HC Deb 19 February 1998 vol 306 c1182
33. Dr. Harris

What guidance he has issued on prosecutions under the age of consent legislation for homosexual males; and if he will make a statement.[28778]

The Attorney-General

The guidance issued to all Crown prosecutors is that contained in the code for Crown prosecutors issued under section 10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, which is applied to all cases.

Dr. Harris

I am grateful to the Attorney-General for that answer. Does he accept that, as indicated by the number of signatories from all parts of the House to early-day motion 717, there is widespread concern about the continuing prosecution of people under the age of consent legislation, domestic legislation which the Government have accepted in the European courts needs to come before Parliament again urgently? In the light of the sentencing tomorrow of the Bolton Seven, will he consider offering specific guidance to the CPS on how we can prevent people's lives being ruined in the interim, until the House has an opportunity to pronounce its view on this outdated legislation?

The Attorney-General

The matter of the Bolton Seven is sub judice, and it would be wrong for me to comment on it. As for the anticipation of any possible change to the legislation, it is not for me to issue guidance on that. The CPS has to operate within and take account of each case on its merits and according to the usual criteria. It cannot anticipate any change in the legislation. As I understand it, the Government are committed to a free vote on that matter in due course following the Strasbourg decision, but one cannot expect the CPS to operate other than in accordance with the law as it stands today.