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A similar point has been made by Transparency International. I remind the House that the defence would not cover conduct that would amount to bribery of a foreign public official. Our objective is to ensure that law enforcement agencies, the intelligence services and the Armed Forces can continue to undertake their important functions effectively. There will be occasions when conduct would amount to an offence under the Bill in order to secure intelligence critical to our national security or to ensure the safety of military, intelligence service or law enforcement personnel. It would not be appropriate to criminalise that conduct. However, any person wishing to rely on the defence would have to demonstrate that his or her conduct was necessary in any given case.
"The Government's earlier draft Bribery Bill provided for authorisation by the Secretary of State for bribery by UK security services. The JSC heard that the OECD Working Group on Bribery had never encountered any law anywhere that expressly authorised bribery. The JSC opposed the proposal on the ground that the Bribery Bill was not the appropriate vehicle to extend the security services' powers to contravene the criminal law. The Government has responded to the JSC's recommendations in two ways: (a) instead of giving a wide authorisation to the security services to pay bribes, there is now a more limited defence to prosecution; and (b) Section 12 identifies specific areas where benefit-giving might be considered to be for the public good: e.g. police transactions with informers, military actions in the course of armed conflict and security services. TI-UK would on balance prefer the Clause 12 to be omitted; but accepts that the Government has responded positively to the JSC's recommendations".
With regard to the accusation that the blanket defence is much broader than the authorisation scheme of the draft Bill, it is right that the authorisation scheme did not cover the Armed Forces or law enforcement agencies, but the authorisation scheme of the draft Bill allowed a much wider exemption to the provisions of the Bill because that scheme allowed for class authorisations that could provide cover for a
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The noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, among others, questioned more broadly whether the clause was needed at all; the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, certainly did so in his powerful speech. It is questioned whether the Clause 12 defence of the legitimate purposes of the state is necessary, and it has been suggested that it would be better simply to rely on prosecutorial discretion. Leaving aside broader issues of whether Clause 12 is too broadly set at the moment and includes too many people and too many groups, and dealing with the question of whether we need a Clause 12 at all, I begin to put the case now for the clause. Those who are afforded defence under the clause exercise significant functions on behalf of the public. It is indeed a sensitive area, as the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, reminded us. It is right that the law should afford those people who undertake important functions the reassurances of a defence at the outset if the effective discharge of their functions necessitates conduct that would otherwise amount to an offence.
In conjunction with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the provision, which gives a clear and transparent statement of the circumstances in which a person otherwise liable for bribery has a defence, would assist prosecutors in deciding whether a case should proceed. Transparent is an important word here. In the specific context at issue, we think our clearer and more transparent approach is more appropriate than allowing such decisions to be made with broad discretion alone. In other words, if the senior prosecutor on such a case decides to prosecute, the defendant should be able to run this defence in front of a jury.
I note the well made criticism that no examples of where this might be material have been given to the Joint Committee or by me to the House today. It is an important point which I will take away to see whether it is possible to bring those examples to the notice of those in this House interested in the Bill.
Clearly, we will return to Clause 12 and other matters in the Bill. My noble friend Lord Borrie asked whether the civil law will still have a role in the fight against bribery. The answer is yes, it certainly will-the Bill does not affect the civil law.
I hope I have dealt with some of the points that noble Lords have raised. Those points will come up in Committee. I thank the House again for its sympathetic reception of the Bill and look forward to debating further matters in Grand Committee after our Christmas break.
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, when I tabled this Question, I was not aware of the huge number of initiatives and research projects, relevant to this debate, which have taken place in recent years-at least one of which, the Ofcom study, is part of a continuous project related to how families use the internet and other media. American researchers and academics are conducting similar research into the dangers and benefits of the media in all its aspects: advertising and public relations, safety when using the internet-particularly for children accessing electronic media in their own bedrooms-and the desirability of trying to protect children from the dangers they may encounter and the influences which may impact upon their understanding of the world around them.
In a relatively short speech, it is not possible to do justice to all this work, fascinating though much of it is. But the fact that it is being done at all reflects on the need to help and educate young people about the power of the media, for both good and ill, and their need to learn how to use that power.
One major element in the media is advertising and other material in magazines directed particularly at women and girls. Members may know that my colleague in another place, Jo Swinson, recently launched a campaign to prevent magazines from artificially enhancing models' beauty by covering skin imperfections, flattening stomachs and extending legs. I love the thought of extending legs, don't you?
MPs who back the campaign want magazines to adopt a code of conduct that will ensure that all images which have been digitally enhanced are marked as such, and that enhanced images should be banned altogether in magazines directed at under-16s. This is not an unimportant matter. The statistics show a rise of 47 per cent in the number of under-18s admitted to hospital last year for treatment of anorexia or bulimia, and many research problems confirm the ill effects of these enhanced images on women and girls. The support given to the campaign by Equality Minister Harriet Harman is especially welcome.
As part of the work done in connection with Jo Swinson's campaign, the Liberal Democrats asked a body of experts from around the world to provide information on the impact of idealised media images on how adults, adolescents and children think, feel and behave with respect to their body and appearance. I shall read out the nine sentences which sum up the findings. The paper confirms, first, that body image is highly significant for physical and mental health and thus well-being. Body dissatisfaction is a significant risk for mental health. Secondly, the weight of evidence documents the detrimental effect of idealised media images. Thirdly, these detrimental media effects start
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Whether that last comment is true, however, is open to doubt. A 2007 study by the University of Missouri showed that all sorts of women felt noticeably worse about themselves after only three minutes of viewing models in magazine photos. Research by the University of Sussex confirms the widespread discontent among young girls as to their body image. They generally want to be at least a size smaller at an age when most of the women who contribute to the work of this Chamber were probably not paying any attention to such matters.
I want to consider another aspect of this subject, namely the potential dangers of early access to the electronic media on the part of children in their own homes. The Byron review, Children and New Technology, makes a particularly relevant contribution to the discussion of how to keep young people safe, while the Ofcom reports give us a good understanding of how parents and children organise viewing of different sorts of media, including TV, games, talking to others, and trying out different programme options.
It is clear from Ofcom that children have a variety of experience of how their access is managed. Parents try to exert power and influence on their children's use of the internet, for example, but, as older children retreat to their own rooms, it may become more and more difficult for parents to keep up with their children's level of expertise in using the media available to them. The year-on-year comparisons of the Ofcom analyses show that in many households children are more expert than their parents in accessing what they want to see or with whom they wish to interact. A particular problem is that poorer families have less contact with electronic media and their children may be less well armed to defend themselves against more dangerous programmes and contacts. Have the Government been able to offer any assistance to parents in these circumstances,
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The Byron review is more directly related to combating the dangers inherent in the easy availability of electronic media to inexperienced young people. Indeed, its author declares from the first the belief that,
The author goes on to say that, just as we know swimming baths to have some dangerous aspects but we teach our children to swim while avoiding such dangers, so we should do the same with respect to teaching e-safety to children and young people. The need is both for adults-teachers and parents-to acquire a good understanding of issues around e-safety and for them to ensure that children acquire the skills and online safety awareness that they need. A caveat reminds us that, although children may have better online skills than their parents, that does not protect them from risky situations. The more skilled they become, the more risky encounters they may have.
The report's conclusions seem very sensible. It argues, first, that the "staying safe" element in Every Child Matters should include e-safety. Secondly, the author notes that nothing prevents schools integrating ICT and e-safety education as part of other subjects. Indeed, it seems that primary schools already seem to manage it in this way. Thirdly, the report concludes that there is no need for "wholesale changes" to the curriculum; e-safety and media literacy should be embedded in the existing curriculum. The fourth conclusion is that teachers and staff need training in the e-safety element in the curriculum. Finally, the report recommends that the Government should encourage teachers to focus on e-safety by identifying it as a national priority for the continuous professional development of teachers and the wider school workforce. Do the Government agree with those four very practical recommendations? If so, are they being put into action already?
Few things are more important than the education of all children so that they can, as adults, play their full part in society-as parents, workers, volunteers, family members and citizens-in the broad sense of that term. I look forward to listening to the contributions of other Members of your Lordships' House and, in particular, to that of the Minister.
Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, I am glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Walliswood, tabled this subject for debate and I thank her. The question of what education young people should have about the media is profoundly important but it does not often enough receive the serious consideration in Parliament that it should. Too often, media studies are sneered at and mocked as the epitome of the sloppy and the trendy in education.
Children and young people are today blitzed and barraged by media with unprecedented intensity and determination. Children typically spend many more
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So children need to be equipped with skills for survival in this mediated existence. Ninety-nine per cent of children aged eight to 17, the Government tell us, now have access to the web and to the virtual world that it opens up. Eighteen per cent of children, we are told, have come across harmful or inappropriate content online. I do not know how "harmful" or "inappropriate" are defined for the purpose of this statistic. I suspect that the bullying and manipulation of the fashion industry, about which the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, spoke powerfully just now, are not taken into account here. At any rate, it is right that online safety is to be made a compulsory part of the curriculum from age five, and I welcome the green cross code.
As children grow, they need a developing awareness of the nature of the media, which are omnipresent in their lives, and of the forces acting on them. They need to understand what powerful persuaders and propagandists are trying to do to them and what they themselves are trying to do in response as they adapt to mediated life. Otherwise, young people will be unable to become independent, self-aware, self-determining, responsible agents-which, I presume, we should be aiming for in education.
As politicians, we are apt to applaud the so-called creative economy and give thanks for its exceptionally rapid growth in Britain and its contribution to employment and exports. We do not think enough about its psychological and moral effects on those who are ill equipped educationally to deal with it. We may tut-tut about the tyranny of fashion and celebrity. Every now and again, we have a more acute spasm of anxiety about copycat conduct, as in the Jamie Bulger case, where there was evidence that the boys who murdered Jamie were re-enacting scenes from a video. We may be startled by reports about the latest computer game sensation. It may be "Modern Warfare 2", "Assassin's Creed 2" or "Left4Dead2", with more and more people playing at killing more and more people and more luridly. But we are liberal, we do not like to be prudish or spoilsports, and it may just be that some of us are not entirely up to date in our knowledge of some of that.
We can be sure that today's media are not activated by Reithian values-nor do I wish the media to be preachy or culturally authoritarian. I do want young people to be educated to have a critical capacity, to be discriminating. That is what I mean by media literacy. I notice that the term "media literacy" is commonly used in a technical, neutral sense: young people are to learn IT skills as they are to learn to read and write. Being able to work the gadgetry, to operate the technology, is only a preliminary. What then matter are questions of significance, of value.
The words "literacy", "criticism" and "discrimination" have shifted in common usage. Literacy once denoted not just the capacity to read but being relatively well
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A hundred years ago, the study of English literature struggled to secure a place in grammar school and university curricula. There was not yet a convincing methodology for teaching Eng Lit. Philology was grimly established, but literary critical technique was undeveloped and lacking in intellectual rigour, and was denounced as such-in some of the grander public schools until well into the second half of the 20th century. Our literary heritage was commandeered as propaganda to serve various ideologies and sentimentalities about patriotism and nationhood. An educated person was supposed somehow to absorb, pretty well without being taught, a knowledge of great drama, poetry and novels. Gradually, however, English became a serious, respectable discipline. When well taught, systematic and rigorous study of literature confers enhanced delight in literature as art, better understanding of how words can most tellingly be used, a more acute awareness of an author's intentions and a more developed capacity to understand human motive and to distinguish different kinds of moral conduct. All of that is an education for citizenship and democracy.
Well conceived and practised study of the media will confer equivalent benefits. We should pay tribute to some of the pioneers of media education in this country: Cary Bazalgette, Colin MacCabe and Stuart Hall. Study of the media has certainly gained ground in the national curriculum in the work that has been developed in technology and the media, English and citizenship, but it is still at an early stage. It needs to enlarge the bridgehead. Given the ubiquity, aggression and power of the media and, to put it more positively, the immense intellectual and creative energies of film, television and other media, media studies should surely be central to the school curriculum. We should see to it that critical study of the media fortifies and enriches every young person in their capacity for an independent, capable and confident engagement with the world around them.
Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Walliswood, for introducing this debate and for raising so many interesting points, as has my noble friend Lord Howarth.
I want to talk about one particular aspect of children and the media. This concerns child internet safety. My Private Member's Bill on age verification passed through all its stages in your Lordships' House earlier this year.
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The question today is about trying to ensure that pupils in school have a better understanding of the influence of the media. I suggest that this is a difficult task. Young people like the media in all their forms. I am delighted that personal, social and health education is to be a statutory subject of the curriculum. PSHE should encourage informed decision-making about a whole range of issues, including drugs and alcohol, sexuality, diet and how the media might be used sensibly. Teaching resistance to pressure and assertiveness are part of that process. I believe that resistance to media pressure may be very difficult. Young people naturally take risks and risk-taking is exciting; the media often encourage risk-taking to an unacceptable level.
I suggest that the law has a part to play in protecting children as well as the imperative to help them to protect themselves through example and education. I also believe that there is a place for public education campaigns to alert parents and families about the dangers of some media influence. The purchase of online goods and services by underage children is one such example.
The media, including the internet, can entertain, inform and instruct, but they must act responsibly, particularly with regard to children. Parents and schools cannot do it all. Use of the internet has increased dramatically. In 1999, only 9 per cent of the UK population could access the internet from home. Between 2000 and 2004, this percentage increased by 126.5 per cent. Fifty-eight per cent of us use the internet. Close to 90 per cent of teenagers have a personal TV, as do 60 per cent of five and six year-olds.
The problem with the massive use of the internet is that children are vulnerable to being exploited. Professor Tanya Byron, who was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, spelled out the many challenges relating to children and their use of the internet in her report last year. The Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety launched its Digital Manifesto earlier this year. Its recommendations include blocking access to all known child abuse websites, protection from access to age-restricted goods and services, and data protection. It calls for a review of progress on the take-up and use of child safety software in the consumer market and incentives for firms to develop new technical measures designed to help to protect children and young people online.
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