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2009: July-Sept

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2nd August   

Update: Encountering Opposition...

Lords speak out against lap dancing licensing law
Link Here
Full story: Lap Dancing License Change...UK lap dancing suffers repressive new licensing

Lords are making a bid to save lap dancing clubs.

New laws aim to reclassify the saucy fun palaces as sexual encounter establishments. And they could lead to thousands of exotic dancers nationwide being thrown on the dole.

But both Tory and Labour peers have launched a last-ditch attempt to trip up the plans.

Tory Viscount Bridgeman said: It is astonishing to see that the Government are happy to label a large number of dancers, who have never participated in prostitution, as ‘sex encounter workers'. How can a lap dancer ever be expected to break into a more socially respectable line of dancing with that on her CV.

And Labour's Lord Brett added: The word ‘encounter' could give the impression that lap dancing clubs and similar venues offer sex for sale and, by implication, stigmatise those who work at such venues. If the legislation remains as it stands, a large number of dancers will be stigmatised career-long for truthfully putting this on their CV.

Stephen Less, owner of the Secrets chain of table-dancing clubs, told the Daily Star Sunday: The real bottom line is that the Government Bill, as it stands, will allow all local authorities to close down every existing, even well-run, table and lap dancing club in England without giving a reason and without any right of appeal.


24th July   

Political Guidance...

Another parliamentary committee to consider video games policy
Link Here

  Political Guidance?

The Government is to create an all-new 'video games committee' – in which cross-departmental representatives will be tasked with considering changes in policy to help the industry.

The decision was a result of ELSPA's first formal meeting with new Minister for Creative Industries Siôn Simon last week. ELSPA director general Michael Rawlinson and Simon discussed the new PEGI age ratings system, tax breaks and more.

The new committee will feature representatives from the Department Of Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Department of Health, the Home Office and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Rawlinson said. The Minister assured us that the Government is confident of being able to introduce pro-PEGI legislation before the next election.


22nd July   

Global Regulation...

Nutter Vaz gets another moment in parliament to whinge at video games
Link Here

Video Games
Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport
House of Commons debates, 20 July 2009

Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour): What recent discussions he has had with pan-European game information on the age classification of video games.

Siôn Simon (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport; Birmingham, Erdington, Labour): I have spoken to the Video Standards Council—the current UK agents for the PEGI system—about the classification of video games and have another meeting scheduled with it very soon. I have also had discussions with the British Board of Film Classification. Both organisations are working hard to ensure the success of the new system.

Keith Vaz: I thank the Minister for his answer and welcome the steps that the Government are taking on this issue. However, it is still a matter of concern that a game such as "RapeLay", which shows extreme violence against women, can be downloaded from the internet. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that such games are not accessed from the internet, so that children and young people are properly protected?

Siôn Simon: We should be clear that the game was not classified, but was briefly available on Amazon and then was banned. The point that my right hon. Friend is making is about games that, like other brutal, unpleasant, illegal content, can be available on the internet. All steps that apply to any other content on the internet will apply to games. Specifically, as part of the Byron review we set up the UK Council for Child Internet Safety to work with content providers, internet service providers and all aspects of Government to make sure that such content cannot be accessed, particularly by children.

Mark Field (Cities of London & Westminster, Conservative): The Minister will know that Britain is a great leader in video and computer games, and while I take on board many of the concerns expressed by Keith Vaz, will the Minister recognise that this is a global industry, not simply a European one, and in so far as we are going to have the safeguards to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, we will clearly also need to have global regulation along those lines?

Siôn Simon: The system of regulation for which we have opted—the PEGI system—is pan-European, and as such, we see it as the building block to moving towards a global regulatory future. The key principle is that the markings on games should make it clear to parents which games are suitable for adults and which are suitable and unsuitable for children and young children. Adults should be allowed to access adult content; children most certainly should not.


16th July   

Bishop of Chester: A Strict Liability...

The trouble with bishops is that they believe any old nonsense that they are told
Link Here

The Anglican Bishop of Chester has supported the Government's move to make it illegal for people to pay to use trafficked prostitutes.

The plans came under fire in the House of Lords from both main opposition parties and cross-bench peers including Lord Lloyd of Berwick, a retired Law Lord. If the provision becomes law, it will make the matter a criminal offence even if the person did not know, or had no reason to know, that the prostitute they were using had been the subject of force.

Lord Lloyd argued against the strict liability nature of the offence and said it would be obviously unjust to convict a defendant who had no means of knowing he was using a controlled prostitute.

But Bishop Peter Forster argued that the offence was only a semi-strict liability as the man has chosen to pay for sex and was therefore not innocently caught up.

He added: I would not want to say that we presume the guilt of any man who pays for sex but any person paying for sex needs to take extreme care to make sure that they are not complicit in the exploitative activities to which we have referred.

Bishop Forster said there had been an inexorable growth in prostitution in our country, for which the figures are alarming. As I understand it, about 80 per cent of active prostitutes in London come from abroad. Not all of them are trafficked, of course, but a significant proportion are.

I approach this matter not on the basis of a moral view that I have ...BUT.. simply on the basis of how you protect women in our society. A key issue is how we frame the law around prostitution to give the maximum protection to women in our society.

The issue turns on whether we need a whole culture shift in the area of prostitution. I think that the Government take the view that we do.

There is a growth in prostitution and those who are engaged in it are now increasingly exploited in the most dreadful way.

In those circumstances, I think that the Government are right to say that something has to be done—something which targets the worst examples and aims to achieve a culture shift.

He said he admired the Government's courage for taking this matter on and said that the measure without the strict liability provision would be a dead duck.


14th July   

Update: Murray Burridge...

Norwich North by-election on 23rd July 2009
Link Here

There a re a couple of interesting sounding candidates in the approaching Norwich North parliamentary by-election 23rd July 2009

Thomas Burridge is standing for the Libertarian Party who introduce themselves:

Libertarians believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility, and freedom from government—on all issues at all times. We don't say government is too big in one area, but then in another area push for a law to force people to do what we want. We believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility, and freedom from government—on all issues at all times.

Craig Murray made a name for himself by bravely standing up to diplomatic nastiness when he was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. He introduces himself:

Craig Murray is standing as a candidate in the Norwich North by-election. He is a human rights activist, writer,  and former British Ambassador, Rector of the University of Dundee and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law.


11th July   

Update: Unilateral Free Speech...

Nutters happy at retaining exemption allowing continued whinges at gays
Link Here
Full story: Gay Hate Law in the UK...Christian MPs and ban on anti gay speech

The Government has been defeated in the House of Lords over its attempt to repeal a free speech protection from a sexual orientation 'hatred' law.

Peers voted by 186 to 133 to keep the protection in place. The matter will be passed back to the House of Commons where MPs voted for repeal.

The protection makes clear that criticising homosexual conduct or encouraging people to refrain from such conduct is not a crime.

The Government says the protection is not necessary, insisting that the homophobic hatred offence would not catch the expression of such beliefs.

Mike Judge, Head of Communications at The Christian Institute, said: Genuine supporters of free speech will be pleased with this result. Democracy depends on the freedom of people to challenge ideas, to dispute with each other, to contend for what they believe. Too many Christians have already been intimidated by over-zealous police action because they gave voice to their views on sexual ethics. Surely the world is big enough to allow all sides to express their beliefs about sexual behaviour without fearing a knock on the door from the police. [But I wonder of he is so keen to defend free speech when it is religion that is being criticised]


11th July   

Updated: Dangerous Text...

Nutter Lord proposes new ban on the possession of extreme pornographic writings
Link Here

Baroness O'Cathain is a Tory Lord. According to Wikipedia she is Irish born convent educated Catholic: She is known for her socially conservative views, in particular her efforts to retain the ban on same-sex couples from adopting, and has taken on a leadership role in the movement after the death of Lady Young.

She has proposed a couple of amendments to teh Dangerous Cartoons clause of the Coroners & Injustice Bill which criminalises the possession of pornographic cartoons depicting under 18s.

O'Cathain firstly suggests the removal of the clause giving people protection from prosecution from material approved by the BBFC.

Secondly she proposes a new clause:

Possession of extreme pornographic writings

(1) It is an offence for a person to be in possession of extreme pornographic writing.

(2) "Extreme pornographic writing" is writing which is both—

(a) pornographic, and
(b) extreme writing.

(3) Writing is "pornographic" if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.

(4) Where (as found in the person's possession) the writing forms part of a series of writings, the question whether the writing is of such a nature as is mentioned in subsection (3) is to be determined by reference to—

(a) the writing itself, and
(b) (if the series of writings is such as to be capable of providing a context for the writing) the context in which it occurs in the series of writings.

(5) So, for example, where—

(a) the writing forms an integral part of a narrative constituted by a series of writings, and
(b) having regard to those writings as a whole, they are not of such a nature that they must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal, the writing may, by virtue of being part of that narrative, be found not to be pornographic, even though it might have been found to be pornographic if taken by itself.

(6) "Extreme writing" is writing which—

(a) falls within subsection (7), and
(b) is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.

(7) Writing falls within this subsection if it portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following—

(a) an act which threatens a person's life,
(b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals,
(c) an act which involves sexual interference with a human corpse, or
(d) a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive), and a reasonable person looking at the writing would think that any portrayal of such person or animal was realistic.

(8) In this section "writing" means written words (including but not limited to those published or otherwise available on the internet), books, leaflets or other printed matter.

(9) In this section references to a part of the body include references to a part surgically constructed (in particular through gender reassignment surgery).

(10) Proceedings for an offence under this section may not be instituted—

(a) in England and Wales, except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions; or
(b) in Northern Ireland, except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland."

Update: No Comment

9th July 2009.  See Hansard from , Thanks to pbr

Dangerous Cartoons will soon be a reality.

The Dangerous Cartoons clauses of the Coroners and Injustice Bill sailed through Lords Committee without discussion.

The Dangerous Text amendments were left by the wayside.

Offsite: Written material saved from censor's big black pen - for now

11th July 2009.  See article from by John Ozimek

Such was the interest in the suicide amendment that debate dragged on well past the point when their Lordships usually adjourned for their supper. House business, which usually takes place at half seven, was delayed until twenty past eight, when a stampede of hungry Lords headed for their canteen. Debate on the Coroners' Bill did not resume until an hour later.

Sadly for the Baroness, New Labour reforms to the way parliament works means that the Lords now shut up shop at 10 pm – and debate on amendments cannot carry on between sessions without prior agreement between parties. Although not the case in this instance, the streamlining of parliamentary business through excess guillotining of debate has been bitterly resisted by opposition parties, who claim that important legislation is now passed with little or no formal scrutiny.

The Baroness' amendment was eventually called at three minutes to ten – at which point she appears to have decided it was not worth putting, and did not stand up to propose it.

...Read the full article


9th July   

Update: Freedom of Preach...

Christians petition to be able to continue hating their neighbours
Link Here
Full story: Gay Hate Law in the UK...Christian MPs and ban on anti gay speech

A petition signed by 20,000 Christians across the UK was handed in yesterday to Buckingham Palace, No 10 Downing Street and the House of Lords. Petitioners believe Government plans, contained in Clause 61 of the Coroners and Justice Bill to be voted on this week in the House of Lords, will effectively gag Christians from openly explaining what they believe the Bible has said about sexual conduct for more than 2,000 years.

The petition also drew attention to the plans of a small group of Peers who are trying to legalise assistance with suicide by tabling amendments to the same Bill. (Editor's note: this amendment was defeated last night in the Lords by 194 votes to 141).

Christian Concern for our Nation, sister organisation to the Christian Legal Centre, which has represented many Christians in high profile cases where employers have denied Christians the right of freedom of speech on moral issues, co-ordinated the Petition, signed by 20,000 individuals, to draw attention to what they describe as the devastating consequences to Christian witness if the Coroners and Justice Bill goes through Parliament as it stands.

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