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Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: Clearly, I should have spoken to my amendment earlier. In spite of what the noble and learned Lord has said, I still think that "cousin" should be more sharply defined at an earlier stage. That would avoid any confusion. The child of an aunt or an uncle is a first cousin. It would be advantageous to specify that in the Bill. I shall not say any more, because my argument is now redundant. I still believe that, for clarity and to avoid doubt in the first instance, it would be better to specify the cousinship.
Baroness Blatch: I would certainly like to support the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun. Often, it is we in the Westminster village who are familiar with the legalese of legislation. However, having been a Member of the House since 1987, I cannot claim to be entirely familiar with the legalese that comes before us. "First cousin" is clear beyond peradventure. One would not have to look for implicit provision in other parts of the clause. But I concede that the argument has been well answered by the Minister, as does the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun.
I was also going to rise to support the amendment of my noble friend Lady Noakes. I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for agreeing in characteristic style to take it away, to look at it more fully and to take into account the omission that my noble friend talked about. We look forward to whatever comes of that at the next stage.
I have taken wise counsel from my noble friend, who has a very real understanding of the Bill. We have had a fairly complicated discussion on Amendment No. 202. My understanding of that amendment differs from that of my noble friend. Rather than call that a point of issue between us, I wish to pose a question to the noble and learned Lord to clarify either my understanding or my misunderstanding about it.
As I see it, the amendment appears to strip out one of the most obvious categories of potential sex abuserthe non-blood-related uncle. Deleting subsection (3)(b) removes uncles by affinity; that is to say, those who are not related by blood but who are married to a child's blood aunt. It also removes putative uncles; that is, a boyfriend of a child's blood aunt. Of course, it does the same for aunts by affinity and putative aunts. But it is well known that uncles, in particular, can abuse the trust that being part of a child's family gives them. Some men become obsessed with children within their families. The NSPCC says that, after brothers and fathers, uncles are the most likely source of sexual abuse within the family.
I shall base my question around the following example. Am I correct in taking as an example the tragic murder of Danielle Jones, who was abused by her uncle Stuart Campbell, who was married to her father's sister? He had an obsessive sexual interest in teenage girls and became infatuated with Danielle. The infatuation led to her murder. Leaving aside the murder element, the man was guilty of taking advantage of a member of the family with whom he had a position of trust. He neither lived in the same house, nor, I believe, was he a carer, trainer, supervisor or in sole charge of the child. Therefore, on my reading, by removing paragraph (b), and by not conforming with the conditions in subsection (4), he would not be caught by these measures. If that is the case, then it would be bizarre, but I need to be told if that is the case.
If the amendment is made, it would also mean that some children within a family could be protected, whilst other siblings were not. For example, when a widow married a widower and they both brought children to the new marriage, then two of the children would be protected and the other two would not. That is also a problem. If the wife's brother took a sexual interest in any of those four children, the children of the mother would be protected by the familial abuse provisions, but the children of the new husband would not.
I am trying to elicit from the Minister whether I am right that that kind of person, that kind of relationship, which is among some of the most common abuse of people within a family, is caught by the provisions. If they are not caught, I would argue that subsection (3)(b) should stay in. If they are caught, how does that happen? I am talking about somebody who does not fulfil the terms of subsection (4)(a) and (b)an uncle
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I understand the question. The uncle married to the sister of the father would not have been caught in the circumstances put forward by the noble Baroness under subsection (3), as unamended by Amendment No. 202; because as I understand the example given, he would not have lived with the niecewho would not be his niece by blood but by marriage; he would have no role in caring for or training her. If that is the position, that relationship would not have been caught by the existing subsection (3) with paragraph (b). So the removal of subsection (3)(b), which is Amendment No. 202, makes no difference to that example.
We think that the right course would be that with such a person, the critical question should simply be: are the subsection (4) conditions satisfied? I think I have answered clearly the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. I am not sure whether I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes or the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, but it would be invidious of me to find out which.
Baroness Blatch: I think my noble friend is probably nearer to the Minister in terms of the explanation that he has just given. For clarification, is he telling me that the partner or spouse of a blood relative of the childthat is the uncle who is not a blood relativeif he was not either living in the house or a carer, trainer, supervisor or in sole charge of the child, would not be caught by the provisions, with or without subsection (3)(b)? If that is the case, how can we make it clear in any amendment to the Bill, that that sort of person would be caught? I have given the most dramatic example of the case of Danielle Jones, but there are many young teenage girls who are still missing today and the issues concerning them have not been resolved. Prior to them being murdered they have suffered much sexual abuse. One has to imagine that because such cases do not all end in murder, there are many young girls who are vulnerable from uncles within a family.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Yes, I confirm what the noble Baroness has said; namely, that the uncle, not by blood but for example married to or the partner of the sister of the father, would not have been caught with paragraph (b) either in or out of the Bill under subsection (3). He would only be caught if it was under subsection (4), which means a live-in relationship, and paragraph (b) was satisfied. The reason why we do not think it is appropriate to catch the personsave in subsection (4)is that we are dealing with family situations. We cannot catch people in a family situation who conceive an obsessive feeling about a person who these provisions are designed to protect, but are outside the family unitfor example a friend. They might be called "uncle", but
Baroness Blatch: If I could come back again. The uncle of a sister of the father of the child is a pretty close relative. He may not be a blood relative, but he is a close relative. He may have an incredibly close physical relationship with the family. My understanding is that the murderer of Danielle Jones did have a close relationship. The family were so shattered by the news that it was that uncle who had murdered their daughter, because of the closeness of the relationship of all of them in that family.
It seems bizarreI go back to the word I used rather cautiously earlierthat the person who abused the girl dramatically before eventually murdering her would not have been caught, simply because he did not live with the family or live with A and was not her carer, trainer or supervisor or in sole charge of her. The Bill needs amending to include what I regard as a very close relationshipthe mother or sister of the parent of the child.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: As the noble Baroness knows, it is obviously the case that dramatic abuseI do not know the details of the case, so I am not commenting on itwould be covered by a range of other provisions in the Bill and by other existing provisions of the law.
Here we are focusing on the family unit. The noble Baroness will know better than I that close relationships with, for example, somebody who is not an unclethe next-door neighbour, perhapscannot be caught appropriately by the clause, even though the relationship could be as close as in the situation described by the noble Baroness. We must have clear limits. We will consider closely what the noble Baroness said, but we think that we have got the balance about right.
Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: Could we have some less complicated language? We keep hearing about the "spouse of the aunt or the uncle". The spouse of the aunt or the uncle is the uncle by marriage or the aunt by marriage. Those terms have been used all my life and are, so far as I am aware, still in use.
Viscount Bledisloe: I am puzzled by what the noble and learned Lord said in answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. I can see the situation if the family live in separate houses, but is the noble and learned Lord saying that, if I gave space to live in my house to my sister and her rather unsatisfactory husband, he would not be included in the scope of the clause unless he were regularly involved in caring for, training or supervising my daughter? Would that be the position if the noble and learned Lord's amendment were made?
I have suggested that the gentleman of whom I spoke was rather unsatisfactory and was not regularly involved in anything desirable. Surely, if he lives in the house as the husband of the aunt, he should be within the scope of subsection (3). It is going too far to remove him from that, as the noble and learned Lord's amendment will do, and say that he is covered only if he is involved in caring for her. It would be extraordinary for a resident uncle by marriage not to count, unless he were a useful uncle by marriage involved in caring, training or supervising.
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