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Lord Lucas: I return to the final point made by my noble friend Lady Blatch. My amendment has nothing to do with children; we are past that. It concerns adult prostitution. I understand her comments about making it more difficult. I favour the last group of amendments, which would eliminate "gain" entirely. If "gain" must be kept, maybe this is a useful adjunct for dealing with child cases whereby someone is making a child into a prostitute not for their own personal gain. Perhaps we can differentiate in the case of a mother looking after her child by inserting a phrase such as that suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner.

However, I agree very much with the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, that we need a proper and consistent basis for the law on prostitution. In conversation, as it were, I think that we all know where we are at. In the general sense, we do not want it to be a crime. We want the women to be safe. We do not want prostitution to be thrust in our faces as we walk around most parts of most cities. But if it is carried on decently in private, as a reasonable and consensual contract between adult individuals, we are prepared for it to exist. Given what goes on in the industry, we are particularly concerned that it should be a safe occupation for the women who find themselves in it.

A very important part of that issue is re-educating the police. The police use the current laws to prosecute the boyfriends, children and husbands of prostitutes. That is entirely unreasonable. It is a complete abuse of the

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intentions of Parliament and should not go on. Why is a prostitute not allowed to have a husband or a boyfriend? Because they happen to share accommodation or benefit in some way from the prostitute's earnings, why should that person be vulnerable to prosecution? But they are and they are prosecuted and persecuted by the police. That is an entirely unreasonable attitude. If a prostitute is carrying on her business in a manner with which we are content and she is not subject to abuse, force or coercion in any way, what she does with her money is up to her. If she chooses to support a fledgling who will not leave the nest or a boyfriend or a husband on the money that she earns, why should we seek to interfere with that?

Certainly, I address these amendments from the point of view of preventing the abuse of the current system by the police. I understand entirely the point made by my noble friend Lady Blatch about it presenting some difficulties in conviction. I think that if we are to have a system whereby prostitution is allowed to exist and women are safe in that occupation, we must bring an end to the persecution of their family arrangements by the police.

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: The Minister has skilfully employed his Caledonian mind to resist amendments. I think that he will be hard put to defend why this amendment should not be included. I look forward to hearing from him.

Baroness Noakes: I have added my name to Amendments Nos. 299 and 308, so ably moved by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester. I hope that he will not regard me as a turncoat if I say that I now favour Amendments Nos. 299A and 308ZA tabled by my noble friend Lord Lucas. I promise that this is not a party political issue. I consider that the formulation in the amendments proposed by my noble friend captures the element of exploitation which should be at the heart of any offences related to prostitution. Setting the Boundaries recommended that exploiting others by receiving money or reward from prostitutes should be an offence. It explains that that exploitation should relate to,


    "abuse, pressure, force, deception and coercion".

Those are the concepts at the heart of the amendments tabled by both noble Lords.

In their response to Setting the Boundaries, the Government said that there should not be an offence of exploiting others by receiving money from prostitutes because that would, for example, criminalise people who sold groceries to a prostitute. I wonder whether the Government really understood the point being made, which was about exploitation of a person through force. It was not about exploitation in the financial sense of transactions in the ordinary course of business. The Government might want to look at that aspect again.

I am concerned that the offences in Clauses 56 and 58 do not sufficiently recognise that prostitution is itself legal and that some of the ills that surround prostitution are those relating to forcing a woman into prostitution. That is the aspect on which we should concentrate.

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I echo the comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, in relation to a review of prostitution. Setting the Boundaries recommended a review but the Government only half agreed in their response and I am not quite sure how much they agreed. Will the Minister say whether there is to be a review of prostitution? If so, what will it entail and when might it occur?

Lord Monson: Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, I find the wording of Amendment No. 299 perfectly clear and unambiguous. The words would be a highly desirable addition to the Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, pointed out, Clause 56 refers to adult prostitution, unlike most of what we have been talking about today. Many of us will have read in the press during the past couple of months about respectable or respectable-seeming women in rural and suburban England turning occasionally to carefully-selected prostitution in order to pay their children's school fees. Of course, those who are doctrinally opposed to private education may consider this utterly shocking, but I doubt that the rest of us will worry too much about it. Clearly no force, fear or fraud is involved. Therefore, as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, said, it is ridiculous that the police should involve themselves in such matters. I heartily back these amendments.

Baroness Walmsley: I, too, have added my name to Amendments Nos. 299 and 308, although I would be perfectly happy if the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, were to be carried by the Committee. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, would be happy with that as well.

Both sets of amendments would enable genuinely voluntary sex workers to operate more safely and prevent them from coming into contact with the law quite so often, while at the same time enabling the police to bring charges against those who use threats and coercion. Violence is endemic in the sex industry and many very vulnerable women work in that sector. It is vital that we do all we can to protect them.

As the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, pointed out, despite Recommendation 53 in Setting the Boundaries for a full review of the laws covering prostitution, we have not yet seen such a review. We still have a good deal of piecemeal legislation which puts women at risk every day. I am sure that we do not want to add to that through this Bill while we wait for the full review.

Lastly, I wish to echo the question put by the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes. Can the noble and learned Lord reassure us that the review will take place before too long?

6.30 p.m.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The amendments tabled by both my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester and the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, seek in effect to limit the circumstances under which someone can be guilty of the offence of intentionally "causing or inciting" another person to become a prostitute. Clause 56 does not deal with the situation where someone is already working as

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a prostitute, but rather where a person is caused or incited to become one. As regards Clause 58, to which both of the amendments would also apply, they do not deal with the situation legitimately raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. A person should not become liable for a criminal offence if they were married or living with someone who also worked as a prostitute and the earnings are shared. In those circumstances the partner of the prostitute would not be someone intentionally controlling any of the activities that relate to prostitution.

The two criminal offences that we are dealing with are, first, where a person intentionally incites someone else to become a prostitute and, secondly, where someone controls the activities of a prostitute for gain. If the words,


    "the use of fear, force or fraud",

were to be introduced, then inevitably it would become extraordinarily difficult to prove either of those offences. The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, made that case most effectively in her remarks.

The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, pointed out that we are dealing with adults in these clauses and that prostitution is not a criminal offence. However, we believe that it is wrong to incite people to become prostitutes—I stress that it is wrong for one person to incite someone else to do so—and we believe that it is wrong intentionally to control for gain another person who works as a prostitute. To add the words suggested in the amendment would make both of those offences extremely difficult to prove. However, I do not stand only on the point of proof, I stand also on the point that the circumstances I have already described should be criminal offences.

My noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester made several points about the problems that arise with regard to prostitution and all noble Lords are right to say that they need to be looked at. That is why in Protecting the Public, published on 19th November last, we said that we would look to see what the scope of an appropriate review should be in all the issues surrounding prostitution and particularly—although not limited to it—the relationship between drugs and prostitution. We think that that is very important. I am not in a position today to say precisely what the scope of the review will be, but I hope that when we come to the Report stage I shall be able to tell your Lordships.


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