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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am certainly more reassured than I was. However, I hope that the noble and learned Lord can clarify whether this would include, for example, someone who is brought in temporarily by a scout leader to work with scouts or someone who is brought into a classroom temporarily, not necessarily contracted. Many parents and third parties enter classrooms to help. They are not contracted but they are nevertheless in direct contact with children. They are not in loco parentis, as the teacher, the teacher's assistant or someone under a contract of service or apprenticeship would be--

Do the words,

    "otherwise than under a contract"

subsume the kind of casual contact that a particular person would have with children in those circumstances?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Yes, my Lords. That is why work has been defined so widely. Clause 39(1) states:

    "'work' includes--

    (a) work of any kind, whether paid or unpaid and whether under a contract of service or apprenticeship, under a contract for services, or otherwise than under a contract".

Therefore the casual volunteer, for example, looking after children in an adventure playground on a regular basis, perhaps once or twice a week, or even intermittently, would be covered. That is why we have drawn the definition of work as widely as we possibly can.

9 p.m.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am grateful. I am reassured on that point. I do not know whether it is possible to have a cross-reference between Clause 34 and the line on page 21. However, even if that were not possible, I now know that under the law my concerns would be covered. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Clause 35 [Disqualification in Scotland or Northern Ireland]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 53:

    Page 18, leave out lines 30 to 32 and insert--

("( ) member of a relevant local government body,").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 54 to 58, 62 and 63 are grouped with the amendment.

These are minor amendments which add to the definition of "working with children" in Part II of the Bill. The two sets of amendments are additions or changes to Clause 35. It sets out the new definition of working with children from which disqualified persons are banned. These amendments add to or alter Clause 35(6). We have tried to include positions where there is a particular position of trust and respect, where the holders of those positions may have the right to go into, for example, schools or voluntary groups without supervision as a consequential privilege of that position. The children and parents may well look up to them and respect them as "safe" members of the establishment.

We have sought, therefore, to expand the list in the context of children's services. There is one exception which noble Lords will have seen which relates to "directors of social services". We came to the conclusion that children are only a part of their responsibility but it is a central, critical role. The possibility of abuse or cover up where things go wrong is very great.

We have therefore added to the list members of the Youth Justice Board and the children's commissioner and deputy children's commissioner for Wales. Those all fall within the boundaries that we have been discussing.

The second set of amendments is a little more complex. We spoke earlier about social services and educational functions within local government. The question was raised whether the existing definition went sufficiently far. It was a fair question. We came to the conclusion that we should widen the definitions and categories in order to meet the legitimate concerns that have been raised on earlier occasions. With that explanation, I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 54 to 58:

    Page 18, line 35, at end insert--

("( ) member of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales,
( ) Children's Commissioner for Wales or deputy Children's Commissioner for Wales,").

    Page 18, line 37, at end insert--

("(6A) For the purposes of subsection (6) a person is a member of a relevant local government body if--
(a) he is a member of, or of an executive of, a local authority and discharges any education functions, or social services functions, of a local authority,
(b) he is a member of an executive of a local authority which discharges any such functions,

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(c) he is a member of--
(i) a committee of an executive of a local authority, or
(ii) an area committee, or any other committee, of a local authority,
which discharges any such functions.").

    Page 19, line 3, at end insert--

("( ) Any reference in subsection (6A) to a committee includes a reference to any sub-committee which discharges any functions of that committee.").

    Page 19, line 28, after ("section") insert--

(""area committee" has the same meaning as in section 18 of the Local Government Act 2000,").

    Page 19, line 29, at end insert--

    (""education functions", in relation to a local authority, means any functions with respect to education which are conferred on the authority in its capacity as a local education authority,
    "executive", in relation to a local authority, has the same meaning as in Part II of the Local Government Act 2000,
    "social services functions", in relation to a local authority, has the same meaning as in the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 59 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 59A:

    After Clause 38, insert the following new clause--

(" . After section 1 of the Indecency with Children Act 1960 (indecent conduct towards young child), there shall be inserted--
"Use of electronic communications systems to procure acts of gross indecency with children.
1A.--(1) In this section, except where otherwise stated, "child" means a person under the age of sixteen years.
(2) Any person who uses an electronic communications system, including (but not limited to) computers, computer networks, computer bulletin boards and newsgroups, computer chatrooms, the internet, and other analogous electronic means, for the purposes of--
(a) engaging in an act of gross indecency with a person he knows or has reason to believe is a child;
(b) engaging in a sexually explicit discussion with a person he knows or has reason to believe is a child; or
(c) soliciting a person he knows or has reason to believe is a child to engage in any act that would constitute an offence under section 1 or under section 2(a) or (b),is guilty of an offence and shall be liable--
(i) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to a fine, or to both; or
(ii) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.
(3) References in the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 to the offences mentioned in the first Schedule to that Act shall include offences under this section.
(4) Offences under this section shall be deemed to be offences against the person for the purpose of section 3 of the Visiting Forces Act 1952 (which restricts the trial by the United Kingdom courts of offenders connected with visiting forces).

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I have two regrets in coming to the Dispatch Box. First, as regards the reprinting of the amendment, that was not my fault. When I re-presented the amendment I was conscious of the ridicule I suffered because of my reference to using technology for sexual purposes. I changed the wording

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to using an electronic communications system to procure acts of gross indecency with children. The amendment had to be rewritten. I apologise for that. Secondly, I am sorry that there are not more noble Lords in the House to take note of the importance of the amendment.

The issue has been brought home recently in a most poignant case where someone unashamedly used technology in order to procure the sexual services of a young girl. That person has been dealt with by the courts. However, I shall refer to a number of occasions when the police have had difficulty. The law is not as strong as it should be to catch people who have an evil intent in using technology.

I have had correspondence with an organisation called Childnet International which is doing us a great service. It has set up a website called to advise parents and teenagers about the dangers to which children are subject when using the Internet. The vigilance of one or two parents brought this issue very much to light and gave rise to some of the recent public comment. I strongly share the concern of Childnet International. It is not convinced by the Home Office response on existing legislation. It is unconvincing. The Home Office says that there is legislation in place and that it should suffice. It simply is not the case.

The Home Office argues that the Indecency with Children Act 1960 is adequate to deal with online enticement. It is not. The language of my proposed amendment may not be perfect. I shall be told if that is the case. There is the problem of an online counsellor having a sexually explicit conversation with a child being caught by subsection (2)(b) of the amendment. There are good reasons for being concerned about the current situation.

I give three examples the organisation has cited. First, I refer to the so-called Milton Keynes case where a 47 year-old man from Durham travelled to Milton Keynes to meet a 14 year-old girl. He said that he was 18. He had cultivated a relationship online with this young girl called Georgie. It included requesting her to send nude pictures of herself. Thankfully, her mother went with the young girl to meet this man and intervened. She reported the incident to the police but they did not bring charges. They claimed lack of evidence. But in the light of the e-mail that this man had sent, we wonder why he was not charged under the Act which the Home Office says is adequate.

The second example relates to Patrick Green. Childnet International worked with the parents of the victim. The police were concerned that they might not be able to bring charges. It was only when they found DNA evidence in Green's flat that they were able to bring charges in relation to the offline sexual offences of sexual intercourse with a minor to which he pleaded guilty.

The police tried charging him with abduction but he pleaded not guilty and the police did not press that case. It would have been helpful to have had additional offences, such as those in my amendment. Green

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sentobscene photographs to his victim as well as sexually explicit e-mails. It should have been possible to use the Act but it is inadequate.

The third example also concerns Patrick Green, who sought to meet a 14 year-old girl from Cumbria while he was on bail. The police learnt about this from colleagues at work, who discovered disturbing e-mails on his work computer. The police had already confiscated his home computer. The police arrested him red-handed when he was picking up the girl from a railway station. He had prepared a hotel room for them to go back to. The police again tried charges of abduction, but they were not pressed when Green pleaded not guilty. No charges were brought, even though he travelled more than 200 miles to meet the girl with clear sexual intent.

Those examples show that the law is not strong enough. The Government would be crazy not to take this opportunity to strengthen the law. The amendment would go a long way towards doing so.

We have to ask why the police did not bring conspiracy charges in those cases. None of us knows. Could it be lack of police training and awareness of the possible charges, or is the evidential test too high? We need to know why the provisions are not being used. Whatever the answer, there is a clear case for strengthening the law. I strongly implore the Minister to consider the amendment for the sake of parents, who are now extremely concerned. We have a strange situation in which many parents are not conversant with the technology. Their young people may be in other rooms in the house where they could be downloading such information and establishing relationships with people whom they falsely believe to be somebody they are not and may then find themselves entrapped for the evil purpose of sex. In the interests of children, I hope that the Minister will be positive and accept the amendment or promise to bring forward one that would achieve the same end. I beg to move.

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