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Lord Henley: I look forward to receiving a copy of the noble and learned Lord's letter outlining the words which he has a little difficulty in deciphering. I am grateful for the fact that I have had some movement from the noble and learned Lord on this slightly important amendment and that he might agree to accept it at a later stage.

I did quote from the third edition of Fowler in my opening remarks. I prefer the comments in the second edition edited by Sir Ernest Gowers on the subject of the fused participle. He refers to the fact that during the passage of the Homicide Act in 1957 a noble Lord had objected to the use of the fused participle. The government then, as now, had resisted the suggestion, despite the fact that he had the weight of Fowler behind him. Gowers goes on to say that Fowler would have been unlikely to accept even the House of Lords as the final court of appeal on such a point. I shall certainly come back to this matter at a later stage and I look forward to receiving the noble and learned Lord's letter on the point.

There is one last matter before the noble Lord intervenes. I see that we are in the presence of the Deputy Chief Whip. There is now some sort of agreement that we shall not go beyond the end of Clause 14. If that is the case I certainly have no intention of seeking to press the amendment at this stage.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am sorry to disillusion the noble Lord. We had an agreement as to where we would get to, which was not based on any particular time of night. I have indicated that we shall be willing to talk about the matter again in half an hour. But for the moment our intention is to proceed to the end of the groupings as printed.

Lord Henley: I treat that with the utmost seriousness. It is a matter which the noble Lord will have to consider, particularly when he considers whether he has a House present to maintain a Committee. We have major amendments and we might wish to press them in half an hour or so. It would be unwise for the House to go on to discuss amendments such as those relating to racially aggravated offences at the hour we are now approaching.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I do not believe that these discussions should be conducted in public. I hear what the noble Lord says. There is a difference between the racially motivated offences and the conclusion of the curfew clauses.

Lord Henley: Again, if the noble Lord will accept my apologies for intervening, I am more than happy to get to the end of the amendments to Clauses 14

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and 15, but not to move on to those dealing with racially aggravated offences, which is a whole new ball game, if I may put it in those terms. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment with the promise that I shall return to it depending on the response I receive in writing from the noble and learned Lord.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Thomas of Gresford moved Amendment No. 146:

Page 12, line 16, after ("area;") insert--
("( ) every social services authority, local education authority and health authority any part of whose area lies within the area of the local authority, and the probation service;").

The noble Lord said: Our discussion on Amendment No. 145 is rather like sucking on an orange at half-time, having regard to what we heard a moment ago. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Williams, for pointing out the balance that Clause 14 seeks to strike between its purposes and the rights about which the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, and myself are concerned. It strikes me as sad that it is beyond the powers or the wit of a modern policeman to take a child of under 10 back to its home if it is making a nuisance of itself in the streets. Perhaps I am being a little nostalgic for the past as a son of a policeman, but what greatly concerns me about the proposal for local child curfew schemes is that they are likely to alienate children from policemen. A policeman will no longer be seen as a child's friend. Clause 14(1)(b) states that the scheme is to apply where,

    "the authority considers it necessary to do so for the purpose of maintaining order"--

the purpose of maintaining order in the under-10 age group? All the machinery of Clause 14 seems over the top for what is required.

I shall return to that at a later stage, but I should like to deal now with Amendment No. 146. We wish to expand Clause 14(3)(b) which refers to,

    "such other persons or bodies as it considers appropriate".

I was interested that the Solicitor-General was unable to read his own notes. It struck me that he might have read out Amendment No. 146 and that those bodies and persons are to be defined as the social services authority, the local education authority, the health authority and the Probation Service. If that was not sufficient, under Amendment No. 147 the Solicitor-General might have added the words,

    "members of the community within the specified area to which subsection (2) applies".

A child curfew scheme should be regarded as entirely exceptional. It must be an exceptional thing if its purpose is to maintain order in the streets among the under-10s between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m! If things have got to such a pass that all that machinery has to be brought into play, more than the local authority and the police authority should be involved. The people who are affected by that breakdown in the maintainance of order on the streets should also be involved.

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The purpose behind Amendments Nos. 146 and 147 is to ensure that there is wide consultation before all this clumsy machinery is brought into being. I call it "clumsy" because it brings into effect a blanket ban to tidy up the streets and to remove children from the sight of those who might be offended. It brings into effect a ban on children who can be stopped by police officers and have to prove their age. Then, if the order is made and they are proved to have breached it in some way, they can be made subject to the child safety order that we have already discussed. The next step is that if the child safety order is broken by them being out at five minutes past nine once the order has been made, we can then obtain a parenting order. All of the various proposals that we have looked at will begin to apply in reverse order. The child curfew scheme triggers the child safety order which triggers the parenting order. The net result of this is to turn the policeman into the enemy of the under-10s when the reverse should be the case.

I believe that before this machinery is brought into being it should have the consent and support of the authorities and the members of the community referred to in the two amendments. I beg to move.

The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells: As the Committee has debated the curfew proposals I have been trying to imagine what it would have been like to have such powers in East London during the 20 years that I worked on estates both north and south of the river. Although the Government appear from their explanations to be kind, caring and sensitive, as one reads the Bill that does not always appear so. It is important that we get it right. It is said that this is not about riots. Thank God for that. Imagine what it would have been like trying to apply such an order during the Wapping riots. It is said that it relates to very specific areas and communities, but such communities are very complex organisms. If we are to consult the community itself, what happens if sections of it believe that particular numbers of children from particular groups are the nuisance, but other sections of the community believe that that is an attempt to identify groups as the troublemakers?

As to consulting the community, there are various qualifications as to what makes up a community. But it would have to be quite clear that the workers within the community--for example, the police--would be those who knew it intimately rather than those from further afield. If the police were consulted it would not just be those from regional or other departments but the community policeman. The task of consulting a community is a very complex matter. It would be very dangerous if it exacerbated tensions and splits between different sections of the community. It could jeopardise the principle of policing by consent and unnecessarily damage relationships between young people and other members of the community.

I have suffered quite considerably from under-10s. In particular, I have met elderly people whose lives have been made a total misery by under-10s. But I have always believed that this is best dealt with by

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the workers on the estates, the community policemen and others, who are there with that specific purpose in mind. I find it difficult to imagine this process. Maybe it will be a successful, helpful measure, but from my experience inherently it has immense difficulties, some of which have perhaps not yet been discerned.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: This grouping consists of Amendments Nos. 146 to 149. All of those amendments relate to the consultation process before a local curfew order becomes effective. Amendments Nos. l46, l47 and l48 relate to who should be consulted before the matter is submitted to the Home Secretary for his approval. Amendment No. 149 is intended to extend the period of consultation, after the Home Secretary has approved the making of the local curfew order, from one month to three months. That amendment has not been spoken to.

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