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Lord Cope of Berkeley: As the Minister emphasised, the importance of this offence is as much in its deterrent effect as anything. It is because of its deterrent effect that the offenders are difficult to catch in the act. They do their best to make sure that they are not caught in the act. They appear sometimes in Northern Ireland very briefly--at funerals, for example.

However, as the Minister acknowledged, the maximum penalty has been reduced in Northern Ireland in attempt to level out the matter. I am not sure

16 May 2000 : Column 278

that I personally agree with that. The noble Lord did not give a reason but said that it is a question of balance. Nevertheless, I shall not pursue the issue at this stage and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Lord Bach: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

        House adjourned at twenty-two minutes past nine o'clock.


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