§ Ms. Richardson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he has taken on the Women's National Commission's 1985 recommendation that the question of consent should be reconsidered with the aim of reforming the law on rape to make it clear that552W the alleged rapist's assumptions about the complainant's consent should be reasonable according to modern interpretations of women's rights to choose.
§ Mr. John Patten
[holding answer 23 March 1989]: The law on rape provides that a man is not guilty if he believes that the woman was consenting to intercourse. Section 1(2) of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1976 provides that any jury considering a defence based on consent should have regard to the presence of absence of reasonable grounds for such a belief. In R v. Pigg (1982), Lord Lane CJ also ruled that a man who was reckless as to whether the woman consented should also be held guilty. I am not persuaded that the recommendations of the Women's National Commission would improve the present law.