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Lord Lucas: My Lords, I would have happily waited until later to deal with the matter, but that was merely because I had not spotted that the amendment was in this group. If the Minister is to say something about his promised review of the law on prostitution, then I shall have no comment to make. If the Minister wishes to address the amendment now, because that appears in his briefing notes, I shall be happy. I may be silent when we arrive there.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, indicated, I have put my name to Amendments Nos. 145, 149, 154, 156, 160, 161, 162, and 163, tabled by the noble Baroness and the noble lord, Lord Astor, which deal with the issue of "gain" when referring to the trafficking offences and the offences of child prostitution and pornography, but not to Amendments Nos. 146, 151 and 157 relating to the other prostitution offences.
In Committee I indicated that I would consider removing "gain" from the prostitution and child pornography offences in the Bill. After careful consideration I agree with those noble Lords who raised the matter in earlier debates that when a child has been abused through prostitution or involvement in pornography, the offences should not carry the additional requirement to have been committed for "gain". That is why I am supporting the amendments to which my name has been added.
Looking at the issue of adult prostitution, which is itself not criminal, we do not support Amendments Nos. 146 and 151 which remove the provision for "gain" from the offences at Clauses 54 and 56. Where an adult is "caused" to become a prostitute by another person when that is done exploitatively for the "gain" of that other person, we would want to that to be an offence. Where a person, for example, incites her friend to become a prostitute simply because she thinks her friend could, then that should not be criminal. That is different from child prostitution where we would want a lower threshold for criminality because of the particular vulnerability of the child victims. I would therefore resist Amendments No. 146
The Government are extremely concerned about the Mafia-style criminality associated with the exploitation of girls and women, the links between prostitution and drug dependency and the way in which prostitution can blight local communities. There is much work to be done to establish how best to break the links between the sex trade and organised crime, to help those who are exploited to leave prostitution and to support local communities in developing effective neighbourhood regeneration schemes. In the Bill we go some way to addressing the ways in which the criminal law can be brought to bear to stop commercial sex exploitation and we are making some progress in assessing what works in terms of both enforcement against users and abusers and support for the victims of that trade. It is a complex area and there are few easy answers. We recognise that there should now be a sensible debate on the issue so that we can benefit from the views and practical experience of the agencies and voluntary organisations working with those at risk of, or involved with, prostitution.
However, there remains much groundwork to be done before we will be in a position to announce the timing of such a debate. So I am not in a position to take the matter much further forward than when we were in Committee.
Baroness Noakes: My Lords, I thank the Minister. As he indicated, I do not intend to move the two amendments with which he does not agree. However, I shall proceed to move formally those with which he does. I beg to move.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment would insert the word "directly", restricting the offence to someone who intentionally controlled any of the activities of another person directly relating to that person's prostitution.
My intent is to remove from the ambit of the clause, say, the prostitute's travel agentif she is a successful international prostituteor, perhaps, her accountant, who is involved in preparing her affairs, or her maid, who keeps the diary by the telephone, or other people who are involved peripherally in what is going on. The Government's objective is to catch people who control prostitution, and I can understand that they wish the clause to be wide enough that they need not prove too much to gain a conviction. However, I want to stop the current practice of some elements in the police, who harass those in any way associated with a prostitute in order to make a prostitute's life difficult and attack people, particularly the prostitute's spouse or lover, who are frequently the target of such prosecutions.
While I am on my feet, I thank the noble and learned Lord for the letter that he wrote and the comfort that he gave as to the abolition of various old prostitution offences. I am grateful for that. I look forward to an open discussion of the law on prostitution. The noble and learned Lord says that the matter is under consideration. Can he give me some comfort that, if I were to ask him a question this time next year, it would then be imminent? Am I being optimistic? I beg to move.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the present wording covers all the situations in which a person exerts control over the prostitution of another person intentionally and for gain. If the amendment were made, we would have to determine how "directly" or otherwise the activities controlled related to prostitution. That would add to the burden of what must be proven and introduce some uncertainty about the scope of the offence.
We want control of activities that relate to prostitution to be caught. That would include, for example, telling a prostitute which street corner to stand on, telling her what to wear when she works, or controlling her supply of drugs so that she is obliged to sell herself to get the drugs. We know that pimps are engaged in doing all of those things. Including the word "directly" in the offence would throw doubt on whether all those examples would be covered.
The amendment would narrow the scope so that the control of activities that were only indirectly related to the person's prostitution would not be covered. In Committee, the noble Lord raised his concern to ensure that the partners of prostitutes were not caught by the provisions. I suspecthe has made it clearthat that is what Amendment No. 150 seeks to address. However, such individuals will not be caught. If, for example, a partner drives a prostitute to her place of
My noble friend's amendment stems from a desire to ensure that people who, for gain, provide services to prostitutes that may assist them in their prostitutiona travel agent, a taxi driver or a hairdresserare not covered by the offence. That is the other limb of his argument. If a taxi driver or a hairdresser is hired by the prostitute herself for their services, no control is exerted, and they would not be liable for the offence. If a taxi driver, a hairdresser or a travel agent is hired by a pimp to provide their services to a prostitute, it is the pimp who directs the activities relating to prostitution who is exerting the control, not the service provider. If it can be proven that the partner of a prostitute or someone providing a service to her exerts control over activities related to prostitution, it is right that he is liable to be charged in connection with the offence.
I think that, in the answers that I have given, I have dealt with the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. Again, it is a difficult issue, but I think that we have got the balance right in framing the offence. With respect, I resist the amendment.
Lord Lucas: My Lords, I am grateful for that answer and particularly grateful to the noble and learned Lord for referring to me as his "noble friend". I shall be kept warm by that flattery for a long time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.