I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
The Chairman: With this we may take the following: Government new clause 7—Malicious communications—
`.—(1) In subsection (1) of section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 (offence of sending letters and other articles with intent to cause distress or anxiety)—
(a) in paragraph (a), for ``letter or other article'' there shall be substituted ``letter, electronic communication or article of any description''; and
(b) in paragraph (b), for the word ``other article'' there shall be substituted ``article or electronic communication''.
(2) In subsection (2) of that section (defence of making a threat in the belief that it was a proper way of reinforcing a demand and that there were reasonable grounds for making that demand)—
(a) in paragraph (a), for ``which he believed he had reasonable grounds for making'' there shall be substituted ``made by him on reasonable grounds''; and
(b) in paragraph (b), after ``believed'' there shall be inserted ``, and had reasonable grounds for believing,''.
(3) After that subsection there shall be inserted—
``(2A) In this section `electronic communication' includes—
(a) any oral or other communication by means of a telecommunication system (within the meaning of the Telecommunications Act 1984); and
(b) any communication (however sent) that is in electronic form.
(4) In subsection (3) of that section (definition of ``send'')—
(a) after ``delivering'' there shall be inserted ``or transmitting''; and
(b) for ``or delivered'' there shall be substituted ``, delivered or transmitted''.
(5) In subsection (5) of that section (penalty for offence), for ``a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale'' there shall be substituted ``imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both''.
(6) Subsection (5) does not affect the penalty for an offence committed before the day on which this Act is passed.'.
And the following amendment thereto: (a), at end of subsection (2) insert—
`.—``(2ZA) No defence under subsection (2) above is provided where the threat conveyed is a threat of an action which if carried out would be an offence under any other Act.''.'.
Government new clause 20—Addresses of directors and secretaries of companies.
New clause 14—Fear of Violence—
`.—Section 4 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 shall be amended in subsection(1) by leaving out the words ``on at least two occasions''.'.
New clause 15—Conspiracy—
`.—After section 4 of the Protection for Harassment Act 1997 there shall be inserted the following section—
4A. Where two or more persons agree to organise or plan the commission by any other persons or by themselves a course of conduct contrary to Section 1 and Section 4 of this Act, they shall be guilty of the offence of conspiracy to commit the offence or offences in question contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977 Section 1.''.'.
New clause 19—Increase in sentences for hate crimes—
`—(1) This section applies where a court is considering the seriousness of any offence.
(2) If the offence was aggravated for the purposes of this section, the court—
(a) shall treat that fact as an aggravating factor (that is to say, a factor that increases the seriousness of the offence); and
(b) shall state in open court that the offence was so aggravated.
(3) An offence is aggravated for the purposes of this section if—
(a) at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrated towards the victim of the offence hostility based on the victim's actual or presumed sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or disability; or
(b) the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility towards members of a group based on their sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or disability or based on their membership of, or association with, such a group.'.
Government amendments Nos. 176 and 243.