Orders of the Day — Video Recordings Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:47 am on 11th November 1983.

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Photo of Mr Graham Bright Mr Graham Bright , Luton South 9:47 am, 11th November 1983

The sort of film which hon. Members witnessed in the House last week would be banned totally. R(18) material applies to the blue movie. Whether we like it or not, many people enjoy watching such films. I had never watched a blue movie, but I must admit that when I was in Sweden I was led astray by some Swedish politicians and I did not enjoy the experience at all. I have no wish to see blue movies. I acknowledge that some of my hon. Friends may wish to do so. Clause 4 allows for such safeguards. [Interruption.] Perhaps I had better get on with my speech.

Clause 6 empowers the Secretary of State to make regulations dealing with the inclusion of a copy of the classification certificate at the beginning of a video work and a label indicating the classification on the recording and its container. I have given a lengthy explanation of the first six clauses because they are the central structure of the Bill. I shall deal more briefly with the remainder of the Bill.

Clauses 7 to 12 create the offences which underpin the classification requirements. Clauses 7 and 8 create offences of supplying, offering to supply or possessing for the purpose of supply a video recording containing an unclassified work. An unclassified work is one which has not been submitted to the designated authority or which the authority has refused to classify. It includes works which differ from the versions classified by the authority after deletion of material. It also covers the inclusion of additional material such as the reinstatement of cuts imposed by the authority. Those are the most serious offences.

These clauses make it an offence to deal in video nasties which by their nature would, I am sure, be refused a classification certificate. It is right that such offences should attract severe penalties, as there are large profits to be made in this area. Clause 13 therefore provides for the offences created by clauses 7 and 8 to attract fines of up to £10,000.

The clauses which create offences, however, also provide defences for suppliers who act with genuinely innocent motives. It is unreasonable to expect retailers to check the contents of every cassette. That would be especially onerous for proprietors of video libraries who would not have the resources to check every cassette on its return to the library to ensure that the borrower had not altered the programme, even in such innocent ways as recording over part of a television programme or splicing a broken tape. Under clause 8(2)(a), therefore, it is a defence to a charge of supplying or offering to supply a recording containing an unclassified work for the accused to prove that he had reasonable grounds to believe that it had been classified or was an exempted work.

Clause 9 creates offences of supplying or offering to supply a recording containing a video work classified as suitable only for people over a certain age in breach of that condition. Thus, it will be an offence to sell a video recording containing a work classified as suitable only for people over the age of 18 to a person under that age. Again, that is a very important provision to protect young people.

Clause 10 creates offences of supplying, offering to supply or possessing for the purpose of supplying a video recording containing a work classified as suitable for supply only on premises on which persons below a specified age are not admitted on premises to which such people are admitted. Thus, it will be an offence to supply or offer to supply a recording containing a work classified as Restricted (18) on premises to which persons below the age of 18 are admitted.