|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
(a) on furnishing the prescribed particulars, and
(b) on payment of such fee as may be specified in regulations made by the Minister by statutory instrument,
be entitled to obtain from the Registrar General, a superintendent registrar or a registrar a short certificate of the death of any person.
(2) Any such certificate shall be in the prescribed form and shall be compiled in the prescribed manner from the records and registers in the custody of the Registrar General, or from the registers in the custody of the superintendent registrar or registrar, as the case may be, and shall contain such particulars as may be prescribed.
Lord Tunnicliffe: My Lords, this amendment was tabled in response to one tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, on Report. This issue has been of particular interest to the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay.
The amendment inserts a new clause into the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 that will enable the Registrar-General, with the approval of the Minister, in regulations made under that Act, to prescribe a short form of death certificate that will omit the cause of death. The provision of a short death certificate will allow the relatives of the bereaved to provide evidence of a death in circumstances in which the cause of death does not need to be disclosed. This may be because an agency such as a bank or utility company requires only confirmation of the fact of death.
I understand that, due to the possibly sensitive nature of the cause of death-for example, suicide or drug abuse-a relative may not wish to disclose the cause to a third party unless there is a genuine need to do so. It is important that the current full death certificate will remain available because there are circumstances in which the cause of death is required to be disclosed: for example, to insurance companies. The provision of the short death certificate will add to, rather than replace, the current death certificate that contains the cause of death.
I should add that the amendment also provides for the fee for a short death certificate to be specified in regulations made by the responsible Minister. Such regulations will be subject to the negative procedure. This change to the original version of our amendment responds to points made in the 13th report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which was published this morning. I understand that the chairman of the committee is content that the amendment as now drafted meets the point made by the committee in its report. I beg to move.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, I thank the Minister and the Government for the amendment. Many organisations have pressed for this change, which protects people from having to disclose the most intimate details of the cause of death of a relative to people who really should not know, and I am very grateful that this step has been taken.
(1) A requirement under section 8 or 8A to give a notification to the Coroner for Treasure (or an Assistant Coroner for Treasure) may, if the relevant place falls within an area for which there is a designated officer, be complied with by giving the notification to that officer.
(a) in relation to a requirement under section 8, the place where the object in question was found;
(b) in relation to a requirement under section 8A, the place where the treasure in question is located.
(a) in subsection (1), for "the Coroner for Treasure (or an Assistant Coroner for Treasure)" there were substituted "a coroner";
(b) in subsection (2), for "Coroner for Treasure" there were substituted "coroner for the district in which the relevant place falls";
(c) in subsection (3), for the words from "Coroner for Treasure" to "Assistant Coroner for Treasure" there were substituted "coroner for a district is vacant, the person acting as coroner for that district is the coroner for the purposes of subsection (2)".
(1) Proceedings for an offence under section 8 or 8A may be brought within the period of six months from the date on which evidence sufficient in the opinion of the prosecutor to warrant the proceedings came to the prosecutor's knowledge; but no such proceedings may be brought by virtue of this subsection more than three years after the commission of the offence.
(a) a certificate signed by or on behalf of the prosecutor and stating the date on which the evidence referred to in that subsection came to the prosecutor's knowledge shall be conclusive evidence to that effect; and
(b) a certificate to that effect and purporting to be so signed shall be deemed to be so signed unless the contrary is proved."
13A In the definition of "the relevant period" in section (Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour)(4), as it extends to England and Wales, the reference to 12 months is to be read as a reference to 6 months in relation to an offence committed before the commencement of section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003."
"( ) section (Damages-based agreements relating to employment matters);"
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, it is a pleasure to get to an amendment that I can move. This amendment takes us back to the question of whether children under the age of 18 should still be included in the provisions on prostitution. We had a
5 Nov 2009 : Column 427
His argument that removing under-18s from these provisions could be dangerous for them takes us back to the days of Dickens and is akin to saying that this would encourage the Fagins of the modern world to employ six year-olds to commit robbery because the criminal law cannot be applied to them. His argument continues at Third Reading: that what the amendment proposes would encourage pimps to seek people under 18 to sell sex because they cannot be regarded as criminals. That is not a good argument.
"The State party should always consider, both in legislation and in practice, children victims of these criminal practices, including child prostitution, exclusively as victims in need of recovery and reintegration and not as offenders".
Our own domestic Joint Committee on Human Rights is correct that it is far more appropriate to strengthen the duties and capabilities of children's services. In our debate the other night, we heard just how many children come from care into prostitution. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Stern, will refer to that in a moment. Children end up in prostitution because of the failure of institutional services, and we should not criminalise them further. I beg to move.
Baroness Stern: My Lords, I added my name to this amendment, and I am very happy to support the noble Baroness, Lady Miller. She has been a stalwart campaigner on this matter since we started our consideration of the Bill.
It is clear that a particular group of young girls-and, I am afraid, boys-are very vulnerable to sexual exploitation: young people from care, runaways from horrible home situations, and those who have been excluded from school and have nothing to do. These young people crave affection and attention. They are very needy and very sad. They do not need to be criminalised, and they do not need messages as the Government think they do. They need help and support that sticks with them, safe places to go and worthwhile things to do.
The Government's position hinders the provision of these things. The idea that it sends a bad message if under-18s are criminalised shows the limits of their view on messages. What might seem like a message saying one thing to people in government offices in Whitehall will most likely not have been heard in the
5 Nov 2009 : Column 428
On the face of it, the other argument of the Government has more force, but that, too, is ultimately unconvincing. Exploiters will go for young people for a range of reasons. They are easily exploitable, but I have seen no evidence whatever to suggest that, because these young people can be arrested, charged, fined and returned to their work, exploiters are put off exploiting them. This argument is another attempt to impose the Whitehall theory on the complexity and messiness of the real world. The exploiters are more likely to be put off by very effective police work to deal with sexual exploitation of the young, which I am sure the Minister knows is done in some places extremely thoroughly with very good results and with the adequate backing of current law. I very much hope that the Government will change their mind on this matter.
"What we are talking about is the abuse, degradation, humiliation and pain caused to women who engage in this activity, not because they desire it but because they are compelled, coerced and manacled in a way that no human being should be".-[Official Report, 3/11/09; col. 244.]
Down the decades, I have heard the arguments that if this is removed, children would be put in greater danger. As someone who probably has worked with children as much as anyone in this House, I utterly refute that. These youngsters, as the noble Baroness, Lady Stern, has outlined-I will not repeat the catalogue she has already given-come from the most appalling backgrounds. My noble friend Lord Williamson, who is not in his place, and I had a conversation in what was our dinner break, although there has not been one for the Chamber. We talked about the glories of this House and how we sit here with all our gold. How far we are from the squalid rooms that I have seen where girls are used hour on hour. We are not talking about mature women; we are talking about youngsters who have often been prostituted from the age of 14, a point which I made on Tuesday. To say that it would give some sort of message is to forget that 75 per cent of such women find themselves in the sex trade before they are 18 years old. We have to tackle this issue not in the criminal justice system, but in the children's system.
The Government have an exceptional programme in Every Child Matters. If every child matters, why do these children in the greatest need-both boys and girls, but particularly a large number of girls-not matter? They are abused, deprived children. By the time they get into the sex trade they are usually on drugs as well. I have to say that many of them are not what you would call nice people: they are difficult, disturbed and angry, and cause problems in a
5 Nov 2009 : Column 429
I hope that the Government will take this back and have another look at the way in which we treat these young people, who might be their daughters. You may not have read the Barnardo's booklet on this, but these girls are all someone's daughter. These girls and young boys need another chance and should not be criminalised or treated in the way suggested. The arguments given by the Government do not hold water. They simply add another lack of value. It is true that these are children of the darkness. I ask that noble Lords bring them into the light. If the noble Baroness goes through the Lobby, I shall be with her.
Lord Desai: My Lords, I want to say a brief word in support of the amendment. It seems perverse that, on the one hand, we say these children are exploited by someone else-that is, they are not in that situation willingly-and, on the other hand, we criminalise them for doing something that they have unwillingly done. That is a contradiction. Therefore, if we believe that these children are exploited, they should be rehabilitated and looked after, and not criminalised.
Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen: I, too, support the amendment. Had I written a speech, most of what I would have said has already been said, certainly by people who know more about this issue than me. I was not able to be here when Clause 14 was debated. I am sorry that it is in the Bill. It is a mistake and I think that we will live to regret it. We have a chance to improve Clause 16 today. I hope that my noble friend on the Front Bench, whom I respect greatly, will listen to what is being said in the Chamber and will think again about this issue.
Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I also support the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller. Like my noble friend who has just spoken, I am extremely concerned about Clause 14 and think that we will live to regret it. In this case, the message is clear. We are dealing with damaged young people. On that basis alone, we should be thinking about the fact that it takes ordinary children differing times to grow up. But, my goodness, if you are damaged in the way that these children are, it will take considerably longer and, if we have to criminalise them at all, which I would not want, I would raise the age to 21 and not 18. I very much support this amendment. I fear that we have failed these children. We try not to criticise social services, which try very hard, but we have to put more effort in the preventive side of what is going on in families. That is where the effort should be.
I know that this Government have done a lot in that direction, but, alas, the priorities have now moved in different directions and are compounded by the shortage of money that we all face. I warmly support what has been said by all Members who have spoken so far.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I understand entirely the concerns of the noble Baronesses, Lady Miller, Lady Stern and Lady Howarth, that the victims of sexual abuse are not penalised, but instead are given the support that they need, which is absolutely right. I understand also the concern of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, that our support for international conventions is consistent with domestic legislation. However, I have not been convinced that legalising the practise of soliciting for the purposes of prostitution for children will address these concerns.
It is important to remember that we are not talking about legalising or criminalising all prostitution here. We are talking about legalising a dangerous activity for children and young adults. I agree with the noble Baroness that they should not be in that position in the first place, but we have to face it that regretfully they are. Is not the key point here that behaviour which impacts seriously on the local community is to be accepted when engaged in by children but not by adults? That cannot be right.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|