Schedule 1 - Extension of gender-specific

Sexual Offences Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:00 am ar 18 Medi 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That this schedule be the First schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths Llafur, Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 3—Prostitution by children and young persons—

No. NC3, to move the following Clause:—

'In section 1(1) of the Street Offences Act 1959 (c.57) (which makes it an offence for a common prostitute to loiter or solicit for the purpose of prostitution) before ''to loiter'' insert ''aged 18 or over''.'.

Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Citizenship and Immigration), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Citizenship, Immigration and Counter-Terrorism)

The new offences in clauses 49 to 56 to tackle prostitution and child pornography replace existing legislation, but they do not replace all existing prostitution legislation. The provisions relating to kerb crawling, loitering and soliciting for prostitution, among others, remain on the statute book. That is because of the point that I made in response to the hon. Member for Romsey. Primarily, the area of prostitution, rather than the exploitation of people through prostitution, was outside of the remit of the sexual offences review, which recommended a further review of matters relating to prostitution. The Home Secretary announced that review earlier this year.

Clause 57 rectifies one of the fundamental flaws in existing legislation—the fact that it is gender-specific. Most existing prostitution legislation is framed in terms of men committing offences against female prostitutes. However, male and female prostitutes can be exploited both by someone of their own sex and by someone of the opposite sex. The law is outdated, and clause 57 introduces and brings into effect schedule 1 to make the legislation gender neutral. I do not propose to go through all the details. Schedule 1 lists all the legislation to which clause 57 applies.

While I am on my feet, perhaps I could deal with proposed new clause 3. It would amend the offence of loitering or soliciting for the purposes of prostitution in section 1(1) of the Street Offences Act 1959. That is outside the scope of the Bill, but we believe that it should be taken up in the review that I have outlined. Therefore, I ask my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre not to press the new clause, but I

will be happy to make some more points when he has spoken to it.

Photo of Mr Hilton Dawson Mr Hilton Dawson Llafur, Lancaster and Wyre

I take to heart my hon. Friend's views and I am pleased with her comments.

I have discussed new clause 3 with the Children's Rights Alliance for England following the assurance given by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on Second Reading that children who find themselves engaged in prostitution are now decriminalised. The alliance believes that such an amendment is required to the Street Offences Act 1959 to put the cap on the problem. I am grateful for the work that my hon. Friend will continue to undertake on the matter.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 1 agreed to.