Touting, Hawking, Photographing, etc.

Part of Nottinghamshire County Council Bill [Lords] (By Order) – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 13th February 1983.

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Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Stockport North 9:15 pm, 13th February 1983

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. If one is persuaded to part with money for a photograph after one has seen it, rather than in advance, one can see what one is getting for one's money. If one is persuaded to part with money for a cassette, which purports to have a video on it—or, for that matter, a tape recording—there is no way to check the quality when one buys it. One has to take it away to check it.

Before any more of my hon. Friends interrupt me, I want to come back to the argument about a gala or demonstration on behalf of the miners. The argument involves the way in which the police and, on other occasions, other groups often appear to take pictures at demonstrations — whether by way of their trade or business, I do not know. When my hon. Friends and I have raised this matter in the past, we have often been told that the police are doing it as a training exercise. Indeed, it is often implied that there were no films in their cameras, although it is difficult to convince demonstrators of that. They want to know why the films were being taken and what they will be used for. No doubt, it would be easy for the police to get a licence. But how does an individual get to see the licence and know whether the person taking the picture is licensed?

This is a difficult area, and not one that should be dealt with in a local Bill. The matter should be dealt with nationally. Taking certain photographs should be regulated by national legislation rather than by clauses in local Bills which purport to deal with local circumstances, but which in fact cover national circumstances.

One of my constant complaints against this and other county council Bills is that they give no evidence of the local problem. A common clause is put into such Bills. If it is a common clause, it should surely be introduced by the Government in a miscellaneous provisions Bill. That would be the logical way for the Government to proceed. Instead, we have all these local clauses and the promoters, in their written submissions tell us that they could not care less whether this provision is in or out. That is not the way to draw up legislation. It is not right for the promoters to tell us in the written submissions that they do not care about the clause one way or the other.

I hope that the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo) will not just say that he is prepared to accept my amendment. I hope that he will tell us why he has changed his mind and why, until last week, it was essential to include this provision but today he has suddenly decided that circumstances have changed in Nottingham and that it can now be taken out. I hope that he will tell us how he will protect the public from people who tout for pictures, make money out of them and may or may not supply the photographs at the end, and how he will protect the genuine semi-amateur photographer who wants to take pictures from which he may get a small income. In the light of what the promoter may say, I shall decide whether to press the matter to a vote.