HC Deb 23 February 2004 vol 418 cc9-10
6. Mr. Andrew Mackay (Bracknell) (Con)

What plans he has to review the operation of the Obscene Publications Acts of 1959 and 1964 in the light of internet pornography. [155749]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department(Paul Goggins)

Operators of internet sites who knowingly host illegal material in the UK can already be prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Acts. While the Government support effective action in relation to sites hosted in other countries, we believe that this can be achieved only through international co-operation. In addition to seeking such co-operation at European and global levels, we will continue to keep all the relevant domestic law under review.

Mr. Mackay

I thank the Minister for that response. We dare not be complacent, however, as we have seen in relation to the recent Graham Coutts is murder conviction and the increase in international paedophile websites. Can I press him further, and say that there must be much more international co-operation to ensure that action is taken? Otherwise, there will be a terrific amount of child abuse as well as other problems. Can we have further guarantees that there will not be complacency?

Paul Goggins

I concur entirely with the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman in relation to the horrific murder of Jane Longhurst. I assure him and the whole House that there will be no complacency in respect of this issue. On his specific question about international co-operation, I assure him that we will continue to pursue this matter. I can confirm that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will raise this issue when he meets John Ashcroft in the United States in the near future.

Mr. Stephen Pound (Ealing, North) (Lab)

Among the expressions that I never thought I would utter in this Chamber is, "Can I advise my hon. Friend the Minister to have a word with The Mail on Sunday?" That newspaper appears to have closed down two of the most foul, sadistic brutal sites by impacting on people's ability to subscribe to them. I am loth to do so, but, in view of the greater good, I ask him respectfully to examine this option, which appears to have worked in the case of that newspaper.

Paul Goggins

I join my hon. Friend in thanking The Mail on Sundayfor the campaign that it initiated. Any organisation, service provider or newspaper that can help in fighting this battle is to be applauded. What we need, however, is concerted international action, from Governments in particular, to make sure that we have a consistent approach right across the globe.