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Lord Hylton had given notice of his attention to move Amendment No. 3:

Before Clause 8, insert the following new clause--

Child prostitutes etc

(".--(1) It shall be the duty of every local authority to apply to the court for an order to be made under section 44 of the 1989 Act (orders for emergency protection of children) in respect of any child (under 16) who is--
(a) found to resort to or be on any premises in the area of the local authority for the purpose of having unlawful sexual intercourse with men or a particular man, or
(b) cautioned or charged with an offence of loitering or soliciting in a street or public place in the area of the local authority for the purposes of prostitution.
(2) The duty referred to in subsection (1) may, with the agreement of the local authority, be discharged by an authorised person as defined in section 44(2) of the 1989 Act.
(3) In this section "local authority" has the same meaning as in the 1989 Act.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to speak to the group of amendments, Amendments Nos. 3, 15, 16, 17, 40, 77, 78 and 79. Amendment No. 40 is unnecessary and will not be moved. Amendments Nos. 77 and 78 are linked with Amendment No. 3. My noble kinsman Lord Mar and Kellie will move the amendments in his name relating to Scotland. I intend to move only Amendment No. 16, for reasons which I shall explain.

At the previous stage of the Bill there was unanimous agreement in all quarters of your Lordships' House that child prostitution is a serious and growing evil in many cities throughout the country. It is fed by the large number of young people under 18 and of children under 16 who run away from their own homes and from local authority care. In this context, what is supposed to happen when children abscond from children's homes? Forty-three thousand young people become missing persons each year in England and Wales. It has also been estimated that 10,000 children will have run away 10 times or more before their 16th birthday. They are the ones with nowhere to live, no income, no schooling and no links to state services or responsible adults. It is these children who all too easily become the victims of pimps and paedophiles. They are easy prey, and prostitution often appears to them to be the only means by which they can survive.

The Bill is intended to be a preventive measure. It is therefore fitting that it should provide ways of preventing child prostitution and means for increasing the penalties on those who organise it or indulge in it and of rescuing as many as possible actual and potential victims. I therefore examined carefully what was said by noble Lords at Report stage, and in particular the words of the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, speaking for the Government. I have abandoned the attempt to decriminalise prostitution by young people and have avoided any reference in my amendments to young people between the ages of 16 and 18. Amendment No. 3 would have increased the present power of local authorities to provide care and protection to children at risk by making it a duty.

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This duty would have covered not only those loitering or soliciting for purposes of prostitution but also those found at any time in brothels.

In view of the resource problems that were so well explained at Report stage by my noble friend Lord Northbourne, the linked amendment would have delayed the coming into effect of the new duty by two years. A subsequent amendment would have increased the penalties for procuring.

Amendment No. 16 is new and increases the penalties for illegal and criminal intercourse with girls under 16. That is the amendment that I intend to move in due course. I urge your Lordships to support me on this point, thereby showing your total condemnation of intercourse which is all too likely to damage the physical as well as the mental and emotional health of the children involved.

The reason that I shall not move Amendments Nos. 3, 15, 77 and 78 is that I am advised that they relate to matters already decided by your Lordships and I have agreed with the noble Lord the Leader of the House not to move them. I shall formally move Amendment No. 16 in due course, and I commend it to your Lordships. By passing that amendment, we shall take a small but highly desirable first step in dealing with the urgent matter of child prostitution. That amendment increases the penalties on those convicted of having sexual intercourse with girls under 16, which will be particularly useful in dealing with persistent offenders. If Her Majesty's Government wish to include offences against boys, which are much less frequent, I hope that they will do so in another place.

[Amendment No. 3 not moved.]

Clause 9 [Parenting orders: Supplemental]:

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 8, line 6, leave out subsection (1).

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I put this amendment down again because there was such strong support for it from all Benches and not a single voice against at Report stage except the Minister's. I withdrew the amendment at that stage because the Minister said that he would be having discussions with other Ministers at the Home Office and I therefore hoped that there might be a different response.

I wrote to my noble friend pressing my case. I felt that, if magistrates had the power themselves to decide about making a parenting order in the case of 16 and 17 year-olds, they could be trusted, having information about the family before them, in the case of under 16s. It seems almost insulting to magistrates not to give them that power.

However, since I put the amendment down, I have received a letter from the Minister. It is perfectly clear that there will be no give and no change in his attitude. I have the agreement of my noble friend Lady Kennedy, who also has her name to the amendment, that it would be a waste of time to continue with this argument as the

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result is so very clear. When the Minister has spoken, if he wishes to do so, I shall withdraw the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, as the noble Baroness implies, I set out the Government's position quite fully and I not sure that I can shed any further light by repeating the earlier arguments.

Baroness David: My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Solicitor-General (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 12, line 19, after ("of") insert ("a parent or").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this amendment responds to an amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, at Report stage. The noble Baroness's amendment had the effect of extending the definition of responsible person in Clause 14(2) to include the parent of the child concerned. I indicated at that time that the Government recognised there was potential for a problem if such a change to Clause 14(2) was not made and that the Government would bring forward a suitable amendment at Third Reading. My noble friend Lord Williams referred to such an amendment in his letter of 26th March to the noble Lord, Lord Henley. Amendment No. 5 responds to this undertaking. I beg to move.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, it is very pleasant to be in the position of being able to thank the noble and learned Lord the Minister for responding to the points which I put on this matter at Report stage. It was a modest amendment but one which was practical in extent in that it will protect innocent parents under the age of 18 who take their children out and about between the hours of nine and six in areas where there may be a curfew order. I am grateful to the Government for listening on this matter. I certainly hope that it may be a portent of even greater things to come. But on this matter, I thank the noble and learned Lord.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Alton of Liverpool moved Amendment No. 6:

After Clause 16, insert the following new clause--

Video recordings designation

(" .--(1) In subsection (1)(a) of section 4 of the Video Recordings Act 1984 ("the 1984 Act"), at the end there shall be inserted the words "and having special regard to the likelihood of video works, in respect of which such certificates have been issued, inciting their viewers to anti-social behaviour, crime or disorder".
(2) At the end of section 4 of the 1984 Act there shall be inserted the following new subsection--
"(9) The Secretary of State shall not make any designation under this section unless he is satisfied that adequate arrangements will be made for an appeal in prescribed circumstances against a determination on the grounds that a video work submitted for the issue of a classification is likely to incite its viewers to anti-social behaviour, crime or disorder.".").

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The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment stands in my name and that of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lords, Lord Dholakia and Lord Ashbourne.

In February we had a short debate about the appointment of Mr. Andreas Whittam Smith as the new president of the British Board of Film Classification. It was an appointment which I welcomed. I said then that it was the intention of a cross-party group of Peers to lay an amendment to the Crime and Disorder Bill before your Lordships' House today. The purpose of that amendment is to strengthen the public's right to have their voice heard when gratuitously violent films are released and, inter alia, also to provide better protection for children. I am very pleased to say that I have received a faxed note today from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which says:

    "The NSPCC believes that the appeals procedure against classification decisions should be opened up by the British Board of Film Classification. The procedure should allow bodies like us, as well as members of the public, to appeal if it is felt that the film or video might incite viewers to anti social behaviour such as child abuse".

My amendment is jointly sponsored by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, by the noble Lords, Lord Ashbourne and Lord Dholakia, and by many others, including the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, the noble Lord, Lord Stallard, and more than 60 Members of your Lordships' House who have kindly added their names to the amendment, underlining the widespread concern about the proliferation of violent imagery and the disparity between the huge influence wielded by the industry and the comparative powerlessness of the public.

On 17th March the Daily Telegraph reported that Mr. Whittam Smith had told the Home Office:

    "In principle he is in favour of broadening the system of appeals against classification".
Under the present arrangement, film makers are allowed to appeal if they feel that a classification is too restrictive. Under the amendment before your Lordships today, organisations designated by the Home Secretary--those could be children's charities such as the NSPCC or the Children's Society or professional associations such as the Professional Association of Teachers--would be given the right, along with the industry, to appeal against BBFC decisions. Mr. Whittam Smith told the Daily Telegraph that he was,

    "in principle in favour of anybody with a genuine interest in classification being able to use the appeals process".
In reality, the amendment I am moving today is far more modest than the general right of appeal which Mr. Whittam Smith says he favours. This does not open the process to anybody.

In a letter to me dated 30th March, the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, who has been extremely considerate and patient in dealing with the points which I have raised with him in meetings and in correspondence concerning this matter over the past few weeks, said that neither he nor Mr. Whittam Smith

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consider the amendment before your Lordships' House today to be workable. Let me deal directly with the arguments the Minister put in his letter of yesterday.

First, he says that the other interest groups will demand equal treatment. He does not say who the other interest groups are. It would be interesting for us to learn their identity. But if this argument were reduced absurdum, the National Association of Paedophiles would need to be treated comparably with the NSPCC, the National Front with the Commission for Racial Equality, and organisations promoting heroin and cocaine given comparable treatment to the National Drugs Misuse Council. It would be political correctness of the worst kind. The real point is that other interest groups are already represented by the industry and have an unlimited right of appeal already--a right currently enjoyed by no one else.

Secondly, in his letter dated yesterday, the Minister said that different groups may appeal against each other. But this is already perfectly normal in many appeal situations. The whole point is that the BBFC would then need to consider conflicting arguments in arriving at its decisions. The designated list of those who can appeal would be entirely composed of organisations chosen by the Home Secretary. What greater control could the Home Secretary wish for?

Thirdly, the Minister said:

    "A person could only reasonably appeal against a classification decision after having seen the video work".
What happens in reality is that if a film is trailed in advance and many people are aware of the general storyline, people then raise their opposition or their concerns. It will be at that point, in advance of circulation, that the Home Secretary's designated organisations could ask to see the film. Their response and/or their appeal could be required--it would be quite proper for the Minister to expect this--in a very short time span. That is wholly practical and it would add no more time than the industry adds when it appeals a decision under the existing arrangements.

The truth is that the Government could have come forward with their own proposal at any time since I wrote to them before the Committee stage. These are the same arguments deployed against my 1994 amendment, which I moved in another place, which was only successful when an all-party group told the Government to overcome what they claimed were insurmountable hurdles. I was especially grateful, I might add, for the help given to me at that time by the then shadow Home Secretary, Mr. Tony Blair.

In the February debate, to which I alluded, the Minister likened the situation to the planning process. It is not in many respects to be likened to the planning process. First, when an application for planning permission is made a local council will advertise the fact in the local papers and publish notices that an application has been made. The British Board of Film Classification is obliged to do no such thing. In fact it is only in the board's annual report, which is published a year after the event, that full details of the application for certification are available, by which time of course it is far too late to do anything about it. The only other

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method of letting the public know is by press release, which the BBFC has done on several occasions. By the time the public sees the film, again it is too late.

Secondly, if a local community does not like the decision made by a local council in the case of a planning decision, it is able to vote the local councillors out. A local council is demonstrably accountable. The British Board of Film Classification is not. A local planning authority is meant to be a democratic body. It was made quite clear in the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Nolan, that councillors are not simply meant to rubber-stamp planning applications but to play an active role.

In contrast, there has been continued and ongoing concern about the board's accountability. In another place in July last year Mr. Julian Brazier MP, the Member for Canterbury, raised the issue of the BBFC's openness and accountability. In response, via a press statement on 7th July 1997, the then director of the BBFC, James Ferman, defended the board's accountability by saying:

    "Under the Video Recordings Act 1984 the board is already accountable to Parliament".
Mr. Ferman continued by saying that if Mr. Brazier,

    "looks in the House of Commons Library, he will find the board's very detailed annual reports which have set out every year since 1985 the composition of the board, its procedures and a statement of accounts".
Section 6 of the Video Recordings Act 1984 does indeed require quite clearly that the designated authority, the BBFC,

    "shall, as soon as it is reasonably practicable to do so after 31st December, make a report to the Secretary of State".
It is clear that the board has previously failed lamentably to fulfil this responsibility. The last annual report that should have been published as soon as practicable after 31st December 1996, was not published until 2nd December 1997. I am grateful to Stewart Gregg of the Movement for Christian Democracy for discovering that and for pointing it out to me.

By any stretch of the imagination a whole year later clearly does not meet the requirement to present an annual report, as soon as is practicable. After its presentation to the Secretary of State, the annual report has only just been laid before Parliament. That means that at one point the latest information about the board's activities with which Parliament has been presented, was two years old. Even if the board does present its annual report on time it does little to address the issue of public participation. The board has a monopoly on film classification. It is also funded by the very industry that it is supposed to regulate.

Thirdly, I return to the analogy with planning law that the Minister drew in our February exchange. It is generally accepted that the granting of planning permission should not have detrimental effects on the people of a local area. However, there are different categories of planning applications to identify the application which might cause harm. In such cases licences must be obtained for certain properties to be able to act or trade in a certain way. Therefore, it would

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be more correct to draw a parallel between film classification and the granting of licences for the use of specific purposes. For instance, if premises are to be used as a betting shop or a public house, the police and local residents are frequently consulted. There are powers to take licences away if there are problems of harm, crime or disorder. There will be a court hearing at which local residents are able to make their case and the police are able to express their concerns. There are licensing magistrates.

To all intents and purposes this is a system of appeals. Provision is made for appeals in situations where there might be harm and so it should be for films as well. There is an ever-growing amount of evidence of the harm that violent images can cause. The BBFC's own annual report for 1996-97, page 3, says that handled irresponsibly, screen violence can teach techniques, encourage aggressive attitudes or reinforce aggressive behaviour. The House should be in no doubt about the seriousness of this situation.

Dr. Ken Parsons of Manchester University has demonstrated how children are being affected by the playing of violent video games. After a study of 61 teenagers over a six month period, he concluded that playing a game can be like real life for a child and that young people may well become addicted to violence as a result of playing the game. That is particularly grave if it happens during a time of key personal development. That is hardly surprising given that children are often playing computer games for up to 30 hours a week.

A recent Home Office report into the viewing behaviour of young offenders, which was unfortunately widely misreported in the press in January, finally concluded something that we all knew in our hearts for very many years. It states that there is some evidence that young people do imitate films. The BBFC needs to be much more open to the concerns of people drawn from right across the spectrum. Its present disposition is invariably elitist and often very patronising. For instance, the decision last week to allow films such as "Crash", "Lolita" and "Kiss" to be made available for home viewing illustrates how out of touch it has become. This is not about censorship because each of the films which I have just mentioned can be seen by adults in the cinema. But should they be easily available in thousands of homes where children are bound to see them?

For 25 years, at one level or another, I represented people in the inner city of Liverpool. In those streets and humble homes where often there was great material poverty, one thing that one would often find would be piles of videos, many of them totally unsuitable for young children and young people to see. The Daily Mail described last week's decision as being a gross betrayal of public interest. In a leading article it said of the BBFC, that, encased in their own celluloid bubble they appear to exist on another planet. They are utterly remote from that inhabited by ordinary people who have all too real reason these days to fear for the safety of their children.

Two days after the BBFCs decision, a national newspaper reported on the death of four children and

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their pregnant teacher gunned down in Arkansas by two boys aged 13 and 11. The older boy, Mitchell Johnson, had bragged to his school friends,

    "Everybody I do not like is going to die. I have a lot of killing to do".
Where does a child learn language like that? In a report in The Times of 26th March, Mr. Mike Huckabee, the Governor of Arkansas, said that he blamed a national culture in which films, television, language and music promoted a glorification of violence. He said,

    "What makes all of us angry is that our culture would create the kind of atmosphere where a 11 or 13 year-old student could feel that the way to respond to whatever anger is inside them is to take up a whole battery of arms and indiscriminately shoot their fellow students and teachers".
The report continued by saying that he was not sure much else could be expected in a country where children are exposed to tens of thousands of murders on television and films.

The prevalent gun culture in the USA is the other combustible in this lethal cocktail. But guns have always been present in American society. In contemporary times the old restraints have been displaced by the coarsening of society; by the glamorising of extreme violence and by the normalising of viciousness and brutality. Who can doubt that the culture of casual violence has played its part? Certainly, increasing numbers of film makers from the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, to the actor, Dustin Hoffman, have been excoriating in their criticism of the industry for dressing up gratuitous violence as entertainment or as a form of art.

The stark reality is also that some parents are not fulfilling their responsibilities with regard to supervising what their children are watching. According to a survey in March 1997 by SMRC Childwise, nearly half of British children aged five to six years claimed that at weekends they watched television after the 9 o'clock watershed. These issues illustrate why we need to take action on a variety of fronts.

Perhaps I may draw the threads of this argument together and concentrate in my final remarks on why this amendment is practical, workable and urgently required. The BBFC state in its annual report that the most direct channel of accountability is replying to letters and telephone inquiries. This amendment will provide a far more satisfactory method of accountability and a way of allowing the public to voice their concerns, not merely their reactions on a telephone once it is too late.

The BBFC is faced with a huge problem about how to gauge public feeling. It is clearly frustrated that so often the tabloid press is left to be the vehicle for the expression of public opinion. Its annual report and press releases continually make reference to circumstances with which it has become depressingly familiar. It says that, somebody sees the film in question in its country of origin or at a film festival prior to international release and writes an article attacking it as the most dangerous film ever to be offered to the public. The press then canvass the opinions of dozens of prominent figures.

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Then long before the BBFC has had a chance to view it and make its own analysis, it is deluged with warnings and injunctions not to permit the showing of the film. This amendment will provide a civilised and workable alternative to this vicious circle. The film "Crash", described by the BBFC as an unusual and disturbing film, concerns a couple who are unable to find sexual satisfaction inside or outside marriage and who fall in with a group of people who associate sexual excitement with car crashes. A BBFC press release says that their legal adviser took the view that rather than sympathising or identifying with the attitudes or tastes of the characters in this film, the average viewer would, in the end, be repelled by them. The film was granted an 18 certificate uncut for cinema release and now for home viewing by the viewer.

At the end of the press release James Ferman welcomed this advice by saying,

    "Now the debate can move to the public arena".
But there can be no adequate debate. There is no mechanism for allowing such a debate while the industry has total access to the appeals procedure and ordinary members of the public have no method of finding their way into the appeals procedures. This amendment will make a small contribution to challenging the prevailing culture of violence and it will enhance the role of those who protect children. Powerful vested interests prefer the status quo. I hope that tonight your Lordships will resist the status quo and those powerful vested interests and support the amendment. I beg to move.

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