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Baroness Masham of Ilton: Perhaps I may put a question to the Minister, one that I wanted to put on a previous amendment. Is an international committee examining the problem of paedophiles? We were shown some truly horrific photographs by an organisation called Care. The pictures were of children who were much younger. The pictures even showed intercourse being conducted with babies. It was quite revolting. It is impossible to imagine how terrible are these things. The matter needs to be addressed.
Lord Bach: This is a sombre debate. The noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, and others who have spoken to the amendment have all pointed out that this is a serious matter that affects children more and more these days. Clearly all Members of the Committee will share that view.
The issue here is whether the specific amendment moved by the noble Baroness is appropriate. I have to tell the noble Baroness that the view of the Government is very much that which has been expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Monson.
We are sympathetic to the concern behind the amendment. Who could not be? However, the amendment ignores the age of consent and we believe that the proposed new age extension to 18 is impractical and unrealistic. Indeed, there is perhaps a large number of people who are lawfully married or involved in personal relationships at the ages of 16 and 17. As the noble Lord pointed out, some of them may choose to take personal photographs of each other. Surely it would be wrong to criminalise such activity. That would take the law far further than it should reach in this very difficult field.
The more extreme kind of material involving individuals between the ages of 16 and 18--the age group to which the noble Baroness has rightly drawn attention--is already covered by the Obscene Publications Act 1959; namely, if the material was deemed to be obscene under the terms of that Act, then the law would bite and a criminal conviction would follow.
The noble Baroness mentioned the United Nations protocol. I am afraid that I shall have to write to her separately on that point. I shall do so as soon as I can and I shall ensure that a copy of the letter is placed in the Library of the House.
So far as concerns international work, a point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, there is apparently a great deal of work being undertaken in this area in which the British Government are participating. Perhaps I may cite by way of example the international cyber-crime committee. If the noble Baroness would like more details, again I shall ensure that she is given them in writing. She nods; I take that as acceptance.
I have said all that I want to say on the amendment. While we are sympathetic to the thinking behind it, because of the practical consequences and the effect it would have on people conducting their own lives in their own ways, quite lawfully, we believe that the amendment is not appropriate and I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw it.
Baroness Seccombe: I am grateful to the Minister for his understanding of the amendment and thank him for it. I shall read what has been said very carefully and carry out some more background research. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 110, I shall speak also to government Amendments Nos. 111 and 112. I shall then invite other noble Lords to speak to their amendments in this group and reply to them in due course.
Amendments Nos. 110, 111 and 112 are minor amendments which would have the effect of changing the names of probation orders, community service orders and combination orders to, respectively, community rehabilitation orders, community punishment orders, and community punishment and rehabilitation orders--and this is the point--regardless of the date when the original orders were imposed. That is the purpose of the three amendments. Making the names of all the orders the same, irrespective of the date they were imposed, would help remove the possibility of confusion as to any differences between them. No doubt the issue of the change of name will arise during the course of the debate on amendments tabled by other noble Lords. I beg to move.
Lord Dholakia: As the Minister rightly pointed out, these amendments are grouped with Clause 38 stand part of the Bill, Clause 39 stand part of the Bill and Amendment No. 113, which is tabled in the names of my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford and myself.
Clauses 38, 39 and 40 concern the renaming of probation orders, community service orders and combination orders. We had an interesting debate on this matter during Second Reading. There is a fairly informed opinion among those who are responsible for operating these orders as to whether there is any necessity for changing the emphasis at this stage of the Bill.
There is quite often a tendency to look at the failures of some of the orders rather than to build on the successes of a large number of probation orders and community service orders which are actively and properly carried out up and down the country. I know--and I am sure that a number of others who have sat as magistrates know--that many times, when such orders are made, it is quite clear that a number of people perform their tasks in a fairly orderly manner and benefit from the order imposed by the court.
I believe that it is unnecessary at this stage to change the terminology. The phrase "probation order" has international recognition. Indeed, I understand from a number of people working in the probation field that some eastern European countries are currently setting up probation services, with probation orders based very much on the model in this country. The changes are presumably being introduced in order to enhance public knowledge and confidence. The term "community rehabilitation order" is far less clear than
Clause 39 concerns community service orders. Community service has a higher profile than I suspect the Home Office would care to admit. The community service order has been in existence in this country for the past 25 years. We do not believe that the public see it as voluntary work. This was apparent when community service orders were made last year on a number of high profile offenders. The public knew that those convicted persons were carrying out work for the community as an act of reparation, not punishment. We have always believed that community service should be positive and that the person on the order should see an increase in their self-esteem as a result of their contribution. If it is seen purely as negative and a punishment, this will not be achieved and it will be harder to engage with offenders on work schemes.
As regards Clause 40 and Amendment No. 113, we believe that the term "combination order" is clumsy and needs refinement. If the proposed name is used it will lead to those employed in supervising the order being held up to ridicule. They will become "punishment officers". The term is negative and punitive and will not assist in increasing the offender's self-esteem and, therefore, his chances of reintegration into society. We suggest that the combination order be renamed the "probation and community service order", which meets precisely the aim of these particular orders.
Baroness Hanham: The names of my noble friends are attached to Amendment No. 158 and to the notices of intention to oppose Clauses 38, 39 and 40 standing part of the Bill, to which the noble Lord has just spoken.
"What is in a name?", I think is the question behind these amendments. We think that all the names proposed are disappointing; they are very clumsy and they do little to explain what the orders represent. In fact, they probably do less to explain than the current orders.
I understand that at the moment a review is being undertaken of the renaming of sentencing orders as part of a review of the sentencing framework. It seems pointless to rename these orders at this stage and then possibly have to rename them again later on. The review may also allow an opportunity for better thought to be given as to what the orders should be called--if indeed it is necessary for the names to be changed. Perhaps the only reason to do so is to clarify the emphasis behind them.
We contend that renaming them at this stage does nothing to enhance the nature or the purpose of the orders. If the orders are to be reviewed anyway, this is an inappropriate moment to change names. I hope
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