HC Deb 18 December 1996 vol 287 cc970-81 4.45 pm
Mrs. Helen Liddell (Monklands, East)

I beg to move amendment No. 27, in page 7, leave out line 10 and insert— '(1) Sections 1 and 2 extend to England and Wales and Scotland (1A) Sections 3 to 7 extend to England and Wales only'. The purpose of the amendment is to create a separate criminal offence in Scotland, although I regret to say that the Secretary of State for Scotland has said that he views it as a wrecking amendment. That is not our intention at all. We view it as an opportunity to correct some of the shortcomings which have become apparent in Scottish law and which will become even more obvious if the Bill receives Royal Assent and is implemented in England and Wales.

The subject matter of the debate has been gone over extensively in recent weeks in the House, when my hon. Friends the Members for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) and for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) have made broadly similar points in relation to the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill. I agree with what the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mrs. Maddock) said last night about the Government stretching the good will of Members of this House to the very limit. We have co-operated to the best of our ability to get the legislation on the statute book as quickly as possible, so it is regrettable that Scottish Office Ministers did not see fit to consult the Opposition on the aspects of the Bill that relate to Scots law. There are nevertheless a number of alterations that we would want to make to the Bill.

The situation in Scotland will be measurably different from that in England and Wales following enactment of the legislation. I should like to draw attention to the great success of my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Ms Anderson), whose persistent efforts have ensured that this legislation is before the Committee today. The problem remains that men and women in Scotland will assume that there is a separate crime of stalking in Scotland even though there will be none.

Much has been made of the fact that the Scottish common law breach of the peace offence is supposedly sufficient to cover the crime of stalking or harassment. It is my contention—and that of a number of the victims of stalking—that that law is not in itself sufficient to deal with the problems created by such harassment. There is a tinge of complacency in the attitude of the Government and of some members of the legal profession when it comes to how the law on breach of the peace can operate in Scotland, and to the penalties that can be handed down as a result.

I stress that it is only because the official Opposition have done all in our power to get the Bill through as quickly as possible that we have managed to come thus far in less than 24 hours; it remains a matter of regret that the Bill's provisions will do little to change the law in Scotland. The Law Society of Scotland has written to the Minister responsible for home affairs and health at the Scottish Office, to say that it has considered the measure and notes that the Scottish clauses effectively restate, in modern terminology, the existing law which offers protection from harassment by way of assault. It is important that we look further than the existing law in seeking to protect the victims of harassment in Scotland.

Not being a lawyer myself, I have taken advice from, among others, the university of Strathclyde department of law. I was interested in comments by Professor Alan Miller, a visiting professor at the university of Strathclyde and also the chairman of the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties. Professor Miller is of the view that, in so far as the Bill covers harassment, it does not add to existing remedies already available in Scots law, and he makes the important point—I ask the Committee to reflect on it seriously—that the Bill probably would not be used by practitioners, who would continue to seek interdicts.

I hope that the Minister will respond to Professor Miller's further point that, if the law were used, it would certainly have resource implications for a diminishing civil legal aid budget. The nature of the legislation is to seek civil redress for the person who has been subjected to harassment. The dictum from Dicey that justice is open to all, like the Ritz, applies as much in Scotland as it does south of the border. Those who have resources can take court action: those who do not have resources need to apply for legal aid. We already know that there is what could be described as a crisis in civil legal aid in Scotland. It is the view of the Law Society and of Professor Alan Miller that the Bill would not substantially alter the law in Scotland, and the Bill could also lull people into a false sense of security.

We have also to bear it in mind that one important aspect of the legislation, which has been mentioned by right hon. and hon. Members, is its deterrent impact. Many of the people who commit harassment or stalking do not believe that they are doing anything wrong. Some of them are psychologically disordered, but some think that they are doing nothing more than pursuing a vigorous courtship. The distress that they can cause to their victims is considerable and it needs to be made clear to people, by making it a separate offence, that stalking or harassment is an unacceptable form of behaviour. If that were done, it would be of enormous assistance to the police and the victims. In particular, Victim Support has made it clear that a separate crime would greatly assist the prosecution of those guilty of harassment.

I notice that the Government have drawn attention to the fact that, in Scotland, a specific statutory right to be free of harassment has been created. That right looks nice on paper, but it is the view of the eminent Scottish lawyer Alastair Bonnington, who is a lecturer in criminal procedure, that it is about as worthwhile as giving a woman a right not to he raped. It is no more than the expression of a pious hope that such conduct will cease. It is important to give those who are victims of harassment and stalking a clear message that goes beyond a pious hope that such behaviour will end.

Scottish Members will be aware of two significant cases that have appeared before the Scottish courts recently. One relates to Ms Louise Durie, who lives in the Ayrshire village of Waterside and was, for nine months, vigorously pursued by her next-door neighbour. She suffered appalling harassment, as did her partner. The harassment was even made worse when charges were made against Mr. Pickering, who was the harasser, and he was released on bail and returned home to pursue his harassment. Louise Durie's experience was recounted extensively in the Scottish press. She came to believe that Scottish law—and, indeed, English law—should be changed immediately to make stalking a specific criminal offence with heavy penalties, in order to deter those who would make others suffer in the way that she had suffered. Ms Durie said that, although she had been through "months of hell", it appeared that the man involved faced only a short gaol term.

Ms Durie drew attention to the need for her tormentor to undergo a course of counselling—which he did not undertake—as a result of his offences. She recognised that he was in need of some psychological assistance. Ms Durie made a very important point in relation to the Secretary of State for Scotland, who she said cannot begin to imagine the living hell which victims go through. If he could, then legislation would be through in a flash. It is often assumed that women are the only victims of stalking and harassment. However, another very important case in Scotland concerns a couple: Professor Reggie von Zugbach and his wife Susanna. They were the victims of a disturbed academic who was jealous of their marriage. In a letter to the von Zugbachs, he wrote: God has allowed you to go into this marriage with one purpose … namely to break you, because there is no other way. The perpetrator was arrested in connection with the offences and charged with breach of the peace, but, when a file was returned from the procurator fiscal, it was marked "no further action". As a result of his experiences, Professor von Zugbach—who is an author, a former Army major and a lecturer in management studies at Paisley university—is campaigning for a change in the law governing stalking. If I describe some of the incidents that he suffered, I think that hon. Members will understand why.

Mrs. von Zugbach's ordeal began in 1992 when she rejected an approach from a man she had just met. Shortly after that, in the normal course of such matters, she was bombarded with flowers and threats. It reached the point where she was receiving 100-page letters. She fled to Germany with her husband. While they were in Germany, on the anniversary of Mrs. von Zugbach's first meeting with the harasser, Professor Zugbach's car was blown up and he was led to believe that the perpetrator was none other than the harasser. Professor von Zugbach has praised the police for their efforts, but he makes it clear that the law in Scotland appears inadequate to deal with cases of alleged stalking. He said: I used to agree that the breach of the peace laws were sufficient to deal with the problem, but now I realise this is not true". A major problem with breach of the peace law relates to the nature of the sentences passed. In many cases, severe custodial sentences are required not only as a deterrence but in order to stop someone who will not take no for an answer. However, of the breach of the peace cases that have appeared before Scottish courts in recent years, only 6 per cent. led to custodial sentences. Only two cases appeared before the High Court—the most solemn court, where more significant sentences may be handed down. It is unfortunate that those who suffer harassment and stalking cannot take comfort from the knowledge that their perpetrator will receive a severe sentence.

Like many Scots, I am proud of the nature of the Scottish legal system. However, there is a danger of making breach of the peace a catch-all offence, which is too diverse and lacking in specifics. Similar arguments were advanced when hon. Members discussed the need to introduce vandalism legislation and, as a consequence, it was declared a separate offence.

The many people in Scotland who suffer from harassment are entitled to be reassured that there will be a separate criminal offence that carries clear and distinctive sentences to act as a deterrent and a punishment. That view was put many times by my hon. Friends long before I entered the House. It has been put more widely in the Scottish community, by the police, victims and lawyers involved in such cases.

I urge the Government to accept the amendment. Notwithstanding the pressures to get the Bill through as quickly as possible, the Opposition feel sufficiently strongly about this matter to put the amendment to the vote. I urge the Minister of State to take into account the wide range of opinion in Scotland. This unpleasant and heinous crime should be dealt with seriously so as to make the job of the police much easier, and a more clearly prescribed sentence should be available.

5 pm

Ms Roseanna Cunningham (Perth and Kinross)

I am a little concerned about the amendment, not because I disagree with the sentiments that have been expressed, but because I wonder whether it is absolutely necessary.

I want to make a few points about breach of the peace generally. At the moment, the definition of a breach of the peace is wide and flexible. People in Scotland can be charged for harassment and stalking under the category of a breach of the peace.

The hon. Member for Monklands, East (Mrs. Liddell) is right to say that there is a big problem with the general public's perception of the seriousness with which the matter is being dealt with. The difficulty is that a breach of the peace can, in theory, encompass serious as well as minor incidents. However, in practice, the approach has been to charge people who have committed minor incidents with a breach of the peace, so it is perceived as a minor offence. That is unfortunate, although it could be changed within the terms of existing law. It would require some discussion between those concerned, the Crown Office and the bench to avoid a breach of the peace being merely a bit of shouting and arguing on the street corner, which I suspect is what most people think of as a breach of the peace.

That matter was discussed in the Standing Committee considering the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill. A new clause was discussed and subsequently withdrawn. I would have been slightly happier with that new clause, because it was more detailed, related directly to Scotland and was not simply tacked on in this fashion.

As the Minister may remember, in that debate in Committee, I expressed my reservation about a breach of the peace. I realise that I may have to repeat some of what I said in Committee. When an individual is convicted, the judge has before him or her a schedule of previous convictions. The judge will consider those convictions before coming to a view on an appropriate disposal—I suspect that that happens in most cases. The difficulty with a breach of the peace is that it only ever shows as that: there is no specification on the schedule that would alert the judge to conduct that may have begun to develop. That is one of the biggest drawbacks.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)

I followed up that matter with the Lord Advocate. He has confirmed that it should be possible to include "harassment" in brackets after "breach of the peace" in the schedule of previous convictions. He is actively considering that possibility with a view to implementing it. I shall say more about that later. The hon. Lady's point has been acted on, and is being considered urgently.

Ms Cunningham

I am grateful to the Minister for that statement. That will help enormously. One of the difficulties with harassment is that it can be a number of apparently trivial incidents that together cause the problem. If that change were made to the existing practice and procedure, it would make a very big difference. It needs no change in the law to achieve that, but it will allow a judge to assess that crime more seriously. I look forward to hearing from the Minister when that change will take place. In view of his statement, I shall cut short my remarks.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

The motive behind the amendment is entirely proper. I do not consider it a wrecking amendment, and if that was said, it was a wholly misplaced comment. However, having spent a little time examining the history of the law of breach of the peace and the current law as presently stated in the most recent codification of the laws of Scotland, I have come reluctantly but firmly to the view that the amendment is misplaced.

When the hon. Member for Monklands, East (Mrs. Liddell) spoke about breach of the peace, she failed to understand the flexibility of the law in Scotland on common law crime, and the extent to which it has developed since its original 18th or early 19th-century formulation. The basis for the use of the crime of a breach of the peace is to allow sufficient flexibility to deal with a range of situations that have as their consequence the alarm or distress of a number of people or of an individual. I suspect that the problems that the hon. Lady outlined so eloquently are related not to the nature or state of the law, but to the willingness of the police or the procurator fiscal to take proceedings against individuals.

We should also bear in mind the fact that, if we create a such a crime, it will be established only by the use of corroborated evidence. The hon. Lady said that some people may have recourse to an interim interdict. There are good and understandable reasons for that. First, an interim interdict can be obtained before a judge literally at half an hour's notice.

Secondly, it can be obtained on the basis of ex parte statements—the legal representative appears on behalf of the pursuer. I am hopeful that we may at last educate some Conservative Members—the "pursuer" in Scotland is the term used for the person whom they call the "plaintiff". This is supposed to be the United Kingdom, but I am deeply disappointed that some of the Government's Back-Bench Members are not so immersed in the unity of the kingdom that they understand even the most basic terms used in Scottish law.

The representative of the pursuer, by stating a sufficiently forceful case, can obtain an interim interdict. Indeed, it can be obtained outwith the presence of the person against whom it is directed. Furthermore, any breach of an interdict—whether interim or permanent—is a contempt of court, and is capable of being dealt with by fine or imprisonment.

The Minister will recall that we changed the civil evidence rules in Scotland in 1990 when we removed the requirement for corroboration in civil cases. An interim interdict can be obtained on the basis of an ex parte statement at half an hour's notice and without the need for corroboration. It is not surprising that, faced with an urgent case, one adopts that route rather than attempting to invoke the use of the police and a prosecution, because that requires investigation, arrest, appearance in court, committal for trial and all the procedures that follow thereon. There is therefore something to be said for interim interdict.

In two cases—Montgomery v. McLeod 1977. with which I am sure the Minister is more than familiar, and Young v. Heatley 1959—the breadth of the application of the existing crime of breach of the peace is set out succinctly. The former states: There is no limit to the kind of conduct which may give rise to a charge of breach of the peace. All that is required is that there must be some conduct such as to excite the reasonable apprehension to which we have drawn attention, or such as to create disturbance and alarm to the lieges in fact". The language is somewhat Victorian; a liege is simply a citizen.

According to the latter case: Breach of the peace, however, is an offence the limits of which have never been sharply defined. It is so largely in each case a question of circumstances and of degree". In the course of my researches, I encountered a further case, which, unhappily, is not reported. I refer to Mackie v. McLeod 1961, with which the Minister may also be familiar. The circumstances are interesting. The accused person became infatuated with a young woman whom he hardly knew, and formed the habit of waiting outside her place of employment, looking at her and then following her and her fiancé for some part of their time together. He was convicted of breach of the peace. An appeal was taken, on the grounds that the facts disclosed in the evidence did not justify the conviction, but the conviction was upheld by the High Court. That may not be the most extreme instance of stalking, but it seems to me to contain substantially the elements of stalking, and I consider it a clear indication that the law has been seen to be adequate to deal with the problem.

As for bail and the particular case to which the hon. Member for Monklands, East referred, it would have been open to the judge in granting bail—I am surprised that this did not happen—to make it a condition of bail that the person granted it did not go back to live next door to the alleged victim. If that condition had been applied and had then been breached, the individual could have been brought back to court, bail could have been revoked and he could have been kept on remand in prison until such time as it was appropriate to deal with his case.

What is significant is not the state of the law but the state of willingness of those responsible for the administration of the law—the police in the first instance, and the procurator fiscal service in the second. That lies at the heart of some of the difficulties outlined by the hon. Lady.

I fear that, if the amendment were passed, it might achieve the opposite of what is intended. At present, if charges are brought under the crime of breach of the peace, there is a degree of flexibility and discretion. Indeed, some argue that the degree of discretion is too great, but that is not an argument that we are considering today. If the crime of harassment is created in Scotland, there may well be cases in which the borderline is drawn in such a way that a person who would otherwise be convicted of breach of the peace will be acquitted of harassment.

Although the hon. Lady's motive is not to be challenged in any way, and despite her obvious concern and the time and trouble that she took in preparing her speech, she has not appreciated the precise nature of the crime of breach of the peace in Scottish law. If the amendment were accepted, it might actually make the conviction of those guilty of harassment more difficult than it is in Scotland.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) made an excellent speech. It is a few years since I acted as his junior counsel in a murder case, which he conducted admirably. I agree with everything that he said. He was right to say that the motive of the hon. Member for Monklands, East (Mrs. Liddell) is good. I have great sympathy with her purpose, but I do not think that amendment No. 27 is the best means of achieving it.

The amendment is unnecessary. In Scotland, any conduct that causes or is likely to cause alarm, annoyance or upset will always be criminal, as the common law offence of breach of the peace. Watching someone, following that person, sending unwanted letters or gifts or attempting to contact the person in any way can give rise to a charge of breach of the peace if the target of such conduct is alarmed, annoyed or upset by it. No statutory offence of harassment is needed.

Breach of the peace is broad and flexible as an offence. Indeed, it is certainly as wide as the lower-level harassment offence that the hon. Lady now seeks to introduce in Scotland. As a common law offence, it incurs a maximum penalty of life imprisonment following a conviction or indictment in the High Court. The creation of statutory offences with statutory minimum penalties will not enable stalking to be dealt with either more effectively or more severely than it is already dealt with in Scotland. No changes are required to Scottish criminal law in that regard.

5.15 pm

Like the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East, I would be concerned about the effect of the amendment on the structure of the criminal law in Scotland. The lower-level offence and the higher-level offence of putting people in fear of violence are part of a package for England and Wales. Importing the lower-level offence to Scotland would result in prosecutions for less serious conduct being brought under the statutory offence, but where more serious conduct was involved, prosecution would have to be brought under the common law. The lower-level offence would be triable summarily, and would involve a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment.

In the debate on the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill, the Opposition agreed that the sentencing powers of the sheriff summary court should be increased to allow six months' imprisonment. The lower-level offence would fall squarely within the sheriffs' summary jurisdiction. Its introduction would therefore not result in harassments being taken more seriously, or in the imposition of tougher sentences.

The Bill does not make any changes in Scottish criminal law, because there is no need to do so. The existing law works. In Scotland, any conduct that causes alarm can be dealt with as a breach of the peace. Sentences are at the discretion of the court, but the maximum available penalties for breach of the peace are much greater than those proposed for a statutory offence. Nothing would be gained by creating such an offence.

Stalking is rightly taken very seriously. A circular was issued by the Crown Office to all procurators fiscal to re-emphasise the Lord Advocate's concern that cases of alleged stalking should be accorded priority. It said that careful consideration should be given to the court venue, so that cases are brought on indictment if appropriate, and that all offending behaviour should be libelled, not just the most recent incident.

Breach of the peace is a wide-ranging offence, and that has great advantages. It deals with the most minor offences, which would not warrant custodial sentences, but would also tackle the most serious examples of alarming conduct. Custodial sentences are imposed. In a three-year period between 1992 and 1994, 3,063 people received such sentences for breach of the peace. That shows that it is certainly not a trivial offence for which everyone gets just a slap on the wrist.

The hon. Lady raised the Durie case. I cannot agree with her suggestion that the existence of a statutory offence would have resulted in that case being treated more seriously. Summary proceedings were taken, which meant that the sheriff could impose up to three months' imprisonment. Once the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill is enacted, that will increase to six months—the same maximum penalty as for the lower-level harassment offence. Since the Durie case, new powers have come into existence for the Lord Advocate to appeal against sentences that are too lenient.

The hon. Member for Perth and Kinross (Ms Cunningham) raised an important point in the Committee stage of the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill about persons who had a history of harassment that was not shown adequately in a schedule of previous convictions. I told her that I would follow that up with the Lord Advocate. It should be possible to record such a conviction as a breach of the peace, with "harassment" added in brackets. I understand that there are precedents for that: "theft" can have "shoplifting" added in brackets after it, so that, if someone is continually involved in shoplifting, that will be picked up. It should be possible to note that harassment has been involved in breach of the peace offences so that appropriate disposals will be made in the event of a long history of offending.

I applaud the aim of the hon. Member for Monklands, East but in all respects the offence of breach of the peace is adequate to deal with stalking and harassment, and I must resist her amendment.

Mrs. Liddell

I am sorry that the Minister does not see fit to accept the amendment. One of the great advantages of being a Member of the House is that we are enabled as taxpayers to get the benefit of distinguished legal advice free of charge. I greatly appreciate the remarks by the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell).

The Minister did not refer to the fact that there is a blurring between the use of civil and criminal remedies in the existing legislation. Without a clearly defined criminal offence, women and others who suffer from harassment will have to have recourse to the civil remedy. The cost of doing that and the crisis in civil legal aid could greatly inhibit opportunities to achieve redress. While I do not wish unnecessarily to delay the Committee, I should like the amendment to be put to the vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 121, Noes 210.

Division No. 33] [5.20 pm
Adams, Mrs Irene Clapham, Michael
Alen, Graham Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Austin-Walker, John Coffey, Ms Ann
Barnes, Harry Connarty, Michael
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Corbyn, Jeremy
Bennett, Andrew F Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try SE)
Benton, Joe Cunningham, Dr John
Bermingham, Gerald Dalyell, Tam
Berry, Roger Darling, Alistair
Blair, Tony Davidson, Ian
Bray, Dr Jeremy Davies, Bryan (Oldham C)
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Dewar, Donald
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Dobson, Frank
Burden, Richard Dowd, Jim
Byers, Stephen Eagle, Ms Angela
Caborn, Richard Ennis, Jeffrey
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Etherington, Bill
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Campbell-Savours, D N Fisher, Mark
Chisholm, Malcolm Foster, Derek
Foulkes, George Morgan, Rhodri
Fraser, John Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Fyfe, Mrs Maria Morris, John (Aberavon)
Gapes, Mike Mowlam, Ms Marjorie
George, Bruce Mudie, George
Golding, Mrs Llin Mullin, Chris
Gordon, Ms Mildred O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Olner, Bill
Grocott, Bruce Pope, Greg
Gunnell, John Prentice, Mrs B (Lewisham E)
Hall, Mike Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Hardy, Peter Quin, Ms Joyce
Raynsford, Nick
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Hodge, Ms Margaret Roche, Mrs Barbara
Hoey, Kate Rooker, Jeff
Howarth, Alan (Stratfd-on-A) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Ruddock, Ms Joan
Hoyle, Doug Sheldon, Robert
Hutton, John Short, Clare
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampst'd) Skinner, Dennis
Jenkins, Brian D (SE Staffs) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Keen, Alan Smith, Chris (Islington S)
Kennedy, Mrs Jane (Broadgreen) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Khabra, Piara S Spearing, Nigel
Kilfoyle, Peter Squire, Ms R (Dunfermline W)
Liddell, Mrs Helen Strang, Dr Gavin
Livingstone, Ken Straw, Jack
Lloyd, Tony (Stretf'd) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Loyden, Eddie Timms, Stephen
McAllion, John Tipping, Paddy
McAvoy, Thomas Watson, Mike
Macdonald, Calum Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
McFall, John Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
McLeish, Henry Winnick, David
McNamara, Kevin Wise, Mrs Audrey
McWilliam, John Worthington, Tony
Madden, Max
Mahon, Mrs Alice Tellers for the Ayes:
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Mr. John Cummings and
Michael, Alun Mr. Kevin Hughes.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Cash, William
Alexander, Richard Channon, Paul
Alison, Michael (Selby) Chapman, Sir Sydney
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Chidgey, David
Alton, David Coe, Sebastian
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Conway, Derek
Ashby, David Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F)
Ashdown, Paddy Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Cran, James
Baldry, Tony Currie, Mrs Edwina
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Davies, Quentin (Stamf d)
Bates, Michael Deva, Nirj Joseph
Batiste, Spencer Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Beggs, Roy Dover, Den
Beith, A J Duncan, Alan
Bellingham, Henry Dykes, Hugh
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Eggar, Tim
Booth, Hartley Elletson, Harold
Boswell, Tim Evans, Nigel (Ribble V)
Bowden, Sir Andrew Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Bowis, John Evennett, David
Brandreth, Gyles Faber, David
Brazier, Julian Fabricant, Michael
Bright, Sir Graham Fenner, Dame Peggy
Brooke, Peter Fishbum, Dudley
Browning, Mrs Angela Forman, Nigel
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Burns, Simon Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Burt, Alistair Foster, Don (Bath)
Butcher, John Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Butler, Peter Freeman, Roger
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) French, Douglas
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n) Fry, Sir Peter
Carrington, Matthew Gallie, Phil
Carttiss, Michael Gardiner, Sir George
Garel-Jones, Tristan Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Garnier, Edward Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Gill, Christopher Molyneaux, Sir James
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Nelson, Anthony
Goodlad, Alastair Neubert, Sir Michael
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Newton, Tony
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Nicholson, Miss Emma (W Devon)
Gummer, John Norris, Steve
Hague, William Onslow, Sir Cranley
Hamilton, Sir Archibald Oppenheim, Phillip
Hampson, Dr Keith Ottaway, Richard
Harris, David Paice, James
Harvey, Nick Patnick, Sir Irvine
Haselhurst, Sir Alan Pattie, Sir Geoffrey
Hawkins, Nick Pawsey, James
Hawksley, Warren Porter, David
Hayes, Jerry Powell, William (Corby)
Heald, Oliver Redwood, John
Heathcoat-Amory, David Rendel, David
Hendry, Charles Richards, Rod
Heseltine, Michael Robathan, Andrew
Higgins, Sir Terence Roberts, Sir Wyn
Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test) Rowe, Andrew
Hogg, Douglas (Grantham) Shaw, David (Dover)
Hordern, Sir Peter Shepherd, Sir Cohn (Heref d)
Howard, Michael Sims, Sir Roger
Howell, David (Guildf d) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk) Speed, Sir Keith
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W) Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Sproat, Iain
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensb'ne) Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N) Stanley, Sir John
Jessel, Toby Steel, Sir David
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Steen, Anthony
Johnston, Sir Russell Stephen, Michael
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Stern, Michael
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Streeter, Gary
Jones, Robert B (W Herts) Sweeney, Walter
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Taylor, Ian (Esher)
King, Tom Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Kirkhope, Timothy Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Knapman, Roger Taylor, Sir Teddy
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Temple-Morris, Peter
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Thomason, Roy
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Thompson, Sir Donald (Calder V)
Kynoch, George Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Thurnham, Peter
Lamont, Norman Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Trotter, Neville
Legg, Barry Twinn, Dr Ian
Leigh, Edward Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark Waldegrave, William
Lester, Sir Jim (Broxtowe) Walden, George
Lidington, David Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Lilley, Peter Waller, Gary
Lloyd, Sir Peter (Fareham) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Lord, Michael Waterson, Nigel
Luff, Peter Watts, John
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Whitney, Ray
MacKay, Andrew Whittingdale, John
Maclean, David Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Maclennan, Robert Wiggin, Sir Jerry
McLoughlin, Patrick Willetts, David
Maitland, Lady Olga Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Malone, Gerald Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfld)
Mans, Keith Wolfson, Mark
Marland, Paul Yeo, Tim
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Tellers for the Noes:
Merchant, Piers Mr. Timothy Wood and
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute) Mr. Bowen Wells.

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. As it now appears that British personnel are involved in the siege in Lima, and following what Madam Speaker said about my point of order earlier today, may I ask yet again whether there has been any hint from the Foreign Office that it will make a statement?

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael Morris)

Certainly the occupant of the Chair has not been informed of any intention to make a statement now.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Timothy Kirkhope)

I beg to move amendment No. 43, in page 7, line 12, after 'Act' insert '(except section (Corresponding provision for Northern Ireland))'.

The Chairman

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government new clause 2—Corresponding provision for Northern Ireland.

Mr. Kirkhope

The consultation period on the paper "Stalking in Northern Ireland" ended on 2 December. I am sure that hon. Members will be pleased to know that, as all responses broadly supported the introduction of legislation, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland asked my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to extend the Bill to Northern Ireland.

There are differences between the current criminal and civil legislation for England and Wales and for Northern Ireland, and the new clause therefore permits the Bill's replication in Northern Ireland by negative resolution. If legislation were to be by affirmative resolution, there would for some time be a gap in the legislation between the jurisdictions, for which, given the vulnerability of the victims that the Bill is designed to protect, we might be criticised. New clause 2 puts into effect the request by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that the Bill be replicated for Northern Ireland under the negative resolution procedure.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

I appreciate the Minister's words in introducing the amendment. We have had the time since the Loyal Address to refer to the fact that we believe that the Bill should be extended to Northern Ireland. I understand some of the difficulties in legislating for other parts of the kingdom, which were obvious in the debate on amendment No. 27, and I also understand that there are people in Northern Ireland who keep telling us that the differences in legislation make it difficult to do so, but they do not make it impossible. I appreciate that steps have been taken to fill that gap so that we might go forward fairly quickly together.

Mr. Kirkhope

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. I am sure that he was involved in the consultation on "Stalking in Northern Ireland" and that he and his colleagues will be pleased. We are, of course, delighted to do what we can to make the Bill applicable there.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 13, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 14 and 15 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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