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Commons Amendments

Volume 413: debated on Tuesday 21 October 1980

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44 Clause 22, page 19, line 46, leave out second 'the' and insert 'a'.

45 Page 20, line 8, after '(i)', insert 'where the person is concerned in the proceedings as a witness only and no one against whom the proceedings are taken is under the age of 16 years, the foregoing provisions of this subsection shall not apply unless the court so directs;


46 Page 20, line 11, after 'section' insert '(including such requirements as applied by a direction under paragraph (i) above)'.

47 Page 20, line 16, leave out requirements of this section' and insert 'said requirements'.

3.41 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 44 to 47 en bloc. These amendments were made in the light of representations from the press. Their effect is to remove from the scope of the restrictions on the identification of children involved in criminal proceedings children who are witnesses only—that is to say, not also victims, or alleged victims—of the matter in issue, in cases where adults only are accused. The court will however retain the discretion to apply the restriction in such cases in appropriate circumstances.

The Government recognise the deep feelings sincerely held on both sides of the argument about the extent to which children should be protected from publicity. The paramount consideration is in our view the welfare of the child and the possibility of his rehabilitation as a useful member of society. We are satisfied that Clause 22, as amended, will achieve the best balance between the legitimate concern of the press to publish court proceedings and the need to protect children from unnecessary and damaging publicity.

I should emphasise that Clause 22 does not place an absolute ban on publication. It gives the judge discretion to decide whether or not a child should be identified, and I undertook that the court would remind judges of their power when a child is convicted, not for the purpose (as I think was suggested in another place) of telling the judges their job—I should not like to undertake that responsibility—but for the purpose of reminding them that they have this power. Amendment No. 44 is a minor drafting amendment to allow for cases where there is more than one accused. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said amendments.—( Lord Mackay of Clashfern.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.