§ 3.28 p.m.
§ Moved, that the Bill be now read 3a—(Lord Belstead.)
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, it is fortuitous but a very good thing that I intervened, with the noble and learned Lord's permission, as the word "Content" was uttered in this House because, by and large, I think all of us are happy to see this Criminal Attempts Bill go forward, especially as it does away with an offence of the suspected person going back to the aged Vagrancy Act, and that goes without a very fond farewell from any of us.
The only regret that my friends and I have in regard to this Bill is still concerning the new offence which is created; that under Clause 9, the offence of interference with vehicles. Our feeling is not because we think that there should not be an offence in regard to interference with vehicles, but having regard to the vagueness of the offence and the way in which evidence can be 825 procured, we would have hoped that our amendments could have been accepted which dealt with the question of evidence of two acts of interference, and not only one, as a preparatory piece of evidence before a charge could be brought. The Opposition voices some regret in regard to the Bill in that respect, but generally I am sure it has the welcome of the whole House.
§ Lord Avebury
It certainly has my welcome, my Lords, and my only regret is that it was not seen fit to take the step to abolish sus, as it is called, when the opportunity was provided to do so, on the introduction of my Bill, more than two years ago.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, for his welcome to the Bill, but I should make clear the Government's view, even if it does not accord with the view put forward by him; namely, that the offence in Clause 9 is narrowly drawn so far as the act itself and the criminal intent is concerned. It was for those reasons that I was a little concerned to hear the noble Lord talk about the vagueness of the offence. We hoped there might be agreement that this is an offence which is reasonably narrowly drawn. However, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his welcome that sus, as it has been known, has now, by this Bill, been abolished, a welcome to which the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, added his voice.
On Question, Bill read 3a, with the amendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons.