Requirement to amend guidance

Part of Miscellaneous – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 5th September 2018.

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Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 7:30 pm, 5th September 2018

I am happy to take that away and consider it. It is appropriate that when we look at protected characteristics we do not look exclusively at sex and gender characteristics, which as I said will be included. I am very happy to consider the point the hon. Lady makes and I will get back to her on that.

Secondly, I would like to deal with amendments 1 to 4, tabled by my right hon. Friend Mrs Miller, in relation to purposes. Before turning to the substance of her amendments, I would like to pay credit to her for all her work in this area. For many years, as Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee and individually as a Member of Parliament, she has continually stood up for the rights of women. I am very grateful to her for highlighting important points to me on the Bill in Committee and more informally. The Department has considered very carefully the issues she raises and reflected on them. I will set out in due course how we propose to deal with the points she has very carefully and helpfully raised for consideration, but first I will deal with the substance of the Bill as drafted.

In the Bill as drafted, upskirting is criminalised if the perpetrator takes an image with the purpose of either sexual gratification or causing humiliation, distress or alarm to their victim. The reason those motivations are identified in the Bill is that they are used in other current legislation. Amendments 1 to 4 would remove those defined purposes, effectively taking away any mens rea to the offence and therefore criminalising the taking of all upskirting photographs whatever the circumstances. As I understand it from the explanatory statement and the speeches today, the intention behind amendment 3 is to ensure that those undertaking this sort of inappropriate behaviour for group bonding or financial gain are caught.