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Clause 3 - Assault by penetration

Part of Sexual Offences Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 9th September 2003.

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Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Citizenship and Immigration), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Citizenship, Immigration and Counter-Terrorism) 3:00 pm, 9th September 2003

I have some sympathy with the arguments that the hon. Gentleman has advanced. I asked many of the same questions when considering the reasons why the clause is worded as it is. The answer is partly technical. This Bill deals with sexual offences and we must ensure that the offences that we are discussing and legislating for come appropriately within the Bill's scope. That point is important,

although it is technical and does not wholly address the other points that the hon. Gentleman made, and with which I shall try to deal.

The amendment—I understand the supporting arguments—would bring all forms of non-consensual penetration within the scope of the offence. It is very difficult to imagine an offence where somebody's anus or vagina is penetrated with an object not being sexual. In discussions with officials, I was reassured that the guidance issued to the Crown Prosecution Service and the way in which the Crown Prosecution Service would apply the charges will ensure that all offences in which there is any question of sexual intent will come within the scope of this legislation.

We must go to the bounds of what is possible in our discussions, and it is conceivable that there might be a very unusual incident in which, for example, a doctor who had to examine an unconscious person digitally as a matter of urgency would become liable for the offence if the legislation were drafted in the way in which the hon. Gentleman has suggested.