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The Public Bill Committee on the Offender Rehabilitation Bill met for 6 sessions in Committee between 26 November and 3 December 2013.

At both second reading and Committee stage, much debate surrounded clause 1. The Government has relied heavily on the argument that the Offender Management Act 2007 provides sufficient basis for the reforms to the probation service it intends and further primary legislation is not needed, but that view has been hotly contested. Clause 1 was introduced as a non-Government amendment in the Lords, requiring any change to the structure of the “probation service” to first be approved by both Houses of Parliament. Although it was widely argued that the clause was necessary, to ensure Parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s far-reaching reforms, the clause was disagreed in Committee.

Government amendments to schedule 1’s provisions for drug testing after release from custody were agreed in Committee, replacing the threshold of the trigger offence with a two-limbed test concerning both the offender’s propensity to misuse class A or class B drugs and that misuse’s contribution to offending.

Also in Committee, a number of minor and technical Government amendments were agreed to Clause 6, which deals with consecutive terms, particularly the calculation of supervision periods when an offender is subject to more than one type of custodial sentence.

A minor and technical Government amendment was also agreed to clause 10, dealing with recall and further release of offenders. Further Government amendments were made to clause 12 on drug testing, clause 13 on drug appointments and clause 23 on extent. A new clause 7 was added dealing with drug testing and appointments for offenders transferred within the British Islands.

The privilege amendment added to clause 24 of the Bill at Lords third reading was removed.

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