Amendment 12BA

Part of Online Safety Bill - Committee (2nd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 25 April 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Non-affiliated 9:45, 25 April 2023

My Lords, this has been a very wide-ranging debate, concentrating not only on the definition of pornography but on the views of noble Lords in relation to how it should be regulated, and whether it should be regulated, as the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, the noble Lords, Lord Bethell and Lord Browne, and I myself believe, or whether it should be a graduated response, which seems to be the view of the noble Lords, Lord Allan and Lord Clement-Jones.

I believe that all pornography should be treated the same. There is no graduated response. It is something that is pernicious and leads to unintended consequences for many young people, so therefore it needs to be regulated in all its forms. I think that is the point that the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, was making. I believe that these amendments should have been debated along with those of the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, and the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, because then we could have an ever wider-ranging debate, and I look forward to that in the further groups in the days to come. The focus should be on the content, not on the platform, and the content is about pornography.

I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, that porn is not the only harm, and I will be supporting her amendments. I believe that they should be in the Bill because if we are serious about dealing with these issues, they have to be in there.

I do not think my amendments are suggesting that children will be removed from social media. I agree that it is a choice to remove pornography or to age-gate. Twitter is moving to subscriber content anyway, so it can do it; the technology is already available to do that. I believe you just age-gate the porn content, not the whole site. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, as I said. These amendments should have been debated in conjunction with those of the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, as I believe that the amendments in this group are complementary to those, and I think I already said that in my original submission.

I found the Minister’s response interesting. Obviously, I would like time to read Hansard. I think certain undertakings were given, but I want to see clearly spelled out where they are and to discuss with colleagues across the House where we take these issues and what we come back with on Report.

I believe that these issues will be debated further in Committee when the amendments from the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, and the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, are debated. I hope that in the intervening period the Minister will have time to reflect on the issues raised today about Parts 3 and 5 and the issue of pornography, and that he will be able to help us in further sessions in assuaging the concerns that we have raised about pornography. There is no doubt that these issues will come back. The only way that they can be dealt with, that pornography can be dealt with and that all our children throughout the UK can be dealt with is through proper regulation.

I think we all need further reflection. I will see, along with colleagues, whether it is possible to come back on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 12BA withdrawn.