After section 3

Part of Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:15 pm on 6th March 2002.

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Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party 3:15 pm, 6th March 2002

I sympathise with some of Pauline McNeill's comments. I do not want to go too far down the procedures road, but we know that sometimes members do not lodge amendments at stage 2 because they feel that, if those amendments are debated but not accepted, they will not be able to lodge similar amendments at stage 3. Perhaps we should consider that issue, because it means that amendments that deal with serious issues, such as amendment 10, are lodged at stage 3 with little forewarning, with no evidence to back them up and with little time in which to be debated—only 10 or 15 minutes in a stage 3 debate such as this.

SNP members will not vote for amendment 10, but not because Phil Gallie has no good, supporting arguments. We should debate restricting the reporting of an accused's identity in a rape case. It is important to recognise that issue; we should not pretend that we can simply run away from it. I gently suggest to Phil Gallie, however, that the way in which he presented his argument did his cause no favours and probably made members shut their minds to what is a serious issue. Another concern is that the amendment was introduced so late in the bill's passage. That is one of the main reasons why we will not vote for it.

Amendment 10 represents a valid argument, but it could open the door to granting anonymity for accused across the board. It is difficult to justify anonymity for the accused in one case but not another. Members should consider that issue.

However, the amendment could also lend anonymity to a victim. There must be many cases in which openly identifying the accused also reveals the victim's identity, particularly in smaller communities.