HC Deb 23 October 2003 vol 411 c15WS
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. John Spellar)

A review of sex offences in Northern Ireland is being undertaken by officials in the Northern Ireland Office. The review follows on from proposed changes to the law on sex offences in England and Wales, and is looking at ways to achieve a strengthened and modernised body of law on sexual offences in Northern Ireland.

The terms of reference for the review are: To review the sex offences in the common and statute law in Northern Ireland, and make recommendations that will: provide coherent and clear sex offences which protect individuals, especially children and the more vulnerable, from abuse and exploitation; enable offenders, particularly abusive offenders, to be appropriately punished; and be fair and non-disrciminatory in accordance with the ECHR, Human Rights Act and the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

The review will seek to adopt, and adapt to the Northern Ireland context, much of the work undertaken in the Home Office review of sex offences. It will also take into account proposed reform of the law in England and Wales resulting from the Sexual Offences Bill currently before this House. It is our intention to draw upon the knowledge and experience of interested groups and to issue a consultation document in early 2004. Our aim is to introduce legislation in the 2004–05 parliamentary session.

Forward to