Examination of Witnesses (Questions 577-579)|
MP, RT HON
MP AND MR
14 MAY 2008
Chairman: Good afternoon and welcome
to this, a further session of the Committee inquiry into harmful
content on the Internet and in electronic games. Due to the slightly
unusual timing of our hearing today, the Committee is not at full
strength and some of my colleagues have to depart but we are hoping
for further reinforcements in due course. I welcome three Ministers:
from DCMS Margaret Hodge, from the Department for Children, Schools
and Families Kevin Brennan, and from the Home Office Vernon Coaker.
Q577 Mr Evans: It is appropriate particularly
as well that Kevin Brennan is before the DCMS Select Committee
this afternoon as he will be performing for us tonight at the
Royal Albert Hall. We wish you well on that. Have you been rehearsing?
Kevin Brennan: I think that I
am more confident about tonight than I am about today.
Q578 Mr Evans: The written evidence
that the Committee has received is a short memorandum from DCMS
and BERR but we are wondering why the Home Office and the Department
for Children, Schools and Families did not submit their own independent
Margaret Hodge: This is a committee
to which we are accountable primarily, this is a departmental
committee, but, in preparing that evidence, we of course not only
consulted but incorporated the views of all of the relevant departments
and indeed, you will know, Chairman, that we wanted to bring four
ministers to today's hearing and you decided in your wisdom that
that would outdo you in number, so we limit ourselves to three.
We are working very, very strongly. I think that I have given
evidence with Vernon jointly to a number of Select Committees
probably about three or four times. I have not had the pleasure
of giving evidence with Kevin before but I am looking forward
to doing so today. We are very joined-up, but we thought it would
be easier for you to have one bit of evidence from across Government
with input from all departments.
Q579 Mr Evans: I thought it was important
to establish that. Dr Byron has proposed a UK Council for Child
Internet Safety to be chaired jointly by DCSF and the Home Office.
Should the Department for Culture, Media and Sport also have a
co-chairing role in that?
Mr Coaker: In Dr Byron's report,
it also says that DCMS should play a crucial role and mentions
DCMS specifically as well playing a key role in the new UK Council
that she has recommended and we have accepted and indeed we have
written out to membersmy colleague Kevin Brennan will also
say something about thisof the Home Secretary's Taskforce
today inviting them to become members of the new UK Council which
Dr Byron was saying should be started in April 2009 but in fact
we are going to set up in September of this year recognising the
importance of it. Also, the report said that the Home Secretary's
Taskforce was a model of good practice with respect to child protection
on the Internet and what she was very keen to do was to ensure
that that model of good practice that brought industry, children's
charities, Government and law enforcement, all of those different
people, together was taken forward. Hence, the need for the Home
Office to be one of the co-chairs but also, as you know, Mr Evans,
alongside that part of the report, she talked about the need to
better inform parents and better inform people in terms of educating
them, not only young people but parents as well, in the crucial
importance of this given that she has asked for a self-regulatory
framework. In looking at that, she therefore came to the judgment
that it would be better, having looked at different options, that
you have a co-chair involving ourselves at the Home Office and
the DCSF but with DCMS as well as a number of government departments
and all of the other various partners that we have had on the
Home Secretary's Taskforce playing a crucial role.
Margaret Hodge: We are currently
members of the Home Office Taskforce, so we really are joined
at the hip on this one.
Kevin Brennan: As well as the
existing members, we have also written out today to other stakeholders
inviting them to join the Council and indeed the devolved administrations
as well as government departments.