HC Deb 16 December 1982 vol 34 cc464-5
2. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider introducing further criminal penalties to prevent the pirating of video cassettes.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Patrick Mayhew)

The Government are very concerned at the growth of video piracy and accept the need to increase the maximum penalties for criminal copyright offences to provide an effective deterrent. I note that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden) has introduced a Bill to bring about such an increase.

Mr. Dykes

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that answer. Unfortunately, any technical device to stop this abuse has proved impossible. Therefore, does he agree that, either in the context of the Bill that he mentioned, or with additional measures thereafter, the only alternative is stiff criminal sanctions?

Mr. Mayhew

We are aware of the great increase in video piracy and of the threat that that presents to the film and other industries. That is one of the reasons why we support an increase in the criminal penalties.

Mr. Freud

Does the Minister agree that the longer the increase is delayed, the greater the damage to the industry? Is the measure appropriate for private Members' rather than for Government legislation?

Mr. Mayhew

Early legislation is better than late legislation.

Mr. Lawrence

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that the estimated cost to the industry is £120 million a year and that there is a substantial loss to the Exchequer and to the film industry? Is he aware that organised crime is moving into this area? Therefore, will he accept that action on this sphere of activity should not be long delayed and that such action must be strong, positive and immediate? Will he give his wholehearted support to the Bill that has been brought before the House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West

Mr. Mayhew

We are extremely sympathetic to the Bill that has been introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West. The extent of the damage that is being done is estimated at £100 million. I am very much in accord with what my hon. and learned Friend said.