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I beg to move amendment No. 48, in page 11, line 31, leave out '3' and insert '20'.
In Committee my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) argued, strongly and with his usual eloquence, that three was far too small a figure to define an assembly for the purposes of the Bill. The Minister said that he agreed that the base should be shifted upwards. He said:
I shall consider the hon. Gentleman's arguments with care and I shall consult further on the matter. I accept that, if a number can be found that is sensible in terms both of policing and of definition for the kind of offences that we are discussing, that number should be in the clause. I have accepted the principle and indicated at least that my starter is for 10."—[Official Report, Standing Committee C, 13 March 1986; c. 789.]
As no Government amendment to increase the number has been tabled and as the Minister has said that he accepts the principle that the number should be increased, I am left with the assumption that he looks favourably on the
amendment tabled by my right hon. and hon. Friends. Therefore, I shall waste no more time but shall await the Minister's favourable response.
The hon. Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland) has chosen his moment and his amendment well and has presented a good case for excluding small assemblies of fewer than 20 persons from the scope of the clause 14 provision. The case is of such quality that its author must be a great man. We discussed this matter at some length in Committee and I accepted then that there was a case in principle for excluding small assemblies. We consulted the police and they are content with a cut-off point of 20 and I am happy to say that the Government are prepared to accept the amendment and I advise the House so to do.