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We value enormously the representations that were made by the media in the course of discussion around the clauses. Representations were made through letters from individual Members responding to quite proper communication with their local editors, through national representative bodies, and by individual editors and the Guild of Editors. I can assure the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Russell), who brings to our debate a wealth of experience from the front line, that we have taken on board the concerns and the representations made by the provincial media, which play an enormously important part that I do not underestimate in the local dispensation of justice. They have an interest, which needs to be protected, and their views have been taken into account.

I must not give in to the temptation offered by the hon. Member for Ryedale and others to accept the new clause if, by so doing, I would be fettering the discretion of future Ministers by binding them to any particular course of action. That is why I cannot respond as the hon. Members for Ryedale and for Colchester would have me do, by indicating what they described as our long-term intentions.

As we made clear upstairs--I am glad to affirm it on the Floor of the House today--our intentions are to proceed by recognising the potential of self-regulation to address the issue, as has been demonstrated during the discussion of the clauses. The issue is a serious one--the welfare of children.

I listened with close attention to the contributions of the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) and my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson). As a professional solicitor and a social worker working with children, they bring their experience to bear. I hear them both. I do not

8 Jul 1999 : Column 1254

believe that there is any great gulf between them. It is a question of tactics, rather than objective. The objective that we all have in common is to protect children.

After much deliberation and consultation, to which the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and other child protection organisations made an important contribution, that objective led us to go down the road set out in clause 44. We went down that road because of a number of cases that raised concerns about the impact of publicity on children, whether as victims or witnesses--for example, the difficulty for a child of facing his classmates when he has been publicly identified in the local or national press as the son of a wife-beater or baby-killer; or, if he walks to school, the difficulty of having to pass hoardings that identify him publicly with such a tragedy; or the difficulty of being identified as belonging to a family of thieves or drug dealers, even if the investigation did not lead to any charges. That would certainly merit the editor of a local newspaper taking care to consider the consequences of a careless press report. The hon. Members for Colchester and for Bromsgrove (Miss Kirkbride) will recognise that that is already the case in terms of the code of practice laid down by the PCC. We are not giving the Executive powers to ban the publication of particular material; we are making sure that the best standards of self-regulation are applied.

As several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Colchester, have said, the best standards are already being applied by the press and we are ensuring that they will be upheld and become more firmly entrenched in the general approach of the media--the broadcast media, national tabloid and broadsheet newspapers and local media--at all levels. We have to get the balance right, and I do not intend to make a distinction between the tabloids and local newspapers, which is the path down which he tempts me.

It is important to make sure that standards are maintained and developed by all, and I cannot and will not fetter the discretion of future Ministers in that regard. We are debating a requirement under clause 64(3)(a) for the Secretary of State to lay a draft of the order before both Houses. The order cannot be made unless the draft is approved by a resolution of each House. Obviously, the Home Secretary of the day will take into account all the circumstances, not just a cause celebre, before determining so to do. I hope that that satisfies hon. Members. It is important to recognise that those recommendations, which were published in June 1998, came from "Speaking Up for Justice". They have been the subject of considerable consultation.

I want to deal briefly with a number of points that were raised. The hon. Members for Gosport and for Bromsgrove asked why 18 was chosen. I understand their question. Our law--be it the Children Act 1989, the Bill or a range of measures concerning the age of consent, one of which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Bromsgrove--varies enormously for reasons of history, of vulnerability and of consistency within a particular area. It also refers to various ages, for example 16, 17 and 18. We chose 18 because it reflects the current limit in the youth court and the current limit in respect of court reporting restrictions. It would not have made sense to have chosen a lower age.

8 Jul 1999 : Column 1255

There is a debate to be had about the wider issues and, when hon. Members consider this matter, they need always to have in mind our determination to ensure--

It being four hours after the commencement of proceedings on consideration of the Bill, Mr. Deputy Speaker, pursuant to Order [this day], put the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 122, Noes 288.

Division No. 231
[6.9 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burns, Simon
Cable, Dr Vincent
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Collins, Tim
Colvin, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fearn, Ronnie
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fox, Dr Liam
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorrie, Donald
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hancock, Mike
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Maples, John
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Moss, Malcolm
Norman, Archie
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thompson, William
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Wardle, Charles
Waterson, Nigel
Wells, Bowen
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and
Mrs. Jacqui Lait.


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Austin, John
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Paul
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Ms Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Goggins, Paul
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hood, Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Mr. Graham Allen.

Question accordingly negatived.

8 Jul 1999 : Column 1258

New Clause 2

Restriction on reports about persons accused or suspected of committing a sexual offence

'.--(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), no matter relating to any person accused or suspected of committing a sexual offence shall be included in any publication if it is likely to lead to members of the public identifying him as a person involved in the offence unless and until he is convicted.

(2) A court may direct that a person to whom subsection (1) applies may be identified if identification is necessary to secure the arrest of that person or is otherwise in the interests of justice.
(3) A court making a direction pursuant to subsection (2) may give such ancillary directions as it thinks fit, having regard to the interests of justice and the interests of the accused or suspected person'.--[Mr. Greenway.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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