It's time to leagalise brothels

THE tragic events which have unfolded in Suffolk in recent days lead to the inescapable conclusion that brothels should be legalised and prostitution regulated.

By Graham Dines

THE tragic events which have unfolded in Suffolk in recent days lead to the inescapable conclusion that brothels should be legalised and prostitution regulated.

Yet only the Liberal Democrats seem prepared to consider the move, with the Government clinging to the line that managed red light zones would not offer any real protection for the women and the Tories tub thumping about the need to emphasise the virtues of marriage.

In the Commons on Wednesday, Lib Dem leader Sir Ming Campbell said that from the “disturbing events” in Suffolk, “is it not clear that we once again see that there is a link between poverty, prostitution and drug abuse?”

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The Prime Minister agreed there was “obviously a link” but concluded “there might well be lessons that we have to learn as a result of the terrible events of the past few weeks, I think that those lessons are best learned in a considered, rather than a reflex, way.”

Sir Ming invited Mr Blair to consider having a wholesale review of the law to make sure that we do everything in our power to ensure women's safety.

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But the Prime Minister would not be tempted. “As I have said, I think that we should try to learn the lessons of this whole issue at a later time. But I should just make this point as well - when we published a consultation paper last year, the responses showed how difficult policy in this area is.”

Despite David Cameron's talk of turning the Tories into a compassionate, inclusive party representing modern Britain and not preaching how we should live our lives, there seems no real understanding of urban poverty and multiple depravation. For all the good words in Iain Duncan Smith's social justice report this week, the Conservatives are unlikely to budge from their support for tax breaks for married couples.

This censorious approach towards single parents takes no account of the dire circumstances that forces some of the poorest women to turn to drugs and then to prostitution to pay for their habit and to support their children.

It's all very well snorting designer drugs at country house parties, smart nightclubs, and in the well heeled districts of mega rich inner London and suburbia, but to condemn those who become hooked on crack cocaine and who have to take risks with their lives by picking up punters from the streets is the very opposite of compassion.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb - Sir Ming Campbell's chief of staff - said that if public policy was to eradicate prostitution, it had failed. “There is no doubt that existing laws make women on the streets less safe.”

This year's Home Office study concluded there was no real evidence that formal, managed areas could deliver in terms of improving the safety of those involved in prostitution. That's the Government's formal position.

Polite society does not talk openly about prostitution. It's about time it did.

While it can never be proved that if Ipswich had a legalised brothel, the five murdered women would still be alive, that shouldn't be reason for not introducing licensed premises.

So let's legalise brothels. It removes trade from the streets, restores neighbourhoods into the safe havens they once were, protects prostitutes from pimps, women can be helped off their drug habits, and some stability provided for children of working girls.

Victorian values hypocritically require that protection be given to clients rather than prostitutes. In the 21st century, where shamefully we still have an underclass working in a twilight world, that surely must change.

SUFFOLK South MP Tim Yeo, who has drawn second place in this year's Private Members Bill ballot, is to introduce legislation which would move the clocks forward by one hour throughout the year. This means that in winter, the clocks would be set at Greenwich Mean Time + one hour and in summer they would move to GMT + two hours.

Mr Yeo said: “According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, moving the clocks forward would save more than a hundred lives every year by cutting the number of road accidents.

“Research by Cambridge University suggests it would also save energy by reducing demand for electricity and thereby address the threat of climate change by cutting carbon emissions.

“It is 10 years since the House of Commons considered this subject. I hope Parliament will now approve a simple change which will benefit everyone by creating a safer and greener country.”

Mr Yeo's Bill would allow separate votes in the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly to see if they wish to change the clocks.

His Bill, which will have cross party support, is due for its second reading on January 26.

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