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Lord Bassam of Brighton: This set of amendments addresses precisely the same arguments as those just discussed. Therefore, it is not necessary for me to rehearse all of them again. There are three main reasons why we do not think it right to adopt the approach of allowing the courts to disqualify anyone who commits one of the trigger offences in Schedule 4 from working with children.

As I believe is commonly accepted between us, disqualification has a serious impact on an offender's life. It should only be imposed where it is clearly justified by the underlying criminal offence. It is also essential for the disqualification to be imposed automatically on all serious offenders against children. As I said earlier, we believe that it is essential for the disqualification order to be awarded at the right level of court as regards these more serious offences.

We are entirely at one across the Dispatch Boxes on the serious nature of these offences. As I said in the earlier debate, this is a matter that we shall continue to keep under review; indeed, we do so at all times. However, we need to have a provision that is both proportionate and workable. We believe that the current scheme qualifies on both those points. For those reasons, I urge the Committee to reject this set of amendments.

Baroness Seccombe: The Minister's response is most disappointing. The situation whereby people like Gary Glitter would be able to work with children seems to me to be quite wrong. I note that the Minister said that the matter will be kept under review. It is true that an automatic disqualification in such circumstances would be in force for a certain time, but the convicted person could always make an application to the court to have it removed if he had not offended for a period of time.

We should be concentrating on the protection of children. Surely it is the job of this Chamber to ensure that children are fully protected. I shall read the Minister's response in Hansard and discuss it with my colleagues. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 90 to 93 not moved.]

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 94:

The noble Lord said: This amendment relates to a minor technical change to Clause 29. A guardianship order is properly defined in subsection (1) at line 35 on page 13. The reference to a "guardianship order" on page l4 at line 10 is, therefore, superfluous. We believe

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that removing that reference and adding "guardianship order" (as defined previously in the clause) as a separate meaning of a "qualifying sentence" will solve the problem. For those reasons, I ask the Committee to accept this small, technical government amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 95:

    Page 14, line 11, at end insert ("or

( ) a guardianship order,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 29 agreed to.

Clause 30 [Appeals]:

[Amendment No. 96 not moved.]

Clause 30 agreed to.

Clause 31 agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 97:

    After Clause 31, insert the following new Clause--


(" .--(1) This section applies where the Tribunal has directed under the provisions of section 31 that a disqualification order is to cease to have effect in respect of an individual.
(2) A relevant person may at any time apply to the Tribunal for the reinstatement of the disqualification order.
(3) An application under subsection (2) may only be granted if the Tribunal is satisfied, having regard to all the circumstances, that it is likely that the individual will commit a further offence against a child.
(4) Where the Tribunal reinstates an order under this section, it must state its reasons for doing so and cause those reasons to be included in the record of the proceedings.
(5) In this section, "relevant person" means--
(a) the Secretary of State;
(b) a superintendent of police;
(c) the director of social services of a local authority.").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment will test how serious the Government are about disqualification orders and about ensuring that people who are unsuitable to work with children are prevented from doing so. The amendment would allow the Secretary of State, a superintendent of police or the director of social services to seek a reinstatement of a disqualification order from a tribunal if it is believed that, following revocation of a disqualification order, a person poses a further threat.

The introduction of disqualification orders is welcomed. However, where a tribunal under the Clause 30 powers directs that a disqualification order ceases to exist and the individual concerned subsequently displays threatening behaviour, it is also important that the tribunal should be free to reinstate that order so as to protect children. At that point, the person will have spent his sentence and, therefore, he will have to commit another crime before the courts can intervene for a second time.

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The amendment would allow the courts to make a determination that such is the behaviour of someone who has had an order revoked that it qualifies him for reinstatement of the order. It is a reserve power and one that we all hope will be used infrequently. Nevertheless, these are potentially dangerous situations. We believe that such a provision would prove to be a serious child protection measure. I beg to move.

The Earl of Erroll: I believe this amendment to be most sensible for the simple reason that we always have this difficulty of the police saying, "We can't do anything because no offence has been committed". If used with extreme discretion, such a power would be useful.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I am intrigued by the noble Baroness's remarks. However, the record of this Government in trying to sort out what was something of a hotchpotch of legislation in this field of protecting children is of the highest order. The measures that we have brought forward have now begun to provide a consistent and coherent framework for protecting children; and, indeed, for driving home that important range of arguments, as well as ensuring that the public are aware of the importance of protecting children. Although there may have been some very good intentions in the area prior to this Government coming into office, coherent provisions such as those contained in the framework of this Bill were not available.

This amendment, a proposed new clause, would allow a disqualification order that had been removed by a tribunal to be reinstated by it. As the noble Baroness said, it would allow the Secretary of State, a superintendent of police or a director of social services to apply to the tribunal for the order to be reinstated.

The review process is strict. Reinstatement of the ban would constitute an additional penalty. The amendment adds nothing to the force and rigour of any of these processes and could in some circumstances undermine them. I fully understand why the noble Baroness moved the amendment. As I have argued, the Government share, and have done much to champion, the need to protect children and to ensure that those who should be disqualified remain so if any risk to children remains.

It is for that reason that once a person has been disqualified the process is heavily weighted so that he or she can achieve a lifting of the ban only if they can positively satisfy the tribunal that they no longer pose a risk to children. This is a strong and stern test and a substantial safeguard within the scheme. To allow the tribunal to reimpose the ban would not add to the safeguards for children. Moreover, it could potentially weaken the scheme. I am sure that that is not the noble Baroness's intention.

The amendment properly sets a high criterion for reimposition of the ban. Such a high criterion would indeed be necessary in the circumstances envisaged. However, the reinstated disqualification would appear

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to be a new penalty and Article 6(2) protections under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights seem properly justified.

But this statutory route to reimpose the ban could limit the ability to reimpose the ban through other routes such as by the Secretary of State. This is because the high criterion, which would rightly be essential for the tribunal to reinstate the disqualification order, might be read across to the other ways in which the person might be banned a second time without recourse to the reimposition of the order.

It may be helpful if I set out what these other ways would be. If a person from whom a disqualification order has been lifted gives further cause for concern there are three possible avenues of action. First, if he is working with children in the areas covered by education or health department bans, a ban could be reimposed by the same route as before if his conduct was sufficiently serious to merit his dismissal or removal from work with children.

Secondly, if he is a sex offender and begins to fall into his former ways, a sex offender order could be applied for; this could include a ban on working with children. Finally, if he were a violent offender, the precursor activity might itself be criminal; alternatively, an anti-social behaviour order might be sought.

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