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The answer seems to be: put them on TV.

Some programmes handle their subject matter more sensitively than others. I recently saw part of a Channel 4 production, “Dana: The 8-Year-Old Anorexic”, which was about a girl who weighed just 8 stone and who restricted herself to 175 calories a day. The programme provided an insight into the condition and a warning that girls—and young boys, too—are at risk of developing
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anorexia, but we are talking about a child with a form of mental illness, for that is what anorexia is. Could the same point not have been made without parading all the details of that child’s life on television?

Many of the shows that are of concern are parenting programmes, such as “Supernanny”, “Little Angels” and “The House of Tiny Tearaways”. I am not going to pass judgment on whether such programmes are educational or exploitative, not least because watching screaming toddlers is not my idea of entertainment; indeed, I have rarely managed to last more than five minutes before switching the television off. However, concerns were raised this year by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which said that the Government should

The shows that concern me most, however, are the daytime talk shows, of which “The Jeremy Kyle Show”—described by a judge in a recent criminal court case as “human...bear baiting”—is the most notorious example. The programme serves up damaged people in dysfunctional relationships for entertainment. It is the modern-day equivalent of the freak show. Some shows feature children as participants, but the ones that I want to highlight today do not. Let me quote some titles: “If I can’t have children, how can it be my baby?” and “Stop ignoring your daughter—I’ll prove you’re the dad!”. Then it gets even more complicated: “Brother—I’ll prove I’m the father to your ex-girlfriend’s baby!” and “Admit you’re a prostitute then prove my boyfriend’s the dad”.

After the unedifying spectacle of those couples or former couples airing all their dirty linen in public, the matter is resolved with a DNA test result being announced live on air. I watched one such show last week—purely in the interests of research, of course—which involved a young mother and three young men, each of whom could have been the father of her eight-month-old baby. One had been in prison when the baby was most likely to have been conceived, but was now back in a relationship with her. The second, who was one of his mates, had got together with her once the first had gone inside and had acted as the child’s father while he was in prison. Indeed, the second young man even had the child’s name tattooed on his neck. The third young man was someone whom she had picked up on the way home from a nightclub and who, when told that he might be the father, had urged her to have an abortion. Of course, when the DNA test results were revealed live on air, it was the last young man—the one who did not want the baby—who turned out to be the father.

People might make excuses and say that there is a public interest in showing such programmes or that they may encourage young women and men to be more careful about having unprotected sex. That would certainly be Jeremy Kyle’s excuse. One might say that the show’s producers will ensure that counselling is provided to the participants and that the young man involved will be given advice on how to be a good father, or that the participants do the shows of their own free will.

Someone from ITV called me today and told me that the channel adheres to strict internal guidelines and to those in the broadcasting code. It always requires parental consent for under-16s to appear on a programme, and DNA tests are carried out only when it is an essential part of the storyline—a statement that is slightly
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disingenuous given that the storyline is usually about who the child’s father is. It does not do DNA tests on school-age children, and does them only rarely on children over 18 months old—again, it is not done unless it is essential to the storyline—so the DNA tests mainly involve babies.

One might say that what a baby does not know will not hurt them, but the chances are fairly high that a baby who features on such a television programme will find out about it when they grow up. People in the neighbourhood will not forget about it, and the child’s future schoolmates will find out about it, so they risk humiliation and bullying, and feelings of rejection and hurt. I cannot help feeling that even if they do not find out about the programme, there is something plain wrong about it. Perhaps we do not use that word often enough these days.

The obvious line of defence is that it is ultimately the parents’ prerogative to decide how they bring their child up and to what degree they protect their child from or expose them to the risk of humiliation, embarrassment, bullying or worse. However, parents are enticed and encouraged by the media to appear on such shows, and anecdotal evidence suggests that they are not always sure what they are letting themselves in for. Carole Cadwalladr recently wrote an excellent article in The Observer called “When reality bites, it leaves deep scars”, which accused the show of disregarding evidence of a young man’s mental health problems before he appeared on it. A DNA test was done, confirming that he was the father of a baby girl. When he was interviewed afterwards, he said:

I suspect that there is an element of snobbery involved with such programmes. People think that kids with parents like that will have such dysfunctional lives anyway, and will be exposed to such pernicious influences and will be so damaged that the programme is the least of their problems, but I think that we have to establish a marker in the sand. That is what I want to do with my Bill. Surely the overriding principle when children are involved with such television programmes, either directly or by association, should be whether the show’s commissioning or broadcasting would be in their best interests.

The broadcasting code and the accompanying detailed guidance say broadly that due care

a parent or guardian. Children

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children believes that those guidelines do not go far enough, and it has set up an advisory body of experts to consider the welfare of children who participate in reality TV programmes. The NSPCC suggests that there should be greater recognition of the fact that it is often the most vulnerable families who take part in such programmes, and that parents and older children should have the right to veto any programme before its transmission. It also suggests that Ofcom should be
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able to intervene before programmes are broadcast and that the use of children in such shows should be carefully monitored. I agree.

All I ask today is that the broadcasters should start to show more responsibility and that the relentless tide taking us towards ever more brutal, humiliating and degrading TV programmes should be halted, at the very least where children are concerned.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Kerry McCarthy, John Battle, Roger Berry, Annette Brooke, Ms Karen Buck, Alistair Burt, Mr. Tom Clarke, Andrew Gwynne, Dr. Doug Naysmith, Mr. Jamie Reed and Alison Seabeck.

Children (Protection of Privacy)

Kerry McCarthy accordingly presented a Bill to make provision to protect children’s privacy in the media; to make provision for the protection of children from avoidable emotional distress resulting from participating in, or being the subject of, media programmes or reports; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 28 November, and to be printed [Bill 175].

european documents

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(11) (European Committees),

Defence and Security Procurement

The House divided: Ayes 335, Noes 167.
Division No. 336]
[4.34 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, Danny
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Balls, rh Ed
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barrett, John
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Benn, rh Hilary
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brennan, Kevin
Brooke, Annette
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely

Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Farron, Tim
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, rh John
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Holmes, Paul
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunter, Mark
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Jim
Kramer, Susan
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laws, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
Mason, John
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonnell, John
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Price, Adam
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, John
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rowen, Paul
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swinson, Jo
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Thurso, John
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Wright, David

Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Helen Jones and
Ms Dawn Butler

Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Howell, John
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paisley, rh Rev. Ian
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, Mr. David
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew

Shapps, Grant
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Noes:

James Duddridge and
Jeremy Wright
Question accordingly agreed to
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Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Bill [ lords] (programme) (no. 2)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 83A (Programme motions),

Question agreed to.

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