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Lord Hylton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, and the noble Lord, Lord Meston, for what they have just said. I thank the Minister for his letter to me of 29th March, for his Written Answer of yesterday, and for what he has just said about future guidance to professionals about the great need for inter-agency co-operation.

It seems to me that enough has been said on Report and today to alert both Houses of Parliament and the wider public to the serious evils of child prostitution in England and Wales, and, I think I can confidently say, in Scotland also.

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The problems connected with child prostitution often start with suspension or exclusion from school, as I tried to indicate in a letter to The Times which was published soon after the Bill's Second Reading. Family violence, family break-up, remarriage and bullying of all kinds, all contribute to running away from home or other places, which often ends in prostitution. The taking into care of children, alas, does not always solve the problems that it seeks to address.

There is need for more sensitivity and listening and for better inter-agency and inter-professional team work. Relationships of trust are needed to prevent juvenile crime. I commend to your Lordships and to Her Majesty's Government the conclusions of the 1996 Stockholm Conference (World Congress against the Sexual Exploitation of Children) together with recent publications by the Children's Society and Barnardos, particularly Child Prostitution in Britain, edited by David Barrett.

I do not believe that it can be left to voluntary organisations alone to meet all the needs which are not covered by the provisions made by central and local government. An existing network is available to prevent and cope with child prostitution; namely, the area child protection committees which cover the whole country. Will the Government give them new and wider guidelines and greater resources in those places where child prostitution is most concentrated? Will they strengthen those groups set up by the Association of Chief Police Officers, which include the Department of Health, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office? Will they ask that group to report as a matter of urgency?

At this time of day and in this situation, I do not intend to press the amendment. I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 17 not moved.]

Clause 35 [The Youth Justice Board]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 18:


Page 27, line 20, at end insert ("following matters, namely--
(i) the").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer indicated on 19th March, responding to an amendment tabled by the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, that the Government wish to broaden the functions of the youth justice board established under Clause 35 in identifying and promoting good practice and commissioning research.

As currently drafted, subsections (5)(f), (g) and (h) of Clause 35 enable the board to identify and promote good practice in the operation of the youth justice system and the provision of youth justice services; to make grants to local authorities and other bodies to develop, or commission research into, good practice in working with young offenders; and itself to commission such research.

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Amendments Nos. 18, 19 and 20 will extend these provisions to enable the board to identify and promote, and make grants and commission research in respect of, good practice in the operation of the youth justice system and the provision of youth justice services; preventing offending by children and young people; and working with children and young people who are, or are at risk of becoming, offenders. This will give the board a broad scope to identify and support good practice in the youth justice field and thereby raise standards in work to prevent and address youth offending. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I am pleased to see this group of amendments. I must thank my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford for drafting Amendment No. 19. It is better than my solution, which was to reprint all 16 pages of Part III of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. Another rainforest has been saved. The amendments do not quite implement the children's panel in England, but I am pleased that some aspects may be incorporated because research into the Scottish system is allowed.

I wish to pose two questions, although I know that they cannot be answered today because we must watch what happens after the enactment of the Bill. Fast tracking is an intention of the Bill as regards youth justice. Is it possible to have a fast track without by-passing the due process? I continue to cite the children's panel as a system able to by-pass that.

As regards paragraph (g), can a local authority study the children's panel system and implement it? I realise that that question cannot yet be answered, but it will be interesting to see how many varieties of the youth justice system evolve.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 19 and 20:


Page 27, line 22, at end insert--
("(ii) the prevention of offending by children and young persons; and
(iii) working with children and young persons who are or are at risk of becoming offenders;").
Page 27, line 24, leave out from ("develop") to second ("and") in line 26 and insert ("such practice, or to commission research in connection with such practice;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to these amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 37 [Time limits]:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 21:


Page 28, line 43, after ("magistrate") insert--
(ii) a postponement which is occasioned by the ordering by the court of separate trials in the case of two or more accused or two or more offences;").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this is an amendment to Clause 37 which makes provision in relation to time limits. We believe that time limits can serve as a effective reinforcement of the new improved case management measures which we are also

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introducing in this Bill. We plan to introduce the new regime of time limits, after piloting, once those new procedures are in place.

One of the essential changes we are making to the existing regime is to tighten the court's discretion to grant extensions to time limits. The existing provisions in the 1985 Act allow the court a wide discretion in deciding whether to extend time limits. We know from the operation of existing custody time limits that extensions are not infrequently granted.

We believe that the criteria for extension need to be made more prescriptive for the new time limits regime to have any teeth. That is why Clause 37 as it stands prevents the court from granting an extension unless it is satisfied that the cause of any delay is due to illness or absence of the accused, a necessary witness or a magistrate or judge, or to some similar situation covered by the interpretation of "good and sufficient cause", and that the prosecution has acted with all due diligence as well as expedition.

However, this amendment introduces an additional specific reason which we consider might legitimately justify an extension to a time limit, and that is the court's ordering of separate trials for a single defendant charged with more than one offence or for co-defendants jointly charged. The discretionary power to order separate trials is exercised where, for example, the court considers that defendants may be prejudiced or embarrassed in their defence as a result of a single trial. Without the proposed amendment, where the court orders separate trials, there is a risk that the time limit might expire before the later trial. The effect of that would be that the proceedings would be stayed or, if the defendant were in custody, he would be released on bail. The ordering of separate trials is an issue over which the prosecution has no control and it is only right that the proceedings should not be stayed or the defendant released if a trial were postponed for that reason.

We believe that, with the inclusion of this amendment, the new provisions for extending time limits strike the proper balance between tightening up the existing criteria to ensure that time limits genuinely bite, and allowing the courts the necessary flexibility to allow more time. No extension to time limits should be granted unless the court is satisfied that the need for an extension is due to one of the specified reasons, or to a similar situation, or to a real difficulty which is not the result of any inefficiencies of practitioners or of the courts themselves. This is an important point. There may be good and sufficient reasons other than those specified on the face of the Bill for granting extensions in individual cases. For example, any court which did not allow more time at the proper request of the defence, where any delay was not due to time wasting or inefficiency, would be liable to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. But we want courts to take a tough line on adjournments, and we do not expect the stringency of the new time limits regime to be eroded by routine granting of adjournments at the request of either of the parties. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Clause 43 [Powers of magistrates' courts exercisable by single justice etc.]:


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