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Online Pornography: Age Verification

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:43 am on 17th October 2019.

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Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 10:43 am, 17th October 2019

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words at the beginning of his question, if not much else. He is absolutely right in his closing point that online harms is a difficult agenda and we must not get it wrong. I look forward to working across the House to ensure that we do this right because there should be no party political division on this agenda.

Age verification will be a key part of the online harms agenda. It will be a key tool in the box, but the toolbox will, through the online harms agenda, be bigger. I say honestly that the inclusion of the online harms Bill in the Queen’s Speech is testament to the Government’s commitment to delivering it, and we will be bringing it forward for pre-legislative scrutiny so that we can get it right. I hope that the BBFC will be a key part of the future of this process, because its expertise is in the classification of content. I am going to see its chief executive shortly; my officials have already been in touch. We look forward to working together with the BBFC.

The hon. Gentleman asked how much money has been spent. I think that approximately £2.2 million has been spent on this part of the agenda, but it is of course also a key part of the online harms agenda, so it would be silly to suggest that that is money wasted. It is money invested in protecting our children, and we will continue to do that.