Legislative scrutiny: Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill; Video Recordings Bill - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

2  Video Recordings Bill

Date introduced to first House

Date introduced to second House

Current Bill Number

Previous Reports

15 December 2009

7 January 2010

HL Bill 22


2.1 The Video Recordings Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 15 December 2009 and completed all its Commons stages in one day on 6 January 2010. It is due to receive its Second Reading in the Lords on 18 January. The Bill is a fast track piece of legislation which repeals and revives the provisions of the Video Recordings Act 1984 in order to enable them to be notified to the European Commission under the Technical Standards Directive and so secure its enforceability. Due to an oversight at the time of its enactment it was not notified.

2.2 We have received a human rights memorandum from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport[114] for which we are grateful and which has assisted with our expedited scrutiny of this Bill.

2.3 The statutory provisions which are being re-enacted by this Bill do raise some significant human rights issues. The legislation seeks to strike a balance between the protection of children and young people against harm on the one hand (in accordance with various international human rights standards including those in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) and the right to freedom of expression (which includes the right to receive information and ideas) in Article 10 ECHR and other international standards.

2.4 There is scope for argument about whether the balance which the 1984 Act strikes is the right balance. Some argue that the exemptions contained in the current statutory regime are too wide and therefore expose children to the risk of harm unnecessarily.[115] On the other hand there has been litigation about whether the definition of "harm" in the 1984 Act is too broad and needs to be interpreted more narrowly in order to make the legislation compatible with the right to freedom of expression in Article 10 ECHR.[116]

2.5 The human rights issues raised by this Bill are issues which in our view should be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny, either in the context of the Digital Economy Bill or a relevant Private Member's Bill. However, in view of those imminent opportunities and the fact that the provisions in the 1984 Act, which serve an important child protection purpose, are currently unenforceable, we accept the Government's case for fast-tracking this legislation and we therefore do not propose to subject it to further scrutiny.

114   Written Evidence, p65 Back

115   See e.g. the Video Recordings (Exempt from Classification) Bill, a Ten Minute Rule Bill to be introduced by Andrew Dismore MP. Back

116   See e.g. R v Video Appeals Committee of the British Board of Films Classification, ex p. the British Board of Film Classification, unreported, CO/4074/99 (16 May 2000); R (British Board of Film Classification) v Video Appeals Committee [2008] EWHC 203 (Admin), [2008] LLR 380. Back

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