Criminal Justice and Police Bill

[back to previous text]

Mr. Heald: I fully accept what the Minister said about consultation on the whole range of sexual offences. However, sometimes there is a need to plug a gap in the law and to do so speedily. That was done by the Licensing (Young Persons) Act 2000, even though a larger review of licensing and a new licensing law is likely to be introduced whichever party wins the general election. Would the Minister not agree that a specific problem needs to be solved in this area, and that it needs to be solved now?

Mr. Clarke: I accept that we must make the best of the enemy of the good. We honour that principle in various things that we do. However, my third point is that the amendments are restricted to on-line behaviour. It is extremely important to establish consistency across various areas of the law as we make changes. Further protection is also available under section 2 of the Child Abduction Act 1984, which makes it an offence for someone other than a parent or certain others to take or detain a child under 16. The key areas are active policing and good work with industry, which we are addressing.

I conclude my comments by acknowledging the seriousness of the matter. We are giving it serious consideration: first, by making the necessary changes to the law; secondly, by strengthening policing and working with industry, to which I assure the hon. Member for Taunton that we are absolutely committed; and thirdly, by ensuring that new legislation on such matters is consistent across the range of areas in which we operate. We work closely with children's charities—which already work well as a team—and we shall continue to do so.

Mr. Heald: I should have paid tribute to Childnet International, which has done a fantastic campaigning job in recent years. Its websites set out many of the horrendous problems that exist.

Sometimes it is right to wait for a general review of the law and to cover everything at once; on other occasions a problem arises as a result of a loophole in the law and needs to be tackled immediately. Having pressed the matter for more than a year, we want to press it again.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 7, Noes 9.

Division No. 25]

AYES
Ballard, Jackie
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Gray, Mr. James
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hughes, Mr. Simon
Lyell, Sir Nicholas

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Clark, Mr. Paul
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lock, Mr. David
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry

Question accordingly negatived.

New Clause 14

Fear of violence

`.—Section 4 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 shall be amended in subsection(1) by leaving out the words ``on at least two occasions''.'.—[Mr. Hawkins.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 5, Noes 9.

Division No. 26]

AYES
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Gray, Mr. James
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Lyell, Sir Nicholas

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Clark, Mr. Paul
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lock, Mr. David
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry

Question accordingly negatived.

New Clause 15

Conspiracy

`.—After section 4 of the Protection for Harassment Act 1997 there shall be inserted the following section—

``Conspiracy

4A. Where two or more persons agree to organise or plan the commission by any other persons or by themselves a course of conduct contrary to Section 1 and Section 4 of this Act, they shall be guilty of the offence of conspiracy to commit the offence or offences in question contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977 Section 1.''.'.—[Mr. Hawkins.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 5, Noes 9.

Division No. 27]

AYES
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Gray, Mr. James
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Lyell, Sir Nicholas

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Clark, Mr. Paul
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lock, Mr. David
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry

Question accordingly negatived.

New Clause 16

Summary offence of urination or defecation in a public place

`(1) A person who urinates or defecates in any public place otherwise than by using a lavatory commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(2) An offence under this section is a penalty offence for the purposes of Chapter I of Part I of this Act.

(3) In this section, ``public place'' means any place in the open to which the public or any section of the public has access as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission.'.—[Mr. Hawkins.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Hawkins: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Sadly, we have so little time because of the Government's ridiculous guillotine that we shall be unable to finish the debate. However, I can briefly move what we regard as an important matter. It is not only Opposition Members who regard new clause 16 as important. The original impetus behind the clause came from Westminster city council. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray), who has played a significant role in the Committee. I pay tribute to him because he has gone well beyond the traditional role of the usual channels and not only supported his constituents on matters such as a field sports, but been involved in talking to councillor Kit Malthouse, who is Westminster city council's lead member.

I have a letter from Mr. Graham Ellis, who is Westminster city council's director of policy and communications. The council, which, along with many other urban, suburban and perhaps even rural local authorities, feels strongly on this issue, states:

    ``We feel the police should be able to serve fixed penalty notices for urination and defecation in the street. This is not currently an offence unless a byelaw is in place. However enforcing byelaws involves the arrest and the lengthy processing of any offenders.''

The council points out that it has introduced several measures that will come into force this summer to seek to tackle the problem. They include longer opening hours for public conveniences and the use of mobile urinals. However, the problem is now widespread—according to Mr. Ellis and his colleague Mr. Grant—in the city of Westminster, which is the local authority for the centre of this capital city of which we are rightly proud.

The letter states that

    ``the problem is so widespread that these measures that the council itself is taking alone are unlikely to make significant inroads without the power to back them up with a pro-active enforcement campaign.''

It continues:

    ``We have the support from the police for a change in the law. Like us, the police believe that an on-the-spot penalty is the most effective way of dealing with offenders. It seems anomalous that the illegal depositing of litter should be an offence attracting a fixed penalty when the even more antisocial act of human beings fouling the highway is not. Still stranger is the position of the dog owner who is legally responsible for his pet's toilet habits, but not for his own.''

Mr. Heald: Does my hon. Friend agree that having got through 55 amendments or new clauses today, it is ridiculous that we were scheduled to deal with a further 24 clauses, two schedules, 44 amendments and one new clause in such a short time?

Mr. Hawkins: I certainly agree. I opened the debate by saying that it was ludicrous that the Government have curtailed debate in such a way that the knives go in. Along with some Government Members, my hon. Friend and I remember a phrase from student politics in the 1970s, and perhaps more recently, that one could ``get knifed''. This has been a case of a proper debate on serious matters to do with criminal justice being knifed. It is outrageous that the Government have behaved in this way. I said that I would give way to the Minister, but he has so little time to intervene that I doubt that I shall have a chance to reply.

Mr. Charles Clarke: That is because the Opposition have taken up the time.

Can the hon. Gentleman tell me whether Westminster city council has adopted Home Office model byelaw set No. 8, byelaw No. 24 of which reads:

    ``No person should urinate or defecate in any public place''?

Mr. Hawkins: If the Minister had been listening, he would know that the city council said in the letter that it is proposing to introduce measures to come into force this summer. I assume—I did not know about these models, and he has armies of officials to tell him about them—that the measures described in the letter are precisely the ones that his Department recommends.

It being Ten o'clock, The Chairman proceeded to put the Questions necessary to dispose of the business remaining to be concluded at this hour, pursuant to Sessional Order D on programming and the Order of the Committee [1 March].

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 5, Noes 11.

Division No. 28]

AYES
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Gray, Mr. James
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Lyell, Sir Nicholas

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Ballard, Jackie
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Clark, Mr. Paul
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Hughes, Mr. Simon
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lock, Mr. David
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry

Question accordingly negatived.

Clauses 46 to 49 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 2

Powers of seizure

Amendments made: No. 199, in page 110, line 29, leave out `section 7(2)' and insert `sections 7(2) and 8(1)'.

No. 200, in page 110, line 31, after `offence' insert—

`or of an offence punishable in Scotland by imprisonment'.

No. 170, in page 111, line 37, leave out `9(2)' and insert `5(2)'.

No. 201, in page 112, line 28, leave out `19, 28 and 31' and insert `and 19'

No. 188, in page 112, line 35, at end insert—

    `Homes Act 2001 (c. 00)

    . The power of seizure conferred by paragraph 7(3) of Schedule 1 to the Homes Act 2001.'

No. 202, in page 113, line 35, leave out `19, 28 and 31' and insert `and 19'—[Mr. Charles Clarke.]

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 50 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 51

Notice of exercise of power under section 49 or 50

Amendment made: No. 191, in page 41, line 39, after `instrument' insert—

    `, after consultation with the Scottish Ministers,'.—[Mr. Clarke.]

Clause 51, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 52 to 55 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 56

Retention of seized items

Amendment made: No. 169, in page 45, line 43, at end insert—

    `, ( ) paragraph 7(2) of Schedule 3 to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.'.—[Mr. Clarke.]

Clause 56, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 57 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 58

Application to the appropriate judicial authority

Amendment made: No. 174, in page 47, line 3, after first `is' insert `or contains'.—[Mr. Clarke.]

Clause 58, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 59

Cases where duty to secure arises

Amendments made: No. 192, in page 49, line 10, at beginning insert—

    `in relation to England, Wales and Northern Ireland,'.

No. 193, in page 49, line 11, after `satisfied;' insert—

    `( ) in relation to Scotland, the condition set out in subsection (2) is satisfied;'.

No. 175, in page 49, line 14, after first `is' insert `or contains'.—[Mr. Clarke.]

Clause 59, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 60 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 61

Use of inextricably linked property

Amendment made: No. 244, in page 51, line 13, after `any' insert `investigation or'.—[Mr. Clarke.]

Clause 61, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 62 and 63 ordered to stand part of the Bill

Clause 64

Meaning of ``legal privilege''

Amendments made: No. 194, in page 52, line 17, after `privilege'')' insert—

    `( ) for the purposes of the application of this Part to Scotland, in accordance with section 33 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1999 (interpretation)'.

No. 185, in page 53, line 43, at end insert—

    `( ) An item which is, or is comprised in, property which has been seized in exercise, or purported exercise, of the power of seizure conferred by sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 7 of Schedule 1 to the Homes Act 2001 shall be taken for the purposes of this Part to be an item subject to legal privilege if, and only if, the seizure of that item was in contravention of sub-paragraph (5) of that paragraph (privileged documents).'.

No. 186, in page 54, line 4, at end insert—

    `( ) paragraph 7(3) of Schedule 1 to the Homes Act 2001,'.—[Mr. Clarke.]

Clause 64, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 68

Application to powers designated by order

Amendment made: No. 198, in page 57, line 32, at end insert—

    `( ) Where the power designated by the order made under subsection (1) is a power conferred in relation to Scotland, the Secretary of State shall consult the Scottish Ministers before making the order.'.—[Mr. Clarke.]

Clause 68, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 69 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3

Applications and minor and consequential amendments

Amendments made: No. 171, in page 118, line 48, leave out `section' and insert `sections 434(6) and'.

No. 172, in page 118, line 48, leave out `Article' and insert `Articles 427(6) and'.

No. 173, in page 118, line 50, leave out

    `after ``it in legible form'''

and insert `at the end'.

No. 203, in page 120, line 3, at end insert—

    `( ) In section 8 of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 (which makes similar provision for Scotland) after subsection (6) there shall be added—

    ``(7) Subject to subsection (8) below, the reference in subsection (2) above to evidence seized by a constable by virtue of this section shall be taken to include a reference to evidence seized by a constable by virtue of the exercise, in the course of a search authorised by a warrant issued by virtue of this section, of powers conferred by section 49 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001.

    (8) Nothing in subsection (7) above requires any evidence to be furnished to the Lord Advocate—

    (a) before it has been found, on the completion of any examination required to be made by arrangements under subsection (2) of section 52 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, to be property which falls within subsection (3) of that section (property which may be retained after examination); or

    (b) at a time when it constitutes property in respect of which a person is required to ensure that arrangements such as are mentioned in section 60(1) of that Act (duty to secure) are in force.''.'.—[Mr. Clarke.]

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Sutcliffe.]

Adjourned accordingly at seven minutes past Ten o'clock till tomorrow at half-past Ten o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Hood, Mr. (Chairman)
Bailey, Mr.
Ballard, Jackie
Blunt, Mr.
Brinton, Mrs.
Clark, Mr. Paul
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Gray, Mr.
Grogan, Mr.
Hawkins, Mr.
Heald, Mr.
Hughes, Mr. Simon
Ladyman, Dr.
Lock, Mr.
Lyell, Sir Nicholas
McCabe, Mr.
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr.
Thomas, Mr. Gareth R.

 
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