Clause 61 - Sections 58 to 60: interpretation and jurisdiction

Sexual Offences Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:45 pm ar 18 Medi 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Neil Gerrard Neil Gerrard Llafur, Walthamstow

I shall be brief. I may not have read the clause correctly. It defines relevant offences and who is caught under the provisions of clauses 58 to 60. Subsection (2) makes it clear that the offences in those clauses would apply to anything that was done in the UK, and to certain acts that were committed outside it. It is quite clear that offences such as arranging or facilitating travel within or out of the UK could be committed by someone outside the UK.

If I understand subsections (2) and (3) correctly, when taken together they imply that if something is done

''outside the United Kingdom, by a body incorporated under the law of a part of the United Kingdom or by an individual to whom subsection (3) applies''—

subsection (3) applies only to British citizens and nationals, and so forth—it would be difficult to do anything directly in respect of a foreign national who arranges and facilitates trafficking from outside the UK. If a person who previously did something outside the UK entered the UK, would what they had done outside the UK constitute an offence even if they did not do anything in the UK? Is there a loophole?

Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Ceidwadwyr, Woking 3:00, 18 Medi 2003

Clause 61(3) refers to various categories of people. Will the Minister consider clause 73(2), which includes as possible defendants a slightly different category of person? Someone who is resident in the United Kingdom is an offender under that clause, but not under clause 61(3).

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

To respond to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, clause 61(2) and (3), which applies to international trafficking, means that we can prosecute a British person listed under subsection (3), or an organisation listed under subsection (2)(b), who carries out such activity in any country, whether or not there is an equivalent trafficking offence in that country. If a foreign national commits an offence in the United Kingdom, we can prosecute that person. However, we cannot prosecute a foreign national who commits an offence in another part of the world. As for clause 73, a resident is covered because there is a requirement for dual criminality in such cases. There is no such requirement in relation to the trafficking offences, which is partly why we have drafted such a provision under clause 61.

Photo of Neil Gerrard Neil Gerrard Llafur, Walthamstow

Obviously, I understand the problems of trying to prosecute someone in another country. He would not be within our jurisdiction. I am worried about a foreign national in another country who has been acting in a way that would constitute an offence under the Bill and who is involved in trafficking. Let us suppose that that person enters the United Kingdom and, although he does not commit offences under the Bill while is here, we know that he had been involved in such offences in the past. I can imagine the potential for headlines in the press if such an event occurred and we were unable to touch that person when he arrived here.

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

If we did not have evidence that that person came into country, continued his activities and had connections with people here, which he probably would have in the circumstances described by my hon. Friend, we could not prosecute him. However, because of the strong networks in which such people are involved, if that person had been involved extensively in trafficking elsewhere in the world, it is highly likely that he would be entering this country for a similar purpose. Given the strict limits of the hypothetical situation highlighted by my hon. Friend, it would not be possible to prosecute the person unless we had the appropriate evidence. If another country asked us to extradite him for the activities he had carried out there, we could do so.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 61 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 62 to 64 ordered to stand part of the Bill.