Criminal Justice and Courts Bill clears second reading

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Part one of the debate can be found here.

MPs have given their initial backing to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

The House agreed to pass the legislation at second reading without the need for a vote, following an afternoon's debate on 24 February 2014.

Sir Alan Beith, the chair of the Justice Committee, focused his remarks on government plans to put education at the heart of youth custody through the creation of "secure colleges" for young offenders - in England first, with a view to extending them to Wales.

The idea is to equip young offenders with the skills and qualifications they will need after release in an effort to reduce reoffending rates and reduce cost.

Mr Beith, a Lib Dem MP, said the objective "is right" but the means of achieving it "need to be fully explained".

He told MPs: "The government has more thinking to do on how it can realise its very desirable objective of providing basic education through some kind of secure college framework, because it is not going to be easy."

"It would be wrong to assume you can simply set up a large institution at one place in the country and this constant turnover of people on relatively short periods of custody will fit neatly into a programme of education," he added.

The bill provides only the framework for the secure colleges; details of their operation will be set out in secondary legislation at a later date.

Shadow justice minister Andrew Slaughter told the House that Labour would not oppose the bill at this stage but would seek to amend it during its passage through the House.

Wrapping up, Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said the bill proposed a "firm but fair" package of measures that will punish repeat offenders and better protect victims and the public.

The bill went on to clear its first Commons hurdle, and is now awaiting more detailed scrutiny and amendment in committee.

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