§ 10. Mr. Livsey
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent inquiries he has made into possible links between violence depicted on television and violent behaviour by young people.
§ Mr. Livsey
In view of that statement, will the Secretary of State consider publishing a consultative document which can be discussed publicly, as there is great anxiety about the issue?
§ Mr. Hurd
There is no doubt from my postbag, especially from letters that I receive from right hon. and hon. Members, that substantial anxiety exists. The Home Office receives about 20 letters a day on the matter. That is why I took an initiative just before Christmas. I am to some extent reassured by what the broadcasting authorities have said and done since then. The House will have a chance to go further into the subject on Friday.
§ Mr. Stokes
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the public as a whole are sick and tired of the amount of violence shown on television? If the broadcasting authorities are unable or unwilling to deal with that problem, surely the Government must step in at once.
§ Mr. Hurd
Parliament has given the broadcasting authorities — the IBA and BBC governors — in the charter and in Broadcasting Act 1981 clear and specific duties which it has not given to the Government. Most hon. Members would agree that that is right, but it is perfectly reasonable that the public, including the House, should keep a close and watchful eye on how the broadcasting authorities perform those responsibilities, and draw their own conclusions.
§ Mr. Meadowcroft
Is the Secretary of State aware that the BBC is currently discussing the updating of its guidelines about portraying scenes of violence? Will he consider making that document available for the Adjournment debate so that the House can discuss the matter and see whether there is a distinction between television violence which is vicarious and prevents the acting out of violence, and television violence which encourages violence? There is evidence on both sides of the question.
§ Mr. Lawrence
Has my right hon. Friend noticed that not only the BBC, but ITV, has this week announced plans 440 to reduce the amount of violence shown on television programmes? Is that attempt to self-regulate the industry not extremely welcome and long overdue?