All 4 Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede contributions to the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021

Mon 21st Sep 2020
Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Tue 26th Jan 2021
Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage
Wed 3rd Mar 2021
Thu 25th Mar 2021
Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Excerpts
2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Monday 21st September 2020

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab)
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My Lords, I, too, congratulate the two maiden speakers. The noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, spoke about the importance of arts and sport in prisons, and I know from my experience that that is indeed an important aspect of the rehabilitation process. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester spoke about the experience of Manchester through the bombing and his expectations of the Bill with a particularly perceptive analysis, and I look forward to his contributions through its later stages.

The measures in the Bill build on recent emergency legislation. They are based on the Government’s conclusion that there are some terrorism offences where the maximum sentence available is too low for the gravity of the offence committed. Since 2000, the Government have enacted 11 different pieces of legislation, with a ratcheting up of the sentences and controls available to the courts. The Bill provides changes in the sentencing, release and monitoring of terrorism offenders.

We on the Opposition Benches will not be opposing this legislation, but the elephant in the room, which has been discussed although it is not part of the Bill, is the effectiveness of the de-radicalisation programmes and the Prevent programme: they are not working sufficiently.

The point was made by a number of speakers on this Bill that just adding extra time for the offenders to spend in custody will not solve any problems unless there are better-tailored programmes. It was made by my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer, the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, and my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, who went on to make the important point that there needs to be full resourcing of deradicalisation programmes, as they are very resource heavy.

I have been contacted by two trade unions, the Prison Officers’ Association and the National Association of Probation Officers. Their members are on the front line and have to deal with the consequences of legislation. The POA makes a number of points—first, that this legislation will inevitably lead to an increase in the cohort of prisoners detained under the Terrorism Act; it is currently about 230 prisoners. Consideration will therefore need to be given to the headroom available in the long-term high-security estate, with the ability to separate Islamist and far-right terrorist offenders. What plans do the Government have to meet this expanded population?

The second question the POA has raised is the same point made by Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust and a former prison governor, that denying prisoners hope will cause their good behaviour to deteriorate. This will potentially lead to an entrenchment of a sense of grievance, which can be dangerous for both prisoners and staff. This point has been made by many speakers in today’s debate. It also re-emphasises the point that it is mistaken to remove the Parole Board from considering certain types of terrorist offences. This too may enhance a sense of grievance with certain prisoners.

NAPO has raised points on how the proposed changes will affect its members, the probation officers. In particular it mentions MAPPA, the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements, which are briefly mentioned in the Bill. The Bill does not mention the agencies to be included within MAPPA, but clearly it would include enforcement agencies such as the police and the Prison and Probation Service. I and NAPO believe it very important that other agencies—such as mental health agencies, social services and NHS England—are included in this as well. The point is that all these agencies should be named and have a statutory obligation to work collectively. This is a point the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, made and one we have seen in many other aspects of work in the Courts Service, not only in the context of this Bill.

The probation officers further referenced Clause 5 of the Bill, under which non-terrorist offences with a maximum sentence of more than two years can be found to have a terrorist connection and their perpetrators therefore sentenced under the Counter-Terrorism Act. The Bill does not define what a terrorist connection is—presumably this is for the court to decide—but I argue that, without some guidance or statutory definition, this could lead to a widening of the net and inconsistency in sentencing between cases.

On TPIMs, my right honourable friend David Lammy at Second Reading in the other place gave a succinct history lesson on the changes from control orders in 2005. We have had a similar history lesson today from a number of distinguished noble Lords. The central point made by my right honourable friend is that in a sense we are going full circle. The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, supports the lowering of the standard of proof, and Jon Hall, the reviewer, has raised concerns about the removal of the two-year limit on TPIMs so that they could effectively be indefinite. This is something we wish to examine closely as the Bill progresses in this House.

A further point is that a balance needs to be struck. We are dealing with people who are not guilty of any offence but suspected of terrorist activity. The balance is between liberty and security, and the wider community—particularly the community from which the suspect comes—needs to see that what the Government are doing is proportionate and that people are not wrongly convicted.

I am not a lawyer, and maybe I do not give proper weight to the importance of particular definitions of proof, but for me the central point is that the safeguards need to be in place to protect innocent people while protecting the public from potential acts of terrorism. The public need to understand that this is the primary purpose of this legislation.

I am very aware that many speakers in today’s debate have been active in and following this type of terrorism legislation for many years, but in recent days I have spoken to many young people who are also following these debates. We need to remake the arguments for all the elements in this Bill. We need to convince young people that the legislation is proportionate and necessary and strikes the right balance between liberty and security.

In opening, my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer said that the detail of this Bill matters a lot. I agree. It is the role of this House to look at the detail and steer this Bill to a suitable conclusion.

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill Debate

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Department: Ministry of Justice

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Excerpts
Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage
Tuesday 26th January 2021

(12 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021 - Government Bill Page Read Hansard Text
Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Wolfson of Tredegar) (Con)
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My Lords, I hope that the Committee will allow me to take a moment to thank the noble Lords, Lord Thomas of Gresford and Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, for their very warm words of welcome, which I appreciate.

Amendment 1 is a minor technical amendment that removes references to offences in the Space Industry Act 2018 from Schedule 17A to the Sentencing Code, which deals with serious terrorism offences. References to those offences will instead be inserted, on their commencement, by Schedule 22 to the Sentencing Act 2020 so that they are dealt with consistently by that Act. I beg to move.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I understand from the Minister that this is a minor amendment. I too welcome him to his position. He has been very helpful to me both on this Bill and on the Domestic Abuse Bill, with which we are dealing almost simultaneously. I have a couple of minor questions for him. First, what would happen if this amendment were not put in place? How would that have affected the position, and what could the consequences have been? Secondly, what level of consultation has he done externally to ensure consistency in Sentencing Codes and parliamentary Acts?

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful for the words of the noble Lord. To answer his two questions, I say that this is essentially a tidying-up matter because of the different pace of legislation going through Parliament at the moment. The question of what would happen if this amendment were not made is an interesting one. At the very least we would be left with inelegant legislation, and I know from my previous incarnation that inelegant legislation is bad for Parliament but very good for lawyers, so let us try to make it as elegant as we can while we are at it. Much of the consultation on this matter preceded my involvement in this Bill and indeed my introduction to this House, but I am aware that there has been very significant consultation. Of course, if the noble Lord wishes to raise any particular points with me, my door is always open to him.

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Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I am always intrigued by the thought processes that must be brought into play in fixing a minimum sentence in a Bill. I would like the Minister to outline what consultation there has been concerning the minimum sentence of 14 years for a young offender between the ages of 18 and 21—a “no-hope sentence”, as my noble friend Lord Marks described it a moment ago, and I completely concur with everything that he said. I cannot imagine that it is a Minister who initially chooses the minimum number of years for imprisonment. Somebody in the Ministry of Justice must have drunk his cup of coffee and plumped for a figure to put in for the Minister to sign off on. I do not suppose he will ever have met a young offender—“Let’s just say 14 years sounds good.”

I want to contrast this with the role of a sentencing judge whose sentencing discretion is not bound by statute. The judge sitting in a serious case of terrorism would not be there if he had not had a lifetime of experience in the criminal courts, developing his instinct and his trained capacity to weigh the seriousness of one case against another. Other experienced practitioners and academics who have studied criminology have provided the judge with sentencing guidelines. They give him a guide to the accepted range and indicate what aggravating or mitigating factors he should have in mind. In addition, the judge will have the benefit of counsel’s submissions and a probation report from an experienced officer that will give him an insight into the background of the defendant. There may also be medical reports and, sometimes, witnesses prepared to speak up on the young man’s behalf.

This clause introduces an arbitrary minimum sentence as the guideline unless there are “exceptional circumstances”. There are no guidelines as to what those exceptional circumstances are: if the past is any guide, we will have to wait for the Court of Appeal to lay them down. The minimum sentence is chosen by a civil servant who, in all probability, has never been inside a court. So we get an arbitrary 14-year minimum sentence and an arbitrary seven years on licence. What is the evidence that this is the correct balance? Who said that? Why cannot a judge be left to do his job?

It seems to me that the only purpose of a minimum sentence is to make a single day’s headlines to the effect that the Government are being tough on crime, and specifically on terrorism. There is no question of looking at the individual who is before the court, and considering his future, his welfare, his rehabilitation or whatever. In putting forward this amendment, my noble friend is testing the rationale for the balance in the Bill, and I look forward to a full exposition from the Minister in due course.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, concluded his remarks by saying that the amendment was “testing the rationale” of these sentences, and that is indeed clearly the case. The first amendment reduces the minimum term in custody and the second increases the period on licence. Both the noble Lords, Lord Thomas and Lord Marks, referred to these as “no-hope sentences”. I understand the sentiment they expressed on these extremely long and very serious sentences being given to children—but they are not really no-hope sentences, are they? YOT and, more likely, probation and the Prison Service will have been working with these people for many years to give them hope that, when they get out of prison and are on licence and, eventually, off licence, they can go on to lead a constructive life.

Now this is a very tall hurdle. I understand that; we are dealing with the most serious sentences that one can imagine. Nevertheless, that is the role of probation and it is very important, I would say, for the young person to see that there is hope at the end of the period, because it is far more likely that, if they see that hope, they will engage constructively with people in prison and carry on that constructive intervention when they leave on licence. So I have some questions for the Minister. What assessment has been done of the likelihood of reform of offenders—is there any data on that? Also, what is the number of young offenders now in custody who are likely to be in custody as a result of this legislation? Are there any examples of where longer custodial sentences have helped young people to go on to lead lives in which they no longer offend?

Lord Stewart of Dirleton Portrait The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Stewart of Dirleton) (Con)
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My Lords, it is a privilege to stand and answer points made by the noble Lords who have spoken. I first acknowledge their great experience and wisdom in the field, and the evident compassion that underpinned their observations to the Committee. I know that at least two of them have had the experience that I have of acting for a very young person charged with a crime of the greatest magnitude and severity. I can tell from the way in which their questions were framed that they are aware of the extreme sadness at the loss of potential that the advocate finds when acting for a person in such a position. I hope that noble Lords appreciate that I am fully aware, from the perspective of legislation, of the awkwardness and difficulties attendant upon arriving at an appropriate sentence for these most serious of crimes.

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Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD) [V]
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[Inaudible]—is in relation to the necessity for the judge at trial to have full discretion in passing sentence. I do not wish to repeat that, but I will add a particular comment. When a judge is faced with a provision such as this, he has to define those circumstances which influence him. He has to set out in his sentencing remarks precisely what factors influence him. Things have moved very considerably over the decades away from the swift disposal of a defendant by a judge with very little comment. What he says is important not just for the defendant to understand why he is being sentenced in that way but of course, if there should be any appeal on sentence, for the Court of Appeal to understand precisely what it was at the time that the judge had in mind. “Exceptional” circumstances is too great an imposition on the judge’s discretion and I believe that my noble friend’s proposal that it should be “significant” is right.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, the noble Lords, Lord Marks and Lord Thomas, have explained their thinking behind the amendment to replace “exceptional” with “significant” to give more discretion to the judge. As the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, said, in any event a judge will explain the reason for finding exceptional or significant reasons for reducing a sentence.

My questions are for the Minister. What does he believe are exceptional circumstances, and what exceptional circumstances would justify a lesser sentence? In what circumstances would such lesser sentences be appropriate?

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, explained, this amendment seeks to amend and change the circumstances in which a sentencing court could impose less than the 14-year minimum term for a discretionary life sentence imposed in a serious terrorism case by changing the circumstances from “exceptional” to “significant”. I respectfully agree with the noble Lord that the logic of his amendment would also apply to Clause 4. However, I respectfully disagree over whether such an amendment is appropriate.

The purpose of Clause 11 is to ensure a consistency of approach when sentencing those convicted of serious terrorism offences. It would not be appropriate for a court to be able to impose a life sentence with a lower minimum term for a serious terrorism offence other than where there are exceptional circumstances. If the circumstances of the offence and offending are such that the court imposes a life sentence, and unless there are exceptional circumstances, there should be no possibility of the offender being released earlier than someone given a serious terrorism sentence. That is what Clause 11 achieves.

By contrast, the amendment would remove that consistency, so that the court could consider a wider range of circumstances when setting the minimum term in a discretionary life sentence than when doing so for a serious terrorism sentence, although all other circumstances would be the same. While I accept that there is a distinction, in that the prisoner serving a life sentence may be considered for release only after the minimum term is served, it would be unprincipled for him or her to be released earlier than a counterpart serving a serious terrorism sentence.

A number of questions were asked about “exceptional circumstances”. That is a principle already established in sentencing legislation. It is used, for example, in connection with minimum terms that can apply to certain firearm offences. I must respectfully decline the invitation of the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, for a Minister to gloss from the Dispatch Box what “exceptional circumstances” might or might not be. It is a phrase used elsewhere in statute and known in law. Those are straightforward English words and it would not be appropriate or even helpful for me to gloss them on my feet at the Dispatch Box.

By contrast, I respectfully point out to the noble Lord, Lord Marks, that as far as my research has indicated—I am happy to be corrected if I am wrong—there is no existing “significant circumstances” principle in sentencing legislation. Therefore, if accepted, the amendment would create an entirely new test, which in our view is unwarranted and likely to lead to litigation, which cannot be in our interests as parliamentarians in passing this Bill.

As far as the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, is concerned on judicial discretion, we are really talking about the extent of the judicial discretion and whether the test should be “exceptional” or “significant” circumstances. The question is not to the existence but to the extent of judicial discretion. As part of the Government’s recent White Paper, A Smarter Approach to Sentencing, we have committed to changing the criteria for other minimum terms for repeat offences to reduce the occasions on which the court may depart from the minimum custodial length.

For those reasons, I do not consider the amendment to be necessary or appropriate, and I respectfully invite the noble Lord to withdraw it.

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Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I welcome the noble Lord, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar, to his first Bill. In my limited contact with him, I think that he is more than a match for the challenge the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, alluded to. I completely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, in his assessment of the current dangers of longer prison sentences in the absence of an effective programme of deradicalisation and rehabilitation. The noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, also mentioned the comments of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Jonathan Hall QC. His concerns seem to chime with the concerns of all noble Lords who have spoken in this short debate. I do not share the faith that noble Lords have in polygraph testing, for the reasons explained earlier by Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames.

My noble friend Lady Hamwee rightly expressed concerns that prisons continue to be incubators, hothouses, or academies of crime—use which term you will—for crime generally, as well as places where vulnerable inmates are radicalised, whether by right wing extremists or by others. If ever there was evidence of the need for these amendments, it is what the Government describe as the

“range of tailored interventions available”—[Official Report, 21/9/20; col. 1650]

to the perpetrators of the Fishmongers’ Hall and Streatham atrocities, that were designed to deradicalise and rehabilitate them while they were in prison. Unless and until the deradicalisation and rehabilitation of offenders is effectively applied to those sentenced under Part 1 of the Bill, and its impact is assessed, there is a real danger that the longer these terrorist offenders spend in prison, the greater the threat they pose to the safety of the public—whether by radicalising others in prison or directly upon their release. I intend to expand on these statements and the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, which I agree with, when we come to the group beginning with Amendment 16.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, my Amendment 35 is in this group. I agreed with everything my noble friend Lord Hunt said when he introduced his amendment. My amendment is different in detail, but the overall approach is the same—that is, to have a realistic and timed review of the various approaches to the Prevent programme which the Government is embarking upon.

I got an interesting briefing on this debate from the probation officers’ trade union, Napo. It made a couple of points, which I will repeat. It said that in the offender management and custody model, it indicates that a high-risk offender should get one hour of individual contact per month with a probation officer. A probation office’s staff have a minimum of 70 clients, so it is impossible for them to meet that requirement. The central point that Napo made in the briefing was that, when one reviews approaches and puts down procedures, the reviews need to result in practical change on the ground, otherwise they are destined to be repeated without effective change.

I was very interested to hear the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, who was a very effective Minister. He talked about his experience in that role. He also, interestingly, talked about the status of prisoners when they are in prison. I occasionally visit prisons, and I have visited Belmarsh on a couple of occasions. Belmarsh is a prison within a prison and there is undoubtedly status for the people on the inside prison; you can tell it from the tone of voice of the prison officers when they talk about the facility they are involved in managing. There is status to be gained through the way you are treated while in prison. I unfortunately know that to be true through friends of friends whose children have ended up in prison. There is a status to be gained within prison, which sometimes young men cannot have when they are outside prison.

I welcome the review of terrorism legislation by Mr Hall. I also note that it is Mr William Shawcross who has been appointed to review the Prevent programme, and I know he has extensive experience on this matter. The purpose of both these amendments is to tease out the progress and practical changes which the Government hope to make through reviewing the Prevent programme.

Lord Stewart of Dirleton Portrait Lord Stewart of Dirleton (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords for their amendments, which bring us to a very important set of issues. I discern that the Committee is united in believing that data is necessary in order that we might, as much as possible, develop and devise schemes by which deradicalisation can be accomplished. The Government do not think that a new strategy for rehabilitation and disengagement nor a review of the current delivery is beneficial at this time. However, to reassure noble Lords, I want to briefly set out the important work being done in prisons and probation to turn terrorist offenders away from extremism so that they can be released safely. The Government have a clear strategy for rehabilitation programmes for terrorist offenders. The important work in prison and probation here delivers against the Contest strategy, which was recently refreshed and published. Since then, significant work has been done to strengthen our approach to rehabilitation and disengagement of terrorism offenders. This strategy applies to all terrorism offenders, not only those who will receive the new serious terrorism sentence or be subject to the changes made by Part 1 of the Bill.

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Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD) (V)
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My Lords, by coincidence I am once again following the noble Lord, Lord Naseby. I would remind him that there have been high-risk periods before. His words reminded me of the Brighton bomb case, in which I took a part. The person I represented had been involved in a bombing campaign that covered some 28 seaside resorts, and the Brighton bomb case was the final one. When I look at Clause 31, I reflect on that case, because that clause, like the other clauses we are dealing with, is the one which says that there should be no parole for terrorism offences committed in Northern Ireland. In the Brighton bomb case, those who were convicted and sent to prison within weeks of the Belfast agreement were returned to Northern Ireland to serve out their sentences there—and within a very short time they were released. We have faced problems like this before.

The benefits of a two-thirds release system have been outlined by previous speakers: they encourage people to behave while in prison and to engage in deradicalisation and rehabilitation courses. That is done to persuade the Parole Board that the individual is safe to be released—to advance by hope and decrease hopelessness, as my noble friend Lord Marks put it. The Parole Board ought to have a role in this, and I was impressed by the views expressed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, that perhaps the Parole Board should at least have a role in advising on the conditions of release as opposed to the governor taking on the role, as is being proposed.

There are dangers in automatic release at the end of a sentence. No doubt the full sentence has been completed, but the automatic release at the end of that time without any Parole Board involvement is a danger, as my noble friend Lord Marks and the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, have argued. I do not think that the solutions that have been developed and put into the Bill are necessarily the right ones, so I support my noble friend in his attempt to have these clauses removed.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) (V)
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My Lords, we have had interesting debates on both this and the previous group. In closing the previous group, the Minister said that the proposed lack of involvement of the probation service in this particular group of prisoners was a consequence of the sentencing structure and was not a reflection on the Parole Board itself. I understand the point he has made, but what has been said repeatedly on both groups is that there is expertise in the Parole Board. My noble and learned friend Lord Falconer asked whether there were two elements here. One is the possibility of early release, while the second is a point raised again just now by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, about the conditions of release for a prisoner who has served their whole term. I do not understand why that level of expertise should not be accessed when considering these types of prisoners.

I shall make a couple of other brief points which are different from those which have been made by other noble Lords. They arise from briefings that I have had from the trade unions. The Prison Officers’ Association believes that removing hope from prisoners puts its staff at risk. It is a point that the association makes repeatedly and is an important one to feed into this debate. The second point has been made by the National Association of Probation Officers—that is that the workload of probation staff working on the ground in prisons is so high that they are not managing to deliver to their required standards. They are being allocated around 70 prisoners each. I understand that the Minister has talked about these various programmes, and I know that we are talking about a very extreme group of prisoners. Nevertheless there is the practical working position of prison officers, probation staff and others in prisons to consider in trying to make these institutions work and to reduce recidivism when prisoners are released.

Even so, both the group of amendments we are speaking to now and the previous group illustrate the potential for changing the Bill to bring the Parole Board back in. That would reduce the potential risk to the public.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, the Committee will appreciate that there is a significant overlap between this and the previous group. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, and indeed no other participant in this debate, will regard it as discourteous if on some occasions I take as read, as it were, points that I made in the previous debate. If the Committee finds it helpful, I propose to say a few words about each of the clauses and schedules to which objection has been taken and then come back to address some of the particular points raised by participants in the debate.

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Moved by
15: After Clause 31, insert the following new Clause—
“Parole Board
(1) The Secretary of State must, within three years of this Act being passed, lay before Parliament a report on whether the removal of the Parole Board from considering certain types of terrorist offences leads to bad behaviour in prisons.(2) A Minister of the Crown must make an oral statement in the House of Commons on his or her plan to address any issues identified in the report no later than three months after it has been laid before Parliament.”
Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I will be very brief on this amendment. The two previous groups have been groups of substance, and serious questions have been asked about the way forward. The amendment in my name would create provisions for a review of whether the removal of the Parole Board from considering certain types of terrorist offences leads to bad behaviour. That is a central point in many ways in the last two groups, but it has also been mentioned as an issue in many of the amendments that we have discussed today. I beg to move.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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My Lords, I welcome the noble Lord, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar, to our House. It is brave of him to start his parliamentary career in your Lordships’ House by going up against so many noble and learned Lords. It is going to be absolutely fascinating watching that.

I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, for bringing this amendment. I wish I had signed it, because it is very good. It is about whether we want to rehabilitate prisoners and bring them back into society or just want them to rot away and hope they disappear.

I am sure noble Lords will know that the new independent reviewer of Prevent has been announced. It is William Shawcross, whom I do not know at all. As somebody who is a critic of Prevent—I have seen the good and the bad in it—I would say that the optics are not good. Having a white man from Eton and Oxford is possibly not the message that this Government should be sending out when you have critics of a programme that could have been fantastic.

I saw one case of a Prevent programme—in Birmingham, I think—where a young man had been recovered, or rehabilitated, from a radical programme. He had been a right-wing activist, but he responded to being found a job and a house. I am not saying it is always this easy, but rehabilitation was based on taking him out of poverty and deprivation. That is something that we do not see enough of.

However, to return to the amendment, it would require the Government to review the situation and report to Parliament, and I support it very strongly.

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In the light of the points made and the breadth of the Government’s agenda in this area, I hope the noble Lord will agree to withdraw his amendment, but I say that with the following qualification. The noble Lord has indicated the nature of the report which he seeks. I have indicated why we do not consider it to be practicable or feasible. If he wishes to have us reconsider that view, in particular by drawing to our attention any matters that he does not think we have considered, then he can accept our assurance that he may contact us at any time. None the less, I hope that the noble Lord will, at this stage, agree to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this short debate. First, turning to the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, as a fellow layman I thought she gave a good summary of rehabilitation. I see rehabilitation as three things: to have something to do with your time, so either a job or education; to have a roof over your head; and to have stable relationships. Stable relationships are very important in all our lives. The problem we may be dealing with regarding this particular category of prisoners is stable relationships which are not conducive to people not reoffending. Nevertheless, I appreciated the noble Baroness’s contribution.

Both the noble Lords, Lord Carlile and Lord Paddick, spoke about the principles of some sort of review. The Times article that the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, referred to reminded me of two or three visits I have made to prison gyms over the years. Absolutely invariably, I have been told by the officers who manage the prison gyms that there is never any trouble in a prison gym. That is because the prisoners know that that would be the first privilege they would lose, which they do not want to lose. So prison gyms, from what I have been told, are trouble-free areas.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Stewart, gave quite a lengthy answer to my amendment. He described it as potentially counterfactual and impractical. I will have to read properly what he said. However, he slightly mitigated his view on the amendment by saying that he was happy to consider any further submissions I might make. I therefore know there is a potential open door for a later-stage amendment, and with that in mind, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 15 withdrawn.

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill Debate

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Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Excerpts
Lords Hansard & Report stage
Wednesday 3rd March 2021

(10 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Read Full debate Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021 - Government Bill Page Read Hansard Text
Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Marks, set out his amendments clearly, and concentrated on the fact that the decision about a terrorist connection is made by a judge at the sentencing stage, not by the jury when they are assessing guilt or otherwise.

The noble Lord said that prior to the Bill, a limited number of offences were included. Those were serious offences, so his argument was that it did not make that much difference if there was a terrorist connection. He gave the example of ABH, for which the maximum sentence is seven years’ custody, although the penalty for low-level ABH may be some type of community order. His argument was that putting a terrorist connection on a wider range of lower-level offences would have a much larger effect on the likely sentence.

The noble Lord also spoke about activating notification requirements, and early release provisions. He prayed in aid the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, who previously raised the possibility of Newton hearings. I am much more sympathetic to that possibility than that laid out in the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Marks, which would mean that either somebody admitted in open court that there was a terrorist connection or there would be a trial of the issue.

Surely that determination should be made by the judge. A judge could make a determination that a Newton hearing was the right way forward. Perhaps the Bill should be amended to enable the judge to make a determination for a Newton hearing, or to take it on himself or herself to make a determination of whether there is a terrorist connection. For that reason, we will abstain on these amendments—but if, at a later stage, amendments along the line that I have just suggested, giving the judge discretion to order a Newton hearing, are tabled, we may well be in favour of those.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who spoke in this short debate. The amendment would require a trial of the issue as to whether there is a terrorist connection to an aggravated offence. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Marks, for the way in which he set out his amendment, but I am afraid we feel that it would represent a fundamental departure from existing processes—a significant divergence from practice within the wider criminal justice system—and it is therefore not an amendment that the Government consider necessary or appropriate.

It may be helpful if I first briefly recapitulate why the Government are making the changes that we propose in the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord McCrea, gave a good summary. Clause 1 will expressly require the courts, in cases where it appears that any non-terrorism offence with a maximum penalty of more than two years was committed in the course of an act of terrorism, or for the purposes of terrorism, actively to consider whether the offence was committed with a terrorist connection and should be aggravated as such. At present only specified offences can be so considered. Closing this loophole will make for more effective and flexible legislation, reflecting the fact that terrorist offending takes a wide variety of forms.

The noble Lord, Lord Marks, gave some examples of offences that are and are not covered. It might be helpful to include further examples. Various offences under the Firearms Act 1968 are not currently covered, including possessing a firearm with an intent to endanger life; as are offences under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, including destroying or damaging property with an intent to endanger life, and arson. There are many more, but I hope that provides an illustration of some of the offences that we think ought to be considered, if needed.

These changes will also ensure that the consequences of a terrorist connection are applied consistently to all offenders. The identification of a terrorist connection by the courts has a wide-ranging impact, as the noble Lord noted. It must be treated as an aggravating factor when sentencing, helping to ensure that terrorist offenders receive punishment befitting the severity of their offending and the risk that they pose to public safety. It will also result in offenders being subject to the registered terrorist offender notification requirements following their release from prison, which supports the police to manage their risk more effectively.

Finally, under the Bill, these offenders will be subject to a minimum of 12 months on licence following their release and will be eligible to have certain licence conditions imposed on them to assist in the effective management of their risk. I emphasise that both the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Jonathan Hall QC, and the Crown Prosecution Service expressed their strong support for this change. In fact, Mr Hall stated in his oral evidence to the Public Bill Committee in another place that this change, out of all the measures in the Bill, would make the most substantial difference to public safety.

Having set out the background, I will address the substance of the noble Lord’s amendment, which proposes a significant change to the process by which the courts in England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland, determine a terrorist connection at the point of sentencing. This process is well-established, having been in successful operation for more than a decade since the provisions of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 came into force. It is also consistent with the wider criminal justice system.

Under the existing process, courts are required to apply the criminal standard of proof—beyond reasonable doubt—when determining whether an offence has a terrorist connection. The court will make this determination on the basis of the usual information before it for the purposes of sentencing—that is, the trial evidence or evidence heard at a Newton hearing, if necessary, following a guilty plea—and take into account any representations by the prosecution or defence, as well as any evidence heard.

Furthermore, in England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland, it is the standard approach for the judge, rather than the jury, to determine the presence of aggravating factors as part of the sentencing function. To provide one example, Section 66 of the Sentencing Act 2020 requires the court to aggravate a sentence for an offence if it was motivated by hostility based on certain protected characteristics, such as race or sexual orientation. The judge will determine such a finding as part of the sentencing. The terrorist connection provision works in exactly the same way. This very issue was debated by your Lordships’ House in 2008, when the terrorist connection provisions were first enacted. It was concluded then that the existing process is appropriate and the reasons that I will now outline still stand.

During the passage of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, the then Government set out that, as part of their consultation on that Bill, they considered whether the determination of a terrorist connection should be made by the jury, rather than the judge at sentencing. That included discussing the option with experienced prosecutors in this area. It was concluded, however, that there were significant practical issues in taking that approach. For example, having to prove the terrorist connection as part of the trial would lead to lengthy diversions, were the defence to argue that the action of the suspect did not fall within the definition of terrorism. Such an approach would divert the prosecution from its primary aim to secure swift justice for the substantive offence—that is to say, securing a conviction or freeing the individual on trial—and would unnecessarily create significantly longer terrorism trials.

Alternatively, if the jury were to be responsible for determining whether there was a terrorist connection as part of a sentencing exercise after the trial, it would have to be summoned to make such a determination following a guilty plea. This would be entirely novel and run counter to well-established sentencing procedure. We therefore strongly believe that it would not be right to put it in the Bill. It was concluded then, as we maintain now, that sentencing is properly a function for the judge.

That is why the Government cannot accept the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Marks: it would impose unusual requirements on the finding of a terrorist connection, deviate significantly from well-established practice and, in doing so, put that process out of kilter with the courts’ considerations of other similar aggravating factors. The current system provides adequate safeguards against the erroneous finding of a terrorist connection. A judge who has determined that the offence was committed with a terrorist connection is required to state in open court that that is the case. That determination is capable of being appealed to the Court of Appeal. For the reasons outlined, despite the noble Lord being minded to do otherwise, I hope that he will see fit to withdraw his amendment.

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Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD) [V]
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My Lords, it is a great privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, particularly given his deep and long experience in counterterrorism and the legislation in this area, along with his wide experience of the workings of the Parole Board.

Clause 27 was the subject of considerable controversy in Committee because as it stands, it would remove the role of the Parole Board from the determination of whether, and at what stage, a terrorist offender should be released from custody. Without wishing to repeat the arguments that were canvassed in the debate on the clause at that stage, many of us felt then and continue to feel strongly that the Parole Board has had, and should continue to have, an important part to play in determining whether and at what stage even dangerous terrorist offenders should be released on licence.

The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, refers to prisoners who are serving extended sentences and applies after they have completed their custodial term, thus changing the architecture of extended sentences, as he has put it. Such prisoners’ release would be contemplated only after the custodial term, at which stage their cases would be referred to the Parole Board for consideration, as they then would on every further anniversary of the completion of that custodial term.

As the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, has explained, before the board could direct release, it would have to be satisfied that two important conditions had been met: first, the prisoner did not represent a grave risk to the public, and secondly, it was no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the prisoner should be confined. We would have preferred that the amendment went further and applied more widely for the reasons that we expressed in Committee, but we regard the work of the Parole Board, whose members are specialists in the field, as extremely valuable. We are firmly of the view that a full hearing before the Parole Board is the best way to determine whether a prisoner should be released after a suitable minimum custodial term, having regard to the elimination of the threat that the prisoner posed to public safety and to such progress as might have been made in the prisoner’s deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reform.

I should emphasise that throughout our approach to this Bill, we have maintained the position that hope of rehabilitation should always be part of the process of punishment, even in severe terrorist cases, and that sentences which offer no hope are counterproductive. We recognise that all prisoners are likely to be released one day and that rehabilitation is more achievable in the context of a release on licence than it is in the context of continued incarceration. That is a position that was rightly taken and recognised by the experts who briefed a number of Peers at the Joint Extremism Unit drop-in session that was arranged for us by the Ministry of Justice. Those who attended found it to be interesting and informative, and we are all very grateful. For my part, however, I confess to remaining perplexed that the Government have decided to cut the role of the Parole Board in the way set out in Clause 27. This amendment would reduce the impact of that particular cutting axe, and I therefore support it.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, Amendment 2 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, sets out an alternative possible architecture for assessing terrorists and the possibility of extending sentences. In speaking to the amendment, the noble Lord and the noble Lord, Lord Marks, expressed their faith in the Parole Board and the view that it should play a much fuller role in assessing terrorist prisoners who are coming towards the end of their sentences. I too joined in the very useful expert panel held last week with presentations from Home Office experts as well as senior psychologists who have an overview of this work.

The probation service itself employs around 350 psychologists, some of whom are specialists in this work. The message I got from that meeting last week is that it is very complicated work and there is no guarantee of success. However, that does not mean that there should not be efforts—indeed, very strenuous efforts—made to try to rehabilitate these offenders.

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Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee (LD) [V]
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My Lords, Amendments 24 and 25 struck me as setting out a number of concerns that we would like to have seen in the Bill now. I agree very much with what the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, had to say, except that I do not think that they amount to post-legislative scrutiny. Both highlight concerns that we expressed at an earlier stage, although not all those concerns. My noble friend’s Amendment 12 is rather different in that after a year’s experience of the Bill—an Act, as it will then have been—it would assess its impact. Like him, I have had a similar impression: a kind of inconsistency between the words that we see on paper in the Bill—the impression that is given about responding with even tougher sentences, which is supported by some of the debate that we have had—while privately we have had much more nuanced conversations which have encouraged me, even though I am somewhat depressed by this legislation.

I want to say a word—well, several words—about Amendment 13, which would provide for a review of the use of polygraphs. The amendment came out of amendments in Committee, not our own but those proposed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, when he called for a pilot and a report to Parliament, including on specified matters. I understand that, with a relatively small number of terrorist offenders to whom the polygraph condition will apply, it is quite hard to undertake a useful pilot, but that does not negate the importance of an assessment of the polygraph condition which is published in the public domain.

Crucially, the review that we propose in Amendment 13 would be an independent review. Its report would include data, as set out in the amendment’s subsection (3), on the number of terrorist offenders subject to the polygraph condition and on the number of terrorist offenders recalled to custody following a test. I should mark those sentences as copyright of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer—I think I lifted them wholesale. It would also cover regulations, rules and codes of practice, and make recommendations regarding those, and the report would be made to Parliament. We have included the caveat that any material that the Secretary of State considered might prejudice public safety should be omitted.

The review would be within three years of the Section 32 polygraph condition coming into force. I understand, though I could not quite pin it down, that the Government are intending a review after a couple of years, which would essentially be the same; after two years is more or less the same as within three years.

I take this opportunity not only to argue for a review but to ask the Minister to confirm what is planned by the Government. not only as to the timing but as to the four elements that I have listed.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I have one amendment in this group, Amendment 25, and my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton put his name to Amendment 24. I was very pleased that the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, said that she had read our amendments and that they seemed sensible; I think that is a good start. The general point made on this whole group is that there is an appetite for reviewing different aspects of this legislation, and the amendments referred to go into particular aspects of that.

I want to make a slightly more general point. It is important that the general case for this sort of legislation is made regularly. I have had the opportunity in recent days of talking to young people who are becoming more politically active and engaged. They are very interested in terrorism legislation as a whole, particularly in how Parliament seeks to review it, change it and make it more effective. Particularly in our House, we have a duty to make sure that those arguments are remade and heard by the general public.

The specific amendment that I have put my name to concerns looking at particular impacts on prison capacity, the National Probation Service and offenders convicted of terrorist offences, as well as levels of bad behaviour in prisons—a point that I made on an earlier group. Also within my amendment are financial matters, because there is a very significant financial impact of the review of extended sentences and licence periods.

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Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, this has been an extremely brief debate and quite a blunt one. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, was very clear: during the passage of a previous Counter-Terrorism Act this House voted for a deadline and this current legislation is seeking to remove it. The Government commissioned an independent review back in January 2019, which has been repeatedly delayed and postponed, and the initial statutory deadline of 12 August 2020 will now be missed. The Government have said that they intend to have a report ready by summer 2021. Indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said, he has been very generous by putting in his amendments a deadline of the end of this current calendar year.

In the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, to this short debate I noted a tone of exasperation, and I do not blame him or the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for using such a tone. I really do not see why the Government cannot reaffirm their commitment to a deadline and I will be very interested to hear the Minister’s response to both noble Lords.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, this amendment, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, would add a new statutory deadline of 31 December this year for the completion of the independent review of Prevent. I am happy to say once again that we share the noble Lord’s and noble Baroness’s commitment to a successful independent review and the opportunity that it provides to learn lessons from what is and is not working—as well as to listen to a wide range of voices about how best to safeguard those who may be vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.

The review restarted on 26 January, with the appointment of William Shawcross as the new independent reviewer. As I undertook to do in Committee, I am pleased to say that my noble friend Lady Williams of Trafford has had a conversation with Mr Shawcross about the timescale for his review. He certainly agrees with the need to complete it as swiftly as possible, while affording it the consideration that it requires. He hopes to complete his work well before the end of 2021, and of course there will then need to be time for a government response to be prepared and laid before Parliament. However, it is out intention to set out the date of his report and, indeed, the Government’s response in the revised terms of reference, when they are published shortly.

The noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, referred to the remarks of my right honourable friend James Brokenshire, made in his first stint as Security Minister, about government responses being swift and timely. I hope the greatest reassurance to the noble Lord is the fact that my right honourable friend is back in that important post, albeit currently recuperating from his operation, from which we all wish him a speedy recovery. I am sure his remarks then stand now, as they do for my noble friend Lady Williams of Trafford, who is covering while he recuperates.

We all agree that it is necessary to have a thorough, evidence-based review that engages communities and sees Prevent delivery in action and that has practical recommendations for improvement at the end of it. We fear that, at a time when fleetness of foot is vital, a statutory deadline could limit this. We referred in Committee to the ongoing pandemic; alas, it continues now we are on Report, and I hope noble Lords will all be mindful of the need for flexibility in light of it.

Mr Shawcross is keen to proceed at pace, as I say, but reintroducing a statutory deadline for the completion of his independent review would mean that, if he encountered a challenge to his timeline because of the pandemic, we would have to revisit the legislation or he might be forced to compromise in how he meets his objectives. Of course, we hope that there will not be any difficulties, but there remains a risk of further or ongoing restrictions, with all the unpredictabilities of the pandemic and the implications that that could have for Mr Shawcross, his team and those who wish to provide their input into the review. As such, we think that that remains sensible.

We believe that it is achievable for Mr Shawcross to complete his work quickly, while undertaking a thorough and robust piece of work—but it is important for the legislation to retain the flexibility for the reviewer, should he need it, to ensure that the valuable work of his review is not undermined. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, will agree and, therefore, withdraw his amendment.

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill Debate

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Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

Main Page: Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Labour - Life peer)

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Excerpts
Consideration of Commons amendments
Thursday 25th March 2021

(10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021 - Government Bill Page Read Hansard Text
Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd Portrait Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd (CB) [V]
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My Lords, in view of the eloquent and comprehensive speech of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, I can confine my remarks to three points. First, it seems to me that the position taken by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, must be right as a matter of principle. Both the areas which the House has examined in detail—namely the burden of proof required and the length of time—are essential for ensuring that this is a regime that does not disproportionately affect the fundamental right of liberty.

Secondly, the considerable importance of the current amendment is that we have moved away from the prospect of orders of an indefinite renewal period. Not only would those have been discouraging and demoralising to the individual and made it more difficult to ensure that he could, on removal of the TPIM, return as an ordinary member of society, but, as importantly, they would have been perceived as unfair by the community. The perception of fairness by the community safeguards us to a much more considerable extent than any other matters.

Thirdly, I profoundly welcome the pragmatic approach of the Minister, supported as he has been in this by the noble Lord, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stewart. It is wonderful that a proper compromise has been reached here and I thank them for their considerable part in bringing this about. It may not be perfect, but it gets rid of those areas that would have been most damaging to our civil liberties.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Portrait Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, at Second Reading, I made the point that it is very important that we restate the arguments for these draconian measures. I took the opportunity of talking to my son and others of his generation of young people in their early 20s about these measures which we take in our country. We had an interesting discussion about the proportionality of this and the right of a state to protect itself from potential terrorism. It is right that these arguments are revisited, as they are every year. It is a tribute to this House that many of the Peers who have taken part in these debates have a long-standing involvement in these issues—unlike me. It is, nevertheless, important that these arguments are remade, as they have been.

I too thank the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Wolfson and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stewart, for their engagement; it was an interesting process. They also made it possible for me and other noble Lords to meet some of the experts in the Home Office who are dealing with these issues on a day-to-day basis. It was certainly instructive to meet the psychiatrists and psychologists who are involved in the various programmes that take place in prison and look at how TPIMs are managed outside prisons.

I also acknowledge that the Minister has made a concession in time-limiting TPIMs to five years. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, put the point well—as she always does—about the principle of having a time limit rather than the issue running on indefinitely. My noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton, who was responsible for the introduction of the original control orders in 2005, has changed his view on this, in light of the change in circumstances and the growing learning of how to handle people who are potentially very dangerous. Although the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, proposed four years, we of course accept the Minister’s counterproposal of a five-year limit.

I conclude by paying tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Anderson. He has led us on this, in some ways, supported by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, who also has tremendous experience in this area. If I were to direct my son to read a speech, it would be the final one from the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, which is a very good summary of the situation we have arrived at and the considerations we have made in reaching this compromise.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords for their thoughtful contributions to the debate today and, indeed, throughout the Bill’s passage through your Lordships’ House. As the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, said, we have had some very civilised debates about some very important issues of civil liberties, and we are grateful for the tone in which they have been conducted, as well as for the points that they have covered. Noble Lords asked a few questions which I shall cover briefly.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, while this may not be the time to open the debate about rehabilitation, asked about rehabilitative measures. We have seen, under the current two-year time limit, the problem of TPIM subjects riding out their maximum two years without changing their extremist mindset and with an unwillingness to engage with rehabilitative measures. This is an issue that has been reported on by a former independent reviewer. This change will, we think, create a genuine incentive for the subject to demonstrate that they have rehabilitated themselves and that extending the TPIM notice is not necessary.

The noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, raised the latest annual report by the current independent reviewer, Jonathan Hall, and some of the points he has recommended. He is right that the response will be considered and published in full in the usual way, but let me address the points he raised. On reviewing the case for prosecution, we welcome Mr Hall’s recommendation that the case for prosecution should be kept under review. The Government have been clear throughout the passage of the Bill that prosecution is our preferred option and the best way to manage risk. As has been noted through our debates on the Bill, TPIMs are resource-intensive tools and often an option of last resort. Before a TPIM is imposed, Section 10 of the TPIM Act first requires that confirmation be provided by a senior police officer that there is insufficient evidence for a prosecution and, under Section 11, the Government “must keep under review” the necessity and proportionality of all TPIM notices. A key consideration at all TPIM review group meetings is whether there is sufficient evidence to support a prosecution for terrorism-related activity or the breach of a TPIM measure.