HC Deb 01 July 1996 vol 280 cc587-8

'.—(1) In section 297A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (unauthorised decoders), for subsection (1) there is substituted— (1) A person who makes, imports, sells or lets for hire, offers or exposes for sale or hire, or advertises for sale or hire, any unauthorised decoder shall be guilty of an offence and liable—

  1. (a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum;
  2. (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or to both."

(2) The amendment made by subsection (1) shall not apply to any offence committed before the commencement of this section.'—[Mr. Ian Taylor.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Minister for Science and Technology (Mr. Ian Taylor)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss also Government new clause 29—Apparatus & for unauthorised reception of transmissions.

Mr. Taylor

This is my debut at the Dispatch Box in the proceedings on this Bill and I pay tribute to the burden that my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of National Heritage, took on his shoulders in Committee. The proceedings on the Floor of the House are the interesting bit, and I am delighted that he has given me a chance to take some of the amendments and new clauses that are before the House.

New clauses 28 and 29 fulfil the commitment that my hon. Friend made in Committee on 18 June, when he agreed to consider carefully the issues raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) on the then new clause 73 in relation to decoder piracy. Protection against unauthorised decoders—piracy of pay television—is considerably in advance of that in many other countries. However, some difficulties have been encountered in enforcement due to the lack of restraint on advertising unauthorised decoders for sale.

The new clauses should go a long way towards alleviating those problems. Advertising unauthorised decoders will become a criminal offence. The sale of such decoders is already an offence. The provision will also be added to those activities to which civil remedies can be applied directly by any broadcaster affected. A maximum new penalty of an unlimited fine and/or two years' imprisonment should provide a significant deterrent against those involved in the theft of pay television services.

The new clauses will be welcomed by those in the industry and I commend them to the House.

Dr. Moonie

I welcome the Minister to our proceedings, and I welcome the new clauses that he proposes.

This matter was discussed at length in Committee and it was clear that both sides felt that something needed to be done. On behalf of the Opposition, I wholeheartedly welcome this much-strengthened provision. I trust that it will be effectively applied in combating fraud.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

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