Digital Economy

Part of Uk-EU Negotiations – in the House of Commons at 7:05 pm on 17th December 2018.

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Photo of Margot James Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport 7:05 pm, 17th December 2018

I am sorry that I am taking a long time to answer my right hon. Friend’s point, but it is an important one. I will finish with the last intervention before I take more interventions.

The Government are keeping a weather eye on the availability of pornography on social media platforms. I shall talk more about that, but I reassure my right hon. Friend that we will introduce further measures. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who is in the Chamber, has a duty to report back on the impact of the regulations 12 to 18 months after their commencement and he will look at just the issues my right hon. Friend Mrs Miller has raised. I will make a little progress before taking further interventions.

There is no doubt, going back to the work of the Women and Equalities Committee, that the large amount of pornography available on the internet in the UK, often for free and with no protections to ensure that those accessing it are old enough to do so, is leading to a change in the way that young people understand healthy relationships, sex and consent. I know that that is a major issue of concern to everybody across the House. A 2016 report commissioned by the Children’s Commissioner and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children made that absolutely clear. More than half of the children sampled had been exposed to online pornography by the age of 15, nearly half of the boys thought that the pornography they had seen was realistic, and just under half wished to emulate what they had seen.

The introduction of a requirement for age-verification controls is a necessary step in tackling those issues and it contributes towards our commitment to make the UK a safer place to be online, particularly for children and young people.