HC Deb 16 June 2003 vol 407 cc137-8
Dr. Howells

I beg to move amendment No. 66, in page 11, line 40, after '19' insert ', [mandatory condition in licences: exhibition of films]'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendments Nos. 67, 68, 71 to 75, 90, 100, 101, 103 and 104.

Government new clause 2—Mandatory condition in licences: exhibition of films.

Government new clause 3—Mandatory condition in certificates: exhibition of films.

Dr. Howells

The amendments introduce a mandatory condition to be included in all premises licences and club premises certificates authorising the exhibition of films, for the admission of children to the exhibition of any film to be restricted in accordance with the recommendations given to films either by the body designated under section 4 of the Video Recordings Act 1984—the British Board of Film Classification is the only body that has been so designated—or by the licensing authority itself.

Allowing the licensing authority to recommend restrictions on the admittance of children to film screenings would preserve the current, rarely exercised power of local authorities to classify films themselves, including on an individual film basis, which will allow ultimate discretion and ensure that the many excellent film festivals held in this country can continue without each film having to be classified by the film classification body.

We tabled the amendments in response to discussions with the BBFC, which was concerned that the Bill, and in particular the licensing objective of the protection of children from harm", might not allow it to do all it wished in relation to the classification of films. I have been able to give it an assurance that we intend the objective to have the widest possible meaning and to cover moral, psychological and physical harm. However, in response to the board's wishes, I have agreed to reinforce with the amendments the provisions relating to the access of children to films.

It is important to bear it in mind that the effect of the amendments is not to place the film classification body's recommendations on a statutory footing, but simply to recognise in the Bill the body's expertise, while making it clear that the licensing authorities will continue to be able to impose their own classifications. That preserves the effect of the current position under the Cinemas Act 1985. We will support the amendments with additional references in the statutory guidance to the body's activities.

I am pleased to commend the amendments as a response to the BBFC's concerns and I hope that the House will support them.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 67, in page 12, line 6, after '19' insert ', [mandatory condition in licences: exhibition of films]'.— [Dr. Howells.]

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