HL Deb 02 June 2003 vol 648 cc1131-54

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Clause 15 [Arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence]:

Baroness Walmsley

moved Amendment No. 59: Page 6, line 43, leave out "for the purpose" and insert "to promote the child's welfare, with particular regard for the need—

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 59, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 61 in the group. We were grateful to the Minister at an earlier stage of the Bill for tabling the amendment which included subsection (3), making it clear that those who act to protect children from sexually transmitted infections, to protect their physical safety and to protect them from unwanted pregnancy would not be committing an offence under the clause. However, there are still concerns, which is why I have submitted the amendments.

Earlier this evening the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, suggested that it was almost unbelievable that somebody giving bona fide sex advice to a young person could possibly be caught under the clause. However, it is a fact that many of those who give that advice are the very people who are concerned about the unamended clause. They are people who work for reputable organisations such as the Brooke Advisory Centre, the Family Planning Association, Childline and many people who are commonly called agony aunts who write in some of the teenage magazines.

I feel that some of those teenage magazines sometimes go too far, but it has to be said that they are part of the culture of young people who do look to them for advice. On the whole the people who give that advice are reputable and well-intentioned. If they are concerned that the Bill as drafted is ambiguous and could make them feel that they were in danger of falling foul of the law if they carried on doing their good things, then I believe that that deserves our full attention.

The main thing missing from the Bill is reference to the emotional well-being of young people, because, particularly for them, emotions and sexual activity are tied up together. It is very difficult to separate them. I know that if the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, was able to be with us this evening—and she is very sorry that she cannot be—she would be able to give us the perspective of the advisers on Childline who are concerned that often they are called upon to talk to young people about issues to do with sexual activity. Those young people are not just concerned about their own sexual activity. Sometimes they are distressed and worried about having perhaps witnessed their parents having sexual activity and they do not understand what is going on. They need reassurance and advice.

It is for that reason that I have tabled Amendments Nos. 59 and 61. Other amendments in this group would achieve similar aims. One way or another it is important that on the face of the Bill there is reference to the emotional well being of people as well as tangible things such as their sexual health and avoidance of unwanted pregnancies.

I hope that the Minister will carefully consider the amendment and look favourably upon it. There is much concern among professionals and well-intentioned and trained non-professionals, who do much good work. I have always felt that those who say that young people can get too much sex education are mistaken. It does not cause them to indulge in more sex than they otherwise would. It just means that they are well-informed about the consequences of sexual activity. We should do all we can to ensure that those who give good sex advice to young people are not in danger of falling foul of the law. I beg to move.

Baroness Noakes

My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 60, 62, 169 and 170 tabled in my name. In our debate in Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley explained the loose ends which existed. We were delighted that the Minister tabled the amendments which resulted in subsections (2) and (3) of Clauses 15 and 75. I have tabled slightly different amendments from the two tabled by the noble Baroness, but I do not think there is anything of substance between us. Amendment No. 62 represents wording suggested by the Periodical Publishers Association, which has a particular concern in relation to the work of agony aunts in magazines aimed at under-16s. We are trying to ensure that the exception provided by these two subsections covers not just the physical side of sex but also the emotional and psychological side.

I know that the Minister is keen to try to understand the kind of examples which could arise that would lead to the need for that. Perhaps I may put to him the case of a 15 year-old child confused about either a sexual relationship or his or her sexuality. He is in a relationship with another child under 16, which involves sexual activity. The child knows about condoms and all the kind of things about which one would advise a child in order to avoid sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy and so forth, but is confused as to how he feels about sexual activity and wants to discuss feelings of guilt, stress and perhaps even an obsession he has developed. He seeks advice from a trusted adult, Childline or one of the magazines which specialise in advice. He wants to know whether he should have sex, what will be the consequences for how he feels and what normal reactions are possible for him.

The person he consults can say, "No sex, you are under 16" and then no question of aiding and abetting or any of the other matters would arise. But that is not the real world so it is quite possible that the person giving advice would reassure the child that perhaps his strong desire for sex is not unusual. The adviser is not likely positively to counsel having sexual relations but it is likely that the advice will be given on the basis that it is not wrong for the child. Thus reassured, the child could go on to have sexual intercourse with the other child.

I do not believe that people in that situation should be caught by the Bill. We have already discussed the issue of whether it should be unlawful for teenagers to have consensual sex. Those of us who are concerned that the law should reflect the reality of consensual teenage sex have a similar concern in relation to advice given to teenagers involved in consensual sexual activity. If we do not deal with the doubts that exist—for example, in relation to publishers—advice columns could be closed down. The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, said that some advice goes further than she thinks advisable but such columns appear to meet a need. If they are closed down because of risk-averse lawyers, less information might be available to teenagers—which could lead to more problems down the line for society. I hope that the Minister will reconsider.

8.45 p.m.

Baroness Gould of Potternewton

My Lords, it may be that the wording of the amendments is not entirely correct but I hope that my noble and learned friend will feel able to support the principle behind the amendments, then perhaps we can return with something better.

It is almost impossible for anyone counselling children on engaging or not engaging in under-age sex to ignore the emotional problems that the child is likely to raise. I understand that Childline has received 800 calls this year from children seeking relationship advice and its counsellors must be reassured that the clause will protect them. If my noble and learned friend can say that is the case, the organisations to which the noble Baronesses, Lady Walmsley and Lady Noakes, referred can be clear that they are protected by the clause as it stands. It will be difficult for organisations to continue giving advice if they feel that there is any ambiguity in the Bill.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, it will come as no surprise to anyone that I oppose the amendment. I have already expressed my grave reservations about the education defence. The potential for abusing that defence can only be made worse by the amendment, which extends its scope even further.

We are talking about some of the most manipulative people and worst confidence tricksters in the world. Here we are giving them a defence on a plate. Allowing a person to claim, as Amendment No. 61 does, that he was facilitating a child sex offence to protect a child's emotional well-being could open up all kinds of arguments. What, for example, is "emotional wellbeing"? It is certainly something much broader than the physical protection of a child. It is a very vague notion and will allow individuals to introduce young people to all sorts of material and to give them all kinds of appalling advice—safe in the knowledge that they can rely on the proposed defence.

If Amendments Nos. 62 and 170 are accepted, a person could with impunity supply a child with sexual literature that does not even pretend to be about so-called safer sex, help or pregnancy but deals merely with the emotional and physical aspects of sexual relations. Would the provision include pornography or advice about sexual technique? It seems wide to me and probably could.

The amendments go far beyond the legitimate concerns of a health professional or teacher and even further into the realm of activities that a person might undertake to groom a child for abuse. I hope that my noble friend and the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, will reflect not on the needs of health professionals or teachers—who have nothing to fear from the Bill—but on those manipulative individuals who will welcome a tailor-made defence to their abusive behaviour.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

My Lords, I appreciate the very genuine concerns which have motivated the noble Baroness. I am sympathetic to them. It is obvious that help is of incredible importance with regard to many problems of an emotional kind. The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, identifies the problem in relation to the amendment. Without it being pointed out, everyone can understand that those people who wish to encourage children to engage in sex for their own ends can say various things which will help them in relation to it. Therefore, the balance to be struck in this area is incredibly difficult.

Any statutory exceptions to protections offered to children by the criminal offences must be framed in such a way that they cannot be persistently manipulated by an abuser to avoid prosecution for abuse. That is why the exceptions have been worded in the way that they have, focusing on the specific protections being offered to the child—against sexually transmittable diseases, pregnancy or physical harm—that will exclude the provider's behaviour from the scope of the offence.

I am moved by the level of concern expressed by the noble Baronesses, Lady Walmsley, Lady Noakes and Lady Gould of Potternewton. There is no doubt that they are trying to deal with an actual problem. I have therefore spent a lot of time considering whether there is a way in which we could address those concerns without opening a loophole that an abuser could seek to exploit or causing grave concerns that we are weakening the protection that we offer to children. It is a difficult issue. I have looked at the amendments, keen to see what could be done to meet those concerns.

Amendment No. 59, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, would amend Clause 15(3) so that rather than acting "for the purpose" of protecting the child, the defendant is required to have acted "to promote the child's welfare, with particular regard for the need" of protecting the child.

I do not feel that the term "to promote the child's welfare" adds anything here, as there can be no doubt that the actions in subsection (3)(a) to (c)—protecting the child from pregnancy or infection, or protecting his physical safety—would promote the child's welfare. My concern about the term "with particular regard for" is that this is a lower test than "for the purpose of", which would only fuel the argument that the exceptions clause is weakening child protection. I think that the current wording is better and provides better protection for children and I wish to retain it.

Amendment No. 60, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, would extend the provision at Clause 15(3)(b) to cover both the physical and the emotional safety of the child. Her Amendment No. 169 would do the same in Clause 75(1)(b).

I am very concerned that the term "emotional safety" is too vague. It would create a potential loophole that abusers could exploit, claiming that they were, for example, seeking to protect a child from emotional bullying by his peers when in fact they might be trying to acclimatise a child to sexual matters in order to prepare the way for unlawful sexual activity. It would be a very difficult clause to police. There are differing views in the sector as to the right way to go.

Amendment No. 61, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, would extend Clause 15(3)(b) to cover "the physical safety and emotional well-being" of the child. It is similar to the approach taken by the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes. I do not think that there is much to choose between "emotional well-being" and "emotional safety", as the noble Baroness said. I fear that both could potentially weaken the protection offered to children. What is the position if someone with the bona fide interests of the child were to say, "I understand your problems. You would feel a lot better if you did commit certain sexual acts"? The person giving that advice may be motivated by his or her belief, but such advice may not really be what reasonable people would regard as in the best interests of the child.

Amendment No. 62 would add a new subsection (3)(d) to Clause 15 that would exempt those who provide, bona tide advice and information about the emotional and physical aspects of sexual relations".

Amendment No. 170 proposes the same change for Clause 75 by creating a new subsection (1)(d). The words "bona fide" are open to wide interpretation—honest belief that it is okay, no matter how mad. Those words may be suitable for guidance notes, where they are already used. I know that the term was used in the case of Gillick, but I do not believe those words to be sufficiently precise for us to include in statute.

I do not believe that the phrase, advice and information about the emotional and physical aspects of sexual relations",

has anything to recommend it as regards being different in its ultimate effect from the more straightforward terms, such as, "emotional safety" or "emotional well-being''. We are going round and round in a sort of linguistic circle. I genuinely wish to help noble Lords with their concerns, but we are trying to strike a very difficult balance. Therefore, any provisions that we include in legislation to protect those who act to protect children must not undermine the protection that it offers to children.

This is a difficult area, hut, having thought about it a great deal, I am moderately satisfied that we have broadly got the balance right. If the amendments proposed by the noble Baronesses, Lady Walmsley and Lady Noakes, were placed in the Bill, I believe that we would end up with this becoming a major focus of criminal proceedings—not because such provision would form the basis of criminal charges but because it would become "the issue" upon which defendants would rely. We would regret that outcome.

Baroness Walmsley

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. I appreciate the support expressed by the noble Baronesses, Lady Noakes and Lady Gould of Potternewton. I accept the noble and learned Lord's suggestion as regards Amendment No. 59 that his wording is stronger than mine. I give in on that one; I think that the Minister is right.

However, the position on Amendments Nos. 60, 61, and 62 is somewhat different. A jury can sort out the difference between a defence and a successful defence—one that will get a paedophile off the hook. Far be it from me to want to write a paedophile's charter, but there is very little difference between our proposal to insert something about the emotional wellbeing of the child and subsection (3)(a), (b), or (c).

Someone could try to defend himself from a charge of "inappropriate activity" by suggesting that he wanted to protect the child from sexually-transmitted infection by talking to the child regarding how he or she could have sex wearing a condom. In exactly the same way, a paedophile who was up to no good could also try to use that defence. Yet the noble and learned Lord seems to be perfectly happy with paragraphs (a), (b), and (c).

Sometimes such children are merely asking for advice on emotions and feelings, but where sexual activity is involved physical and emotional considerations can become mixed up. Therefore, the people who give such advice need the protection that could be provided by placing something on the face of the Bill that makes it clear that they are not doing anything wrong. I do not believe that our proposal would open up any more of a loophole for a potential paedophile than is the case with paragraphs (a), (b), or (c).

I do not intend to press Amendment No. 59 at this stage, but I may return to Amendment No. 61 on Third Reading. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 60 to 62 not moved.]

Clause 17 [Meeting a child following sexual grooming etc.]:

Lord Astor of Hever

moved Amendment No. 63: Page 7, line 30, leave out paragraphs (c) and (d) and insert ", and (c) subsection (1B) applies.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 64. This is an amended version of the amendments that we moved in Committee on the inclusion of those with a mental disorder or learning disability into the grooming offence under Clause 17.

In Committee I was grateful that the principle behind our amendments was welcomed. People with mental disorders or learning disabilities are often very trusting and easily exploited. Consequently, they are a target for sexual offenders. We should like them to be covered by Clause 17 in the same way as children are.

The noble and learned Lord the Minister and the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, pointed out—rightly—that there was a fundamental flaw in our original version. We have listened to those comments and altered the drafting of our original amendments. We want to provide safeguards and special protection, not to restrict the freedoms of those who can consent. The protection that Clause 17 offers to children should be extended to cover not all those with a mental disorder or learning disability, but only those whose capacity to consent is inhibited by their condition.

I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, and the noble and learned Lord the Minister will feel happy to support our amendments, which are designed to cover this very important and fundamental issue. As the clause is currently drafted, there is a dangerous loophole. We need to make sure that this is remedied.

9 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I support my noble friend.

Once again I am glad to see the offence of grooming in the Bill. It is an important addition to the armoury of police and the courts in tackling child sex abuse. Its strength is that we do not have to wait for the sexual abuse to have taken place before the police can act. A single incident of sex abuse can be devastating to a child. It must be better to act pre-emptively to prevent the abuse.

I regret that my own amendment at Committee stage did not meet with more sympathy. I remain concerned that requiring proof of two previous communications will allow paedophiles who do all their grooming in a single, lengthy communication to get away with it.

None the less, it is a good offence, and it is added to considerably by Amendments Nos. 63 and 64 in the names of my noble friends. If a person has a mental disorder which means that they lack the capacity to consent, they are just as vulnerable to grooming as any child. They may, indeed, be even more trusting—in fact, in most cases they probably would be—and even more willing to be befriended by a stranger. They may have less of an idea about what is appropriate behaviour with a stranger.

The noble and learned Lord the Minister said when we debated the amendment in Committee that he would consider it. I hope that our hopes have not been raised only to be dashed tonight, and that the noble and learned Lord will look kindly on the amendment.

Baroness Walmsley

My Lords, I beg to shock the House. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever. I think that the amendment is very close to, if not exactly at, the point that I said in Committee we wanted to reach. It is vital that we get right in the Bill the rights and protection of people with mental disorders, and I believe that the amendment helps to achieve that. Therefore, we on these Benches support it.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

My Lords, the amendments, unlike those tabled at the Committee stage, are restricted to those who lack the capacity to consent. In extending the offence of meeting a child following sexual grooming to those with a mental disorder who lack the capacity to consent, we would be transposing an offence specifically designed to deal with real cases—cases that have actually occurred—of abuse against children to a completely different situation involving adults. We are not aware of evidence of the need for this offence to protect those who lack the capacity to consent, whereas, as noble Lords will know, plenty of evidence exists with respect to children. If there is evidence, please bring it forward. It is not a criticism of the noble Lord, Lord Astor, either on this occasion or previously, to say that there is a great danger in making offences extend to areas where there is no evidence of a real problem.

Just as Clause 17 is a response to a specific threat that we know to exist towards children, so Clauses 32 to 49 represent the equivalent response to a specific risk to those with a mental disorder or learning disability, based on evidence presented to the Sexual Offences Review.

The scrutiny of legislation should be restricted to evidence rather than to the consideration of thoughts and good ideas that occur in the course of the scrutiny process without first having had the opportunity to discover whether there is a real problem. As the noble Lord, Lord Astor, would he the first to point out, there is a big issue about striking the balance between, on the one hand, appropriate freedoms for those with mental disabilities—even those without the capacity to consent—and, on the other, children where there is a specific problem.

The clauses covering offences against people with a mental disorder or learning disability, of inducements and so on and the care worker offences are all a response to evidence. The abuse of those with a mental disorder who lack the capacity to consent is far more likely to be perpetrated by someone who has built up a face-to-face relationship of trust with the victim rather than by someone who contacts the victim on the Internet. Setting the Boundaries identified the case for a separate offence, to recognise the special and often limited nature of the threats or deception needed to obtain sex with mentally impaired people".

That is why we have put in the Bill the group of offences concerning the use of inducements, threats or deception to take account of the various ways that mentally impaired people can be pressurised into having sex.

We have taken the appropriate measures, based on evidence, to provide justice for those with a mental disorder or learning disability who are subjected to sexual abuse or sexual coercion of whatever kind. I do not believe that Clause 17, which is designed for a quite distinct purpose and based upon specific cases advanced by those with experience in this matter, should be extended in the way proposed. Having thought about the matter very carefully, I do not believe that there is a basis for the amendment.

Lord Astor of Hever

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady Blatch for her support. She is absolutely right that those with mental disorders and learning difficulties are equally as vulnerable as children. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, for her support.

I am sorry that the noble and learned Lord has not accepted the amendment. After all, the Minister said in Committee that the Government would consider it, focusing particularly on those without the capacity to consent. The noble and learned Lord said that I did not mention any evidence in my speech, which I kept deliberately short in an optimistic mood that the amendment would he accepted. However, I shall consider the matter further and read carefully what the Minister said. In the mean time I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 64 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

moved Amendment No. 65: Page 7, line 38, leave out "75" and insert "81

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the amendments in this group are of a minor and technical nature. Amendment No. 65 is necessary for the proper operation of the Bill in Northern Ireland. Amendments Nos. 108, 122 and 127 replace "a" with "another" in Clauses 33, 38 and 43 for the sake of consistency with other clauses.

In Committee I tabled an amendment in relation to the definition of a community home for the purposes of the abuse of trust offence. Amendment No. 141 makes a similar change for the purposes of the care worker offences. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Noakes

moved Amendment No. 66: Page 8, line 5, leave out paragraph (a).

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendment No. 66 seeks to make the offence of meeting a child following sexual grooming an offence which could be tried only on indictment.

We welcome the new offence created by Clause 17 and the Government's decision in Committee to raise the maximum sentence to seven years. The issue raised by the amendment is whether it should be possible for the offence to be tried summarily, thus involving a sentence of only six months or a fine.

When we debated this issue in Committee the noble and learned Lord said that the summary option was to deal with, for example, a 19 year-old talking to a child of 15 years and 11 months. I do not believe that using ages gets to the heart of the issue. A vulnerable 15 year-old is entitled to as much protection as a 12 year-old. As the Minister knows, it is always difficult to know where to draw lines, but having chosen the lines—18 years for the defendant and 16 for the victim—we should stop at that and not choose examples around the margins to justify an approach to penalties.

The offence is a serious one. It is designed to catch sexual predators—both on and offline—who entice their intended victims into situations where sexual offences could be committed. The offence does not entail a sexual activity but it is the nearest thing. If a child is involved in sexual activity under Clauses 9 to 11, there is only a possibility of an indictment. These are serious offences and there is no option of a lesser offence. It is my contention that this approach should be carried over into Clause 17. Making the offence indictable only would encourage the police and the CPS to see this as the very serious offence that it is intended to be and not one which should encompass marginal cases.

If the Minister is not in favour of removing the possibility of summary conviction from the whole offence, what is his attitude towards children under 13? Should they not be protected by a stronger offence with no soft option of a summary trial? I beg to move.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

My Lords, I know that the noble Baroness is pursuing in this amendment a more general concern that she raised earlier in debate to ensure that certain sex offences could be dealt with only at the Crown Court. Amendment No. 66 would remove the provision that the offence at Clause 17 can be tried summarily as well as in the Crown Court. I believe that it is important in the grooming offences that we retain the possibility of summary trial.

In this offence, the offending behaviour that we are targeting is at a preparatory stage before a substantive physical sexual offence against a child has been committed. The essence of this offence is an adult meeting or travelling to meet a child, following two meetings or communications with them, intending to engage them in sexual activety at either that meeting or a subsequent one.

The adult charged with the offence may never have met the child concerned. He may have simply communicated with the child online or via a telephone text message. He may not have said or done anything overtly sexual towards the child. It may be the first time that he has been charged with anything remotely like a sexual offence. It might be a 19 year-old and a 15 year-old. Evidence may be obtained relating to the defendant talking to other people which indicates that the sexual offence considered would not be at the more serious end of sexual offences. As in all those cases, it is incredibly important to keep this in perspective and to recognise that the landscape is from the not so serious to the extremely serious offence.

Therefore, for example, the paedophile seeking to groom children for offences should plainly be tried in the Crown Court. But is every 19 year-old who sends a text message to someone suggesting that they meet with a view to perhaps going to the cinema and committing what technically constitutes a sexual offence always to be tried in the Crown Court? I am not so sure and I believe that the right course to take is to look at each case on its merits. I think we can trust the CPS to do that. It is not right to limit where charges for this offence can be heard. I understand the motive behind it, but it is the wrong approach. For those reasons, I shall be resisting the amendment.

Baroness Noakes

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. I believe that the difference between us is that he sees this offence as covering a wide range of activity for—example, a 19 year-old texting a 15 year-old about a sexual liaison. I have never considered the offence created by Clause 17 as remotely covering those types of activities, which are not serious sexual predator activity. To use the examples cited earlier, this is about men going out with condoms and ropes in their pockets to entrap young, vulnerable children, having enticed them to a meeting. It is not about text messages between teenagers slightly above and slightly below the age limits.

I am particularly concerned about under-13 year-olds and sending the right messages. I may return to this issue later. In the mean time, I shall read carefully what the noble and learned Lord said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.15 p.m.

Clause 18 [Abuse of position of trust: sexual activity with a child]:

Lord Thomas of Gresford

moved Amendment No. 67: Page 8, line 16, leave out from "the" to end of line 20 and insert "other person is over 13, it is a defence for the defendant to show that he did not know, and had no reasonable cause to believe, that that other person was under 18.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we move from child sex offences to a series of groups of offences between Clauses 18 and 49—four groups in all—which deal with particular relationships: the position of a person who is abusing trust; the familial relationship; offences against persons with a mental disorder or learning disability; and care workers.

One of the curiosities of the Bill is that those four groups are not all dealt with in the same way. In respect of people in a position of trust, familial relationships and care workers, the policy of the Government is to transfer to a defendant in the particular circumstances outlined in the Bill the persuasive burden of establishing his innocence. I shall not weary those brave few noble Lords who remain with a repetition of what I said earlier.

Interestingly, in the group which appears in the middle of all these—that is to say, the group that concerns people with a mental disorder or learning disability—the persuasive burden is not transferred. If one looks at Clause 32(1)(d), one observes that it is still for the prosecution to prove that the defendant knows or could reasonably be expected to know that the complainant has a mental disorder or learning disability and that because of it that person is likely to be unable to refuse. So the approach of the Government to the four groups is not consistent.

The formulation in relation to the three groups where the burden transfers to the defendant to prove his innocence—I am using shorthand here—passes the persuasive burden to the defendant to prove—I refer to Clause 18(2)—that he believed that the other person was 18 or over, and then transfers the persuasive burden back to the prosecution to satisfy the jury that the belief was unreasonable.

I have already wearied your Lordships in Committee about the difficult mechanisms that are involved in such a transfer. If one had to sum up to a jury, it would in my view be extraordinarily difficult to instruct a jury that in relation to a number of the matters that are set out in this offence it has to be satisfied when it comes to passing the burden to the defendant to prove his defence that it is on a balance of probabilities. When the persuasive burden shifts back to the prosecution it has to be sure, having been satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the defendant believed the other person was 18, that the belief was unreasonable.

Those with little experience of the criminal courts may think that this is a simple matter and that juries are capable of being so directed. I reflect upon the words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, earlier today when he talked about the experience of those who drafted the Bill. I think that they are very enthusiastic and very bright, but I am not sure that they are very experienced. I would say the same about the Minister when it comes to criminal matters. It seems to me that the difficulties that would arise in directing a jury have not been properly assessed.

I consider, as I said in relation to the earlier provisions that we discussed, that the passing of the persuasive burden to the defendant in the case we are discussing is likely to offend Article 6(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights. If I were defending a person in that situation, I would certainly make that application. I can distinguish the situation, however, from the charges of rape or more serious sexual offences that we discussed earlier, because the sentences in those cases are very much greater.

I do so also because it is possible to say that, because of the relationship with a care worker, the familial relationship, or that with the person in a position of trust, it is right to impose an almost strict liability and say, "You will not have sex with anyone under the age of 18, anyone with a mental disability who is in your care, or any member of your family under the age of 18. That is the offence". Only then is the defence raised, which might satisfy the fair trial provisions of Article 6(2). There is a distinction to be drawn because, unlike the offences that we discussed earlier, which apply right across the board, we are concerned with imposing an almost strict liability on people in a specific tight relationship.

Having said that—if I were to concede that, and I do so only for the purposes of argument—it is still wrong in principle to adopt the formulation that the Government have adopted, which brings the burden back to the prosecution to prove that a belief was unreasonable. If someone is to take the convention on and say, "We are going to define the offence tightly, but there is a defence of reasonable belie", it seems to me that they should go the whole way and say, "The defence is that you have to prove that you have a reasonable belief", rather than falling back on the prosecution to satisfy the jury that it is sure that the belief is unreasonable.

Those who drafted the Bill have fallen between two stools. They have not been confident enough to say, "We are going to breach the presumption of innocence in these instances, and we are going to say that it is for the defendant to prove something—his reasonable belief—entirely". Instead, they have come to a halfway house where they divide the responsibility between the prosecution and the defence—between the defence and prosecution, I should probably say—and hope that that satisfies any challenge that may subsequently be made to it in the courts under Article 6(2).

I am against the provision in principle, because it could offend against Article 6(2). I am against it from a practical point of view, in that the way it is framed is unworkable. Noble Lords have heard today from judges of a greater standing than me who have criticised the unworkability of parts of the Bill. Across the board, in the three groups where the attempt is made, the provisions are unworkable. I would much prefer to see a formulation that follows that—curiously, it is in the middle of everything, between Clauses 32 and 41— which relates to those who have a mental disorder or learning disability. I beg to move.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

My Lords, we have a range of amendments that all follow the same pattern. The first amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, places the burden on the defence. The defendant must show that he did not know, which is knowledge, and had no reasonable cause to believe, which is reasonableness, that the other person was under 18. The whole burden of knowledge, age and reasonable belief in age is being placed on the defendant.

The noble Lord presumably regards that as legal within the European Convention on Human Rights, so the issue for him is not legality, but simplicity. We take the view that, because all these cases are based on existing relationships, if a defendant asserts that he did not know the age, that there was a mental disorder or that there was a family relationship, he should produce evidence to show that. As those matters are within the knowledge of the defendant, it is appropriate to place a burden on him.

We are advised that the burden of reasonableness, which is a more objective question, cannot appropriately be put on the defendant in that respect. That is why it remains with the prosecution.

Does that cause a problem for the jury? The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, nods enthusiastically. Those are the very same juries that we both want to trust. Is it difficult to say, "Members of the jury, the defendant says that he didn't know that the person he was caring for suffered from a mental disorder. It is for the defendant to satisfy you of that on the balance of probabilities. If he does satisfy you, the prosecution must satisfy you that that belief, even if he had it, was unreasonable so that you are sure"?

Is that too complicated? Not in my view. I was struck by our earlier debate. The noble and learned judges who contributed greatly to the debate did not at any stage respond to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cooke, said about how the reasonableness provision had worked in practice. It did so, according to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cooke, in a precisely different way from that in which the noble and learned Lords, Lord Lloyd and Lord Ackner, said it would.

Yes, we must listen to what the judges say, but we must be prepared to form our own sensible views as to what will and will not work in practice.

Lord Thomas of Gresford

My Lords, the noble and learned Lord has clearly forgotten that I said that my drafting was based on the New Zealand principles. It is set out the same way in New Zealand; it is for the prosecution to prove that the belief held by the defendant is unreasonable.

I have followed the New Zealand provisions in drafting the amendments that I tabled in Committee and when considering how to simplify them on Report. I was greatly heartened by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cooke, who gave such a bill of good health to the New Zealand provisions. That is where I want to be. I think that they are right. The Government's proposal is an unfortunate development of New Zealand practice and legislation.

I have to ask the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, to consider carefully the position. It is no use passing legislation that will be struck down by the courts. We may succeed in getting an amendment through here, which may be reversed in the House of Commons, but if the courts say that it is not good enough, we shall have failed in our duty. I am suggesting a clear view of how Article 6(2)affects such legislation. So I ask the Minister to reconsider the matter; to take advice if necessary, if I may respectfully suggest that, from the Attorney-General or his department on the reverse onus provisions—both the original ones that we discussed earlier and the current ones. It is right that the Minister should say that in the amendments I am concerned about the mechanism and the practicalities. That is true, but I am even more concerned about the principle of reverse onuses of proof.

Perhaps I may in her absence again refer to the contribution, much appreciated around the House, of the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, today. She expressed her total opposition to reverse burdens of proof. They are not the way in which the criminal law of this country has developed. They are not the way to protect or to balance the interests of prosecution and defence. I am sure that if they get to court those provisions will fail. I shall return to it, but for the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 68 not moved.]

9.30 p.m.

Clause 19 [Abuse of position of trust: causing a child to engage in sexual activity]:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

moved Amendment No. 69: Page 8, line 35, after "causes" insert "or incites

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 70 and 71 not moved.]

Clause 20 [Abuse of position of trust: inciting a child to engage in sexual activity]:

[Amendments Nos. 72 and 73 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

moved Amendment No. 74: Leave out Clause 20.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 21 [Abuse opposition of trust: sexual activity in the presence of a child]:

[Amendments Nos. 75 and 76 not moved.]

Clause 22 [Abuse of position of trust: causing a child to watch a sexual act]:

[Amendments Nos. 77 and 78 not moved.]

Clause 24 [Positions of trust]:

Baroness Blatch

moved Amendment No. 79: Page 11, line 32, leave out "full-time

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I rise in a state of excited anticipation that the Minister will break the habit of a lifetime and accept my amendments. In Committee, the noble and learned Lord was at least sympathetic to the amendments. He said that he would table some at this stage and would share their wording with me before today. That has not happened, so my hopes were dashed last night, but I understand that I have reason to anticipate that my amendments may be accepted, so without saying any more, I await good news. I beg to move.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

My Lords, in Committee I went much further than I have in any other unguarded moment and undertook to table government amendments on Report to include part-time students in the offence. I regret that, as the result of an oversight, I failed to do so. However, the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch—Amendments Nos. 79, 80, 91 and 92—achieve the effect that I said we were prepared to accept. Her amendments deal with the issues raised by previous amendments. I again thank her for raising the issue; I apologise for not tabling amendments as I undertook; but we agree to the amendments and may now pass them.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I am hugely grateful. I thank the noble and learned Lord most warmly.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch

moved Amendment No. 80: Page 11, line 34, leave out "full-time

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch

moved Amendment No. 81: After Clause 24, insert the following new clause—

"POSITIONS OF TRUST: YOUTH AND COMMUNITY WORKERS Within six months of the coming into force of section 24, the Secretary of State shall, by order under section 24(1)(b), specify conditions relating to youth and community workers who work with persons under 18.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I suspect that I shall not be as lucky this time, but here goes.

On Second Reading, the noble and learned Lord said that the Bill aimed to: give children the greatest possible protection under the law from sexual abuse".—[Official Report, 13/2/03; col. 772.]

For that purpose, the Bill recognises that those under the age of 18 are in fact children. The abuse of trust offence has been created to protect those under 18 from adults who seek to take sexual advantage of them using their position of trust. It recognises that children are vulnerable to people who exercise influence over them and that some adults abuse positions of trust to gain sexual gratification from those in their charge.

Clause 24 protects children in young offenders' institutions, residential homes, hospitals and care homes, those who are in education and those who are looked after by mentors appointed under the Learning and Skills Act 2000, personal advisers under the Children Act 1989 or youth offending teams. However, it does not protect those looked after by officers appointed to represent their interest under the Children Act nor does it protect those appointed as supervisors under that same Act. Those issues are addressed by my Amendments Nos. 83 and 84, which simply require the Secretary of State to use his order-making powers under Section 24(1)(b) to extend the abuse of trust offence specifically to cover those two categories. The noble and learned Lord the Minister indicated in Committee on 1st April at col. 1295 of Hansard that he would give further consideration to those posts. Given the strong similarities with mentors and personal advisers, which are already covered by the Bill, I cannot see any logical reason for refusing to add those two categories.

The Minister also indicated that he would consider sports coaches—that issue was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who is in his place. Amendment No. 86—I hope that I will be forgiven for the presumption that I tabled it on Report—simply places an obligation on the Secretary of State to lay down the circumstances in which such persons would be covered by the abuse of trust offence.

I have also returned to the issue of youth and community workers and voluntary youth groups in Amendments Nos. 81 and 82. I chose the phrase, "youth and community workers" in Amendment No. 81 not only because it is in common usage but because the phrase is already used in statute. Amendment No. 82 addresses the wider category of voluntary youth group workers. The noble and learned Lord said last time that the Government are guided by three criteria when deciding which areas to cover with the offence: the vulnerability of the young person, the location and/or lack of access to other adults and the special influence of the adult. The noble and learned Lord used the phrase "in loco parentis" to describe the sort of relationship that he had in mind. Anyone who has allowed their child to go away on a youth group trip knows that youth group leaders fulfil all three of those tests. They often work with highly vulnerably young people; they may take them far away from their homes and the influence of other adults on camping trips and the like; and they are most certainly in the position of in loco parentis. They have real influence; indeed, some youth group leaders are positively idolised by those in their care.

When I called for youth groups to be included in the abuse of trust offence, which is contained in the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000, the then Home Secretary and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Privy Seal, who was then Attorney-General, indicated sympathy. During the Committee stage of this Bill, even the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, indicated that he was sympathetic to extending the offence in that way. He did so in Hansard on 1st April at col. 1293. I hope that I will be able to add the Minister to my list of supporters.

This morning, as it happened, I received a letter from the noble and learned Lord the Minister on a point relating to Scottish jurisdiction, which gives an important illustration of the limitations of the abuse of trust as drafted. In the previous debate, I posited a situation in which a child from England goes away on summer camp as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and has sex with one of the camp organisers who lives in Scotland. The Minister referred to that scenario in his letter and said that the necessary relationship of trust would not exist and that no offence would be committed. I find it extraordinary that such an obvious example should be left out from the scope of the offence. Parents who send their children away on such camps would be horrified to think that their child was not protected from the offence in that situation. I wonder whether the Minister will give further consideration to extending the offence to cover that situation also.

In Amendment No. 85 I return to the issue of childminders. The noble and learned Lord indicated last time that he thought that childminders did not have sufficient influence over 16 and 17 year-olds to merit being brought within the scope of the offence. However, that ignores the fact that many parents leave the childminder in charge of all the children in the house, not just the younger ones. It ignores the fact that the childminder and the older child may spend hours alone together after the younger children have gone to bed. It also ignores the enormous trust that parents place in those they invite into their home to look after their children. It ignores the many opportunities for abuse while the parents are away from home.

My Amendment No. 87 addresses ancillary and caretaking staff who work in the institutions listed in Clause 24(2) to (5). It is not just those who work directly with the children who have a position of trust. All staff, particularly those who live on the premises, such as caretakers, have plenty of opportunity to get to know the children who live or study there. That gives them opportunity to take advantage of them.

I mentioned on Second Reading the example of Eric Drummond, a school caretaker who was found guilty in October 2001 of repeatedly sexually abusing children. I also mentioned the case of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, where the relationship with the caretaker might prove to have been significant.

It is quite wrong not to recognise that caretakers can and do find themselves in a one-to-one relationship with a child. Often it is the most vulnerable children who are left behind at school—those children who are not collected by their parents. The caretaker can then strike up a friendship and become particularly friendly with the child, with all the scope of empty classrooms and an empty school to get up to no good.

I strongly believe that all these areas ought to be covered and I hope that on reflection the noble and learned Lord will accept that these amendments are very worthy of consideration. I beg to move.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester

My Lords, I shall comment on Amendment 86, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch referred. She was kind enough to refer to the contribution I made in Committee, when I moved an amendment that would have included sports coaches within the provision of the positions of trust elements of the Bill.

In that debate, my noble and learned friend was kind enough to say that I had, hit the spot in respect of a large number of the criteria, particularly as he described a picture in certain circumstances of the vulnerable adult being isolated because of the control that a sports coach has." [Official Report, 1/4/03; col. 1295].

I look forward to what my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer says about this aspect. I know that he will have reflected on it. I have had further submissions from the NSPCC and others about the provision of sports coaches. It is a very substantial subject. There are 57 recognised and funded English national sports governing bodies and over 25,000 coaches hold qualifications recognised by those bodies.

The NSPCC and Sports Coach UK are conducting an audit to determine how many of these coaches work with young people. My suspicion is that it is a substantial number. I hope that this Bill can be used in some way to protect the vulnerable young people who are in the care of these sports coaches at a time when they are away from home and the sports coaches are, as the noble Baroness says, acting in loco parentis. These are young people who need assistance and I hope my noble and learned friend will indicate that he is willing either to accept this clause or to propose something similar to it.

Lord Thomas of Gresford

My Lords, reeling as I am from the epithet that even I—even I—supported the noble Baroness, I should like to point out to her that in my Amendment No. 178, which deals with the more serious offences, I included as one of the circumstances to be taken into account, whether, the defendant exercised authority over the complainant in the fields of education, employment, sport or service".

I was concerned with almost all the areas to which the noble Baroness has referred. I do not necessarily support the listing of everybody in this way, because when you make out a list you always leave somebody out. Nevertheless, I hope she will accept that I have very much in mind the spirit in which these amendments are moved.

9.45 p.m.

Lord Hylton

My Lords, I have been associated with at least two residential youth centres and I am still a governor and trustee of an adult centre which sometimes takes in groups of young people. With that background, I support the intention and general direction of this group of amendments.

It is most important that positions of trust should not be abused. Nevertheless, if all or part of the group of amendments should meet with the approval of the Government and come to be enacted, I want to express the strong hope that the conditions laid down will not be so complicated and onerous as to deter the recruitment of suitable volunteers—for example, lay advocates of people held in residential institutions.

Baroness Noakes

My Lords, my noble friend Lady Blatch has raised some important issues about the scope of the abuse of trust offences. If there is a case for the protection of 16 and 17 year-olds, which I understand is what we are talking about under these offences, it is illogical to ignore circumstances where a position of trust can be set out. A teacher in a school will be covered, but not someone who teaches people in other settings; for example, in a sports setting or for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. I cannot see the logic in that and I therefore believe that my noble friend's amendments are along the right lines. However, I fully accept that a boundary must be drawn or we will end up with all offences involving 16 or 17 year-olds being brought within the net.

I am not sure that all my noble friend's amendments are correct, but, equally, I do not believe that the Government have drawn the line in the right place. I hope that the Minister will be able to make further moves on the issue.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

My Lords, although I cannot accept Amendments Nos. 82 and 84 because of the way in which they are drafted, I will be tabling amendments in time for Third Reading to bring within the scope of the abuse of trust offences those appointed as children's guardians under Section 41 of the Children Act; those appointed to supervise children under Section 35 of that Act in conjunction with Parts 1 and 2 of Schedule 3 (those references relate to supervision orders); and those appointed under Section 36 in conjunction with Part 3 of Schedule 3, which relate to education supervision orders. I will explain the justification for that when I move the amendments at Third Reading, but I am satisfied that such persons meet the criteria for inclusion within the scope of the abuse of trust offences.

I shall deal with Amendments Nos. 81, 82, 85, 86 and 87, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. In deciding whether to accept them, we have had to consider how well the proposed categories fit within the guiding criteria for the abuse of trust offences and whether it is appropriate to criminalise consensual and what would otherwise be lawful sexual relationships in such circumstances. As the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, pointed out, we are dealing with 16 and 17 year-olds.

The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, asked: if we are criminalising some relationships, why not criminalise all?—but immediately indicated what a mad view that was. There needs to be some line and criteria and principles. As the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, reminded the House, we said in Committee that the young person is particularly vulnerable—for example, in residential care or on probation in the community. The second principle is location and/or lack of access to other adults, and the absence of countervailing influences makes the young person particularly vulnerable. The third principle is the special influence of the adult: that is, that the adult acts in loco parentis.

Those seem sensible criteria to apply. However, in applying them to the proposals, I do not believe that youth and community workers, voluntary group workers or child minders fall within them. Although youth and community workers are employed by local authorities, their role is to run centres or projects which children attend voluntarily. They do not act in loco parentis and they do not have a position of power or influence in children's lives. We believe that they fall on the other side of the line. The same can be said of voluntary youth workers who do not have a statutory role. They run or help out at youth clubs or are involved in other community activities with children who participate out of choice and whose lives and futures cannot be adversely affected by the disfavour of a voluntary helper.

Child minders generally do not look after young people aged 16 and 17, and even if they are in the house at the same time as a young person in order to look after younger siblings the position of trust simply does not exist between the child minder and the 16 or 17 year-old.

As far as concerns ancillary or caretaking staff in institutions and homes, such people will already be caught within the scope of the offences if they look after the child as defined—that is, they are regularly involved in caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of the child. If they do not look after the child in the way that I have defined, then the basis for their inclusion is not justified because they do not have the necessary involvement or influence in the child's life. Nor is the child cut off from other adults because of their existence. Again, I do not think that they should fall within the category.

Finally, I turn to sports coaches. The matter is an important issue, and there was a very powerful speech by my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester, which is important to consider carefully. I have spoken in detail to other government departments concerned. The Government's plan for sport published by the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the Department for Education and Science in March 2001 identified weaknesses in sports coaching and set up a coaching task force to examine corrective actions. The task force reported in July 2002 and made several recommendations to reform the recruitment, education, employment and deployment of coaches. Key among those was the establishment of a national coaching certificate.

DCMS has now made a firm commitment to introduce that national coaching certificate. The final outcome will be to transform the current, largely voluntary, workforce into a recognised coaching profession. The certificate is to be set against national standards and developed at five levels. A core curriculum will be devised for the qualifications awarded by national governing bodies of the sports across the UK. Two possibilities remain to be decided—whether adoption will be necessary for national governing bodies to be eligible to receive public funds and whether coaches would need the certificate in order to obtain a licence to practise.

DCMS believes that the latter is right in principle but final decisions will be taken in due course. The review was not primarily driven by concerns about child sexual abuse within sporting relationships, but that is one of a number of concerns that the national coaching certificate will aim to address. Once the measures are introduced, any coach who uses his position to manipulate a young athlete in his charge into a sexual relationship may lose his licence and his livelihood.

We believe that relying on those future measures will be the more appropriate way to deal with any problems that are identified and currently, subject to a point that I shall make, we are not minded to bring sports coaches within the scope of the offences. I have also considered the argument that sports coaches often act in loco parentis, especially where a talented young person is undergoing intensive training. Our problem lies in distinguishing that situation from the person who coaches the local football team on a Saturday morning. We do not think that there is any satisfactory way of drawing the line so that we do not, for example, criminalise the actions of the 18 year-old college student who falls in love with, and has a consensual sexual relationship with, one of the members of the local netball team, just because he helps to coach them one evening a week in his school holidays.

It is also the case, at a time when we are trying to encourage more people into the sports coaching profession, that we do not want to discourage them through fear of false allegations and prosecution for relationships that are consensual and not in any way abusive. I think that the right way forward is for us to reassess the position once the national coaching certificate has been introduced.

Should it transpire that that does not solve any problems which might exist, I should be happy to review the position and to consider using the order-making power attached to these offences in order to bring sports coaches within the scope. There is one problem in that approach, about which I am particularly conscious of the strength of feeling in the House. The certificate will not be introduced until 2007. What will happen in the mean time?

We believe that the right approach is to consult now to take a view on whether the approach that we suggest is the right one, and if not, whether earlier measures need to be considered. Having considered carefully, we believe that there is a way forward in relation to sports coaches which does not involve amending the Bill at this stage, but it is on the basis of the steps that I have proposed.

For those reasons I am unable to accept the amendments. However, as I made clear at the outset of my remarks on Amendments Nos. 83 and 84, I shall table amendments on Third Reading to deal with the points raised.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I thank the Minister for the amendments which are to be accepted. I look forward to seeing the particular wording at the next stage of the Bill. I ask the Minister to think again about the first of the three criteria—vulnerability.

It is true that in one sense of the word some children—that is, the kind described by the Minister—are indeed vulnerable. However, I would regard a child of mine going away on a summer camp with youth and community workers supervising them as being vulnerable even if they were entirely adjusted with no problems and from a sound home. It seems to me that vulnerability needs to be considered in a slightly wider sense than simply children from children's homes or children who are neglected at home and do not have the security of a loving and nurturing home life.

As I have said, youth and community workers take children away from home. They are acting in loco parentis. Surely, every parent in the land has a right to expect that that position of trust will be honoured and that if it is breached, it is a real breach of trust and something which the parents would expect not to happen. It seems extraordinary that such people are not brought into the scope of the Bill. As my noble friend Lady Noakes said earlier, some of those people are the very people who come within the scope of the Bill; that is, teachers who then do voluntary youth work and go away with children to summer camps or on expeditions. I have been fortunate in that my children have all gone away on expeditions and have always come home safely. I am grateful for that. However, we should all at least remember that parents expect their children to be safe when they go away.

As regards the points raised by the Minister on childminders, I still believe there is a case there. If two parents go away leaving someone with the care of their children or if working parents leave someone with the care of their young children where there are older children in the house, they do not expect that trust to be breached by childminder having a sexual relationship with a 16 or 17 year-old. I believe that if that were to happen, there would be a serious breach of trust.

I do not want to pre-empt the reaction which the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, may have about sports coaches. Like me, he will want to read what the Minister said. The noble and learned Lord had a great deal to say about sports coaches. I partly welcome some of the comments made by the Minister: in particular that the Secretary of State would consider using the order-making powers. However, the sting in the tail is that it would be a very long time before the Home Secretary would be in a position to be able to make a judgment on whether that order-making power should be used.

Sports coaches are in a very special position. More and more under the policy of inclusion—I applaud the Government for this—talented young people are given sports coaching, some of it one-to-one. On the other hand, I accept the Minister's point about the difficulty of recruiting. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, referred to not introducing changes in such a way that would deter good people.

The Minister referred to the system of certification and national standards for sports coaches that is to be introduced by the DCMS. When that raft of changes is in place, we shall not need to bring the issue within the scope of the Bill because if coaches breach their trust they could lose their licence.

Teachers are certified to practise teaching and are subject to national standards and endless codes of practice—yet they fall within the scope of the Bill and its abuse of trust clauses. The Minister said enough about sports coaches and I would like to read his response.

Even the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, supported me at the previous stage. I say that with great deference to him. I admire the noble Lord and all that he does in the House, so I am overwhelmed by his support. When even the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, supports me I feel that I must be on to something. I thank the noble Lord for his support today, even though it was qualified. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments 82 to 87 not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I beg to move that consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at two minutes after ten o'clock.

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