BUSINESS QUESTION – FILM CENSORSHIP – 31 October 2002

Dr Julian Lewis: May we have a statement from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the role and terms of reference of what is now known as the British Board of Film Classification? I would then have the opportunity to question her about an important article by the veteran film commentator and analyst, Christopher Tookey, in the Daily Mail on 24 October, when he pointed out that

 "the Board's director of communications, Sue Clark, has announced that the BBFC is reluctant to censor any other films in the future. Its role, she said, is one of classification, not censorship."

This change of role appears to mean that no violence or violent pornography, no matter how extreme, can ever be stopped or censored, but merely graded and classified. I should say, by way of declaring an interest, that when Chris Tookey, as he then was, was President of the Oxford Union some 30 years ago, he gave me my first paper speech to that assembly, so he could hardly be accused of being afraid to inflict gruesome and traumatic experiences on an unwary audience.

[Robin Cook: The mind boggles at what the hon. Gentleman hints at and I fear that anything I say will be an understatement. I will of course report his remarks to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and arrange to have a clarification of the point he raised sent to him.]