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'6B. STATEMENTS AND DEPOSITIONS

ChapterShort titleExtent of repeal
1925 c.86. Criminal Justice Act 1925. Section 13(3).
1965 c.69. Criminal Procedure (Attendance of Witnesses) Act 1965. In Part I of Schedule 2, the entry relating to the Criminal Justice Act 1925.
1967 c.80. Criminal Justice Act 1967. Section 7.
1980 c.43. Magistrates' Courts Act 1980. In Schedule 7, paragraph 63.

These repeals have effect in accordance with provision made by the Secretary of State by order under Schedule (Statements and depositions) to this Act.'

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 113 to 124. These amendments to the repeals schedule are all consequential on other amendments made to the Bill in the Commons.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 113 to 124.--(Baroness Blatch.)

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Viscount Colville of Culross: My Lords, the noble Baroness may be able to help some of us who must administer the course of justice. Now that we have reached this stage of the Bill, does the Minister have any idea when the major procedural amendments are likely to be brought into force? A good deal of preparation needs to be done and it would help all concerned, in particular in the Crown Courts but also in the magistrates' courts, to have an idea of the timetable which the Government have in mind.

These provisions will be an enormous help in getting cases on, organised in time and brought before juries so that they can be properly considered. Any indication so that we can make some planning arrangements in the various courts would be greatly welcomed.

Lord Renton: My Lords, following on from what the noble Viscount said, we should bear in mind that the embodiment of the amendments in the Bill will require immense care and take a great deal of time. That is a factor that should be borne in mind perhaps in favour of the Government because it will need very great care.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, a great deal of work is already underway in the department. The code of practice is almost ready to go out in its final draft form for consultation. The timescale that we are looking at is early 1997. We bear two points in mind. Of course this should be done as soon as is practicable but we must ensure that the work is done properly. Therefore, with an eye on both those objectives, we are looking at the early part of 1997.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Sexual Offences (Conspiracy and Incitement) Bill

5.47 p.m.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord Pilkington of Oxenford.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne) in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Conspiracy to commit certain sexual acts outside the United Kingdom]:

On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Hylton: I must apologise for not having been present on Second Reading but I was detained in Somerset. I should like to welcome the Bill because it goes part way towards fulfilling this country's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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I understand that someone in, for example, Bangkok or Manila who sends a fax or an Internet message with details of children for sale in those places to individuals in the United Kingdom would be causing incitement under the Bill and would therefore be liable to arrest if and when he came to the United Kingdom. That is a small advance on the present position.

Your Lordships may know that I have a parliamentary interest in this matter since the House has twice approved my Bill which provided extra-territorial jurisdiction for the United Kingdom courts in relation to the sexual abuse of children taking place overseas.

I do not in any way seek to delay the passage of the Bill and I shall not be pressing this Motion. However, I should like to ask the Government some questions of which I have given notice. I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Courtown, will be able to tell me what progress is being made in relation to the Government's review of extra-territorial jurisdiction, especially in relation to sexual offences committed overseas against people under the age of 18.

Secondly, will the Minister tell me whether the strong legal opinions in favour of such jurisdiction expressed in the course of several debates in your Lordships' House are being taken into account? Finally, will the noble Earl say when the review will be brought to an end or carried through to a conclusion; whether its results or conclusions will be announced; and, in particular, whether they will be published? I should be grateful for a reply to those questions.

The Earl of Courtown: Clause 1 of the Bill introduced by my noble friend Lord Pilkington will give the police and courts an additional weapon to use against those who sexually abuse children overseas. It is right that Parliament should enact measures which penalise preparatory acts committed in this country in support of these perverted activities abroad. The removal of Clause 1 from the Bill as proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, would lead to the Bill's impact being diluted, although I acknowledge what he said in his speech concerning not pressing his opposition to Clause 1. That removal would be unacceptable and, therefore, the Government cannot support it.

As he said, the noble Lord did indeed give me warning of the points that he was going to raise. I greatly appreciate that fact. The noble Lord asked what progress was being made on the Government's review of extra-territorial jurisdiction, especially in relation to sexual offences against people under 18 committed overseas. I understand that good progress is being made in the review. So far as concerns its conclusion, I can tell the noble Lord that it remains the hope of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary that we shall announce the Government's conclusions, in the light of the review, before the House rises for the Summer Recess. The noble Lord also asked whether the results of the review would be made public. I shall have to write to him on that matter.

The noble Lord asked whether we were taking into account the views expressed in this and the other place,

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as well as those expressed outside. The review has, of course, taken full account of the arguments in favour of extra-territorial jurisdiction which have been expressed not only by Members of this Chamber in past debates on the issue--and which the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, expressed again this evening--but also by honourable Members in another place, voluntary organisations and others working in the field. Those arguments have of course to be set against the considerable difficulties which have always existed in taking wider jurisdiction. Whatever the outcome of the review, it is unlikely to change our view that the best way of dealing with offending abroad is by enabling foreign authorities to bring prosecutions in their own countries, wherever possible.

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In conclusion, we support the Bill. I congratulate my noble friend Lord Pilkington on--it is to be hoped--the successful completion of the Committee stage.

Lord Hylton: I am most grateful to the noble Earl for his reply. In passing, perhaps I may just remark that it would be most satisfactory if the results of the review could be made available before the start of the World Congress on Commercial Child Sexual Exploitation which takes place in Stockholm at the end of August. I beg leave to withdraw my opposition to the Question that Clause 1 stand part.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Remaining clauses and schedule agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported without amendment; Report received.

        House adjourned at seven minutes before six o'clock.


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