ways for society to go. Release on any day of the week should be part of a resettlement plan that offers the best hope of success. The mantra repeated to me time and again when I was at the MoJ was that, on release, prisoners need a place to live, a job and, if possible, a meaningful relationship, and if you could get those three things, you had the best ingredients for a successful non-offending future.

We are fortunate today that we have speakers on the Opposition and Government Front Benches with first-hand experience of where our prison system works and where it fails. In the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, we have someone with vast experience of the system from his long service has a magistrate. In the Minister, we have someone who has served in the criminal justice system at the highest levels of the judiciary and the Bar. So I pass this Bill, with confidence, into their hands. I also join with the noble Lord, Lord Bird, in his calls for a cross-party initiative to cut crime by having in place—both before and after release—breaks in the circle of offending that costs so much in human, social and financial terms. I support this Bill.

Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Lord McNally Excerpts
Saturday 10th September 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Lord Archbishop of York Portrait The Archbishop of York
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My Lords, like most Bishops from these Benches, I have stories to tell; stories of doing jigsaws in Sandringham on Sunday evenings and of barbeques in the woods at Sandringham in the middle of January—I even have a slightly scurrilous story about healing the Queen’s car. Perhaps I will tell it.

I had preached in Sandringham parish church. We were standing outside and the Bentley was there to get the Queen. It did not start. It made that throaty noise cars make in the middle of winter when they will not start, and everybody stood there doing nothing. I was expecting a policeman to intervene, but nothing happened. Enjoying the theatre of the moment, I stepped forward and made a large sign of the cross over the Queen’s car, to the enjoyment of the crowd—there were hundreds of people there, as it was the Queen. I saw the Queen out of the corner of my eye looking rather stony-faced, and thought I had perhaps overstepped the mark. The driver tried the car again and, praise the Lord, it started. The Queen got in and went back to Sandringham, and I followed in another car. When I arrived, as I came into lunch, the Queen said with a beaming smile, “It’s the Bishop—he healed my car”. Two years later, when I greeted her at the west front of Chelmsford Cathedral, just as a very grand service was about to start and we were all dressed up to the nines, she took me to one side and said, “Bishop, nice to see you again; I think the car’s all right today, but if I have any problems I’ll know where to come.”

When I became the 98th Archbishop of York, during Covid, I paid homage to the Queen by Zoom conference. I was in the Cabinet Office; everyone had forgotten to bring a Bible, including me, but there was one there—which is kind of reassuring. Just as the ceremony was about to begin, the fire alarm went off. The Queen was at Windsor Castle, but we all trooped out of the Cabinet Office, on to the road, and were out there for about 20 minutes until they could check that it was a false alarm and we could go back in. When I went back into the room, there was the screen, with Her late Majesty waiting for things to begin again. I do not know why I find myself returning to that image of her, faithful watching and waiting through those very difficult times. That was a very small part of a life of astonishing service.

The other thing I have noticed in the last couple of days is that we are all telling our stories. Yesterday, I found myself sharing stories with somebody in the street. I at least had had the honour of meeting Her late Majesty; this person had never met her, but we were sharing stories. I said, “Isn’t it strange how we need to tell our stories? It’s not as if she was a member of our family.” Except she was. That is the point. She served the household of a nation. For her, it was not a rule but an act of service, to this people and to all of us.

I remind us, again and again, that that came from somewhere: it came from her profound faith in the one who said,

“I am among you as one who serves.”

The hallmark of leadership is service, watchfulness and waiting. It was her lived-in faith in Jesus Christ, day in and day out, which sustained, motivated and equipped her for that lifetime of service. How inspiring it was last night and this morning to see the baton pass to our new King, King Charles, in the same spirit of godly service to the people of a nation.

Her Majesty the Queen died on 8 September, the day on which the blessed Virgin Mary is remembered across the world and the Church. Another Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, said of her when she knew she would be the mother of the Lord:

“Blessed is she who believed that the promises made to her would be fulfilled”.


Shot through all our tributes in this House and another place, and across our nation, is that which we have seen, especially as it was only on Tuesday—I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, for reminding us—that the Queen received a new Prime Minister. Can it really be possible? She served to the end—a life fulfilled.

I will finish with a handful of her words. This is what the Queen wrote in a book to mark her 90th birthday, reflecting on her faith in Jesus Christ in her life:

“I have indeed seen His faithfulness.”


I am not supposed to call noble Lords “brothers and sisters”, but dear friends, we have seen her faithfulness too, and we see it now in our new King. May Her late Majesty the Queen rest in peace and rise in glory. God save the King.

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, I rise with no sense of provocation in following the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York, but, when our new King spoke to the country last night, he mentioned a number of new responsibilities for the Prince of Wales and for his wife. He too had taken on a new responsibility from his mother—the Duke of Lancaster. I wear the tie today of the Association of Lancastrians in London because Her Majesty the Queen, throughout her long life, was our patron. Many noble Lords will have been at dinners where the toast was to the Queen, and heard someone in the audience say, “the Duke of Lancaster”. That responsibility as Duke of Lancaster is where I begin my remarks.

In the 1960s and 1970s, I had the honour and pleasure of working for two Prime Ministers, Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan. Both affirmed what has been said by all the living former Prime Ministers: what a comfort, guidance and help it was to them in doing their job to have the opportunity of an audience with the Queen, with no leaks, briefings or anything else—just the benefit of her wisdom.

The nearest I got to finding out anything about it was when I accompanied Jim Callaghan to visit President Mobutu in what was then Zaire. In advance of our visit, Jim told me that, when Mobutu had come on a state visit to London, he was put up at Buckingham Palace. It was only after he had arrived, and his suite was ensconced there, that they found he had brought a dog with him, which had come through without quarantine for rabies. Jim said that, quite often when meeting the Queen, she would refer to “That dreadful man who nearly gave the corgis rabies”. I wondered how this would be handled when we met President Mobutu. Sure enough, when Jim and the President met, he said, “And how is Her Majesty?” “Very well, Mr President”, said Jim, “She speaks of you often”.

The other memory, which again ties in with the Queen’s interests, is going to a Privy Council meeting at Windsor, after which she kindly invited the three privy counsellors present for lunch. Before lunch she invited us into her study. Two things stuck in my memory. One was that on her desk was a photograph of her sister, Princess Margaret. The other, as has been referred to, was the BAFTA that she won for her performance at the opening of the Olympics. That epitomises two of her strong personal virtues: her commitment to family, and a sense of humour that did not take all of majesty entirely seriously.

I have one final reflection. I was alone in my office on Thursday evening, with the television on, when Huw Edwards suddenly interrupted what he was saying and said, “It’s just been announced that the Queen is dead.” I was shocked at how sad I was. I have worked around Whitehall and Westminster for over 50 years, and you become fairly hard-boiled to the passing of various personalities around this village. However, I really felt a sadness—I thought, “You’re getting soft, McNally”—but I found over the next 24 or 48 hours that that emotion, that initial feeling that she is gone and feeling sad about it was shared by millions of people in this country and around the world. In a way, that is the biggest tribute to a life of service that any words can convey. It was that we will miss her and that service, that dedication and that example but, in so doing, we know that she has worked so hard to pass that baton on to our new King, so that we can with confidence say, “God save the King.”

Prisoners: Imprisonment for Public Protection Sentences

Lord McNally Excerpts
Tuesday 8th March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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I do not want to get too political about it but, picking the last 10 years and talking about why we are in this position, we are in it because the Labour Government came up with IPP sentences in the first place, which is now recognised to have been a mistake. Post pandemic, we are ensuring that prisoners have the support they need to ensure that they can exit the IPP sentence, whether from custody or on licence.

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, 10 years ago I was the Minister who saw through the abolition of IPP in this House. I do not doubt the Minister’s good intentions, but I had the same good intentions. I was told then that there were plans in place for retraining, for bringing courses through, et cetera. As for the danger to the public, what about the people who have been sentenced for serious offences since IPP was abolished? We manage them, and we manage them very effectively through the process. It is a Daily Mail canard to suggest that we will be sending out dangerous criminals on to the streets. The truth is that over 10 years, the Minister’s department has not delivered what was promised in the LASPO Bill: an effective programme of rehabilitation.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, I think I am the first Minister to have made a real change in this area, in the government amendments to the police Bill. Regarding the noble Lord’s other points, we have a cohort of prisoners under the IPP sentence. We must recognise that if they had not been given an IPP sentence, they might now be given a life sentence with a tariff. If you are given a life sentence with a tariff, you are on licence for the rest of your life. You never come off the licence.

Queen’s Speech

Lord McNally Excerpts
Tuesday 18th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, I add my congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Fullbrook. Maiden speeches are never easy, and in these circumstances they are very difficult indeed.

As a number of people have said, the gracious Speech foreshadows the internet safety Bill, which is intended to address some of the real harms inflicted on society, particularly on the young and the vulnerable, by the abuses and misuses that have become apparent over the nearly two decades since the Communications Act 2003.

I welcome the promised pre-legislative scrutiny. The Bill is large, complex and comprehensive but far from oven-ready. I hope, for example, that we will take evidence from the NSPCC about its concerns that the draft online safety Bill leaves out of scope a large number of commercial pornography sites that have the potential to cause harm to children. My noble friend Lord Foster has referred to the absence of gambling reform; the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, drew attention in his report to the absence of any attempts to curtail harm to our democracy; and the noble Lord, Lord Vaux, mentioned scams and fraud, so there is much for the Select Committee to consider.

Over the coming year, we will have the opportunity to produce legislation that is genuinely world-leading in bringing the internet within the rule of law, but much will depend on how Ofcom perceives its role. When Ofcom was first mooted as a regulator, I remember it being said that “Murdoch’s lawyers will eat them for breakfast.” That has not been the case, thanks in part to the amendment to its powers proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, during the passage of the 2003 Act, which gave Ofcom a hierarchy of responsibilities, the first of which was to protect the interests of citizens. It is that hierarchy of duties that gives Ofcom the power and flexibility to intervene where broader public interest issues are involved. It will be Parliament’s job to ensure that Ofcom retains those powers and that flexibility in the new regulatory landscape that we will be mapping out in the Bill.

Another success of the 2003 legislation was the carving out of the rights and responsibilities of our public service broadcasters. Among those responsibilities was to provide access to the work of the independent production companies. The result has been to see what was a cottage industry develop into a worldwide success story, employing some 75,000 people and attracting upwards of £3 billion a year in inward investment. There is a very real danger that the very successful ecology of our media industries could be irreparably damaged by financial interests and ideological vandalism. It is essential that the new broadcasting settlement recognises, as did the 2003 Act, the need to protect prominence and other benefits in return for the unique contribution to our culture, creative industries and regional and national identities which the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 provide.

As the noble Lord, Lord Smith, said, we are in a culture war between old values, which have helped shape our liberal democracies over the last 100 years, and the challenges to those values thrown up by the new technologies. It is the responsibility of Parliament now to make sure that we are in a good place to win that war.