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Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 193A:



"( ) an offence of indecent assault upon a female;"

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 193A, 193C and 193D update the list of Northern Ireland offences to which Clause 74—headed "Offences outside the United Kingdom"—will apply. That is necessary here as Sections 61 and 62 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, as referred to in the schedule, have recently been replaced by Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 respectively.

Amendment No. 193B is a necessary structural modification. Amendment No. 210B is a minor technical amendment which replaces an incorrect reference to "indecent assault against a female" to "upon a female". Amendments Nos. 201C, 201H and 201J harmonise the thresholds which apply to the statutory indecent assault offences across the genders. The same threshold will apply to Sections 52 and 62 of

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the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and to Article 19 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2002.

Amendments Nos. 201D and 201G are strictly technical in nature and modify references in the schedule to the age limits which the victim must fall within to trigger the operation of Part 2. In each case a reference to "under 18" is replaced by "17". Amendment No. 201K makes a similar replacement to a reference to age 18 and should be accepted. Amendments Nos. 201E and 201F are very minor and entirely consequential making necessary structural changes to the schedule.

Amendments Nos. 203 and 204 take account of the fact that Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 is drafted differently in application to Northern Ireland. Amendments Nos. 205 and 206 are consequential amendments arising from the proposed repeal of Sections 61 and 62 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Vagrancy Act 1898. Amendment No. 207 removes an unnecessary amendment to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1912. Amendments Nos. 208 and 209 make minor modifications to the Children and Young Persons Act (Northern Ireland) 1968 which are consequential on the extension of the prostitution offences from Part 1 of the Bill to Northern Ireland.

Amendment No. 210 inserts the new offences under Clauses 17, 22, 52 to 62, 69 and 70 from Part 1 of the Bill into Schedule 1 to the Children and Young Persons Act (Northern Ireland) 1968. Amendment No. 211 is consequential arising from the proposed repeal of certain offences from the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982. Amendment No. 213 represents a minor consequential amendment to the Criminal Justice (Children) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998. Amendment No. 214 inserts a reference to Clause 72 of the Bill into Schedule 1 to the Criminal Justice (Children) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998.

Amendment No. 217 is purely technical. Amendments Nos. 218 and 219 take account of the fact that Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 is drafted very slightly differently in application to Northern Ireland. Amendment No. 220 repeals Sections 61 and 62 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. They are replaced by Articles 19 to 21 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 which makes the offences of buggery and assault with intent to commit buggery at Articles 19 and 20 gender neutral.

Amendment No. 221 repeals the Vagrancy Act 1898 as a consequence of the offences contained in this Act being replaced by the gender neutral prostitution offences in Part 1 of the Bill which are extending to Northern Ireland. Amendment No. 222 is consequential in nature and repeals Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1912. This amendment arises from the extension of the prostitution offences from Part 1 of the Bill to Northern Ireland.

Amendment No. 223 represents a number of minor consequential amendments to the Magistrates Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 arising from the repeals proposed.

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Amendment No. 224 removes the reference to "gross indecency" in Article 2(2) of the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982, consequential to the repeal of Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. This amendment also repeals Article 3 of the 1982 Order, as that will be replaced by Article 19 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 and Article 7—a plainly discriminatory offence, as no such provision exists for similar situations in heterosexual relations. There is some evidence to suggest that that offence has fallen into disuse. Therefore it would seem sensible and appropriate to repeal it.

Amendment No. 225 repeals Article 10(2)(b) of the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982, which is about time limits on prosecutions. This is a consequential amendment arising from the proposed repeal of the Vagrancy Act 1898.

Amendment No. 226 removes the reference to "gross indecency" in Article 11(1) of the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982, which is consequential to the repeal of Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. This amendment also repeals Article 12(1) of the 1982 order, consequential on the proposed repeal of the Vagrancy Act 1898, and Article 13 as a direct consequence of the other repeals to the order.

Amendment No. 227 is consequential to the schedule to the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982 arising from the proposed repeal of the Vagrancy Act 1898. Amendment No. 228 is a consequential amendment to the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 arising from the repeals already in the Bill and now proposed in addition to the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982.

Amendment No. 230 represents a number of consequential modifications to existing repeals to Schedule 1 to the Criminal Justice (Children)(Northern Ireland) Order 1998. Those modifications arise from the proposed repeal of the Vagrancy Act 1898 and repeals, both already in the Bill and now proposed in addition, to the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982.

Amendments Nos. 231 and 232 make consequential modifications to existing repeals to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000. The additional repeals take account of the repeals now proposed. Amendment No. 234 repeals Article 19(4)(a) of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003. This subsection provides that consensual homosexual anal penetration does not occur in private and is hence an offence if there are more than two participants. No such restriction is placed on consensual heterosexual anal penetration. That is clearly discriminatory, so it seems sensible and appropriate to repeal that restriction.

I apologise for going through the amendments at such length but that detail may be helpful to noble Lords who are not in the Chamber. I beg to move.

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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the repeal of Northern Ireland sexual offences statutes seem precipitate when a consultation exercise has yet to take place. Has there been consultation on the statutes that are now being repealed?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I apologise to the Minister for raising a question on Amendment No. 183. Having spent some of the intervening minutes deciphering how that group of amendment works, I think that I understand. The noble and learned Lord need no longer write to me.

I shall be grateful for a further explanation of Amendment No. 207. What exactly is being rescued from oblivion and what will be the effect?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, perhaps I may reply in writing on that question instead of the earlier one.

In reply to the noble Baroness, the amendments deal with a number of statutory inequalities currently present in Northern Ireland law, as applied between homosexual and heterosexual offenders. Combined with the repeal already in Schedule 6, the total package will serve to address legitimate concerns among the homosexual community in Northern Ireland and increase its confidence in the criminal justice system. The work done by the Bill will be followed by a fundamental and comprehensive review of sexual offences in Northern Ireland, which will be underpinned by appropriate public consultation.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I questioned whether there has been consultation on the statutes that are now recommended for repeal.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, it is a limited series of reforms. I will write about the precise amount of consultation that has been done.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments Nos. 193B to 193D:


    Page 74, line 35, at end insert "or"


    Page 74, line 37, leave out sub-paragraphs (iii) and (iv).


    Page 75, line 24, after "children);" insert—


"( ) an offence under—
(i) Article 19 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 (S.I. 2003/1247 (N.I. 13)) (buggery),
(ii) Article 20 of that Order (assault with intent to commit buggery), or
(iii) Article 21 of that Order (indecent assault on a male);"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

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8.30 p.m.

Schedule 3 [Sexual offences for purposes of Part 2]:

Baroness Walmsley moved Amendment No. 193E:


    Page 76, line 7, leave out "18" and insert "16"

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving the amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 193F, 193G, 198A and 200A. They all relate to consensual homosexual sex in a situation that is no longer an offence, where people are still on the sex offenders' register from a time when such situations were offences. I tabled the same group of amendments in Committee, where the Minister gave me reason to feel optimistic that he would find a way of correcting that injustice and allowing those men to get on with their lives. The existence of their names on the sex offenders' register is a great obstacle to their getting jobs and other activities that are lawful and desirable.

I have retabled the amendments to give the Minister that opportunity and I hope he will be able to set my mind at rest about the future life opportunities of those men. I beg to move.


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