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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, this amendment would introduce a new provision that would oblige the court or a youth offending panel to review the sentence of all young persons convicted of sex offences once they reach the age of 18, regardless of what sentence was passed. This point was raised in Committee. As I said then, the sentence passed by the court will already have taken account of the severity of the offence and the age of the child at the time that the offence was committed.

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For sentences passed for sex offences committed by young persons to be automatically reviewed when the child reaches the age of 18 would be a completely novel departure from the approach adopted throughout the rest of the criminal justice system. For example, a sentence passed on a young offender at the age of 17 would need to be reviewed very quickly thereafter. If a very long sentence was passed on a younger child, it would almost invariably be because of the seriousness of the offence, which, as a matter of punishment, required a long sentence.

Therefore, although we fully understand the motivation behind the amendment, we do not believe it to be sensible or necessary and we do not believe that it sufficiently takes into account the fact that the court will already have considered the child's age and the seriousness of the offence when passing sentence. I implore the noble Baroness to consider withdrawing her amendment.

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, I apologise for speaking out of turn. I did not rise quickly enough to enable me to speak in the proper order. I shall quite understand if noble Lords object to my speaking at this point. However, having re-read the record of the Committee stage in the Official Report, I must emphasise my concern about those children aged 13 or 14 who receive a long sentence of imprisonment. Tremendous progress has been made on what can be done to treat these children. The scene here is changing very quickly. As the Minister will know, for adults there has been a lot of progress and this is now beginning to happen for children.

I emphasise that for these young children with long sentences there are almost invariably welfare issues to do with the circumstances that created the initial problem in them. They undergo an important transition at the age of 18. Perhaps the Minister could bear these factors in mind when considering the guidance that is to apply to the Bill, so as to ensure that a thorough mechanism for review is available for the cases of those children who receive long sentences at an early age. This would ensure that the practice here is right. I thank noble Lords for giving me this opportunity to speak.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for his reply. I also thank the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for his comments. He is quite right: rapid progress is being made in the treatments and programmes available to assist young people in such situations. Indeed, because of the flexibility of the programmes, the children often make very rapid progress towards recovery out of the situations in which they find themselves. Therefore, it is very important to review the sentence when these youngsters reach the age of 18. However, for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Clause 15 [Arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 58:

    Page 6, line 36, at end insert—

"( ) he is not and has never been subject to the notification requirements of Part 2 of this Act or to any order made under Part 2 of this Act,
( ) he has never been subject to Part 1 of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 (c. 51) and does not satisfy any of the conditions in section 83(1)(a) to (d) of this Act, and
( ) he is not and has never been subject to any order made under a provision within section 83(8) of this Act, and"

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Clauses 15 and 75 were amended in Committee to create a defence against child sex offences for those who claimed to be carrying out sex education or similar activities. I opposed the amendments. I believe that the defence is unnecessary. I am not aware of a single case under the existing law of a respectable sex education professional being prosecuted for a child sex offence simply for carrying out legitimate sex education. I do not believe that any such cases would arise under the new legislation.

None the less, the Government, supported by my noble friends and others, were determined that there should be a specific defence from the Clause 15 offence of facilitating a child sex offence and a further defence from aiding and abetting child sex offences in Clause 75.

The Bill now provides that no offence is committed where the person acts to protect a child from sexually transmitted infection or physical harm, or to prevent pregnancy (Clause 15 (3) and Clause 75(1)).

I have given serious consideration to all that was said in Committee, and I remain concerned that this defence will be abused. When the matter was debated in Committee on 1st April (Hansard, col. 1235), I argued that it was a paedophile's charter. I maintain that the law of unintended consequences means that the amendment, which is not necessary to protect sex education professionals, will instead benefit paedophiles who worm their way into positions of trust and authority over children precisely in order to take sexual advantage of them.

In the next group we shall discuss amendments which would widen the scope of that defence. I hope by my amendments to narrow the defence.

I wrote to the noble and learned Lord the Minister last week mentioning some cases where a child sex abuser claimed that he was simply carrying out sex education, when in fact he had ulterior motives.

First there was the case of Michael Gregory, a trainee church minister who was convicted of indecently assaulting two girls. In one case he gave a 13-year-old girl a graphic demonstration of how to use a condom. The man was responsible for giving a course of sex education lessons to a youth group at the church.

Then there is the case of Terence King. He was a vicar who apparently showed an 11-year-old boy pictures of naked men during sex education classes and

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then sexually assaulted him. The victim, now 24, said that a number of children in the church were abused in this way. The vicar would require the children to go one at a time into his room for sex education sessions lasting up to half an hour.

There was also the case of Robin Peverett, the headmaster of a leading prep school who indecently assaulted at least eight pupils in the 1970s. He conducted sex education lessons at the school. He had access to the girls' changing rooms and showers, and obtained details of the girls' physical development, ostensibly out of professional interest.

Finally, there is the case of Anthony Gray. He arranged via the Internet to meet up with a 14-year-old boy. His pretext was to discuss the boy's confusion over his sexuality. He took the boy to a hotel, where he sexually assault him. He later claimed that they spent the night discussing the boy's problems.

Clearly, those are cases in which the paedophiles carried out actual sexual acts on the children concerned, and it was for those acts that they were subsequently convicted. My purpose in drawing attention to those cases is to ask what would have happened if the individual had stopped short of actual sexual contact and had been content to obtain his sexual gratification from the sex education lessons. Could he have defended his actions up to that point by claiming merely to have been involved in sex education?

None of those cases involved a man with previous convictions for child sex offences. This brings me on to the substance of my amendments. What is most astonishing about the sex educator's defence that the Government have written in to Clauses 15 and 75 is that there is nothing to prevent a convicted paedophile or other sex offender from using that defence. Is it really the Government's intention that this defence should be available to such people?

My amendments—Amendments Nos. 58, 168 and 171—stipulate that no person who is subject to the sex offender notification requirements of Part 2 can rely on that defence. This stipulation also applies to those subject to registration under the existing sex offenders register. This stipulation is permanent. Once a person has been subject to the notification requirements he can never rely on the defence, even if the notification requirements cease to apply.

I would accept it if the Minister said that the drafting could be improved—any drafting of my amendments can always be improved—and that he will take the matter away and think about it.

I cannot conceive of any reason why a convicted sex offender should ever be allowed to get away with facilitating or aiding and abetting a child sex offence by claiming that he was merely involved in sex education. I beg to move.

Baroness Noakes: My Lords, I support the principles behind my noble friend's amendment. If there is any possibility that paedophiles could use the

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welcome provisions in Clauses 15 and 75 to become involved inappropriately with children, everyone in the House would want to prevent that.

My noble friend has found an ingenious way to ensure that sex offenders cannot claim the protection of Clauses 15 and 75, and I congratulate her on that.

However, I have two problems with the amendments. The first relates to the lack of time limits. The time that the ban exists does not expire with the notification period, which it seems to me would be a more proportionate amendment. Secondly, the amendments cover all sex offenders and therefore cover offences involving adults only as well as those involving children.

If those aspects can be resolved, it seems to me that the Government would want to consider whether the matter can be shaped into a more workable form.

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