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Viscount Colville of Culross: We know what the procedure is but I am becoming increasingly concerned. I shall speak to whatever Motion the noble Lord the Deputy Chairman of Committees says we are discussing but I have become increasingly concerned, listening to the proceedings, about what will happen at Report stage. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, has complained about this and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, would agree that the difficulty we shall find, if we have to return to the matter on Report, is that we shall not be able to make more than one speech without the leave of the House. The object of a Committee stage, particularly when one is dealing with extremely difficult matters of this sort--I can tell the noble Baroness, if she does not know already, that they are extremely difficult matters--is that one should be able to have a debate and respond to each other's arguments and points. If all this is simply going to be put back to the Report stage and we are not to have any parts of the Bill recommitted we shall be put into a position where we cannot have a proper discussion. Before simply abandoning her Amendment No. 152 and inviting everyone else to abandon all discussion about video recordings, child witnesses and everything that goes with that, the noble Baroness ought to be able to offer us some promise that, if necessary, either the rules will be substantially relaxed at Report stage or that some parts of the Bill will be recommitted.

Baroness Blatch: It would seem that I cannot win today. It has been a long day and I have done what I was asked to do. I was approached by two Members of this Chamber who asked whether I would be willing to have a full discussion without my pressing my amendment. I am in the hands of the Chamber. If the Chamber wishes me to press my amendment, I shall press my amendment. I am entirely willing either to discuss it or not discuss it. I thought I was responding helpfully to two Members of the Chamber who wish to discuss these amendments collectively. If it is the will of the Chamber that I discuss my amendment, or indeed if it is the will of the Chamber that my noble friend discusses the amendments and we do not press them tonight in order to have the debate, I am entirely willing to do that too.

Baroness Faithfull: These amendments, as the noble Viscount fully appreciates, are extraordinarily difficult and complicated. Unfortunately the Minister has been busy and I also have been busy doing work outside the Chamber. Therefore we have not had time to discuss

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these amendments. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, thought--and I agreed with him--that it would be in the interests of the Chamber and of the amendments for us to have a discussion with the noble Baroness and perhaps with some of the many people throughout the country who have said that they wish our amendments to be accepted. Therefore it was felt that it would save the Chamber time and work if we did not discuss the amendments today but returned to them on Report after discussions involving my noble friend, her officials, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and myself.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: If we are speaking on the business of the Chamber rather than on any specific Motion, I have no desire whatever to intervene in the negotiations which have taken place between the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, her colleagues and the Minister. I accept the conclusion they have reached. However, this reinforces the point which has already been made; namely, that our Report stage will be much more substantial than we had originally thought. The noble Viscount, Lord Colville, makes the point that debate at Report stage is more restricted because we can only speak once and we cannot speak after the Minister has spoken. In some circumstances that might be an argument for recommittal of some parts of the Bill. However, I leave that matter to the usual channels. I reinforce the point that we shall need a substantial Report stage if we are to take account of the degree of concern which has been expressed all around the Chamber at the hasty way in which this legislation has been introduced.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: From these Benches we wholly understand why the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, has chosen not to pursue these amendments this evening. However, if I might put it this way, if this matter were to be resolved mainly by private discussion--however desirable that may be--between the noble Baroness and the Minister, that would not be satisfactory from the point of view of the Chamber. Indeed I understood when the noble Baroness said that she had decided not to press the amendments this evening that that was partly because discussion would take place at a late hour or at an inconvenient time. I am not talking to the Minister but to the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull. The Minister is shaking her head. That disturbs me deeply. I hope she will forgive me if I finish my remarks. These are matters which concern the Chamber. They are difficult matters on which I would think there are divisions between Members within parties.

I understood that there was every reason to believe that if the amendment were taken on Report we would have a fuller and more fruitful discussion than was possible this evening. I thought that that was one reason why the amendments were not being moved. However, if I am now told that it is entirely to allow the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, and the Minister to reach an agreement which might exclude substantive discussion in the Chamber I should be very worried. My reading is one that was acceptable to all parties. I see that the noble

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Baroness, Lady Faithfull, is shaking her head in agreement with what I say, and hopes that there will be full discussion in this Chamber in due course.

Baroness Blatch: The reason I was shaking my head in the other direction was because I believed that the noble Lord underestimates my noble friend if he thinks that the only reason she asked me to consider not moving my amendment tonight was that she did not want to sit late in the Chamber. My noble friend has sat late in this place many times debating many issues. While that may not be what the noble Lord meant, it is what he said.

I understand the position to be that my noble friend has put down amendments which interact with my amendment. My noble friend wishes to discuss those amendments because had we debated the matter tonight it would have been my intention to press the government amendment. My noble friend wants more discussion with me informally in my office, perhaps with officials and with others present. I have agreed to that.

As I said to the noble Viscount, if it is the wish to have a debate at this stage I had already predicted that we would be here very late tonight anyway and, therefore, I would be more than ready to discuss the amendments. I have no doubt that my noble friend would also be willing to do so. The outcome would still be that we could withdraw the amendments and have our informal discussions between the two stages of the Bill.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: The noble Baroness is obviously tired, and therefore prickly. I was not being at all critical of her or unhelpful to the Committee. I simply made the point, which I believe is wholly reasonable bearing in mind what the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, said, that these are very important matters for Parliament. All I said was that, notwithstanding these discussions, which in no way would I frown upon nor intervene in or delay, I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, will look forward to a full and productive discussion in the Chamber in due course. That was the only point that I made. I am sorry that the Minister took it amiss. I tried to be helpful, as I often do. She must learn that there are Members of this House who seek to be helpful in parliamentary terms, and she must not so readily adopt a position of antagonism to them.

Baroness Blatch: I did not do that. I believe that the references to "late at night", not discussing the matter tonight and reasons for deferring discussion tonight do not relate to the reason put to me for taking this particular course of action. Indeed, I believe that that argues against the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank. Had there been a debate tonight, followed by a debate at Report stage, I believe that that would have been even more valuable. For the reasons given by my noble friend and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, I have acceded to their request. However, I remain willing to consider the amendments if that is the wish of the Committee.

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[Amendment No. 152 not moved.]

Baroness Faithfull had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 153:


After Clause 44, insert the following new clause--

Video recordings of testimony from child witnesses

(".--(1) Section 32A of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 shall be amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (3), paragraph (a) shall be omitted.
(3) After subsection (3) there shall be inserted--
"(3A) Where a video recording is to be tendered in evidence under this section the court may grant leave for a child witness to be cross examined at a pre-trial hearing in informal surroundings at which only--
(a) the judge;
(b) counsel for the parties;
(c) an appropriate adult to accompany the child as set out in the rules of court,
shall be present in the same room as the child.
(3B) At any pre-trial hearing the defendant shall be permitted to see and hear the proceedings and to communicate with his legal advisors by such means as shall be laid down by rules of court.
(3C) The pre-trial hearing of the cross-examination of the child witness shall be video recorded and the video recording shall, with leave of the court, be tendered in evidence before the jury."
(4) Subsection (5) shall be omitted.").

The noble Baroness said: I am in some difficulty here. Part of the difficulty has been that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and I had not fully understood Amendment No. 152 in the name of my noble friend Lady Blatch. Our Amendments Nos. 153 to 155 are at variance with the government amendment and we thought that it would be helpful if we discussed the matter first.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, that we should have had that discussion before the debate. However, the noble Baroness has been extremely busy and I have not been in the House, and this has all happened so quickly. I wanted to have the views of the Association of Directors of Social Services, the British Association of Social Workers, Barnados and research workers, but in the short time available that has not been possible. I have the views of some of those organisations, but I want to do them justice in the Chamber. It was for that reason that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and I do not wish to move the amendments on this occasion.

[Amendment No. 153 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 154 to 155A not moved.]

Clause 45 [Meaning of preliminary stage of criminal proceedings]:


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