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Baroness Mallalieu had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 92:

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("( ) This section shall not come into force unless and until the Secretary of State has certified that, in his opinion and in the light of experience gained after the passing of this Act, it is necessary to bring the section into force for the reasonable protection in criminal proceedings of witnesses who are complainants of sexual offences.").

The noble Baroness said: I thank those noble Lords who have spoken in an interesting debate, and particularly those who supported Amendment No. 92, especially the noble Lord, Lord Cope, who changed his allegiance to support it.

The aims of all Members of the Committee who spoke were the same: to avoid miscarriages of justice. We all agree that they occur not just when innocent men are wrongly convicted, but also when guilty men escape

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justice. Several Members of the Committee, on both sides of the debate, spoke from great experience of fears that the well intentioned provisions of Clause 33 contain potential danger to cause miscarriages of both types.

I understand the concern of noble Lords, and in particular the difficulties that are faced by a police officer with a complainant who expresses concern about whether she is likely to be cross-examined by her attacker if she goes to court. I think that the Minister has temporarily forgotten that Clause 35 would enable the officer or person advising her to tell her that if the quality of her evidence was likely to be affected by her concern about such cross-examination, the prosecution could apply to the judge and a prohibition on that cross-examination could be made. The Bill contains other provisions which afford protection to those particularly vulnerable witnesses.

I regret to say that I do not believe that many of those who have been the subject of serious sexual attack will not still be deterred, even following the passage of this Bill. That is because I anticipate that the main deterrent is that people are reluctant to come to court, to relive the experience in giving evidence and to be cross-examined by anybody, particularly by a skilled

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barrister. I do not believe that the provisions of Clause 33 will lead to more people coming forward than do so now. However, other provisions in the Bill could make a very real difference.

I am sorry that, in the course of this debate, the usually open mind of the noble Lord, Lord Williams, has been seen to be gently closing; indeed, by the end of what he has just said, it has been seen to be firmly fixed. Nevertheless, between now and Report stage, I hope that all those of us who listened to what has been said can reflect upon it. It is possible that I may find it necessary at a later stage to return to what I consider to be a fundamental change to our justice system. In the meantime, I shall not move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 92 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 93 and 94 not moved.]

Clause 33 agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I beg to move that the House be now resumed.

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

        House adjourned at twenty minutes before midnight.

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