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Page 29, line 44, leave out ("(4)(a)") and insert ("(2)(a)").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, these are technical and consequential amendments to Clauses 48 and 50. They are necessary to correct the numbering of references to subsections in Clause 48 following amendments made to that clause at Committee stage. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am puzzled by those comments. I thought that renumbering took place as a matter of course after amendments had been introduced. I did not know that we needed separate amendments for the renumbering.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, if the noble Lord reads the amendment, it indicates that parts of the Bill need to be amended. For example, the first one reads,


and indicates consequential changes which need to be made to the Bill.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendments Nos. 101 and 102:


Page 29, line 46, leave out ("(4)(b)") and insert ("(2)(b)").
After Clause 48, insert the following new clause--

Restriction on reporting of assertions

(".--(1) Where a court makes an order under section 48(7) or (8) in relation to any assertion, at any time when the order has effect the assertion must not--
(a) be published in Great Britain in a written publication available to the public, or
(b) be included in a relevant programme for reception in Great Britain.

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(2) In this section--
"relevant programme" means a programme included in a programme service, within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990;
"written publication" includes a film, a soundtrack and any other record in permanent form but does not include an indictment or other document prepared for use in particular legal proceedings.
(3) For the purposes of this section an assertion is published or included in a programme if the material published or included--
(a) names the person about whom the assertion is made or, without naming him, contains enough to make it likely that members of the public will identify him as the person about whom it is made, and
(b) reproduces the actual wording of the matter asserted or contains its substance.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 49 [Reporting of assertions: offences]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendments Nos. 103 and 104:


Page 30, line 2, leave out ("48") and insert ("Restriction on reporting of assertions").
Page 30, line 33, leave out ("(9) and (10) of section 48") and insert ("(2) and (3) of section (Restriction on reporting of assertions)").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 50 [Reporting of assertions: commencement and supplementary]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 105:


Page 30, line 35, at end insert ("or (2)").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 100. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendments Nos. 106 and 107:


Page 30, line 39, after ("48") insert (" or (Restriction on reporting of assertions)").
Page 30, line 42, after ("48") insert ("or (Restriction on reporting of assertions)").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I have already spoken to these amendments. With the leave of the House, I shall move them en bloc. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

8.15 p.m.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 108:


After Clause 50, insert the following new clause--

("Child witnesses
Television links and video recordings

.--(1) In section 32 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (evidence through television links) the following subsections shall be inserted after subsection (3B)--
"(3C) Where--
(a) the court gives leave for a person to give evidence through a live television link, and
(b) the leave is given by virtue of subsection (1)(b) above,
then, subject to subsection (3D) below, the person concerned may not give evidence otherwise than through a live television link.

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(3D) In a case falling within subsection (3C) above the court may give permission for the person to give evidence otherwise than through a live television link if it appears to the court to be in the interests of justice to give such permission.
(3E) Permission may be given under subsection (3D) above--
(a) on an application by a party to the case, or
(b) of the court's own motion;
but no application may be made under paragraph (a) above unless there has been a material change of circumstances since the leave was given by virtue of subsection (1)(b) above."
(2) In section 32A of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (video recordings of testimony from child witnesses) the following subsections shall be inserted after subsection (6)--
"(6A) Where the court gives leave under subsection (2) above the child witness shall not give relevant evidence (within the meaning given by subsection (6D) below) otherwise than by means of the video recording; but this is subject to subsection (6B) below.
(6B) In a case falling within subsection (6A) above the court may give permission for the child witness to give relevant evidence (within the meaning given by subsection (6D) below) otherwise than by means of the video recording if it appears to the court to be in the interests of justice to give such permission.
(6C) Permission may be given under subsection (6B) above--
(a) on an application by a party to the case, or
(b) of the court's own motion;
but no application may be made under paragraph (a) above unless there has been a material change of circumstances since the leave was given under subsection (2) above.
(6D) For the purposes of subsections (6A) and (6B) above evidence is relevant evidence if--
(a) it is evidence in chief on behalf of the party who tendered the video recording, and
(b) it relates to matter which, in the opinion of the court, is dealt with in the recording and which the court has not directed to be excluded under subsection (3) above."
(3) This section applies where the leave concerned is given on or after the appointed day.
(4) The reference in subsection (3) to the appointed day is to such day as is appointed for the purposes of this section by the Secretary of State by order.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendment No. 108 provides for binding rulings to be made in relation to applications under Sections 32 and 32A of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 for a child witness to give evidence by live television link or by means of a video recording.

The House will be aware that these amendments were tabled at Committee stage, but not moved in order that discussions could take place on other possible changes to the child witness arrangements. The meeting which was held was primarily concerned with the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lady Faithfull and other noble Lords. So far as the Government's amendment was concerned, there was broad agreement that binding rulings were desirable.

Baroness David: My Lords, can the noble Baroness not speak quite so fast. It makes the proceedings exceedingly difficult to follow.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, it may be helpful to the House if I briefly explain the earlier background. The process of consultation which led to the provisions of the Bill dealing with binding rulings at pre-trial hearings also revealed that binding decisions in these cases would

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be generally welcome. If decisions can be taken at an early stage in proceedings, and if those decisions can be made to stick, there will be enormous benefits for the children concerned. They can be reasonably confident that they will be able to give their evidence by live television link or by video recording. They will be able to prepare themselves on that basis which is likely to make their evidence all the more valuable. It will be very much less likely that they will be faced at short notice, and with insufficient preparation, with the trauma of having to give evidence in court.

These are compelling arguments. It is clearly in the best interests of children that there should be as much certainty as possible about the manner in which they will be giving evidence. This new clause will help to reduce uncertainty. It seeks to ensure that, once a decision has been made that a child should give evidence by live television link or video recording, it cannot lightly be reversed. But we have retained some flexibility to take account of changes in circumstances. Either party to the proceedings will be able to make an application for the child to give evidence in person if there has been a material change in circumstances. The child might, for example, have a last minute change of heart about using the live television link. Judges will retain discretion to vary an earlier ruling if it appears to be in the interests of justice to do so.

These amendments reflect the Government's continuing determination to take whatever practical steps we can to improve the arrangements for child witnesses to give evidence. We are pursuing a range of other measures. There is not time to mention them all tonight; but it may be helpful to give some examples: exploring the role for the companion who accompanies the child when using the live TV link to put the child at ease and reduce stress; engaging the Criminal Justice Consultative Council in further consideration of practical measures to ease stress on children, such as improved arrangements for familiarising children with the court and preparing them for what to expect; further consideration of ways to reduce delays in dealing with child witness cases in the courts; supporting the preparation of a video on best practice in dealing with child witnesses, including the development of more suitable questioning techniques. We welcome that project in which the NSPCC and others are involved. Government departments, including the Home Office, have already promised £20,000 towards the costs. I am pleased to be able to announce today that the Home Office will be providing an additional £30,000 this financial year; encouraging best practice in the conduct of video recorded interviews to be used as evidence-in-chief; encouraging earlier applications and decisions on the use of TV links or video recordings; and action to improve the technical quality of video recordings in order to encourage their greater use in court.

This is not a comprehensive account of all the work in hand to improve the operation of the present arrangements. We monitor them carefully, and when we identify anything that will improve the situation for child witnesses we take action, as with this amendment.

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But I am convinced that radical change to arrangements put in place barely three years ago after extensive consultation, far from benefiting children, would be potentially harmful. Rather, we need to press ahead with practical improvements which we can be confident will benefit children. That is what this amendment achieves. I commend it to the House. I beg to move.


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