Home Affairs Committee Press Notice

Session 2002-03, dated 5 February 2003

Home Affairs Committee to conduct scrutiny of the Sexual Offences Bill

The new Sexual Offences Bill, published on Wednesday 29 January, will be examined by the Home Affairs Committee. Although not part of the Bill, the Committee will also explore the arguments for and against extending the reporting restrictions, which preserve the anonymity of victims of sexual offences, to persons accused of those offences. The Committee aims to publish a short report on the Bill before second reading in the Commons later in the spring.

The Committee is inviting the submission of written evidence from interested parties and welcomes views on all aspects of the Bill. Among the issues in which the Committee are particularly interested are:

  • statutory definition of consent (clause 77)

  • presumptions about the absence of consent (clause 78)

  • offences against children under 13 (clause 76)

  • defences of "honest belief in consent" and "mistake of fact in age"

  • new sexual grooming offence (clause 17)

  • omissions from the Bill, including - arguments for and against extending anonymity to those accused of sexual offences

Details of the Committee's programme will be published on the web page: http://www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/hmafpnot.htm

The Bill itself and the explanatory notes can be found at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200203/ldbills/026/2003026.htm

The Home Office has a dedicated website for the Sexual Offences Bill, which can be found at: http://www.sexualoffencesbill.homeoffice.gov.uk

Anyone wishing to submit written evidence should do so by 28 February 2003. Any such memorandum should refer to particular clauses in the Bill and should not exceed 2,000 words. The Committee will welcome suggestions for specific changes to the text of the Bill. Anyone wishing to submit a memorandum which was not originally written for the Committee (eg a paper which was written for the Home Office as part of a consultation exercise) should indicate for whom the paper was written. If possible, any such documents should be in Word, Rich Text Format or Word Perfect and should be sent electronically to homeaffcom@parliament.uk. If not, a paper copy should be sent to the Clerk of the Home Affairs Committee, House of Commons, London SW1A 3JP.