Amendment 10

Part of Online Safety Bill - Committee (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 25 April 2023.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Moylan Lord Moylan Chair, Built Environment Committee, Chair, Built Environment Committee 7:15, 25 April 2023

My Lords I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to this slightly disjointed debate. I fully accept that there will be further opportunities to discuss age verification and related matters, so I shall say no more about that. I am grateful, in particular, to the noble Lord, Lord Allan of Hallam, for supplying the deficiency in my opening remarks about the importance of Amendments 10 and 11, and for explaining just how important that is too. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson. It was good of him to say, in the open approach he took on the question of age, that there are issues still to be addressed. I do not think anybody feels that we have yet got this right and I think we are going to have to be very open in that discussion, when we get to it. That is also true about what the noble Lord, Lord Allan of Hallam, said: we have not yet got clarity as to where the age boundary is—I like his expression—for the public space. Where is the point at which, if checks are needed, those checks are to be applied? These are all matters to discuss and I hope noble Lords will forgive me if I do not address each individual contribution separately.

I would like to say something, I hope not unfairly or out of scope, about what was said by the noble Baronesses, Lady Finlay of Llandaff and Lady Kidron, when they used, for the first time this afternoon, the phrase “zero tolerance”, and, at the same time, talked about a risk-based approach. I have, from my own local government experience, a lot of experience of risk-based approaches taken in relation to things—very different, of course, from the internet—such as food safety, where local authorities grade restaurants and food shops and take enforcement action and supervisory action according to their assessment of the risk that those premises present. That is partly to do with their assessment of the management and partly to do with their experience of things that have gone wrong in the past. If you have been found with mouse droppings and you have had to clean up the shop, then you will be examined a great deal more frequently until the enforcement officers are happy; whereas if you are always very well run, you will get an inspection visit maybe only once a year. That is what a risk-based assessment consists of. The important thing to say is that it does not produce zero tolerance or zero outcomes.