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2010: July-Sept

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8th August   

Authentic Nutters...

MPs ask for more secure authentication to watch satellite TV softcore
Link Here

Early Day Motion EDM 629: Children And Access To Pornography On Television

26.07.2010 by Barry Sheerman

That this House deplores the easy access children have to pornography by means of satellite and cable television; and calls on Ofcom, the appropriate regulator, to amend its broadcasting code in order to ensure that access to pornographic material is only available via a secure authentication system.


Conservative Party

  • Peter Bottomley

Labour Party

  • Tom Blenkinsop
  • Jeremy Corbyn
  • Glenda Jackson
  • Barry Sheerman

Liberal Democrats

  • Mike Hancock
  • Stephen Williams


27th July   

Update: A Question of Taste...

Parliamentary questions about increasing pornography on television
Link Here
Full story: Sexualisation...Sexualisation as reported by Linda Papadopoulos

The purchase of Channel 5 by Richard Desmond of TVX fame resulted in a couple of parliamentary questions to the Culture, Media and Sport minister.

John Whittingdale (Maldon, Conservative):

Does the Secretary of State agree that the relatively low price for which Richard Desmond has acquired Channel 5 is a further indication of the continuing difficulties affecting all traditional television companies, and that it also shows that successful companies are likely to have to operate across several different media in future? Given that, does he have any plans to look again at the current rules that govern cross-media ownership and cross-promotion?

Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State, Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport; South West Surrey, Conservative)

I thank my hon. Friend for a thoughtful question, as ever, on the topic. He is absolutely right that media companies of the future will have to operate on different platforms. That is why one of my first decisions was to accept a recommendation by Ofcom to remove the regulations on cross-media ownership locally to allow local media operators to develop new business models that let them take product from newspapers to radio to TV to iPods to iPads and so on.

We do not currently have any plans to relax the rules on cross-promotion. Indeed, the regulations on taste, decency and political impartiality on Five remain extremely tight, but we are aware of the need to lighten regulations in general because, if we are to have a competitive broadcasting sector, we must have one in which independent players can also make a profit.

Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield, Labour)

The Secretary of State knows that Richard Desmond and Rupert Murdoch have huge pornography empires. Does he share my concern that children have increasing access to pornography on television? What can he do about it? It is a curse, and I hope that he shares my desire to do something about it.

Jeremy Hunt

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Our real concern on this side of the House is about the sexualisation of young people in particular; we take a liberal view of adults' ability to make decisions about what they see on television. I do not want to pretend that there is an easy answer, because traditional linear viewing, which allowed the watershed, made it possible to be much more definite about what would be seen by children and what would be seen by adults. To answer the hon. Gentleman's question directly, we have no plans to relax any of the taste and decency regulations on terrestrial broadcasts.


17th July   

Update: Publicity Seeking...

Keith Vaz submits another games related Early Day Motion
Link Here
Full story: Keith Vaz...Keith Vaz in votes for knighthood claim

Early Day Motion EDM 340

Submitted by Keith Vaz

That this House

  • notes with grave concern that despite the 18 rating that the most violent video games carry, some children and teenagers are still able to acquire them;
  • congratulates the work of Mothers Against Violence with regard to their campaign to increase parental awareness of violent games;
  • urges the Government to support the promotion of parental awareness of the violent content of video games which are 18-rated; and
  • calls on the Government to urge Pan-European Game Information to take further steps to highlight the inappropriate content of these games for under 18s.


17th July   

Update: May We Take Photos?...

Theresa May utters fine words about an end to the police harassment of photographers
Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Theresa May's made a speech in the House of Commons in a discussion of the absurd treatment of photographers under current anti-terror laws. Prompted by the excellent Tracey Crouch,  May gave the following assurance:

Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) (Con): Under the previous Government, a photographer from Medway was arrested in Chatham high street under section 44 stop-and-search powers, and he and fellow photographers from Medway will welcome today's announcement from the Home Secretary. Will she assure the House that any future revision of anti-terror legislation will strike the right balance between protecting the public and safeguarding the rights of individuals?

Theresa May: I am happy to give that assurance to my hon. Friend. She may have noticed that in my statement I specifically said that we would look at the issue of photographers and stop-and-search powers. It is one issue that has been brought home forcibly to me. I have had constituency cases of people who have been stopped under those powers and been concerned about it, and I have received a number of representations from Members of this House, and indeed of another place, about those problems.


14th July   

Offsite: Do you Mind if I Speak Candidly?...

Scots will have to ask permission before speaking sexily
Link Here

In October Scotland's new Sexual Offences Act will come into force. Unlike the 2003 Act that was written for England and Wales, the Scottish act contains a clause outlawing indecent communication . It will soon be illegal to communicate with someone sexually – either in writing or in speech – without obtaining their consent, or without the reasonable belief that they do consent to it. Quite simply they have taken the standard traditionally applied to rape – to the actual penetration of another person's body – and applied it to what people say.

Thankfully it is fairly normal to ensure that somebody consents to sexual intercourse. This is because putting your penis inside another person can have a serious and lasting affect on them, not least if they do not want it there. More generally people expect to enjoy sovereignty over their bodies and their physical experiences. By contrast we do not have – nor would any sane person require – a general right to be protected from hearing things we don't want to hear. And that is why, in our culture, it is not normal to ask people for permission to say something sexual during the course of a facebook chat or a conversation in a bar. Do you mind if I deploy an innuendo just wouldn't sound right. And quite frankly it shouldn't.

...Read the full article


10th July   

Update: Delighted on Balance...

Government promise libel reform legislation in 2011
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Ministers have said they are to reviews the laws of libel with the aim of bolstering freedom of expression and the integrity of academic research.

Justice Minister Lord McNally said the coalition would publish a draft bill for consultation early next year. The Conservatives and Lib Dems included a commitment to reform the laws on libel and defamation in their coalition agreement in May.

Debating a private member's bill on the issue in the Lords, Lib Dem peer Lord McNally said ministers intended to bring forward legislation of their own next year: Freedom of speech is the foundation of democracy

We need investigative journalism and scientific research to be able to flourish without the fear of unfounded, lengthy and costly defamation and libel cases being brought against them.

We are committed to reforming the law on defamation and want to focus on ensuring that a right and a fair balance is struck between freedom of expression and the protection of reputation.

The Index of Censorship said changes were needed to help foster academic debate and should not be seen as a licence for the media to publish what they liked. We are absolutely delighted about this but obviously there is a long way to go, said its editor Jo Glanville: There will be consultations and nobody knows what this will end up looking like. But it is a real triumph.


9th July   

Update: Lord Lester vs UK Libel Law...

Second Reading of the Libel Reform Bill in the House of Lords
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Anthony Lester QC writes:

[Today] I will introduce the second reading debate on my Private Members Defamation Bill. This is a unique opportunity for Parliament to reform our antiquated and unjust libel laws.

I am grateful for your support - 100s of you have spoken out and written about this; you have told the Libel Reform Campaign about threats of libel action which lead you to remove articles, blogs, reviews, academic papers, reports and books; your organisations have joined the campaign and 100s of MPs signed up for reform after you wrote to them.

Senior judges recognise the pressing need for reform - the Court of Appeal in Simon Singh's libel case highlighted how ludicrous it is that finding out if he even had a defence cost Simon £200,000 and 2 years before he got to court. All of this has drawn attention to the profound problems with the law as it stands that need to be addressed by legislation from Parliament.


3rd July   

Offsite: More Extreme...

Extreme porn now illegal north of the border
Link Here

If you thought you could hide your extreme porn stash in a secluded location north of the border – think again. For this week, the Scottish Parliament finally fell into line with its English counterpart south of the border, passing laws - included within the Criminal Justice Bill - making it a criminal offence to possess images that were extreme and pornographic in nature.

Like the English law on this topic, passed in May 2008, the Scottish law will focus on images that are realistic, pornographic and of an extreme nature.

In addition, however, the Scottish law adds an extra clause, bringing within this Bill images which are believed to depict rape or other non-consensual penetrative sexual activity .

...Read the full article


2nd July   

Update: But No White Flag Yet...

Parliamentary bid to restrict Scottish lap dancing fails
Link Here
Full story: Lap Dancing Licensing in Scotland...Scotland legislation to restrict lap dancing

The proposed crackdown on lap dancing venues has been thrown out by MSPs despite winning the support of the government.

SNP backbencher Sandra White wanted to give local authorities the power to introduce a special licensing system which would allow them to ban strip clubs.

Injustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill gave his backing to the move, but Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Tories opposed it and the proposal was defeated by 76-45.

The decision was welcomed today by campaigners against the crackdown.

But Labour said it now plans to take its own look at the issue and bring forward proposals if the party returns to power at next year's elections.

Liberal Democrat Robert Brown said Ms White's proposal would introduce a dual licensing system, where venues needed a separate licence in addition to their liquor licence. He said there was no real evidence of a problem with the current powers.

Tory John Lamont said he had met a politics student who worked as a lap dancer in order to help her pay for university. He said: She was, quite frankly, insulted by the claims that lap dancers were either prostitutes being exploited or their work was demeaning.

Sarah Vernon, a former dancer who has just completed a PhD in striptease and strip club culture in Scotland, welcomed Ms White's defeat.  Vernon, who spent seven years carrying out field work as a participant-observer in two Edinburgh clubs as part of her research, had warned curbs on adult entertainment would hit Scottish tourism. She said: The parliament has made the right decision, particularly at this time for Scotland's economy. It shows Scotland is a tolerant and progressive country and does take account of the views of the nation and not just special interests.


1st July   

Some Good, Some Bad...

Scottish extreme porn ban approved, prostitution restrictions rejected
Link Here

MSPs have been discussing law reforms defined in the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill.

The Scottish Parliament has passed its extreme porn laws. No surprise there.

But on the other hand, the Parliament actually did a decent job of rejecting a bunch of other stupid laws. Sandra White's lap dancing regime got rejected (only the SNP supported it), and attempts to ban all prostitution, and also to introduce the English strict liability offence for using 'controlled' prostitutes were both rejected (only Labour supported them). So some bad, but some good also.

Interestingly, the Police (particularly in the form of ACPOS) were fairly pivotal in providing cover for rejecting the prostitution laws. They basically said they didn't want or need them, and that they might well make things worse, which made it a lot easier for the parties to reject them.

Update: Extreme Lack of Debate

6th July 2010. See also parliament debate from

There was little debate about extreme pornography in this session but one substantive comment was made.

Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green): I am sorry to ask to lower the temperature just a little, but I wonder whether the cabinet secretary will say a little more about one of the measures that has had less debate and attention but which involves some contention—the measure that he mentioned on extreme pornography. He will be aware that themeasure that exists in England and Wales is having no effect in reducing the production of genuinely violent or abusive images, but is being used just as a top-up charge in a small number of cases in which the most serious offence is rape or sexual assault, which attract a higher sentence. If we end up in a similar situation—with the charge being used in a similar way in Scotland, as a mere top-up—will we not have to look again at whether it serves any purpose?

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