Let me take members through the history of the bill. Before the Justice and Home Affairs Committee was split into two committees, it discussed Maureen Macmillan's proposal for a sexual abuse bill. At that time, I raised the issue that amendment 10 highlights. If members read the stage 1 debate on the Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) (Bill), they will find that I raised the same issue. I did not lodge the amendment at stage 2 because I felt that others had heard evidence and were considering the bill.
More than anything else, what changed my mind was a story in the Daily Mail on 23 February. I felt that it would be wrong for the Parliament to ignore such an omission in the law, which needed to be addressed. That is why I have lodged amendment 10 at this stage. As far as I am concerned, the amendment has been lodged precisely according to the rules of the Parliament.
I give my thanks to the several members who have said that they recognise the need for the change that amendment 10 would make. If the amendment is voted down, perhaps it will induce an examination of the situation, which might be dealt with in another bill in the not-too-distant future.
The minister mentioned the fact that the amendment would not apply to those who are accused of the sexual abuse of children or other crimes. I considered that issue, but felt that, at this late stage, I should take a simple approach. That
I thank the Presiding Officer for giving me the opportunity to respond. I hope that members who are sympathetic to the amendment will vote with their consciences. If the amendment is unsuccessful, I will look forward to a future debate.