Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Eleventh Report


SEXUAL OFFENCES BILL [HL]

INTRODUCTION

7.  Part 1 of this bill makes new provision for sexual offences. Part 2 of the bill deals with other matters relating to sex offenders and sexual offences (such as notification requirements and prevention orders) replacing, in particular, Part 1 of the Sexual Offenders Act 1997.

THE DELEGATED POWERS

8.  The delegated powers are described in the memorandum to the Committee from the Home Office. The memorandum is printed at Annex 2 to this Report. The powers are all conferred on the Secretary of State. But the combined effect of clause 127(5) of the bill and sections 29, 53 and 54 of the Scotland Act 1998 is that the powers are exercisable in relation to Scotland by Scottish Ministers.

Clause 23

9.  Clauses 18 to 22 create specific offences where a person is in a position of trust in relation to a child victim. Clause 23 defines what is meant by a position of trust and sets out seven specific situations. Clause 23(1)(b) gives the Secretary of State power, by order subject to affirmative procedure, to add to that list. The Committee accepts the need for such provision and considers that the affirmative procedure is an adequate safeguard.

Clause 88

10.  Clause 82 of the bill sets out the offenders who are subject to the notification requirements of Part 2 of the bill. Those requirements are set out principally in clauses 85(1), 86(1) and 87(1) and apply during the notification period set out in clause 84. Clause 88 enables the Secretary of State to make regulations, subject to affirmative procedure, requiring someone to whom the notification requirements apply also to be required to give notification before leaving the UK and on his return to the UK. The regulations can prescribe information which must be given. Failure to comply with a requirement imposed by the regulations is an offence (clause 93) carrying a maximum penalty on indictment of 5 years.

11.  The principle which Parliament is being asked to approve is clear from the bill and it is appropriate to leave the detail to regulations. The power is confined to information "about his departure … or his movements while outside the United Kingdom" (clause 88(2)(c)) and "about the offender's return" (clause 88(3)). The Committee therefore considers that the delegation and the level of scrutiny are appropriate.

Clause 117

12.  Schedules 2 and 3 set out lists of offences. Schedule 2 lists the offences which make an offender subject to notification requirements and liable to have a sexual offences prevention order made against him. Schedule 3 lists additional offences which make an offender liable to have a sexual offences prevention order made against him. Clause 117 allows the Secretary of State, by order subject to affirmative procedure, to amend these lists and includes power to add new offences. The Committee accepts that it is reasonable for these lists to be updated by subordinate legislation, and considers that the delegation and the level of scrutiny are appropriate.

Other Delegated Powers

13.  There are other delegated powers in clauses 89 (designation of police stations), 94 (form of certificate), 95 (information about release or transfer) and 126 (commencement), and the scope of rules of court is enlarged at clauses 98(3), 104(7) and 106(3). The Committee finds each of these delegations to be appropriate.

CONCLUSION

14.  There is nothing in the delegated powers in this bill to which the Committee wishes to draw the attention of the House.


 
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