§ 2.52 p.m.
§ Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:
§ Whether they will take any action concerning the reported release for sale later this year of a new computer game entitled Grand Theft Auto.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn)
My Lords, the Government are very concerned about violent computer games as is the public and the noble Lord who asked the Question. All computer games which encourage or assist in crime or which depict human sexual activity or acts of gross violence must be passed by the British Board of Film Classification, which can refuse classification. If there is a refusal that automatically makes their supply illegal. Grand Theft Auto has not yet been submitted to the BBFC for classification. I understand that it shortly will be.
Lord Campbell of Croy
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. As this is the first occasion upon which he is speaking from the Government Front Bench, I congratulate him on his appointment and wish him well.
Is it true, as reported, that that game includes thefts of cars, joyriding, hit-and-run accidents, and being chased by the police, and that there will be nothing to stop children from buying it? To use current terminology, is that not "off-message" for young people?
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for the courteous welcome that he gave me. This is the first Question that I am answering but not of course the last Question that he is likely to be asking.
I understand that the general description which the noble Lord attached to "Grand Theft Auto" is correct; but I should stress that it has not yet been submitted for classification. If it fails to receive classification, any supply would be unlawful. One has to bear in mind the vice of these computer games. They deal not just with the type of activity to which the noble Lord has referred but also with acts of gross violence. I heard a rumour that some transactions between Miss Widdecombe and Mr. Howard were going to be translated into a video game, possibly entitled "A Touch of Darkness".