After section 3

Part of Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:00 pm on 6th March 2002.

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Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour 3:00 pm, 6th March 2002

I wondered how long Mr Gallie was going to get to speak. I will not take up as much time: my points are quite simple.

I am suspicious and concerned that Phil Gallie has lodged amendment 10 at stage 3. I agree with some, but not all, of what he says, but it is wrong in principle for Parliament to debate at stage 3 a principle that has never been scrutinised or debated in committee, and I am opposed to that. I questioned whether the amendment should have been admitted, but I am told that it is admissible.

The Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Bill is about protecting victims from unnecessary criticism and from facing their accuser in court. That is at the heart of the bill, which is where it should be. Phil Gallie is getting some of his cases mixed up. Feeling in the Parliament is strong. We await the decision for which the Lord Advocate has called on the Abernethy ruling, which is on another point of law altogether. I am sure that we will be anxious to discuss what the law in relation to rape should be.

The members who intervened on Mr Gallie are correct. There may be merit in debating the anonymity of accused persons, but that anonymity should be debated in relation to every crime, not just sexual offences. The fact that that principle is in amendment 10 makes me suspicious of Mr Gallie's motives. He is saying that this is the bill that we should use to protect male persons who are accused, but let us debate the matter in its proper context—let us not confuse it with the principle of the bill that we agreed at stage 1, which is that the victim should be protected, by the appointment of a court solicitor, from having to face their accuser in court directly.