§ Mr. Bright
I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 8, leave out from 'means' to 'any' in line 9.
§ No. 3, in page 1, line 13, leave out subsection (3).
§ No. 6, in clause 2, page 2, line 9, leave out 'or'.
No. 7, in clause 2, page 2, line 10, at end insert
`or (c) it is a video game.'.
§ Mr. Bright
I shall be brief. The amendments have been tabled in response to a detailed discussion in Committee, and they refer to video games. Most video games are exempt, but it is possible for a video game to include violence or sex.
Hon. Members may be aware of The Sun campaign for Harrods to stop selling one such game as it included scenes of killing and raping a girl. The amendment will catch that area.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) for bringing this matter to our attention in Committee, and I am honouring the commitment that I gave then.
§ Mr. Parris
The amendment is to be welcomed, for the reasons explained by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, South (Mr. Bright). It was suggested in Committee that the provision in clause 1(2)(a)produced electronically by the use of information contained on any disc or magnetic tape'might be overtaken by technology. Video games might be produced which do not make use of information contained on a disc or magnetic tape. Therefore, the Bill needs changing for that technical reason.
My hon. Friend may have already considered this problem——
§ Mr. Bright
The matter has been considered, and will continue to be considered. We are obtaining expert advice and we hope to deal with the matter when the Bill goes to another place.
§ Mr. Brinton
I rise briefly to ask for reassurance on one matter. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, South (Mr. Bright) has tabled these amendments to cover video games. Can he reassure me that the interactive video game will also be caught by these amendments? His remarks did not make that clear.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
I beg to move amendment No. 2, in page 1, line 12, at end insertor as a series of still pictures".The amendment has been tabled to cover a matter that has caused me some concern. It appears to be possible to get round the Bill with a series of still pictures which, when put together and associated with a commentary and music, could defeat the Bill's purpose.
During my discussions with the BBFC I have discovered that that happens in some parts of the world, especially in America. The gutter press take masses of pictures of murders and accidents, put them together and then add screams, noises, music and offensive commentaries. The amendment is tabled to take care of that problem.
I do not know what attitude the hon. Member for Luton, South (Mr. Bright) and the Minister will take. I hope they accept that it is a serious problem and, therefore, will accept the amendment. If they do not do so—which I should very much regret — I hope that at least they will agree to take further advice on the matter and return to it in another place so that this serious problem can be dealt with.
§ 11 am
§ Mr. Mellor
We are always faced with difficulties when considering where the line should be drawn. We decided a few moments ago to bring within the ambit of the Bill computer games that can pander to violence. That is an important step. It widens the Bill, but everyone agrees that it is appropriate.
I am in a more difficult position about the amendment proposed by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell). I understand that those who make a great deal of money out of a trade will not easily be frustrated by the House and will make every effort to circumvent legislation. That is why the Standing 628 Committee took so much care not to make the exemptions in clause 2 wide enough to allow pornographers to drive a coach and horses through the Bill.
We have looked carefully at the problem raised by the right hon. Gentleman, and we are not persuaded that it would be appropriate to recommend an extension of the Bill. We see difficulties in accepting an amendment which might catch innocuous material and lend credibility to the charge made in some quarters—wrongly, I believe—that we are using a Bill dealing with video nasties to go too far and to exercise control over a number of areas that no one had in mind when the Bill was introduced.
However, because the right hon. Member for Small Heath takes the matter seriously and has discussed it with others, I do not wish to throw his amendment back in his face. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, South (Mr. Bright) and I will look into the matter and write to the right hon. Gentleman. There will be opportunities in another place for an amendment to be brought forward if necessary.
At present, the evidence does not suggest that the matters about which the right hon. Gentleman is worried would be a major source of trouble, especially compared with the undoubted difficulties that his amendment would cause to a number of people involved in innocuous film making. We must remember that one of the principal reasons for the legislation is that moving pictures have a different vividness and impact from the written word and photographs.
I should need a lot more persuading to agree to broaden the Bill in the way proposed by the right hon. Member for Small Heath. However, I know that the right hon. Gentleman has thought carefully about the issue and I do not wish to trample on his amendment. I hope that I have, with proper candour, made clear my present inclinations, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the subject would benefit from further discussion.
§ Mr. Parris
I find no difficulty in resisting the amendment. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) is, in effect, talking about the technological equivalent of a slide show. Once we have the BBFC censoring slide shows, it will not be long before someone suggests that single slides and photographs should be censored and we shall have a British board of photographic censors. The Bill draws the line in the right place.
§ Mr. Pike
I support the amendment, but I am prepared to accept the Minister's assurance that he will look at the matter again.
The Laservision video disc system can be viewed picture by picture and frame by frame. That could defeat the object of the Bill. Normal video tape recorders cannot be used in the same way, but I hope that the Minister will pay attention to the potential problems presented by laservision discs.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
With the leave of the House, may I say that I welcome what the Minister said. I am happy to accept his undertaking to look at the matter again. There is genuine anxiety about the problems to which I referred and I am sure that the Minister will take advice from the same people who advised me.
629 I do not agree with the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris). He was exaggerating the effect of the amendment by claiming that it would lead to censorship of single photographs. It proposes nothing of the kind.
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendments made: No. 3, in page 1, line 13 leave out subsection (3).
§ No. 4, in page 2, line 3 leave out `cognate expressions' and insert 'references to a supply'.—[Mr. Bright.]