Transcript from Legislative Consent Motion Executive Committee Business Northern Ireland Assembly debates, 11 January 2010
Nelson McCausland (DUP): I beg to move
That this Assembly endorses the principle of the extension to Northern Ireland of the Video Recordings Bill.
This is a short Bill that will repeal and revive certain provisions of the Video Recordings Act 1984. The Bill is needed because it has recently come to light that penalties for offences under that Act are unenforceable. That is due to a failure to notify certain provisions in the 1984 Act and the labelling regulations that were made under it to the European Commission under the European Union’s technical standards directive. The aim of the Video Recordings Bill is to rectify that situation.
The Video Recordings Act 1984 introduced a system of classification for video films and some video games. It created a series of offences concerning the supply of classified videos and video games to persons under certain ages. The 1984 Act also contains offences concerning the supply of unclassified material. The Act requires that videos, DVDs and certain boxed video games would be classified by the British Board of Film Classification. It makes it illegal to supply unclassified material and to supply age-restricted material to people below the specified age rating. It also limits distribution of adult films material.
Video and film classification is a transferred matter, because it is not listed in schedules 2 or 3 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998. The criminal law, and the creation of offences and penalties, remains expressly reserved under paragraph 9 of schedule 3 to the 1998 Act until the devolution of policing and criminal justice matters takes place. Without the repeal and revival of the Video Recordings Act 1984, the penalties for offences under that Act are unenforceable, and we are unable to protect the public and our children from the distribution of inappropriate and offensive material.
When passed, the Video Recordings Bill will come into force and will become the Video Recordings Act 2010. It will extend to England, Wales and Scotland, and, if the Assembly agrees to the legislative consent motion, it will extend to Northern Ireland. Consent for Northern Ireland’s inclusion in the Bill has been sought from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure and from the Executive.
Both have given their consent to proceed with the proposed Bill. The Assembly must now consider the principle of extending the Bill to Northern Ireland. We need a united approach to video and film classification across the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, and to the matter of criminal offences and penalties, as well as the enforcement mechanism for those offences.
Our children and vulnerable adults must be protected. I hope that Members will agree and support the motion, which has been designed to allow a parallel timetable for delivery and to ensure that the legislation continues to be consistent across the United Kingdom.
Barry McElduff (Sinn Féin)
The Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure considered the legislative consent motion on the Video Recordings Bill at its meeting on 3 December 2009. The Committee had been briefed by departmental officials on the implications of the Bill three weeks earlier on 12 November 2009.
The Committee agreed, on a without-prejudice basis, to support the motion, which will see the extension of the provisions of the Video Recordings Bill to this region. The Committee understands that the purpose of the Bill is straightforward, as the Minister outlined. Its purpose is to repeal and revive the existing provisions of the Video Recordings Act 1984 in order to make the criminal offences in that Act enforceable. That will mean that proper public protections are in place around the supply and classification of age-related films and video games. The Committee welcomes that move and the positive implications for protecting children and young people.
The Committee welcomes the extension of the provisions of the Video Recordings Bill to this region, and I commend the motion to the House.
..followed by supportive speeches from other parties and members…
Question put and agreed to.
Resolved: That this Assembly endorses the principle of the extension to Northern Ireland of the Video Recordings Bill.