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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 4 Nov 1987

Vol. 117 No. 11

Video Recordings Bill, 1987: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

It gives me great pleasure to recommend the Video Recordings Bill, 1987, to the House. It is a measure which is needed urgently and I am confident that it will receive wide support in the House.

Video films are a comparatively new phenomenon. Since the start of this decade, however, they have enjoyed an amazing growth in popularity. Video recorders are now commonplace in homes and the number of outlets for video films continues to grow at a great rate. There are thousands of video film titles available, and the number is being added to at the rate of approximately 1,000 new titles each year. Most of the video films are unobjectionable in their portrayal of comedy, adventure, sport, education, etc.

There are some video films available, however, that are thoroughly objectionable. They depict extreme and graphic violence or unhibited pornography. The extremely violent films have attracted the name "video nasties". They depict the most stomach-turning and ghastly violence. The pornographic ones depict sex in a totally objectionable manner.

I will not mention the titles of the most violent films. They are well enough known. The problem is that while films of this nature are totally uninhibited in their depiction of violence, they are also realistic. They cannot but have an effect on impressionable minds. I would stress that I do not confine the term impressionable minds to young people only. These films depict what are ghastly crimes in a way that can invite imitation by adults as well as by children.

Films of this kind can have an adverse effect on the viewers but, as it is now generally accepted, they can also result in crimes against other innocent people. Apart from that, they tend to increase the general tolerance of what ought to be unacceptable. If people frequently see extremely violent films, some of them will come to regard this type of violence as the norm. The danger is that the more impressionable of them will imitate in real life what they see in the video world.

As I have said already, the pornographic films are totally objectionable in what they portray. Anybody who has not seen these films cannot imagine the depths of degradation to which they stoop. Much of the material could only be described as degrading of human nature generally but all of it is degrading and offensive as far as women are concerned.

It might be appropriate here to relate the proposals in this Bill to the two other areas where censorship applies, that is, books and films. Up to the end of the seventies books and cinema films were two of the most popular forms of entertainment. In the eighties the video recorder has become an equally popular form of entertainment. We have had for a long time control over the material available in books and the material which could be shown in cinema films. The two forms of censorship — censorship of publications and censorship of films — have been in place practically since the founding of the State. Yet the new powerful medium, video film, has no specific form of control.

As is stated in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum some controls are in place in relation to the importation and the showing of some video films. These controls, however, are peripheral to the general video films scene. The key point is that there is no law at present relating specifically to the supply of video films. This is a totally anomalous position having regard to the controls that exist in relation to publications and cinema films. It is a situation that has to be put right and the Bill now before the House will put it right. The Bill will put in place a system of control in relation to video films. It will, as set out in the long title, make provision for the control and regulation of the supply and importation of video recordings.

Perhaps I should now set out the key points of the control system envisaged in the Bill. All new video films will have to be submitted to the film censor for certification before they may be supplied. The film censor will decide on the basis of criteria set out in the Bill whether or not he will allow the supply of any particular video film. If he does not give a certificate he will make a prohibition order and the film may not be supplied. That is, it may not be sold, rented, etc. Should a person be dissatisfied with the decision of the censor not to grant a certificate he may appeal to the Censorship of Films Appeal Board.

The film censor will also have power to decide whether certain video films already on the market should be prohibited. There are certain well known titles of an objectionable nature on the market and when the Bill becomes law the film censor will be able to examine these as a matter of priority. If he decides on the basis of the criteria in the Bill that they should not continue to be supplied he may make a prohibition order. Once he makes a prohibition order any further sale, rental, etc. of the title will be illegal. Again there will be the possibility of an appeal to the Censorship of Films Appeal Board in relation to prohibition orders of this nature.

I think it appropriate at this stage to say a few words about the criteria set out in the Bill for the refusal of a supply certificate and the making of a prohibition order. These criteria have been drafted on the basis of existing legislation and what is considered to be required in today's world. They include obscene or indecent matter, a category which appears in existing legislation on cinema films and publications. They also include material that would be likely to cause persons to commit crime or which would be likely to stir up hatred on grounds of race, nationality and religion. Finally, the criteria refer to material that depicts acts of gross violence or cruelty, including mutilation and torture, towards humans or animals. This type of material does appear in video films. It is necessary that it be referred to specifically in the Bill.

Having dealt with objectionable films I now turn to the vast numbers of inoffensive titles already on the market. These titles will be phased into the control system over the first few years of the operation of the Act. After a number of years the requirement will be that all video films on the market, apart from those exempt under the Act, should have been examined by the film censor and he will either have granted a certificate or made a prohibition order in each case. A system of mandatory labelling will ensure that the public and the garda will have readily available information as to the certificate granted by the film censor. Any film which should have been submitted to the censor and was not submitted will not, of course, have received a supply certificate and its supply will be illegal. Untitled films will be caught by the control system in this way.

The Bill also contains a prohibition against the exhibition, apart from in a private capacity, of video films that have either been prohibited or have not been certificated. This type of provision is necessary as without it objectionable films could be shown in clubs and clubs could be established specifically for that purpose. Under the Bill it will also be possible for officers of Customs and Excise to detain any prohibited title which is being imported and to refer any video film which it is felt might be obscene to the film censor.

It will be an offence to supply in any manner a video film which has not been certificated or which has been prohibited. Supply has been defined in the Bill to cover such things as sale, rent, etc. It will be possible for the courts to impose heavy penalties on anybody who is convicted of committing an offence under the Act. These penalties may be monetary and they may also include imprisonment. The size of the monetary fines and the possibility of imprisonment are an indication of how seriously I regard any offences under the Act.

There are a number of points that are not covered in the Bill to which I wish to refer. There has been an amount of pressure from various sources that a system of classifying video films should be introduced as is the case in Britain. A system of classification involves dividing films into groups by reference to the age of the viewer. For example, a film could be passed by the film censor as being suitable for supply only to those over the age of 16 years.

The arguments in favour of classification are that the classification system enables an offence to be created in relation to supply of the film to persons below the stated age. It also informs the purchaser or renter of the film of the category of person for whom the film is suitable.

The main arguments against a classification system are as follows. Classification provides for an offence in relation to the supply of the film to persons below a given age. It does not, however, achieve the main objective which is to prevent the viewing of the film by persons below that age. Having regard to the nature of video films and the relative ease of copying, classification could turn out to be pointless. You may control the age of the person to whom the film is supplied but you will not be able to control the age of the person who views it. Either an older person will rent or buy the film and show it to younger people, or the film will be in the home and will be seen by children when the parents are not there.

It should also be remembered that a classification system would be very expensive compared with the system proposed in the Bill. It would necessitate the viewing in full of all films by the censor and his staff. As I have said, this is the system that is in operation in the UK. That system cost almost £1.1 million to operate last year and necessitated the employment of 53 staff. Those figures cover both cinema film and video film censorship. They compare with projected figures for our combined video and cinema film censorship of approximately ten people and an annual expenditure of about £300,000. I should also mention that a classification system would result in delay in achieving control over the video films already on the market. I think it is also relevant that the British system of classification would be particularly unsuitable to our circumstances since it includes a category which allows for supply only through sex shops.

On balance I am satisfied that a classification system should not be provided for and that the only decision which the censor should have to make is whether the film be allowed for supply or not. It has also been urged that all retail outlets for the sale or hire of video films should be licensed and local authorities have been mentioned in this context.

The argument adduced in favour of licensing suppliers is that a licensing system would result in a more effective control on the supply of video films. It is claimed that this is so because nobody could supply films without a licence and that the licence could be withdrawn in the event of the licensee being convicted of supplying prohibited or uncertificated films.

The idea of licensing suppliers is also put forward as a means of combating breaches of copyright law and what is commonly called video piracy. Senators will readily understand, however, that the area of commercial property is totally separate from the issues being addressed in this Bill and is outside its scope. Incidentally, Senators are probably aware that there is legislation in the copyright area before the Dáil at present.

The other side of the coin is that a licensing system would be extremely difficult to administer and would give rise to substantial extra costs. In addition, it would be difficult to frame a provision which would provide the necessary criteria or guidelines for granting a licence.

Accordingly, I am of the view that it has not been established that a system of licensing suppliers is necessary to control the supply of video films. That control can be achieved through heavy penalties on persons convicted of supplying prohibited video films. I want to say a few words now about pornographic films specifically. There may be a difference of opinion as to whether the supply of pornographic films should be prohibited totally, or whether the prohibition should apply only to supply to persons under 18 years. The major argument in favour of confining the prohibition of pornographic films to those over 18 years is that adults should be free to decide what they wish to see unless it is clearly harmful. Pornography can be distinguished in this regard from extremely violent video films.

The following are the arguments in support of a total ban on the supply of video films which the censor finds to be pornographic. Present day legislation in relation to censorship of publications provides for a total prohibition on the sale of banned books, including those banned on the grounds of being indecent. Similarly there is a total ban on the public exhibition of banned films, including those banned on the grounds of being indecent. Accordingly, should video film legislation not provide for a total ban on the supply of pornographic films it would be out of line with existing censorship legislation and, putting it at its lowest, this would provide grounds for demands for extension of the legislation into these other areas. Senators will appreciate, I am sure, that it would be quite inappropriate to hang, as it were, a fundamental review of all censorship law on the back of this measure and that it is preferable to keep the approach to videos in line with the general approach in this regard.

Perhaps the main argument in favour of a total ban is the very nature of the video itself. It seems to me unrealistic to assume that certain videos could be supplied to, say over 18 year olds in this country in circumstances which would ensure that they would not be seen by younger persons.

I have already mentioned that the position in the UK is different. There is a category of video which can be supplied to persons over 18 years in the context of sex shops. On balance I am satisfied that young persons in our community are likely to be able to view pornographic films unless there is total prohibition on their supply.

I am satisfied also that many people are not aware of the extremely offensive nature of some of the pornographic films available. As I have said already, these films are totally uninhibited and totally explicit in what they portray. I cannot imagine that any strong argument can be made for their being available to any particular group. The material in them is obscene and they are particularly offensive and degrading to women.

In this regard I would like to refer to the 1986 report of the United States Attorney General's Commission on Pornography. The commission found that pornography is harmful to viewers. It is significant that the finding of the commission in 1986 is different from the findings of a commission in 1970 which did not conclude that any harm ensued from pornography. The 1986 report of the commission is a very impressive document and was based on a widespread programme of research. I consider its findings very significant.

In all the circumstances I have no hesitation in including pornography in the Bill and in dealing with it by way of a total prohibition on supply. I am satisfied that that is the proper course and is in accordance with current informed thinking on the topic.

I have mentioned already that the work to be done under the Bill will fall to the film censor. You may ask why the film censor? The answer is simple — the film censor is experienced in this area and is the most appropriate person to undertake the work. His office will, of course, have to be strengthened both from the point of view of administrative and clerical staff and examiners or assistant censors who will assist him in examining films. Extra equipment will be needed also. Video recorders and screens and office machinery including computers will be purchased.

All in all I estimate that the extra cost of running the video control system, over and above the cost of the current cinema control system, will be about £200,000 per annum. The extra work will not result in any extra net expense to the State, however, as the cost of the operation will be recouped by the charging of fees in respect of the examination of video films. Senators will notice that there is a provision in the Bill which requires the operation to be self-financing, but no more than that. This is in line with similar situations in other areas — I might just mention cinema film censorship and land registration. By way of comment, however, I should like to say that in framing the provisions of the Bill I have been conscious of the need to avoid very expensive options which would have to be paid for by the legitimate video trade.

Before finishing I want to refer to two sections of the Bill specifically. Section 22 proposes an amendment to section 3 of the Censorship of Films Act, 1923. The purpose of the proposed amendment is to ensure that the Censorship of Films Appeal Board will have both male and female members in future. The current membership of the board comprises seven men and two women but there is no legal requirement at present that both sexes be represented on the board.

The second section to which I wish to refer is section 21. That section provides for the official censor and the appeal board, in each year beginning with the year 1988, preparing reports on their work in the previous year. The year 1988 has been included in the section in the expectation that the Bill will be enacted by the end of this year. Should that not prove to be the case the reference to 1988 will be changed to 1989 by way of amendment.

Although I have referred to some specific provisions of the Bill, Senators will appreciate that my remarks at this stage are of a general nature and deal with the principles underpinning the Bill and the key provisions which implement them. There are a number of sections in the Bill which I have not dealt with. These will, of course, be dealt with on Committee Stage when detailed consideration will be given to all sections of the Bill.

As I said earlier I expect wide support for the Bill. There should be general agreement on the need for a control system in relation to video films. There may be differences of opinion, however, on the best method of control to install and, also, on details of the scheme set out in the Bill. I look forward to having an open and informative debate on the topic and I assure all Members that I will give careful consideration to all views expressed during the debate.

I commend the Bill to the House.

First, I welcome the introduction of the Video Recordings Bill. I welcome the fact that the Bill has been initiated in the Seanad in order to enact the legislation as quickly as possible. I welcome also the Minister for Justice's remarks when he said he will look at all the various submissions to improve the Bill. During the course of the debate the Minister will find that Senators are concerned with a number of areas in particular. Senators are concerned with the wording of various sections and the need to include items which are excluded at present.

It would appear from one of the themes running through the Minister's speech that he is more concerned with the financial impact the inclusion of licensing or classification will have on his Department than in trying to improve the content of the legislation. Indiscriminate and unlawful people are selling videos from vans throughout Ireland. I submit that in addition there is a high level of video piracy which is adding an enormous burden to the legitimate video industry. It has also an enormous influence on the minds of many of our young people. We should be concerned about the social cost rather than the financial cost of the legislation. The video industry in a submission to the Department made the Minister aware that they are prepared to shoulder some of the cost of implementing this legislation effectively.

The number of people involved in the legitimate video industry in Ireland is significant and about 7,000 video titles have been imported. The Department of Finance receive a significant amount of finance in the form of VAT from the distribution and sale of videos, and this should not be ignored when considering the cost of implementing various sections in this Bill. In fact, the annual VAT and PRSI contributions of the industry amount to about £7 million.

When you consider the number of people who are estimated to be involved in the illegal pirate trade in 1986 figures as well, you will see that there is a loss of about £3.5 million to the economy in terms of VAT and PRSI contributions. There is also a loss to the legitimate employment of people in the industry by the fact that there is about £4 million of business being done by distribution and £10 million in the retail area in the illegal pirate trading of video equipment and video recordings.

The impact of video nasties on children cannot be overstated. The rampant corruption of attitudes and minds, particularly in urban areas and in the lower socio-economic areas, is very worrying at the moment. It is indefensible that any society should tolerate this for so long. There is indiscriminate piracy of unsuitable video films taking place in these areas at the moment. The law would seem to be powerless regarding the confiscation of these films and even arresting people for destroying young minds with such filth. The Minister is adopting a very cumbersome procedure by which this indiscriminate piracy of video films can be outlawed in this Bill. The cumbersome procedure of confiscation of goods will be difficult to implement if one must seek permission from the court initially in order to carry out a warrant, or to have a house searched and the equipment confiscated. It is very necessary that the Garda should have immediate powers of confiscation if suspicion is aroused that indiscriminate pornographic material is being shown in various locations in an urban area. I am not suggesting that it is confined to urban areas. The pattern and surveys indicate that the lower socioeconomic areas seem to be the areas where there is a tremendous amount of illegal piracy of video recordings.

The ultimate responsibility, of course, lies with the parents or guardians of the young people involved in this activity. In fact, I submit that it is not solely confined to young people either. Supposedly well matured adults get tremendous enjoyment out of this filth as well. To prevent children from acquiring the material in the first place is obviously the responsibility of parents or guardians. The Minister has an enormous problem in that he does not want to interfere with the rights of individuals in their own homes and also from the point of view of the common good in outlawing undesirable material from being shown in any dwelling as well. There is a general laxity and irresponsibility on the part of some parents in looking after the constructive, moral welfare of their children. It is something that has been getting worse gradually over the years. That is why this legislation is so important and so urgent.

The Minister is aware that blue movies, as they are known, lead to crimes of abuse of human beings and to an increased level of incest, rape and sexual violence outside the home. It is well tabulated in the Department. In fact, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Women's Rights yesterday added their voice to protest against the enormous level of child abuse that is taking place in our society at the moment. The Eastern Health Board, in particular, have 1,040 cases of sexual abuse of children. I have no doubt that the environment of illegal piracy of video recordings contributes something towards that development and it should be borne in mind.

The Minister referred to the United States Commission on Pornography. Substantial study has been carried out in the United States. Various studies in the Republic of Ireland show that the incidence of rape has increased dramatically since the Fifties, when it was about 10 per annum, to about 200 per annum in 1982. Unprecedented brutality is taking place in individual cases. Various sources speak of the true rape level being two, three or even many times the reported level. It is probably very much understated in the statistics.

Additionally, as I have stated, incest has become established as a widespread social problem. I know from my contacts with the teaching profession that they are very much concerned about the condition of some children who come to schools and the inability of health boards to deal effectively with the level of incest that is unreported and is definitely taking place in society. Senators seem to think it is confined to the larger cities. It is happening in every large town and, indeed, in large villages.

Every Senator in this House should be concerned about the unreported but tremendous downgrading of our social problems that has been taking place over the past few years in particular. Various conferences, like the Garda conference in the Department in 1986 — the Annual Conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors — were told that a specific video film had led to a sexual assault case in which the woman died of horrific injuries. A health spokesman, the assistant secretary of the Department of Health in Dublin, singled out pornography as a cause of sexual assaults on women and girls. The move the Minister is making in this Bill to outlaw pornography is a correct approach. It will be very difficult to supervise and enforce these regulations because of the underground nature of the activity that is taking place at the moment in relation to video recordings.

It is very important that the Minister should consider the inclusion of a licensing system in order to ensure that the Department are aware of the exact people who are dealing with video recordings and those who are not. Failure to register importers, distributors or retailers means losing control of the situation immediately. The need for registration is critical in this Bill. First, it gives the authorities a record of who is dealing in the videos. This is essential because there are about 600 retail outlets in the Republic. These do not include the people I spoke about earlier, such as those in the mobile vans and those trading from their homes.

Anyone has the right to apply for either import or retail registration at a suggested cost, by the video industry, of £1,000 per importer or £150 per retailer, which would make the scheme self-financing. In considering the argument about cost, the fact that the video industry, and in particular the Video Alliance of Ireland, are prepared to suggest a contribution of that enormous amount, particularly for the importation of video recording equipment, is a measure of the constructive nature of their submissions to the Department in order to outlaw this unsatisfactory development.

The Bill does not include any provision for classification. The Film Censor will either allow a title to be in or out. This is not sufficient. A grading system should be part of the certification for any video film passed for viewing. At a minimum, it is suggested that this should be below 18 years, or over 18 years, or banned altogether. It would be an offence in that case to supply an over 18 film to anyone under that age. Classification would serve as a guideline to both retailers and parents or adults as to the contents of the video. Films are made which are suitable for adult viewing, but not for children of 12 years of age. Non-classification of passed films does not take this into account and will ultimately lower the threshold of what material should be passed. This would limit legal choice of film titles available but it would serve to nurture the aforementioned underground and illegal market.

I am particularly concerned about wording in the Bill, namely, the phrase in subsections (3) and (6), paragraph 1 —"unfit for general viewing". In cinematic terms, general viewing implies films that are suitable for any age. This could have the effect of reducing availability and choice to a dramatically restrictive level and create an unrealistic pressure on the office of the Film Censor. Home video cassettes could be banned while the films could still be seen on general release in the cinema.

I submit it is tremendously important that we have a classification system so that we may have some control on the type of equipment and material being submitted for viewing. In the course of his remarks the Minister referred to the certification of "pirated" tapes. There is no provision in the Bill excluding the Film Censor from giving an official Government certificate to an illegal operator if this material is submitted for reviewing. There could be a situation where material illegally imported into this country and being viewed illegally could be stamped by the Film Censor without his knowing it.

The situation could arise where a Government certificate would certify the illegal product. The Bill needs to be tightened to ensure that this does not happen and the way it can be tightened is by registration. This would ensure that the censor would know who has the right to legally import the genuine article, or who has not. I reiterate that the legal video industry in this country is one which employs about 2,000 people. It has an annual turnover of £28 million. It is an industry that is growing but it has been growing out of hand because of the tremendous amount of piracy of equipment over the past few years.

I also wish to refer to the remarks made in relation to the Copyright Act of 1963. I understand there are proposals before the Dáil at present in relation to this matter. At present the video market represents about 50 per cent of the industry. The maximum penalty for any article is £5 and in this day and age it is completely outdated. This should be increased immediately to a more realistic level. It is vital from an enforcement viewpoint that the penalties should be substantially increased to a level of about £5,000, with mandatory imprisonment for a second offence.

If we are serious about coming to grips with the copyright material we have to be serious about the impositions we are prepared to put into law in relation to the Copyright Act. Speaking in terms of £5 up to a maximum £100 is completely a farce. It is only making a joke of the seriousness of this particular piracy that is taking place. The present definition covers all past forms of film delivery. The difficulty with this definition, however, lies in its inability to protect new forms of delivery through ever-evolving technology; for example, compact disc videos. This is something that the Bill will have to face up to.

It is very difficult to keep pace with technology. As technology is continuously improving the enforcement procedures are going to be even more difficult to put into operation, with people gradually finding new ways of erasing material, copying material and pirating it. Technology in the United States, in particular, in this area has found its way to Europe and to Ireland. It has shown the significant contribution that technology is making to the expansion of piracy in the video industry.

Finally, I would like to express my serious concern to the Minister. I was disturbed to learn of a recent newspaper report in Dublin which stated that teenagers are being lured to engage in the manufacture of video nasties. In lower socio-economic groups and where there is high unemployment unfortunate young people are vulnerable to this type of activity. The person responsible for the exploitation of these young people should not be spared in law. I hope the necessary provisions are included in this Bill to deal adequately with the upsurge of this type of modern film-making. The Minister has come out very strongly against this sort of activity. He mentioned on television in the course of an interview that the full rigours of the law will be imposed on these particular culprits, who are using and abusing the characters of young people in order to lure them into financial gain. This is dispicable in the modern world.

The Bill must include powers of registration and classification and give the Garda enough power to enable them to deal with the enormous problems that exist, particularly in the lower socioeconomic groups in our society, where, because of the high level of unemployment and the low level of unemployment assistance, young people are seeking ways in which they can get their hands on any source of finance. I would hate to see a society developing where the thin edge of the wedge, as it were, is being applied here. The Minister has a responsibility to stamp it out.

If the Minister listens carefully to the arguments being put forward for registration and classification, and acts on them, the video industry will grow and the piracy of video recording material will be eliminated to the benefit of the younger people in society who are being led up the garden path, as it were, by the people I have mentioned. I welcome the Bill and I look forward on Committee Stage to assisting the Minister in improving it.

I wish to welcome this Bill. It was necessary to introduce it as soon as possible. In recent years video films have become a very popular medium of entertainment. Thousands of video films must have been released in Ireland over the past few years and the vast majority are harmless. However, there are some films that are so violent or pornographic that they are a danger to those who see them. Those films fall into two groups — the extremely violent films known as video nasties, and the pornographic films which depict explicit sexual scenes.

The purpose of the Video Recordings Bill is to ensure that no obscene video films are allowed on the market in the future and that those already on the market are prohibited. There has been extensive research on whether the viewing of violent or pornographic films cause harm. An informal group of parliamentarians promoted a research project on violent video films in the United Kingdom in 1983. In the foreward of a book published about the project, Video Violence and Children, Lord Coggan, former Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote that they were very harmful to children. He said the case is overwhelmingly made that video nasties are seen by a surprisingly large percentage of the young and that the effect of many of them is alarmingly harmful, that a video containing a combination of violence and sex is a potential mental and moral health hazard of a kind we have not experienced before. In the United States the Attorney General's commission on pornography which reported in 1986 concluded that pornography is harmful.

There is a Video Recording Act in England for the control and supply of video films. The censorship authority in England may ban the supply of some films and may limit the supply of others through a classification system. In that English Act there are six classifications. First, there is the classification — films suitable for all. Classification No. two relates to films particularly suitable for children; No. three, general viewing but some scenes may be unsuitable for children; No. four, suitable for persons of 15 years and over, not to be supplied to any person under that age; No. five, suitable for persons of 18 years and over, not to be supplied to any person under that age. Then there are films that can be shown in licensed sex shops to persons not less than 18 years of age. I do not think that system would work in Ireland.

If we introduced a system here which allowed pornographic films to be seen by persons over 18 years old, it would be completely ineffective. Such videos would definitely be seen by people under 18 years. It is important that we ban the pornographic films completely to save our young people from seeing them.

There has been considerable publicity from time to time about the availability of extremely violent video films or pornographic video films. There have been claims that some violent films have led to crimes being committed by the people who saw them. Other comments relate to the fact that frequent viewing of obscene videos or very violent films causes dulling of the viewers' sensitivity in relation to violence or pornography.

The Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism issued a report on video nasties in June 1986. They said legislation should be introduced as a matter of urgency to accept the international coding system for classifying video recordings for audience suitability. This would have the effect of making any trade in unlicensed material, such as video nasties, unlawful. This would be an important step in meeting the demand that the most objectionable video nasties should be banned.

The Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism said that the terms of reference of the film censor should be extended to enable him to consider any appeal against the classification of any video recording. If the film censor considers that a classification is unsuitable he should be empowered to alter it. Additional censors should be appointed to deal with this work. There should be a mix of male and female censors. If necessary, temporary arrangements should be made to deal with any initial large number of referrals to the censor. Any retail outlet for the sale or hire of video recordings should be licensed. This function should be carried out by the local authorities. The legislation should provide for heavy penalties, including imprisonment, for anyone trading in unclassified video recordings. As I said, these are recomendations in the Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism report which was issued in June 1986.

Our Minister for Justice has introduced this very necessary Bill. There is great demand for it. The real purpose of the Bill is to prohibit the supply of video films which are unfit for general viewing because of conduciveness to crime and incitement on the grounds of race, nationality, or religion, or of obscenity that is pornographic, indecency or gross violence. Our party gave a commitment in the Programme for National Recovery and in our justice and criminal law reform that we would introduce legislation. Now it is here before the Seanad.

The Bill provides that no new films may be released on the market without being passed by the film censor and that the film censor may make a prohibition order in respect of obscene films already on the market. I also notice that there will be heavy penalties for persons supplying new video films without getting a supply certificate from the film censor. There will also be a fine for those who continue to supply films in respect of which a prohibition order has been made.

There is a clear need for the powers proposed in this Bill. We had power to control the content of cinema films and publications since the foundation of the State. It is anomalous that we have not had power to control the contents of video films or publications. Many public representatives, groups active in youth welfare, and parents have spoken out in recent years against the obscene films that are freely available. People who have occasion to view them have expressed shock and deep concern at the horrific content of films such as "Driller Killer" and "I Spit on Your Grave". The contents of those films cannot do anyone any good. The likelihood is that they have a serious adverse effect on some viewers. There can be no argument but that films of this nature should be prohibited.

As well as extremely violent films there are a considerable number of pornographic films in circulation. Those films cannot be of any benefit to the viewers and must be a serious threat to the moral attitudes of some people who view them.

I welcome the Bill and I congratulate the Minister for Justice on having introduced it. It was very necessary to have the Bill introduced as soon as possible especially in view of the fact that, because since the State was formed films have been subject to censorship, video films should also be subject to censorship. It is a very opportune time to introduce the Bill to ensure young people will not view films which are quite unsuitable for them. I congratulate the Minister on introducing the Bill.

This is one of the issues where liberals like myself are confronted with their own liberalism and very often try to duck. I have no problems in principle with the stated intent of this Bill. I have read too much, I have seen a little and I am too much aware of what is going on in the world to be able to stand up and espouse a no censorship cause.

With certain spectacular exceptions, which would always exist, our censorship rules in the areas of books and films work reasonably well at this stage. They do not by and large exclude any material anybody would argue was of reasonable merit and tend to move towards the side of liberalism in terms of what is allowed to be sold and to be displayed in the cinemas.

There are people with far longer and far better established liberal credentials than mine who take exception to some films. I notice the Minister was careful not to mention the names of these films and I do not particularly want to either because I do not have the influence the Minister has. I do not want to add anything to the notoriety of some of these films since there will be a large hiatus between now and the time the legislation will be in force. However, there have been exceptions. In some cases I have taken different views from some people on some of the films that have been passed by the censor in recent times.

I do not have a video recorder but recently I visited a member of my family and we decided we would like to watch a film. I visited a video recording rental premises and it was a difficult enough exercise to find a film that I had heard of because most of them seem to be totally independent of the cinema and of a faint tinge of blue. I do not think they were particularly harmful or pornographic. However, I selected a film and while I was waiting for it to be wrapped I saw a black folder on the counter which I presumed to be a price list. I thumbed through it and it turned out to be the under the counter range of videos available. Senator Robb is asking me for the address of the shop. They were not video nasties but they were clearly exploitative in intent. The words inside the cover were, "porno for pleasure". This happened in a big video rental shop in Dublin and confirmed what I had suspected.

In the magazines available in shops— and this is a problem we might address later on — which deal in the general video industry there is a section devoted to what they call "adult videos". In one review the reviewer marks the videos on a scale of one to five on the basis of what he calls his lustometer. I do not say this in any way to provide cheap headlines or anything, but because the attitudes and the values that underlie that particular industry are essentially exploitative, degrading and, in particular, degrading of women.

Sadly there is a new industry building up — I do not know the extent to which it has entered the video market yet — which relates to the exploitation of children. In some ways this deserves specific reference in a Bill like this. I know it is implied in it. There is a particular revulsion shared by people with a range of views and attitudes against the whole issue of censorship. One issue we are all agreed on is that any exploitation of children in the area pornography is a particularly appalling offence against children. Why it is done is a separate issue. I could make a long speech about income constraints, etc., but the exploitation of children in the area of pornography is particularly offensive.

Having said that, I accept there is a problem. We must remember what the problem is. The problem is not what used to be the historical justification of censorship: people who portray themselves are masqueraded as artists with a urge to express themselves at this stage. There may well be pornographic films made by people who have good credentials in the area of film making, as there may well be books many people would view as pornographic. The difficulty with pornography is that society's view of what pornography is varies from generation to generation. Not long ago there was an attempt to ban Lady Chatterly's Lover in Britain. It is now on sale in this country and I do not think anybody would even bother submitting it to the Censorship of Publications Board because nobody believes any more that Lady Chatterly's Lover is particularly pornographic. Perhaps some people do. I have got mail which suggests that the country began to go downhill once the Minister's predecessor, Deputy Lenihan, liberalised the laws on both literature and films. I do not share that view. There is a difficulty there.

The problem with the video industry is that it is now relatively easy to make videos. It is easy to make offensive, violent, corrupting productions. There is a small scale equipment involved, a small scale of studios involved and ease of editing, if these people even bother with such niceities as editing. There is easy access to the equipment. In the old days making a film involved access to fairly considerable ranges of equipment which involved lighting and so on. A lot of this can be bypassed now. At the core of the problem is that it is now relatively easy to make videos that apparently have limitless demand. For expenditure of perhaps £400,000 or £500,000, vast sums of money are there for the taking and obviously only the maker of the video will make anything. Nobody imagines that the misfortunate wretches who participate in these videos will get anything other than a miserable few pounds.

What we are regulating is the commercial exploitation element of this. If there were not a fast buck, and as a friend of mine says big bucks, to be made out of this, there would be very little in the area of pornography available in any area of human consumption, if I can use that phrase. We want to keep the two things separate. Ultimately the problem is the capacity to make money out of something and what we have to prevent is people making money out of human degradation. That is extremely important.

The fact that videos are relatively cheap to make is also something that has provided all sorts of extraordinary benefits. One example that crossed my mind was when the club from my home town recently won the county championship for the first time in nearly 50 years, somebody produced a professional video on the match which is on sale for £20. That could never have been done in the days before video recorders were developed. Therefore, it is something that produces all sorts of benefits.

I am very glad the Minister has tried very hard in this Bill to distinguish between the video nasties and the video recordings that are making all sorts of things available to people in family life, in film making at local level on a small scale, in education, in training, in marketing, in industry, and so on. He has tried to make distinctions so that the people who are doing all the things with video recorders that would not have been possible with the previous techniques of film making are not burdened down with a series of regulations that would make life almost impossible for them. I am very glad about that, and I am glad the Bill recognises the extent to which video recorders are almost a part of family life at this stage, a part of people's weddings, etc.

However, like any exception it can be exploited. What I am talking about is what I referred to earlier: with the opportunity to make cheap films comes exploitation. It is important that it is not just exploitation of the consumer that is involved. There is the equally offensive exploitation of the people who have to participate in these films. It is reasonable to suggest that if men or women are in a position where they feel they must or should participate in the sort of productions that masquerade as entertainment in this area, they are being exploited as is the viewer, or the consumer. There is a case to be made that, to the extent that it is possible to be controlled, those who make videos like that an those who supply or distribute them should be seen to be committing a crime. That many represent no more than society's intent.

The Minister said there is a borderline. However, society is unanimous that those who make exploitative, gross, violent films are offending against society. This is a legitimate area where society could say that to make films like that is a crime, or to make films like that with an intent to sell for commercial purposes is a crime. Of course most of these videos are being made outside the country at this stage.

If there is a demand for such productions in this country and if we manage to regulate the importation of such videos, we may find a small industry mushrooming here to replace the diet from outside the country. Therefore, there is a case to be made that, apart from supply and distribution, the making of those films which involve exploitation of other people deserves to be considered an offence in itself.

Another exploitation is the exploitation of freedom that is involved in something like this. In the days when we did not accept freedom of expression and freedom of opinion as a natural democratic right, it was difficult to circulate pornography. It is no coincidence that there is an absence of pornography in most, though not all in recent times, repressive regimes.

One of the things most people notice about Eastern Europe and China is the virtual absence of pornography. I do not believe that is because they have developed a more virtuous race, even though my politics might appear to some people to be orientated in that direction. I use the word "appear" because I know where my politics are orientated. It does make clear that there is a relationship between pornography and freedom and that a free society will always have difficulty in dealing with the limits of freedom of expression and that one of the areas of freedom of expression has to do with those areas of life which are seen to impinge on pornography. Sport does not impinge on the area of pornography although if you look at the prosecutions in Glasgow at present you begin to wonder. There are areas of life which are seen to represent values which have to be protected.

Since the Minister and all the Members here at present are male it is important that men should accept the fact that they are the overwhelming consumers of pornography. All men have an obligation to reflect on the culture, the values and the attitudes they often display more in all male company than they do when perhaps they feel more inhibited. It is not an industry which is equally consumed by both sexes. It is by and large a male orientated, male dominated and male financed industry. For that reason men in particular have to be extremely sensitive about their own attitudes and their often implied attitudes towards women and to the values they hold when they talk about women.

There is still much to be done about the way all of us think about women, the attitudes we display to them and the slightly exploitative attitude many of us display. I am not in any way claiming moral superiority in this. I am addressing it as a man to other men. We are the consumers of pornography. The whole industry is directed towards us and there must be something in the attitudes of men generally which has left that commercial demand there.

Because of the extraordinary profits that are to be made and the extraordinary explosion in the home video area, it is clear that there is a need to regulate the video industry. I do not think there is any doubt about that. There is a need to regulate access to videos and the production of those videos. Most of us may be protected from these through this legislation but it will not necessarily guarantee that children and women will not be exploited in the making of them, even if it is only for an underground market. It should not simply be the people who supply the videos who commit an offence but if we can identify who makes them, that should be an offence in itself as well. We all agree in principle about regulation but the question arises as to how.

The Minister described the video nasties in his press conference and he invited anybody who did not believe him to view one. I was prepared to take the Minister's word for it because I have no desire to see these films. I find that sort of violence extremely difficult to take and I find a considerable amount of what is acceptable in the cinema extremely difficult to take. I do not think any of us have any problem in relation to video nasties. They are clearly intent on exploiting cruelty, violence, human dismemberment, etc. There is no artistic freedom or other basis for justifying the display, sale or supply of those videos.

The difficulty arises when we get into what is called pornography in the broader sense of the word. One man's pornography literally can mean another man's work of art. That is the history of society and it is a permanent tension. There is no point in saying that because there is tension we can, therefore, ignore the problem. Pornography exists in many different areas and it is not right that it should be available to children in many cases and, in some cases, adults.

I accept the conclusions of the United States Attorney General's commission that pornography does do harm. I have always been amazed at the extent to which liberals, in particular, go in trying to pretend the opposite. It is not something that most men can argue about. Pornography does have an effect on attitudes to women, on attitudes to sexual morality and it does have effects in terms of a gradual cushioning of people towards their sensitivity to cruelty and violence.

I am not sure people learn from videos how to do things they would not otherwise not have done. I totally accept that any continuous exposure to cruelty and violence of the explicit and realistic kind that is now available must gradually brutalise people and must gradually desensitise their attitude towards violence. Anyone who has lived in Northern Ireland will accept that many people in Northern Ireland have begun, because of a familiarity with violence, to lose their sensitivity, their sense of outrage and their feeling that this is cruel and awful. It may not necessarily be equally true, but it is clearly related that exposure to this sort of material has a degrading and desensitising effect on people. That cannot be good for society. I do not know whether or not it leads to people committing sexual offences, but I am prepared to believe it does. There can be no doubt that it reduces sensitivity and underpins, if not exaggerates, some of the values that are less savoury in men, the macho aggression, tough guy image.

The other difficulty I have identified is related to the first one. Apart from defining pornography you have to define how you are going to regulate it. These two difficulties are related. One way of doing this is to give a very broad definition and include everything on the grounds that if there are some accidential casualties along the way at least society will have been protected from something insidious and something damaging.

What the US Attorney General's commission, to which both I and the Minister referred, said is true but I want to counsel caution. I am certain that, given the environment and the context of the United States, the definition of pornography a US congressman or a US lawyer would use would be different from the definition of pornography many Members of this House or the other House would use. We can never be sure, unless we go through the long list of films, books or magazines that they are talking about, that we are talking about the same thing. What they would call pornography would probably be far more extreme than what we would call pornography. We are left with a dilemma and, like any dilemma, we have to solve it for ourselves. No external agency will solve it for us.

I want to mention three films that I have seen by way of example. The first film is "The Killing Fields", the second "Blue Velvet" and the third "Betty Blue". All three films received considerable critical acclaim. "The Killing Fields" contains some of the most horrific scenes I have ever seen. Yet I would absolutely and categorically defend the merits of that film. I would not like my children to see that film. I would refuse to allow them to see it but I would defend the quality and the merit of it as an essay in what happened in Kampuchea or, as it was then, Cambodia. It is brutalising in its effect. One comes out of the film absolutely drained and exhausted. Is that film pornographic or is it the sort of film that is suitable to be distributed through a video shop? That is the sort of issue we have to address.

The second film, "Blue Velvet," is a far more controversial film because it involves considerable violence towards women. It is a good film because it raises worthwhile issues about male attitudes and values and about the relationship between men and women. Again I would not like my children to see it, but I would not be prepared to believe it is pornographic.

The third film, "Betty Blue," has been quite a success. It is a superb film. It also has a considerable amount of quite explicit scenes of sexual activity. I am not revealing any secrets here. This has been well discussed in the newspapers. Like most public representatives I do not see as many films as I would like to. However I have succeeded in catching up on films from time to time through video recordings. It is one way for people who cannot get to a cinema to catch up on good films.

I want to refer to those three films in terms of the way the Bill has defined the problem. The only difficulty I have is in this area. They are all superb films and they are all available through the cinema. I want to clear up whether it is the Minister's intent in this legislation that films available in the cinema could not or should not in some or many cases be available as video recordings for the reasons he has stated. I do not think my children should see these three films. I do not think children of 12, 13 or 14 years should see them. I am not sure whether children of 15, 16, 17 or 18 years should see them. The only people who could possibly decide whether children of 15 or 16 years should see films like these are the parents. I do not believe anybody else in society could determine that. A film like that seen in a family environment where what was contained in it would be talked about between the children and their parents would not only not necessarily be harmful, but it could be good. It could generate communication between parents and their children which could be very healthy and very good for both parents and children. All the films contain things that I would not like children to have access to. I will come back to that later on.

Part of the problem of defining pornography is that you have to try to read the mind of the maker. The real underlying question involved in pornography is the intent of the person who makes the film. I am not saying that should be the exclusive criterion for judging the quality or merit of a film and whether it should be available. One criterion that is true is that, where the intent is to degrade or to undermine anybody, the film should not be available. I have no objection to the banning of films which are made with a simple commercial intent to sell something on the basis of sex, or violence, or both. There is no basic principle or freedom of expression involved. There is no new, original or dissenting idea contained in it. It is an exploitation of our tolerance by certain individuals to make money.

I agree with the Minister that we do not want X cinemas mushrooming here as they have in Britain. We are not suffering anything by being deprived of the sort of films shown in those cinemas. We do not need a censorship regime which allows those films in. I do not see any value which is threatened by banning those sorts of films and I do not see any value which would be advanced by making them available. We do not need those films; we have enough problems. We should realise that the absence of access to those films will not for one second guarantee that the demand will disappear.

I am amazed at the remoteness of the locations of some video clubs. Mobile video clubs travel around some of the most remote parts of rural Ireland. I do not know what they are selling but they seem to be available everywhere. I do not think that involves nasty people deciding to go out and corrupt people. I believe there is a demand for that material and the demand will not go away because the material becomes more restrictive or less available. There is a problem there. I do not believe that the proposals of the video association will in any way regulate that demand but we would not want to fool ourselves into thinking that the demand will go away simply and solely because we will prevent the official channels using them.

That is why I have a difficulty, not with the intent of the Bill, but with the detail of it. It is a detail I would like to clear up now. I would classify a film like "Rambo" as being utterly and totally pornographic because it is there for two reasons and both of them are referred to in the Bill. One reason is to glorify violence and the second is to incite hatred against another race, in this case the Vietnamese people. I want to say in passing for the record that "Rambo" was Ronald Reagan's favourite movie but that is not the reason I formed that impression of it. I formed that impression because I detest the use and exploitation of violence.

We as a society have got our sights a little bit wrong about pornography because we do not give the same emphasis to pornographic violence as we do to pornographic sex. I would argue that pornographic violence is far more likely to damage young people, to offend their sensitivities and to damage them emotionally than would a lot of what is described as pornographic sex. This Bill is extremely worthwhile in its emphasis on the cruelty and violent aspects of video films that should not be tolerated in our society.

A television programme like "Dallas" which is extremely popular has a capacity to corrupt and deprave because of the implied lack of values that underlines that programme. There are no nude scenes in this programme but there is an attitude of exploitation of women, an attitude on sexual morality and an attitude on very important human values which is totally a moral and, because it is available in a non-censorious way, the sort of value that it implies can begin to seep through to people's lives. I would not like my children to watch "Dallas". It has an implied set of values which I find quite offensive. I do not believe it should be banned. I am not saying that. What I am saying is that all of us have different attitudes to pornography and, therefore, we have a difficulty in deciding where the boundary lies.

My problem, therefore, is not with the objective of the Bill; it is with some of the wording. I may not have a major problem with this. I have no intention of opposing the Bill. I have a problem with the wording and perhaps the Minister could clarify this for me. Is it the intent or is it the Minister's understanding that films which are currently available for display in the cinemas will not be available for supply as videos? That is the nub of the problem. Our film censorship procedures work quite well. The boundary line between what is permitted and what is not is reasonable. We can all have exceptions but the boundary works quite well. We have available to us virtually all of the worthwhile films that are made, along with a considerable amount of rubbish, some of which is close to being pornographic and so on, but we have a reasonably effective system. That, of course, depends on the person who is appointed as film censor and depends on the appeal board as well. Given that we have reasonably sensible people, like the Minister, appointing these people we are not going to have Family Solidarity taking over the Censorship of Films Appeal Board or becoming the film censor either. We are not going to have problems like that.

What I wonder about is the phrase "unfit for general viewing". Does that mean general viewing as in the general context of films which are available for general viewing, or does it mean that the censor is to look through the number of criteria there and if it offends fundamentally against one of those criteria it is, therefore, unfit for viewing? I accept the general view of the Minister that the complexities of age regulations are far too difficult to be justified. All you can do in an area like this is to be quite certain that the absolutely offensive is excluded and, after that, leave it to parents to regulate what their children are doing. I do not think you can try to take the place of parents. What deserves to be excluded is what all of us identify as being revolting. What also deserves to be excluded is that which is quite clearly made with the intent of being sold simply because if its sexual content and its explicit violent content. I quite accept that, but what bothers me is the putting together of the phrase "unfit for general viewing" in section 3.

I have a letter from a particular interest group which suggests that most of what is going on in the cinemas at present would tend to deprave or corrupt. Other people would feel that most of what goes on in cinemas is quite harmless. Many people feel that many of the plays shown in Dublin tend to corrupt or deprave. I do not. I think we are long beyond the day when a stage show of a kind that is seen in Dublin corrupts or depraves anybody. The censor's view is that he has to adjudicate on whether something is unfit for general viewing. Is that because he thinks something in it would corrupt or deprave a ten year old child or an adult? If the Minister were to explain what is on view here, we would have far less difficulties or at least I would have far less difficulties with this Bill.

My own view is that the Bill would be greatly improved if written into it was a simple proviso that the censor cannot refuse a supply certificate to any film approved for distribution to the cinemas in this country; in other words, the provisions of all of this Bill would apply to videos which are not certified as being fit for display whetever the age restriction in cinemas. That would only be a small number of the videos available, but it would ensure that those films on video, which are backed by reasonably competent distribution networks and produced by and large by reasonably competent film-makers and film companies, would not in any way be excluded as videos and be available in the cinemas. I know that will include films that are not suitable for children but the alternative is to have two standards, one of which presumes that parents will not regulate what their children see and the other which presumes that because they are only available in cinemas children will not see them. I do not think that will work. If it is not made clear that we are applying a cut-off point, which is what is available in the cinemas — and since the whole job is being done by the same person there will be no problems with consistency — we will run into all sorts of administrative problems later on.

A simple proviso added to the Bill that no film which is acceptable to the censor for display in a cinema — and that decision should be taken by the censor simply on its merits as a film for display in the cinema — should be refused a supply certificate. The censor could then concentrate his mind on the amounts of rubbish and second-rate pornography swamping the video shops which have no artistic merit whatsoever and which, incidentally, by and large, would not survive more than two days in the cinema because no sensible cinema going person would bother going to see them. There is a fair amount of evidence that some of the occasional soft pornography that passes through the censor's office does not survive more than a couple of days in our cinemas. I do not think there would be any problem if that were to be made clear so that we would have consistent standards.

I do not think we can balance society's rights in such a way that we decide to regulate video recordings in a way which is excessively protective of children. If you do that, you will simply drive a whole area of activity underground. There has to be a reasonable balance between this and people's needs. If it was made clear that we were talking about films which were not permitted to be displayed in cinemas we would not have any problems. I accept the Minister's view that to impose a 15 to 18 age limit on grading for the huge number of videos on the market would be an impossible task. It is a difficult enough task as it stands.

I welcome the Bill. I congratulate and compliment the Minister on it. It is long overdue and I ask the Minister to consider some of the difficulties where satellite TV is either here or is about to arrive. I was sitting down one night drinking a drop of whiskey before I went to sleep and turned a film on in our local satellite channel and it was so extraordinary that I spent the night laughing at it. I have yet to see such an imaginative way of filling an hour and a half with different sexual positions masquerading as a film.

It must not have been very good whiskey. It did not put the Senator to sleep.

The film did not put me to sleep but it did not keep me awake either. I am happy with the Bill, provided we can tidy up some of the definitions in it. I do not want us to believe we can go back to what were called "the good old days" when, in the words of a former Member of the other House "before television we had no sex in this country". The human suffering that resulted from previous Irish attitudes to sexuality are nothing that we should joke about but anybody who reads John McGahern, Joyce or Patrick Kavanagh will have a pretty good idea of how people suffered in what were regarded as the old days of innocence. They were not old days of innocence. They were old days of ignorance and people unaware of their own sexuality, unable to talk about it, unable to express their own feelings of guilt about the whole thing, were no great asset to this country and we were no great asset to ourselves. There is no way of going back to that attitude. What we will have to do is deal with the way we are now and we have a right to be protected from gross exploitation. That, I am sure, is the Minister's intent. The only argument I might have with him is whether his intent as he has stated it can be met without some amendments at a later stage.

I, too would like to welcome the Bill and compliment the Minister on bringing it before the House. In recent years there has been a growing public concern about some of the video works which are being openly supplied to young people and which are being exhibited in the presence of young people. The expression "video nasties" has become part of our everyday language and the total lack of any legal restrictions on the supply of videos has become a source of grave concern to parents, teachers and everybody concerned with the well-being of our young people and the development of our society.

Many eminent psychiatrists have linked the increase in certain types of crime to the availability of video nasties. For example, the increase in child sexual abuse in recent years is not surprising given the large number of videos now freely available. Indeed, the increase in the incidence of rape and ther acts of violence is equally unsurprising and for the same reason. Moreover, the constant exposure to scenes of violence does influence attitudes and values. Although the fourth report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Women's Rights, published last year, stated that there was no proof of a definite link between the availability of video nasties and the increase in the number of serious sexual crimes against women the fact is that, if acts of rape and torture are presented on film as being normal, it may be that such videos will be copied in real life. Our society is already affected enough by crime without permitting the availability of video nasties.

In addition, we must be concerned about the quality of life in our society and respect each and every individual member of our society, especially children. They are entitled to the fullest legislative protection from the danger of these videos just as much as they are entitled to protection from all other evils in our society. Although videos are a comparatively recent development and are now as common as radios and televisions, there has been little attempt to set out guidelines to deal with them, not that videos have no uses — or course they have — but the point is that we must regulate the abuses. This is what this Bill proposes to do.

On a number of occasions, Fianna Fáil, in Opposition, raised this problem with growing concern and pledged legislative action on return to office. The Minister has now honoured that promise and I welcome the general thrust of this Bill. At this stage, it is not appropriate for me to refer in depth to the details of the measures proposed. However, I will make one observation. In section 3 of the Bill — the section which deals with the certification of video works — only one distinction is made between videos: whether they are acceptable or unacceptable for general viewing. However, videos which may be suitable for adult viewing are often unsuitable for children. Under this Bill, it is the official censor who decides what videos are acceptable for general viewing.

It could be argued that the censor should have clear powers to classify videos according to suitability for different age groups. This is only a minor reservation and it is offered with the desire to strengthen the Bill. The Bill will fill a vacuum which has been in existence for far too long. This Bill is a most welcome piece of legislation and should command the support of all parties in the House.

I join with other Senators in welcoming this legislation. Most Senators and people in public life are very pleased that the Bill has been introduced. We recognise that the Minister and those who assisted him in drafting the Bill had a very difficult task because it is a fairly wide area to cover. There are many areas of the whole video business that can be abused and it is very difficult to have a fool-proof detection system. Most of us are aware of this. Different sections of the community are concerned about one aspect or another and the harmful results to young viewers, and so on. There are many different areas where we have different concerns. It will be difficult to police and to have effective control even after the legislation is enacted. Sometimes I am in an area where I can get a number of channels. I am sure they are available all over the country. In some of the channels, there are late programmes and late viewing, some of which would come into the category of meriting examination by the censor. In those areas I do not know what can be done.

We are now subject to films, videos and television programmes from outside the country and outside our control. It is a very big question. This is a welcome start and undoubtedly the legislation now being introduced will be supervised and updated on a regular basis. It is an area that has been neglected and I would put down the neglect — if that is not too strong a word to use — to the fact that it is so difficult to have full control. It is easy to buy a video outside the country and put it in your pocket and, whether you are travelling across the frontier or in an aeroplane it is almost impossible to control the use of it.

I sympathise with those who are in the legitimate video business, producing good sound video copy here in the State. They have no sustain themselves and sustain their business. They too have a major problem. This Bill will give some encouragement to those people because the State does not turn a blind eye completely to all abuses. I hope this is a start and will make all of us a bit more aware of the seriousness of the whole business.

One aspect of the video recording business is that videos are very expensive. That tends to encourage those involved in copying videos. I questioned this recently and I was told that a big part of the cost of videos goes towards paying the performing rights association. I would like another opportunity to question how legal this is. We are forced to pay a contribution towards that association which is based outside the jurisdiction. I have long standing experience and I have never fully accepted that we are part of it here. I know the performing rights association, initially based in the UK, has an office here. It is a big organisation and one that is not very easy to understand. I doubt that the £10 or a very large portion of the cost of the video goes towards the performer or the artist. There is a big rip-off somewhere.

As we are now getting involved in the control of videos it is opportune that we should all take an interest in the cost of videos, the cost to the general public and what makes up that cost. We should be aware of the amount included in the cost which represents the performers' and the artists' fees for making the video in the first instance. The portion of costs going to the performing rights association is a grey area and has got to be looked at. It would help the whole video industry if we tidied up the question of the cost of the videos. If the video film sale price to the public here was reasonable and if we were not paying such a large amount towards a performing rights association which might or might not be justified, that would also be a contribution towards making a healthier industry here.

I welcome the opportunity to support the Bill. I hope we will continue to have more supervision of the whole video business and the type of films, and that we will have machinery to watch and control it. I hope we will update the legislation on a regular basis.

While I would say normally, on the introduction of a Bill, "I welcome it" or "I am glad it is here" or whatever, I have to say I regret that legislation like this is necessary in our society. It is very sad that there is such exploitation and that videos called video nasties or video films which exploit women and show depraved sex and violence are such a very big money spinner and are such a problem in western society generally.

I am reminded of the publicity surrounding the introduction of a similar Bill in Westminister some time ago when a decision was taken that some of the video nasties would be shown to some of the legislators. It was on record that they could not stick them. Most of them had to leave. They could not sit through what was being shown. I am not suggesting that we should put on a show for Senators and TDs here to see exactly what we are talking about but I question whether some of my colleagues fully understand what we are dealing with. Some time recently when we were discussing restricting or prohibiting these videos, one legislator spoke about a video nasty being a late night showing on RTE where a singer had a pint of Guinness in one hand and a cigar in the other and he thought that was a video nasty. Similarly he suggested that when RTE show documentary films of Africa they show women undressed on top.

I suggest that perhaps not everybody has a very clear idea of exactly what we are talking about. We are talking about a grim, nasty trade in despicable films which corrupt and have been known to influence people's behaviour. I speak as a parent. With the exception of one documentary from RTE which dealt with the subject of video nasties, I have not actually looked at them or looked at any true blue movies or videos. I have not had the time or the interest.

As a parent of three young people, I have had moments of concern over the years. My youngest one told me she was going to a video party in somebody's house and she would not be back until 1 a.m. or so. As a parent you are caught in a dilemma because into your mind comes the thought of all the horrible videos a young person could have rented out for a night. Perhaps their parents are away and they are giving a treat to all their friends. That causes me some concern. One then is put in the position of doing the kind of censoring I would not do. I do not think most parents would like to check out what their children see and who rented it out. It would be much better if parents knew that young people could not rent or buy videos of a thoroughly undesirable nature.

Having said that, I still accept that the ultimate responsibility lies with the parent where there are young impressionable teenagers, or even younger than teenagers involved. Whatever legislation or regulations we introduce it does not take the onus from the parents to be aware of what kind of videos their young people are looking at. This legislation has drawn a great deal of interest. Of course, there have been demands for legislation like this for quite some time. For the first time, when I knew this Bill was coming in, I read the 10th Report of the Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism. That report on the control of video nasties, which was brought out one and a half years ago, is very helpful and I am quite sure was helpful to the Minister and his officials. The recommendations they made in that report were not followed in the Bill. Interest in it from all kinds of groups has been quite intensive and great lobbying has gone on for at least a couple of months; greater lobbying than I have experienced on most other legislation.

On the one hand we have the groups who want to ban and prohibit with great abandonment and who were rather gleefully looking forward to this legislation in the hope that it would censor videos away and beyond what might be needed and, on the other hand, we had submissions and representations from organisations like the Irish Housewives' Association, who are genuinely concerned for children, and others like the group called CASE — Campaign Against Sexual Exploitation — who are concerned about women. We have, in this instance, a most unexpected coalition of interests who are watching this Bill and will be interested in its passage through both Houses.

Perhaps at this point I should say that I am tempermentally opposed to censorship for adults. Indeed, I regret very much that this year we saw the censorship and withdrawal of a serious book called The Joy of Sex which was taken off our shelves. It was a victim of censorship and unfairly so. I would prefer if we were living in a society where we could see less rather than more censorship. I accept the reality and I realise this Bill is not being brought forward on a whim. The objective of course should be that adults could make mature decisions for themselves on what they would read or watch on television, or how much they would drink, or what they would purchase in a video. In both the prohibiting and controlling of films or videos we have to ask who is to decide what has to be prohibited for all Irish people or what has to be regulated for which group? What training insights or wisdoms does that person who is to do the examination and censorship have? I have no reason to doubt that our film censor is a very reasonable man but I would like to know what are his personal guidelines apart from the broad grounds laid down in section 3 (1), of this Bill.

Having stated my view in general on censorship, I accept that there is public demand for intervention. We have seen in the past five or six years an incredible growth in the video industry. I am sure it is a conservative figure to say that there are about 500 outlets and 200,000 video machines. This has led to the circulation of videos of a distressing and damaging nature. Many of them are sadistic, violent and perverted and should certainly not be seen by young people. It is very likely that the increase in reports of child abuse is related to such images.

The figures for the increase in child abuse and the sexual abuse of children published today which were released to the Joint Committee on Women's Rights of which I am a member show that in 1986 475 cases were reported as against 240 cases the previous year. That is a very dramatic increase. It has been increasingly very substantially each year for the past three years. I feel it is related somehow to the number of videos in circulation and their use. I do not think this is so entirely but that it is related. In this context I refer to the report of the Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism. When they were examining this matter they called in many people who were experienced and had great competence in the area of determining how much the behaviour of adults is influenced by what they read or what they see. I quote from paragraph 66, page 18 of that report. The Assistant Secretary in the Department of Health — Dr. Robins, advised the committee that he was completely:

...misrepresented and taken out of context on the "Today Tonight" programme dealing with video nasties. He has taken this matter up with RTE, but despite two letters he has not had any response. He is satisfied that video nasties can have a detrimental effect on young persons. In an opening address to a Seminar on Child Sexual Abuse at the National Institute for Higher Education, Glasnevin on 18th January, 1986, Dr. Robins stated that persons concerned about child sexual abuse must give more attention to pornography. Professionals who have to deal with the victims of sexual assaults, whether these victims are women or children, sometimes find that the perpetrators have been incited by pornography in its various forms. This is particularly true of some of the more violent and repulsive cases of sexual attack. Pornography, particularly in video form, appears to be far too readily available at the moment and it is clearly necessary to review the law in this area.

He goes on to give statistics on the number of child sexual abuse cases which are dated compared to what I have given. It is doubtful that anyone could seriously argue in favour of allowing video nasties to continue to be as available as they are. They are extremely violent films, by all accounts, depicting killing and appalling mutilations and ought not to be allowed to continue in circulation. Much of the same applies to sexual pornography.

However, I question how this Bill can be implemented and have the desired effect because the trade in video nasties and pornographic videos is by its very nature an under the counter operation. In this context I know of one distributor who has a code word for his blue videos: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" or something like that. When his men customers come in on a Sunday morning they give the code and he supplies them with these pornographic films. I do not know whether they are really all that harmful but certainly he has his own coding and his customers know it. It exists at the moment. We need to change our copyright laws. This case has been made to us absolutely conclusively in the lobbying and the campaign brought to bear on all legislators.

I know this proposal was put to the Department prior to the Bill being drafted and I suggest it is a very valid proposal. I suspect this Bill could fill the coffers of the pirate video industry because the legislation will not affect them. This has to be taken seriously and it is not good enough to say: "That is a matter for a different Department. It has nothing to do with us and you will have to come back another time for that." It has to be taken on board however it is done. Many speakers will make proposals during this debate to improve the Bill. That is the whole purpose of parliament. We want legislation that is not merely window dressing but effective for the purposes intended.

There are many contradictions in the Bill. It provides for no system of classifying video films; yet films on cinema release must be submitted to the film censor who can grade them into four release categories of general, children under 12 accompanied by an adult, over 16s and over 18s, or ban them totally as well as requiring cuts to be made where he deems this necessary. This is appropriate and right and it is the way it should be done. We want this standard to be applied uniformly to the legislation now before us.

I will give an example of this contradiction. In an article in The Irish Times of 15 October Ray Comiskey highlights where he says:

There are other contradictions. The Bill provides for no system of classifying video films.

...This creates two alternatives, both ludicrous. Take, for example director Alan Parker's, "Angel Heart", due to be shown at the Dublin Film Festival and then going on commercial release in the cinema here. It caused a furore in America because of certain sexual scenes and the way they were treated in the film. The Irish censor has passed it with an Over 18s certificate.

If and when it comes out on video, the censor will have to decide whether to give it a certificate declaring it to be "fit for general viewing". Should he do so, it will mean that a film limited for cinema release will have no such restriction as a video. If he bans it, the film could still be seen by over 18s in the cinema while still being unavailable — at least legally — as a video. With the illegal network thriving, the ban will merely give the video further attractiveness for exploitation by that trade.

That is just one example of what will happen if we do not have a system of classification in this Bill. It makes a case for proper classification. I hope the Minister, Deputy Collins, will be open to amendments to rid the Bill of such contradictory aspects and anomalies. Indeed, there will be numerous amendments needed as this Bill makes its way through this House and the Dáil but there will be a consensus on the areas Senator Hogan, other Senators and I have highlighted, that is, the registration of retail outlets. This will give the authorities a record of who is dealing in videos. A further effect would be that the retailer would have to pay a sum of money to be licensed and this would finance the scheme. There is a need for classification of videos as is the case with cinema films and increased penalties for those who offend.

We have to realise that in almost all cases these films depict women in the most degrading manner as sex objects and as objects for sexual exploitation. Many people perceive this to be something that concerns women only. It is distressing and upsetting for women to see other women used and abused in this manner. I suggest it does not just dehumanise women; it certainly dehumanises men also. We are all victims, men and women, in situations like this.

Finally, I hope this Bill will be amended. Certainly our party spokes-person will be putting down amendments — and I will be speaking on them — to enable us to confront the real problems caused by video nasties in society today.

It is fortunate that the Leas-Chathaoirleach left when he did because I was going to suggest from the state he seemed to be in that what he needed most of all this afternoon was a good stimulating video. However, that obviously does not apply to the Acting Chairman.

As other Senators have said we must be careful to acknowledge what the video industry is capable of doing for us. We have entered into a whole new era of communication and of presentation, and that is no bad thing. The video industry and videos in general have tremendous potential for entertainment, education, awareness raising and for stimulating us for all types of constructive and creative activity. We must not lose sight of that.

Having said that we must also be realistic. Senator Fennell adverted to this when she suggested that it might be impossible to achieve the aims of this commendable Bill. I agree with her entirely. In fact, it will always be a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. It is asking the impossible to imagine that we can ban the production of this type of video, ban completely its illegal importation or, once imported, ban the possibility of its being viewed. We have only to think of the case in Britain where the Government have gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent "Spy-catcher" coming into the country which, as I understand it, is now being widely read. It can even be obtained in Northern Ireland. Whether that is via the southern route I am not absolutely certain. Therefore, there is another dimension to this whole problem, that is, our own awareness and our own education. We should try to promote constructive debate among school children and young people at school or university on the impact of the media on the one hand and on what comes across in the videos.

In addition to legislation there will have to be a gigantic public relations exercise, a gigantic increase in awareness so that people themselves will have less need to see this type of video presentation. If this is successful people are less likely to want to see this type of video and less likely to have access to it because public opinion begins to become so offended by what is on show. How should we go about that? Certainly there has not been enough emphasis on media studies in the process of our education. For the past 30 years or so we have had television and yet there has not been sufficient discussion among young people on its effects and its implications for good and bad, or causing confusion.

We have also got to see this in the context of satellite television which has been mentioned. There is no way we can now prevent these images coming into our parlour or our drawing room and whatever has been produced will be available. It is a question of how we react to it. Do we reject as individuals and collectively as communities and as families what is on offer, or do we see in it something constructive, something good and therefore something to be latched on to? This can be done, as I say, by discussions in schools, universities, community groups. The whole new concept of community education has suffered set backs due to cuts both here and in the North of Ireland. We should try to get young people to see why this type of presentation of the human experience is sordid and can be quite evil.

I do not use that word "evil" lightly or without consideration. Any psychiatrist will tell you that images are important. It is out of images that we create our attitudes and it is out of attitudes that come our actions. Putting it on the level which everyone understands and particularly in the context of our Irish history, our attitudes are inevitably to a large degree responsible for their actions. It is no good condemning a violent action if you are not prepared to look at your own attitude to see if it has not been in part responsible for stimulating the action out of resentment of the attitude.

To go a step further back, you have the images which create the attitudes. How are these images derived? Were they derived in the wholesome full experience of the development of the whole human being, or were they derived from some obsessional, narrow, introspective attempt to gain a fragment of living, a very morbid fragment, and to try to grip it as though it were the whole. We must attack these video nasties because of the nasty images they leave, out of which nasty attitudes come, and from which actions which are inevitably violent, if the image originally was a morbid image, will result. Therefore, you can have images which will be life threatening or life affirming. In the Bill, we are really concerned with the life threatening images. For that reason I support it at least as a step, as a signpost, as a warning, if you like, to society at large although, as I have said, I would have grave reservations about its likely effect if it is taken in isolation.

Once again I refer to the great and glorious Litter Bill which has long since been put into the waste paper basket and which was passed here with much aplomb in 1982. Ireland probably is dirtier today than it was then. We must beware lest this Bill, despite the best of intentions and genuine concern, should suffer the same fate and in ten years from now the country will be littered with video nasties. It will require a combined effort of many ministries, not least the Department of Education, to try to get people to come to terms with what is happeneing or what could happen to them.

Let us not forget that morbid images can be psychologically very damaging. You can have the ruminating effect where people cannot get rid of the images. That becomes a secondary problem and the person becomes a psychological cripple as a result. The most disturbing thing, of course, is the emphasis on sadism and the destructive effect it has on the psyche of the person and the fragmentation it creates in the collective to which that person is related. Everyone can accept that the exploitation of children is evil. I do not think one can have any compromise on that aspect whatsoever.

I support this Bill. It has been well constructed. The Minister has put his case very succinctly in his presentation to us today. Different Senators will have different reasons for supporting it. In supporting the Bill we must not overlook the fact that we are not attacking the video industry. We are attacking the morbid aspects of it and the exploitation of what can be produced on video. In the first instance we are trying to control abuses and eliminate them gradually but we will not eliminate them if we are concerned only about the passing of an Act of Parliament.

In bringing this Bill before the House the Minister for Justice is addressing a very pressing need in today's society. Very few, except perhaps those who profit by the sales of video nasties and pornographic videos, would disagree with this. The exercise of the power of censorship must be treated with the utmost care, respect and integrity and must be seen to be so. Censorship can be seen as an instrument of good or evil. This legislation must retain the delicate balance of effectiveness and credibility. It must be seen to be fair if it is to retain credibility. It must be clear and firm in its application if it is to be effective.

The main objective of this Bill is to stop explicitly violent and-or pornographic films being available for viewing especially by young people. Under section 3 all video films will have to be submitted for a certificate of supply. After a certain date it will not be legal to release any new films without getting such a certificate. The films already on the market will gradually be dealt with over a period unless they have already been dealt with by the making of a prohibition order. The approach taken in the Bill is to ban completely the sale of indecent or obscene video films. This is in contrast with the system of classification used in Britain where under the Video Recordings Act, 1984, the censorship authority may ban the supply of some films and may limit the supply of others to a classification system.

The problem with the classification system is that once the video films have passed into circulation, there is no way of controlling who will gain viewing access to them. Given the problem we are dealing with I support the Minister's approach to this aspect of the Bill. An estimated 6,000 to 7,000 video titles are available on the market today. It is calculated that somewhere in the order of 1,000 titles will be added to this each year. These numbers are large and the need for action is urgent. In the interest of expediency I support section 6 which gives the film censor power to make a prohibition against obscene video films already in circulation.

The Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism issued a report entitled Controls on Video Nasties in June 1986. It recommended that all retail outlets for the sale or hire of video recordings should be licensed. This Bill chooses not to take up this recommendation. In the final analysis this legislation will stand or fall on its success in ridding us of these obscene videos. Without some form of control of outlets, the success of the Bill may be limited. Obscene videos could be imported illegally and distributed under the counter. This may be difficult to control without some form of licensing. I would urge the Minister to consider this.

As stated earlier, a system of censorship must be seen to have credibility, acceptability and fairness among the public at large. I accept that there is a system of appeal to the Censorship of Films Appeal Board which comprises nine members. However, I urge that a committee be formed consisting of 12 selected members of the public reflecting the various strands of Irish life. The committee members should review a small number of randomly selected certified and banned titles and submit an annual report to the Minister on their findings.

In general I welcome the measures taken by the Minister in this legislation. I urge the Minister to consider the matters I have raised, particularly the licensing of premises. While I understand and respect the Minister's wish to make the legislation self-financing, we must succeed in keeping these repugnant videos out of the hands of the young. Disasters such as the Hungerford massacre bring home to us the depths of depravity which can be reached. It was very probably due to the influence of these repugnant videos. Let us hope we are not too late to prevent such horrific scenes as Hungerford suffered. I wish this legislation a speedy passage.

I do not know whether I am unique in this House if I say I have never seen a video nasty. I spoke to a number of people today who have an interest in this Bill and asked whether they had ever seen a video nasty and most of them said that they had seen pieces and they had heard about them. I regret to a certain extent that the Minister was not able to show to Members of both Houses some examples of the type of videos which are the subject of this legislation. I say this not in any vicarious sense, or any desire to be amused, or otherwise, but simply because for most ordinary people video nasties are things they simply do not come across in their normal life.

Very many of us do not have videos, do not have the time to watch videos and certainly going down to seedy shops and finding video nasties to bring home and watch do not fall within the normal purview of our life experience. Fortunately, as with many other things, most of us do not have first hand experience of the drug scene or of other social excesses. I say in all seriousness that I would be interested if the Minister's office could make available to Members of the Oireachtas some examples of the type of evil which this legislation is intended to deal with.

At the outset, like a number of other speakers, I am always wary of any legislation which proposes some form of censorship. All of us certainly of my generation and the Minister's generation — we were around university at the end of the bad days of censorship — remember not only the examples of censorship, books which could not be purchased, films which were cut, films which were not allowed in, but also the atmosphere engendered by the presence of censorship in Ireland. Censorship extended to people not being allowed to speak at meetings in universities because their political views offended those of the establishment. They were regarded as being dangerous in some way.

It was not a particularly healthy time or a healthy atmosphere. By and large most fair minded people would accept that our moves towards a much more liberal regime have been handled with great commonsense and great sensitivity over the years. There are not the abuses which one can see in some other countries. By and large we have shown ourselves to be a people capable of handling the freedom which the absence of censorship implies. That is why I am wary of this Bill. I am slow because I have seen in other countries in the past decade or so how a new type of moral self-rightousness can ride roughshod over the rights of other people. It can engender a witchhunt type mentality which can very easily creep into a society with consequences which are divisive, unpleasant and unnecessary and which are at their deepest an affront to basic rights of freedom.

I do not think this Bill will do anything like that. Nonetheless, the principle of censorship is one which should cause us to look carefully at what exactly is being done to see that the provisions are not capable of abuse. That is why we must be able to tease out the implications of what is being set in place on Committee Stage. That is why I look forward to that stage of the Bill. I suspect the Minister believes that the Bill as it stands is not the last word on what needs to be done. I am sure he is as conscious of the dangers of excessive censorship as I am and, indeed, as many people are.

Having said all that — and not having first hand experience of this phenomenon — there is no doubt that there is a very serious problem and that legislation is called for. We have reports, some of which have been already referred to, of a number of important groupings coming to the problem from different angles all of whom conclude that there is a problem. Amongst these we have the Fourth Report of the Joint Committee on Women's Rights dealing with this problem. That committee were very much aware of the alarm among many members of the public at the proliferation of what are now properly called video nasties.

The committee claimed that the easy availability of these videos featuring explicit scenes of sex and violence was causing widespread concern. The concern was especially felt at the way in which these videos depict women in a degrading and dehumanising way and portrayed them frequently at the receiving end of the most brutal and sadistic treatment. This committee argued that there was no proof of a definite link between the availability of video nasties and the increase in serious sexual crimes against women. They argued that it was reasonable to infer that the portrayal of women as sex objects did condition the minds of those who watched video nasties to regard women as objects of men to be dominated and abused by them for their own pleasure and gratification.

This committee report pointed out that legislation in Britain provides for a general classification and labelling system for videos and that the authorities there were satisfied that this has resulted in the effective control of the type of objectionable material that is freely available in this country. For once, in a matter of this sort, an Oireachtas committee were arguing that on a question like this we should take an example from the way in which the particular problem was tackled in Britain. The members of the joint committee, as the Minister is well aware, added their voices to those who are calling upon the Government to face up to what the Minister has faced up to in this Bill, that is, to introduce restrictions on the way in which videos are imported, sold and distributed in the country.

We have the Tenth Report of the Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism. In that report the members of the committee spoke with a man who has a great experience in this matter, the then film censor, Mr. Frank Hall. Mr. Hall could certainly not be accused of being a prudish censor or somebody who was not aware of artistic values in films and in theatre. Mr. Hall felt, from his experience, that there was a clear need for controls on the availability of videos. He felt that the main criteria in examining videos, and in seeing whether or not they were fit for general viewing and distribution, was not necessarily to look to individual segments, or individual instances, or episodes in a particular video, but to look at the overall purpose. If the overall purpose of these videos was to excite sexual violence, such a film should either be banned or have the appropriate cuts made.

People have spoken at some length on the various recommendations of that Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism. It was one of the more active committees in the life of the last Oireachtas. While I have the Minister here on this subject — and even in these stringent times — I make a plea to him to use his good offices in Government to see if a number of the more useful committees could be set up again. Not all committees were useful, but the Minister and I had the honour of serving together as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the EC committee during the lifetime of the last Oireachtas. There were a number of committees but it was probably the best of all of them in the lifetime of the Oireachtas. It was the most hardworking and the one which produced the most detailed and thought out reports.

There were a number of other committees. The one on crime, lawlessness and vandalism was one which in the lifetime of the last Oireachtas, highlighted quite a number of important social issues. They examined the evidence and established an interface between the Oireachtas and the wider public and the concerns of the wider public. Even if we were to look at the work they did on the whole question of video nasties, there is a very strong case to be made for the restoration of this committee and a number of others at present. I hope the Minister will agree with me on that and that his voice in Cabinet may be raised on the matter. That committee looked at the licensing of retail outlets, the controls on the availability and the origin of these videos. They also proposed a number of penalties which, they felt, would be appropriate. I need not to go into that because that is all on the record now.

During the course of my research on this Bill I thought it appropriate to talk to people who care for those people who are the direct object of sexual attack. The Rape Crisis Centre which, in spite of the unreasonable fears of some people and the unreasoned fears of others — the irrational fears of others — are an organisation who have done a very great deal over the past number of years. They have done a great deal in terms of sheer compassionate work in counselling, comforting and helping women who are the subject of these sort of attacks. It is something which they do, I am told, with great skill and sensitivity. They have also done a tremendous job in heightening the awareness of the general public on the whole question of sexual violence in our society. In heightening awareness they may not always have done it in a way which found favour with everybody. They may, on occasion, have used language which some people have found too explicit. Nonetheless, I take very seriously the views of the people who run the Rape Crisis Centre. They have very strong views, indeed, on this particular problem.

The Information and Education Officer of the Rape Crisis Centre has pointed out how disturbed they are about the widespread availability of videos which portray sexually violent and pornographic material. They are perturbed for the following reasons. First, they argue that there are no legal or statutary controls on the importation, sale or distribution of such videos. Videos which contain highly pornographic and sexually violent and degrading acts are being viewed by children and teenagers as well as adults, on an ever increasing scale in this country. The centre argue that regular exposure to videos which portray women as nothing but sex objects is very likely to have a negative effect on children and teenagers, in that it suggests to them that such sexual activity is normal and acceptable.

They argue that exposing children to pornographic or sexually violent material is a form of child sexual abuse, since children do not have the cognitive ability or maturity to understand the sexual behaviour which they are viewing. In addition, in the case of both children and adults the viewing of gang rapes, sexual humiliation, gross and sadistic physical violence undoubtedly has the effect of increasing tolerance to participating in such behaviour and in people's attitudes to such behaviour. They argue that it quite likely has the effect of increasing the level of tolerance of such behaviour in real life situations. I do not have any doubts about that conclusion.

We have seen, in other countries, and in our own country in recent years, a coarsening of attitudes and acceptance in some quarters of such behaviour as normal. We can see it reflected almost in subconscious attitudes by educated people who should know better. There is no doubt from the experience of other countries that, where there is the regular showing of this type of video nasties and where they are part of the regular diet of young people, the general quality of life is coarsened to a degree which is unsustainable and which should not be tolerated.

Again quoting a further authority on this — a very relevant authority, the Council for the Status of Women — at their annual conference last year on 12 April 1986 an emergency resolution was passed on the subject, so great was the sense of concern:

The Council for the Status of Women is seriously alarmed at the widespread availability of "video nasties" in this country. Pornographic, often extremely violent, films seem to be readily accessible, even to young children. The Council believes that this could be a contributory factor in the growing incidence of rape and other forms of violence against women and children.

They called on the Government as a matter of urgency to plan legal control over the importation and distribution of video nasties in consultation with women's organisations, all of which the Minister has done with great speed.

The groups I have quoted are not, perhaps, the usual groups. I have not quoted from churches. I know that there is great concern in all the churches about the phenomenon and great concern amongst youth leaders, attached to the churches.

I have not quoted from the teachers' organisations, all of which have taken a view on this and have made their views known on the whole question. I have not quoted from the various parents' organisations. One could go right down the list of organisations who have felt it necessary to make public their fears, their apprehensions and their great disquiet at the current situation.

I have quoted from organisations who would normally be seen in the forefront of the liberal movement, those who would, perhaps, be most concerned by what they would see as an encroachment on civil rights or liberties, such as the Rape Crisis Centre, the Council for the Status of Women, Women's Rights Committee, and so on. I have done that deliberately because I believe there are very few pieces of legislation which have come before the Houses of the Oireachtas in recent years which have such a widespread broadly based range of support behind the very principle of what this Bill is trying to attain. I am sure there are others in the House who would quote from other points of the liberal, conservative spectrum in favour of the same legislation. It makes a change to have a Bill of this sort where there is such widespread agreement right across the spectrum as to what has to be attained.

There are a number of organisations and people who feel that the legislation may be somewhat inadequate. I want to quote from two of those. This Bill will come to life on Committee Stage when we can try to tease out some of the points which have been made. All of us have listened to and spoken with the Irish Videogram Alliance who have certain strong reservations about the Bill. The Irish Videogram Alliance feel that the Bill in its present status will hurt the legitimate video industry in Ireland and that it will also help to increase the already large illegal or pirate video network. The Videogram Alliance suggested two amendments. I am sure the Minister is familiar with the contents of them but I would like to look at them briefly. They are two amendments to the Bill which they hope will tighten copyright legislation and clarify what they see as the vague censorship regulation.

First, the Irish Videogram Alliance want to see the registration of all retailers and importers. The Alliance proposed a self-financing scheme in which retailers would pay a £150 registration fee every year and importers would pay £1,000 registration fee each year. This registration would not restrict trade. Anyone could apply as, for example, street traders do. The only requirement for registration would be payment of the fee and compliance with the censorship and copyright laws.

If, according to the alliance, a retailer or an importer broke the law, the licence would be revoked and his right to trade would be permanently withdrawn. With this registration plan, the film censor would know who has the right to legally trade in videos. They argue that it is a difficult task when outlets are materialising in a variety of forms such as supermarkets, people's houses and in mobile vans. The alliance feel that the censor will then accept films from registered retailers and importers only thereby alleviating the possibility of an official Government certificate being granted to an illegal product. This is something which we may need to tease out on the Committee Stage. I am not sure if I fully subscribe to everything in it.

The Videogram Alliance also call for a system of classification for videos. The Bill proposes a system whereby a video is either in or out. With this system there are no guidelines for either retailers or parents as to the suitability of a title for the different age groups in the family. Section 6 of the Bill states that the film censor may prohibit a video if the work is unfit for general viewing. They argue that general viewing in the cinema means suitable for those under 12 years. With this restrictive "in" or "out" according to general viewing standards, the film censor will be under pressure to lower the threshold of allowability to such an extent that only such films as "Bambi" and "Snow White" will be allowed on video.

They argue again that the demand for more advanced and intelligent videos will increase dramatically and, because the legitimate video industry will be unable to meet this demand due to legislation, the underground network for videos which will be able to thwart this restriction will flourish.

That is the fear of the Irish Videogram Alliance. They call for classification of videos according to the UK video recording Act of 1984 which has various classifications, UC, Universal, all particularly suitable for children; U, Universal, suitable for all; PG, Parental Guidance; General Viewing but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children; 15, suitable for persons of 15 and over but not to be supplied to any person below that age; and 18 suitable for persons of 18 years and over but not to be supplied to any person below that age; lastly, Restricted 18, to be supplied only in licensed sex shops to persons of more than 18 years. The last category does not apply here. I do not know whether the Government have as part of their programme the intention to establish licensed sex shops. I think there are other priorities.

For a high fee.

The Videogram Alliance argue very strongly that a system of classification would be a useful provision in this Bill. On the face of it, while I do not share their views as to the probability of our viewing being restricted to "Bambi" or "Snow White", our experience of film censors over the past number of years has been one of great maturity, liberality, commonsense and sensitivity. Nonetheless, there is the germ of a very real case in what they are saying. Perhaps we can look on Committee and Report Stages at the possibility of some sort of classification of videos. It probably would be much more difficult to operate. It could involve a great deal more work. It means putting a more elaborate law into place. All that is true. It is something on which I do not have final or definite views but I would like to see that matter discussed on Committee Stage.

There is one further reference I will make on the Bill. Perhaps it is the one hostile view of the Bill that I have seen. It is a well argued, cogent and very hostile view of the Bill which came from Ray Comiskey in The Irish Times of 15 October entitled “A bad Bill which will only make things worse”. He said the problem of the Bill is that the desired result is unlikely to be achieved. He argues that this is because the trade in video nasties and pornographic videos is, by its very nature, and under the counter operation, and we have an illegal trade in videos which is already believed by the legitimate industry to have captured about one-third of the overall market. He says that “illegal” in this case does not automatically mean video nasties and pornography. It refers to the growing, sophisticated trade in video piracy — the illegal copying and trading of legitimate video material — but it also means that there exists an extensive illegal network which is capable of handling video nasties and pornography. He claims it will continue to handle it even after the Bill becomes law.

He takes as his example a film called "Angel Heart". He argues that if and when "Angel Heart" comes out on video the censor will have to decide whether to give it a certificate declaring it to be fit for general viewing. Should he do so, it will mean that a film limited for cinema release would have no such restrictions as a video. If he bans it, the film could still be seen by over-18s in the cinemas while still being unavailable, at least legally as a video. He argues that with the illegal network thriving, the ban will merely give the video further attractiveness for exploitation by the trade. He argues that this "either/or" situation — total ban or total freedom — puts the censor in a impossibly contradictory position. He argues also that it will put him under pressure from groups of all shades of opinion. Especially, he argues, the entrenched, well organised groups, most of whom seem to be at the conservative end of the spectrum, almost certainly will mobilise their support to put very strong pressure on the censor to operate in a restrictive and censorious way.

He also argues that the Bill requires, among other things, a register of banned titles to be compiled. He quotes one source involved in the fight against the illegal video trade which says that roughly 80 per cent of blue movies are untitled. How do you implement the banning of these? That is a question which the Minister will be able to answer in his summing up. He argues also that the Bill provides that the cost of doing all this will be met by charging, in effect, what he calls censorship fees. Since the aim is to combat video nasties and pornographic tapes, this could have the effect of charging the legitimate industry to control material which the industry does not handle.

These are some of the points made by Ray Comiskey in his article in The Irish Times. In researching this Bill and in seeing what had been said by various people, his was the only strong voice raised in opposition to the Bill. He is not opposed to the principle of the Bill but he feels it will not achieve the results intended for the reasons just quoted, that the “either or” category of censorship will, he believes, result either in a very restrictive range of material being available, will result in censorship from the conservative end of the spectrum and could do great damage. He also argues that the clasification is not workable.

It is rare to have a Bill coming into this House which commands such widespread support in principle. It is a Bill which unites, across the political spectrum, virtually all shades of political and social opinion. The effects of the video nasties in coarsening our society and attitudes, in inciting people to violence against women and in becoming a form of psychlogical sexual abuse are widely accepted. It is a problem which other countries will have to face up to. The Government have acted expeditiously. They have the full support of all sides of the House.

Doubts have been raised about the possibility of a censorship mentality creeping into this country, of this legislation being used as a weapon by those who resent many of the changes and new freedoms in our society and of this Bill being used by people in a way which this Minister does not intend it to be used — and in which most of us who support it do not intend it to be used. This is something which needs to be guarded against.

This Bill will benefit from very detailed scrutiny on Committee Stage. While I welcome Second Stage unreservedly I look forward even more to Committee Stage and to teasing out these problems.

I congratulate the Minister on bringing forward this Bill. Since the first suggestion that the Bill would be brought before the House I have heard nothing but praise from practically every section of the community of the Minister. People were getting frightened at the availability to all ages of what have now become known as video nasties which portray violence and pornography degrading to women — something that was alien in this country. The vast majority of people are in favour of this Bill. There will always be some people to say the Minister, the Government or the people who support it have censorship minds. There will always be people who favour freedom to read and view as they see fit.

It could possibly be used as an argument at some stage when this Bill is either going through here or the other House to suggest that censorship should only apply to people under 18 years of age. If the Minister was persuaded that the ban would apply only to youngsters under 18 years of age, the whole Bill would be meaningless. I am certain it will be suggested to the Minister that the Bill should be amended to that effect. Once there is availability of videos it is likely that they will fall into the hands of those who should not view them. Children could be greatly affected by these videos.

I spoke recently to a man in a video shop — I am not sure whether he was the owner or the manager — about video nasties. He said he would rather not stock them and he agreed that they were doing harm. He said he would rather be in any other business than handling those kinds of things but he said: "The others are doing it. My opposition are handling these. Therefore, I must do the same thing". He thought it was an argument. I did not think it was a very good one, but that was his argument. He said he would welcome legislation that would ensure that these videos would not be on display on anybody's shelf or anybody's counter. If that is true — and I was inclined to believe this man who is in the business of selling videos — this Bill is not before its time.

I am sure the Minister has given great thought and attention to how the law will be implemented when this Bill is passed. I look forward to the day when the Bill leaves this House, goes to the other House, is signed by the President and is enforced by the authorities. The very nature of this type of business seems to suggest that much of it is under the counter. The law will have to be enforced very strictly to ensure that this does not happen and that those videos are not made available in any form.

Video entertainment has become quite popular. It is big business at present. There are excellent films available and it would be a pity to deny anybody the chance to see them. But as always, other types of films are also available. Most videos are harmless and provide great entertainment. If the availability of these other types of videos to people of all ages is allowed to continue for much longer it will be a poor reflection on our society.

The Government and the Minister have a duty and a very strong obligation to look after the well-being of the people. These videos can incite people to violence. At one stage it was suggested that the man who committed the massacre in Hungerford in England had been influenced by videos. The Minister has a very strong obligation to introduce this Bill and to see that it is enforced. I congratulate the Minister on introducing this Bill and I believe he has the goodwill of everybody.

I congratulate the Minister on the excellent presentation put before us. He has readily admitted that it is not going to be easy to regulate this industry. I like to watch a good video. During my leisure time I like to sit at home and watch a good mystery. I visit video shops. I do not think this is a small business. It is a very big business. I do not know whether it is a very popular business. I have not met many people who have done exceptionally well out of it. I know of one person in my city who seems to be doing very well.

It is very easy to copy videos. It is not easy to compare videos with books or films over which there is some control because you could have 100 videos and you might not see them. A retailer could make 100 copies of ten very nasty videos and nobody might know he had done it. That is where I see the problem.

I have seen a video nasty and it was not nice to watch. I watched this video at home. I have seven children and I was worried because the video was in my home overnight. I was up extra early the next morning to make sure that it was taken away so that the children would not see it. My family range in age from 24 years to nine years but I was afraid that any of them might see it.

It is a big worry and I do not blame anybody for the suggestions they have made. However, I am a realist and I realise it is not going to be easy to control videos. There are many excellent films available. I deal with a person in a video shop who likes to run a good business. When I go into his shop he seems to be running a very good business. He advises me and tells me what kind of show I should see because he knows the kind of shows I like to look at. Perhaps he is doing the same for people who think the other way. I cannot say realistically that people do not think the other way because they do. It is a fact of life.

There are opportunities for these people to copy up to date films with actors such as Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, etc. If a video shop does not have a certain film one week the following week it could have five or six copies. I do not know whether the owner of a video shop has a right to do that, but it is done anyway. I do not think we can control that. Could we really say to a shop owner that he has no right to have ten copies of a particular film? All these people have copying machines.

Warner Brothers are a video company. If they supply a film for distribution on the Irish market who then supplies the film to a person in a shop? It is very debatable whether we can say to a person that he has no right to have ten copies of a film because he only bought one or two copies from the distributor. The Bill does not cater for this. It only says that all new films put before the censorship board or the censor should be recognised as to whether they should be available to over 18s, over 16s or over 15s. Can films be brought into this country without the censor ever seeing them? That is what we must look at. We can have all the controls in the world but you would not see ten videos in the back of a car. Videos are not the same as big rolls of film, books or other publications.

It is hard for us to be realistic in trying to solve the problem of video nasties. It is a big job. We must try to influence the people involved in the industry. People involved in the business in other countries naturally have different regulations and different rules from the ones we have.

I am a publican. I have seen young men and middle-aged men who are idle watching videos at 9 o'clock, 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock in the morning. That is hard to believe. I never thought I would see that. I know men 40 and 45 years old who go into video shops three and four times a day because they have nothing else to do. People can get into a rut and into such a state that they can be brainwashed into watching films all day. I am not saying this is true of every person. I am talking about working class areas where young people of 16 years, 17 years or 18 years watch too many videos. Naturally I would like to see them doing something else but how can I say to them that they should not be doing this when I cannot even get work for them?

It is obvious that they watch a certain number of video nasties. How can we explain video nasties? Does a video nasty show a woman or does it show people doing things we would much prefer not to see them doing? Is a video nasty a very bad horror film, a film that I would not want to look at or would not want my children to look at or a film about Vietnam? I have seen films about Vietnam and I certainly would not like children to look at them. However, children do look at them because their parents buy them and when they find them they put them into the video machine.

There is much excellent material available that children can look at. Children know what they like to watch. Without being too nosey I always try to find out from children what videos or films they like to watch. The general impression is that they like to see a good comedy. They like to see Eddie Murphy. He is a black guy who plays a cop in comedies and they love to watch him. That is the type of film children mostly talk about. I do not hear them talking about Sylvester Stallone and other actors like him. They do not seem to take much notice of films like that. I know most children like to see a good comedy or a film which makes them laugh.

I do not think all is wrong and I would not like to think all is right either. However, I am worried that it is not going to be easy to get on top of the problem. I would admit it if it was. If there is going to be censorship and the censor is going to have the say in what types of films we watch, this will create a black market. A black economy will be created. There will be more under the counter films and this will become big business for many people. As the previous speaker said, the man who is being honest about it will lose business because another man will sell something under the counter. This is what will happen. We have to take the good with the bad. If we ask the people who provide the films to the public for their help, 99 per cent might help and 1 per cent might not.

The Minister mentioned licences. This could create an awkward situation. Licensing can be done without. If licences were introduced people would be very conscious that they would be under the jurisdiction of a court rather than a local authority. It would be somewhat similar to a publican's licence. A publican is always conscious of the fact that his licence can be endorsed. If it is endorsed once, he is worried that it can happen a second time and he makes sure it does not happen.

I am not saying this is the only avenue, or that it is the only answer. The courts have enough to do already. If licences are introduced they should not cost too much because that cost will only be passed on to the customer. If the courts issue the licences a uniformed person could go into a shop to check that the licence is there. Irish people are very conscious of when they have something that some other person does not have. If a shop owner has his licence hanging up and he has a film or a video nasty that he should not have the number of his licence can be quoted. That is some type of control.

People would be conscious that the State has recognised that this is an area where there has to be some control. I do not want complete control. On Committee Stage I will argue about what we should be doing. If the store is to get involved I would like it stated which people are recognised to provide films. There are video shops on every corner. In my city they are within 30 yards of each other. I do not know how well they are doing. If we want to have control we will have to start with the people who are providing the videos.

I do not think the film censor can solve the problem. He can define the types of films the Irish people can look at. I like to go to the cinema and I cannot say I am being wronged by the censor at this time. Videos can fit in your pocket and are getting smaller. Video tapes are going to be replaced by discs. We need to help of the people who want to make a decent living out of this business. I hope we can broaden that.

As a publican I understand what it means to have a licence. Every September I pay £55 for my licence for the year. I like to have that and I am not small minded. Every publican is the same. Licences for the film or video business should be issued by a court clerk rather than a town clerk. Who listens to local authorities? Local authorities cannot even collect 50 per cent of the local charges.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The local authority charges are hardly relevant.

I made that point in relation to licences.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The point is taken.

If the courts issue the licences it could be a winner. We might be able to win on that but we certainly would not win if prohibitive orders were made that only certain films could be shown. Videos are so small that it is not going to be easy to control them. I have seen a video nasty and I would not want to show it to somebody else. I make no bones about that. This video is around and it is terrible.

At this time in all societies 18 year old children can watch very violent and very frightening films. At the same time 15 year old children can watch very sexy films which discriminate against the opposite sex. This should be reconsidered. There are seven men and two women on the censorship board and perhaps there should be some change there.

Children of 18 years can watch very violent and frightening films but in many cases 15-year-olds can watch worse films which discriminate against women. I do not think even 18-year-olds should be allowed to watch films like this.

This will not be an easy problem to solve. It will not be easy for the Minister because it is a handy operation and it is a very big business. A lot of money is being made out of it by some people. I do not know about all the people and I would be telling lies if I said otherwise. I know one or two people who are involved in the video trade in Cork and I do not think they would be in a hurry to close their doors. More luck to them if they are in good businesses.

The Minister should get these people on his side. He should tell them that if they do not carry out their businesses properly he will take away their licences and they will not have the right to open.

I know that many of these people can operate in the black market but they will not do as well. Many people have gone into this in a big way. They have put a lot of money into copying machines.

Is there a lot of money in this business? Are people making a lot of money out of it or are there too many people now involved for some people to make much out of it? It is obvious that some people are making a lot of money out of it because many people and many big companies, particularly in the States, are getting very involved in it.

We need to help each other. There can be a massive black market in this and under the counter problems in this business. To stop that the people who are already there should be legalised. They should be licensed but if they do not work properly their licence should be taken away.

The contributions that have been made by previous speakers are relevant to this very important Bill. I have representations, which I want to hand over to the Minister, from the Children's Protection Society and the Community Standards Association. There are two points I would like to make. The income from the video sales industry in this country if they are not pirated, is estimated to be £25 million.

Do we get any tax out of that?

More than 50 per cent of that is in pirated sales and pirated business. That is very serious because a lot of revenue is being lost by the State, the film companies who make the videos and the people and artists who work on the videos. I am talking basically about the entertainment videos which are bought every week by masses of teenagers. What can the Ministers do to stop the piracy and the copying of videos that is losing an enormous amount of revenue to the State?

Anyone who works in the film world knows that you lose a certain quality and anything that is anyway good in relation to the colour scheme in fifth generation recorded video. I know the Minister has great experience of this from the entertainment world. I have seen many videos and I know straight away when I look at them whether or not they are fifth generation recorded videos. To a lay person a fifth generation recorded video is a video that wavers on the top. A video that wavers on the very top is a pirated video because no studio would record a fifth from a fifth. There is 40 per cent duty on the manufacture of videos plus 25 per cent VAT. Most of those videos sell for around £15. Some of them are much more expensive. Assuming that they sell for £15, that is a lot of revenue, £4 per video.

They are bought in masses by the youth week in week out. The spend their money on entertainment, drink and clothes while the hard pressed person who has to pay a mortgage, pay for his car or whatever, have nothing to spend. These are people who have money to spend every week and these are the people we have to go after. That is one point I wanted to make. Many speakers made the point that there is under the counter selling of these blue movie videos. It is crazy to say it is not happening. I know per cent of the business of most of these video outlets is selling under the counter or leasing and renting every week for £1, £1.50 or £2 per day. You can get these movies under the counter. That is happening. With all the safeguards built in to the Bill that you can imagine, with all the restrictions in it the problem is: will the Garda be able to enforce it? There must be penalties. Not alone is it happening in the cities. It is happening in the smallest villages in Ireland. Years ago any medium sized town of 5,000 plus had a record store. Now every town or village with a population of over 500 has a video outlet. It is a far bigger industry than the record business ever was on the music scene.

I am talking about entertainment and this is a colossal business. There is a £25 million turnover every year here. That is a very conservative figure. There are people in the industry who would say it is nearer to £40 million than it is to £25 million. I commend the Minister and the Government for introducing the Bill so promptly on their return to Government. I will do anything I can as a Member of the Oireachtas to improve the situation as it exists.

I am afraid I will be a little bit more cautious in my approach to the Bill. Not that I do not welcome the sentiments I have heard over the monitor being expressed by many Senators which I think are serious, appropriate and in the best interest of the citizens of the country. I believe the Minister's approach follows a similar line. I welcome and applaud the Minister's concern with the wellbeing of the citizens of this State but I am not sure on a philosophic basis whether or not this Bill is quite the correct approach. I am, however, quite certain that it will go through and therefore I will be seeking to table some small amendments which I hope will be given consideration.

The reason I am a little nervous of this Bill is, first of all, that our experience of censorship in this country has largely been one that demonstrates the impracticality of censorship and the slightly ludricrous areas into which censorship can bring us. Indeed, I recall with a certain grim humour the appalling debates in this very House with regard to book censorship when Professor McGuinness, for example, launched a devastating, idiotic attack upon a work that is now regarded as one of the very good works of Irish literature. I speak of The Tailor and Ansty. I do not think any of us wish to go back to that and it is important that we look at the experience of book censorship because it may reveal to us some of the problems that are involved with censorship in general.

With regard to the operation of book censorship, which I also greatly regret. I recognise that this is not the time for me to launch into an attack on book censorship, but I do think certain lessons can be drawn. One is that if you establish some methodology of censorship you must also establish a person, or a group of persons, to whom you as citizens are willing to surrender your right to decide, to discriminate on your behalf with regard to the material that is fit for you to watch or to read. That is a principle with which I am unhappy. It is not that I believe the Minister wishes to abuse this power but it has so clearly been abused in other jurisdictions in this century and certainly demonstrably in this jurisdiction.

If I look back towards the example of book censorship or film censorship, which is even closer to the video industry, it is clear that people were appointed who lacked this capacity to discriminate. The most obscene book ever published in this country was the Index of Prohibited Publications. It showed one thing perfectly clearly and that was that the persons who composed that board were incapable of discriminating between Plato on the one hand and The Porno Screw Colourbook No. 4 on the other, Aristotle on the one hand and Bumbiters Annual. These are the most laughable. I see the Minister is laughing, and I rather enjoyed reading this myself because I thought, what idiotic publications. The point I essentially what kind of mind was incapable of discriminating between trash and rubbish on one category and works of philosophic and scientific interest on the other. That worries me.

It also worries me slightly if one accepts the arguments that these films and videos have a detrimental effect on the psychology of the human being then who is going to protect the censors. How long are they going to remain in office? How can we guarantee their balance and sanity if we really believe that censorship will have this devastating impact. I am not quite sure that it does have this impact. I do not believe that the case has been made although I do accept that very distressing and objectionable things are frequently photographed and reproduced on film, things that would upset, sicken and horrify me. But then are we going to censor King Lear, violence against human beings, "out, vile jelly", as Lear's eye is plucked out of its socket and stamped into the ground? We are already censoring things in film in a way that is quite regrettable.

I speak, for example, of a film that has been censored recently and clearly would be censored if it came out as video. It is an excellent film called "Working Girls". This film has some images that would be disturbing to comfortable middle class people because it shows the involvement of comfortable middle class people in the exploitation of women through prostitution. It is precisely because those images are disturbing that it gets banned. Is this going to be banned so that even people who wish to view this important work in their own homes are deprived of even doing that? I would be very concerned.

I do not want to pillory the Irish. I do not really think we are any worse than most others. I look, for example, in the pop music scene at the fact that a video by George Michael was banned by many of the British stations. I am not suggesting that pop music is a very important philosophic medium but it did communicate an important message with which most people would agree and that is (1) "sex is good" and (2) that "sex is best one to one". There is a clear message which is important in health terms these days about monogamy, about safety in sexual matters. Yet because of the prurience of the minds of those who watched it this video was effectively banned. In the age of AIDS it seems that we could do worse than allow access to this kind of material.

I would hate to think that this Bill was part of a process whereby we were moving into an even more sex negative age. I think that would be most regrettable. I was involved in the importation of a video which would, under this Bill, undoubtedly be banned. I would in future circumstances feel a moral compulsion to reintroduce this video into the country and I urge the Minister to consider this matter most carefully because the video of which I speak was a video that we brought in as part of an education programme from the United States of America on the problem of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The Minister is, of course, aware of the fact that the gay community in this country spearheaded the education programme about AIDS in such a way that the rates of infection in the gay community and the profile of the infection, are quite different from most other European countries. That is because we saturated the community with information of this type.

The film was in a number of sections: discussions of the political impact, discussions of the disease, and so on, and a very important section on safe sexual techniques. Some of this material might be revolting to some people; it might be quite erotic to others but it was a very effective transmission of ideas which could be subject to censorship and clearly, under the provisions here, would be subject to censorship because, apart from anything else, all the acts portrayed in the film although safe are still criminal in this jurisdiction. The operation of this Bill could limit access to information that could save lives. That would certainly worry me very considerably.

I also note that there has been a very extensive lobbying campaign by members of the industry concerned. It does really seem that there is more of a kind of mercantile flavour to this morality than people readily acknowledge. There is clear self interest. That is fine. But I think we should have it out in the open. I think we should know this. I think we should not confuse it with an absolute morality which I do not really believe it represents. I believe it represents commercial self interest and there is a legitimate place for that in our society. I have nothing against it but I think we should be very careful about thinking that this is straightforward morality of an acceptable type.

I have spoken about sexuality first and I will say something now about violence. I am simply trying to redress the balance because most of the speeches seemed to be so negative in terms of sexuality. Everybody was rather accepting that people were against violence and did not say very much about it. I think that is, perhaps, understandable. But even here I would have to say — and I return to my image of King Lear — that there are moments when violence although shocking does, in fact, tell a most humane message. I speak having just yesterday afternoon seen a very important Israeli film called "Avanti Populo" which was a most striking and compassionate plea for humanity and understanding and used actors both from Egypt and from Israel. The message of that film was compassionate, heart warming and humanitarian but some of the images in it were images of extraordinary violence. Would that be banned?

I turn to section 6 of the Bill which deals with the criteria. Here is where I think the problem really probably lies because we are told that these items will be banned if the viewing of such a film would be likely to cause persons to commit crimes whether by inciting or encouraging them to do so or by indicating or suggesting ways of doing so or of avoiding detection. Again, the general sentiment underlying that is one that we all share in general but, once you look at the particular application of it, some problems it seems to me arise. Are we, for example, going to ban cops and robbers films? Has "The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond" finally bitten the dust? "The Great Train Robbery"? You could under these provisions easily come into a ludicrous area. Even leaving that aside, this is precisely the provision that would cover the safe sex film of which I spoke because there is no doubt whatever that this will be covered by this section. Homosexuality, any form of sexual contact between males regardless of their age, regardless of their vulnerability or anything else, is covered by the criminal code. Any portrayal of it would be banned. What about "Maurice" this distinguished film just released based on a novel by one of the greatest 20th century novelists, E. M. Foster? The censor would have the power to ban this film on the grounds that it displayed illegal sexual activities. Section 6 (1) (a) (ii) says that if "the viewing of it would be likely to stir up hatred against any group of persons in the State on account of their race, nationality or religion". The sentiment is one with which one agrees, but can this Bill actually prevent hatred? Is it really going to be effective? I am afraid I cannot believe it will. I do not think legislation makes people good. Taking on trust, however, his ethical position that it will make them good, I propose at this point to insert an amendment seeking to include incitement to hatred against persons on the grounds of race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation.

I say this — and I hope what I have had to say has not been too rambling — in the light of the fact that I have been up all night at a fire which destroyed the Hirschfeld Centre in Fownes Street. It is not known whether this was accidental or malicious. I cannot help recalling an instance seven or eight years ago when I was nearly blown to pieces in a bomb attack on that Hirschfeld Community Centre. Luckily with the use of our own resources and with the expediency of the fire brigade we managed to get out from this attack. I know how negative images can incite to hatred and I strongly urge the Minister to consider the possibility of including some clause there. Paragraph (iii) says that such works would be banned by the censor if they would tend, by reason of the inclusion of any obscene or indecent matter, to deprave or corrupt persons who might view it.

It is very difficult to get directly to the source of information which would lead somebody to conclude that such material actually does deprave or corrupt. I accept that there are international reports which appear to be on different sides of this. My conclusion, having read a number of reports, is that there is very little to suggest that obscene or indecent matter seriously depraves or corrupts those who might view it. This is what is normally known as pornography I suppose, from the Greek meaning the writing of prostitutes and the intention of this erotic or obscene material is to create excitation in the mind of the viewer. In other words, to be perfectly blunt about it they are an aid to masturbation. They are used as such all over the sophisticated world.

I will not comment on this practice except to say that the distinguished social observer, Professor Kinsey, said that 99 per cent of men masturbate and the other 1 per cent were liars. I think it is clear that whatever moral position one may take on this subject masturbation is the safest form of sex possible. It may not be quite such a seriously depraving or corrupting thing as was thought in the Victorian period.


The Senator represents the 1 per cent who were liars.

The final section is where such a work depicts acts of gross violence or cruelty including mutilation and torture towards humans or animals, and with these sentiments I could not agree more wholeheartedly, particularly having in the last few weeks been a partial witness to an outbreak of cruelty in the streets of Dublin in which a bull terrier was set upon an unfortunate straying cat and that cat was almost torn to pieces. I do not know whether a video of this activity was seen but there has been a rash of reports of this kind of incident in the newspapers. Perhaps there is a certain copy cat element in it. I do not know. It is a filthy, disgusting and degrading thing on which to embark.

I would say the same about so called snuff movies in which people are victimised sexually, tortured, humiliated and eventually apparently killed. Of course, this is a most abominable practice. I wonder why it is not possible to stamp this kind of thing out at source. I am sure the Minister will agree with me that there should be some attempt at real international investigation to find in co-operation with other countries the source of this material and where the actual crime was committed.

Murder is a crime in every jurisdiction. If murders are being committed in order to provide sexual gratification for people I would have no hesitation in saying are corrupt, I would like to see them followed to their source and the people fully prosecuted.

In what I hope has not been too rambling a speech I hope I have raised some issues which the Minister will be able to examine. I hope he will accept that I am interested in the philosophic basis on which the Bill is drafted. I agree with the sentiments by and large which I believe motivated the Bill but I have a number of reservations about the way in which it will operate and I shall be tabling some amendments.

I welcome my fellow Munster man, the Minister, to the House. I know he has been in and out many times but this is the first time since the last election that he has been here. I know he will look after his own, which is normally done in Munster. Senator Willie Ryan looks after all the football teams in Limerick.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We had that yesterday.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I should have censored it then.

It is worth playing again. I welcome the Bill and I think it is overdue. As Senator Manning said this Bill will be teased out and come alive on Committee Stage. For that reason I do not have too much to say.

Senator Manning said there was a suggestion of a licence fee of £150 for dealers and £1,000 for distributors or importers. I would not like to think that there would be a £150 licence fee for dealers without some form of grading. I appeal to the Minister to go for a smaller licence fee and if necessary a form of grading. In most small towns now there are two or three video dealers and it would be a hardship on them to charge £150 when a dealer in a city with a big population had a turnover of ten times as much. I would be more interested in a nominal licence fee which would compel the local dealer to be registered thereby bringing him under control. There should be something in the licence as there is in a publican's licence where there is a fine and an endorsement for the first offence, a bigger fine and endorsement for the second offence, and after the third offence you lose the licence.

This licensing system should be graded so that the people who are operating on a bigger scale would be asked to carry the burden. A £1,000 fine is small for an importer who has a big volume of business. I should like the licensing fees to be looked at again.

In relation to the large quantities of video films coming into the country which are now of the order of tens of thousands it will be hard to control them. If the same criteria and film censors are applied there is no hope of controlling the large numbers of films that there are in existence. More people would have to be employed in the film board and then you would face the difficulties of recruitment in the Civil Service where you cannot employ them. Film censors at present are handling films in terms of hundreds. The videos would be in tens of thousands. It is going to be difficult to control them. A £1,000 fine would mean nothing to importers. Anybody bringing in nasties — be they violence or sex films — would make up the price of the fine with a few of them. There should be a bigger licence imposed on importers and a smaller licence on the retailers. If you take retailers in towns like Abbeyfeale or Killarney where there are small populations with three or four dealers——

Two very important towns.

We have representatives both from Killarney and Abbeyfeale present. I would like to see the licence of the smaller dealer at a lower cost. I would like the Minister to apply criteria similar to those in the publican's licence, for the first offence a fine and an endorsement and eventually the loss of the licence. The fact that people would lose the licence would be a far greater deterrent and hardship on them than a fine because they could make up the fine very easily.

I shall make further points on Committee Stage but there is one point I should like to add now. Senator Manning spoke about the committees that were set up. He mentioned a lot of them that were not re-established, for example, the Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism.

I appeal to the Minister to use his influence to have the Joint Committee on Small Businesses re-established. This committee did great work. The collapse of the H. Williams supermarkets might not have happened if the Companies (No. 2) Bill, 1987, had been enacted in time. That Bill was on the shelf since 1982 and our Government were responsible for that. I will give credit where it is due and I give credit to the Minister, Deputy Reynolds, for introducing it. I am sure when that Bill is enacted we will not have collapses such as this one and we will not have the people walking away overnight. I know this is not relevant to this Bill, but I take this opportunity to ask the Minister to use his influence in Cabinet to get that committee re-established since the precedent was set by Senator Manning.

Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis na Seanadóirí a bhí páirteach san díospóireacht thábhachtach seo um thráthnóna. Is áthas liom an fáiltiú a chuir siad roimh an Bhille agus tá súil agam go mbeidh sár-díospóireacht againn ar Chéim an Choiste i gceann cúpla seachtain.

A Chathaoirligh, I would like to thank Members of the Seanad for their contribution to this debate. It has been a most interesting debate and quite a number of points of principle and points of detail have been referred to. I will, of course, give further consideration to all of these points between now and Committee Stage. In the meantime, however, there are a number of comments I can make in addition to those in my opening speech.

Senator Hogan and other speakers following him welcomed the Bill. I had expected that there would be a general welcome for the Bill. Accordingly, we are not debating whether there should be a control system — that is agreed — but what system should be set up.

Senator Hogan raised a number of specific points and I will comment on some of them and at the same time assuring the Senator and all other speakers that I will think about all the points made between now and Committee Stage.

This Bill involves restrictions on people's conduct. At the same time, the provisions in the Bill are needed as a protection for the public generally. I have been conscious in the drafting of the Bill of the inherent conflict between these two points and of the need to strike a proper balance between them.

The Bill provides for a system of control on the supply of video films. This system is needed to remove objectionable material from the market and to prevent any further such material from coming onto the market. There have been widespread demands for controls of this nature and I am totally satisfied that a control system is needed.

It may be argued that the Bill does not go far enough. For instance, a gift of a recording of a prohibited video work from one individual to another is not an offence under the Bill. Neither is it an offence to possess a recording of a prohibited video work provided that it is not for the purpose of supply. I consider that providing for offences in the latter two cases would certainly be tilting the balance too far. Many people would have recordings of prohibited video works prior to the Bill coming into operation and also it would be extremely difficult to enforce a provision that made possession or a gift among two individuals an offence.

The main reason for not bringing these types of situation within the ambit of the Bill, however, is that I consider that to do so would be an excessive encroachment on people's lives. Similarly to give the Garda power to enter premises on their own responsibility without a search warrant would be a great encroachment on the right to privacy in respect of people's premises. Incidentally, a search warrant is necessary in the case of books under the Censorship of Publications Acts.

Senator McEllistrim referred to some very important reports, and also Senator Maurice Manning, for example, the report of the Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism which dealt with the control of video nasties, the U.S. report on pornography and the report in the United Kingdom which was quoted as well. These important reports all support the case for control. That support was on the basis that pornography and violence on the screen harms the viewers and leads to crimes, particularly by impressionable watchers, and that some video films should be banned therefore.

Senator Ryan agreed that there should not be a system of classification based on age. However he expressed concern with the wording on which the censor with make his decision. I will study this point. The intention in drafting the Bill was that any cinema film which had received a cinema certificate would get a supply certificate as a video film. One consequence of this is that parents must supervise video films that their children watch. It has been said it would be an unrealistic task to classify on age grounds. Accordingly, parents must exercise their parental responsibility.

Senator Paddy McGowan referred to the complexity of the Bill and the amount of work undertaken in its drafting. I confirm that the Senator's comments, and other similar comments, are quite accurate, a great deal of hard work went into the drafting of the Bill and all of the work is not reflected in the Bill. Other control systems were examined and rejected.

Also I want to assure the House that there has been considerable consultation in the course of the drafting of the Bill. The Irish Videogram Association have had several meetings with my officials. They have outlined their views on the video films market and, indeed, they submitted a detailed memorandum on the subject of the control of videograms last January. Their views have been examined thoroughly in the drafting of the Bill.

The film censor has been consulted also about the proposed system of control. Naturally enough, he has considerable expertise in this area through his experience in dealing with cinema films and with the distributors of those films. Also he is the person who will be examining the films under the proposed system and accordingly his views as to how the job should be done are extremely important. As there is a system of control in operation in Britain already, their 1984 Act has been studied. There have been consultations with the British Videogram Association, with officials in the Home Office who were involved in the drafting of their Bill and with the British Board of Film Classification who deal with the classification of video films under the British systems.

Apart from consultations, a considerable amount of material on video films and on censorship generally has been studied in the Department. This includes, of course, the tenth report of the Select Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism entitled controls on video nasties. Senator Ryan mentioned one point in relation to material on cable television systems and material broadcast by satellite. Material available on television is primarily a matter for our Oireachtas colleague, the Minister for Communications, Deputy Burke. I have already been in touch with him about the position of television.

All cable television system in operation in this country are wireless telegraphy and are licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1926, and section 2 of that Act prohibits the sending by wireless telegraphy of any message or communication of an indecent, obscene or offensive character. In addition, regulation 10 (c) of the regulations governing the issue of cable television licence contains the following, and I quote:

A licensee shall not use or allow to be used the wires forming part of the station (cable system) for any purposes other than the relay to the service points of the programmes the relay of which is authorised by the licence.

Under the schedule to the regulations the Minister specifies the programme services which may be relayed on the system.

There is no control on what a private individual with a satellite dish can receive. In the case of satellite services, it needs to be borne in mind that what is transmitted is a matter for the legislation and control exercised by the country of origin. Thus, for example, all of the English language satellite services originating in the UK are indirectly governed by the UK Cable Broadcasting Act, 1984, which essentially lays down the same standard for video services as applies to the ITV services particularly with regard to requirements in the field of decency and good taste. Furthermore both the EC and the Council of Europe are currently preparing legally binding instruments concerning trans-frontier broadcasting with a view to ensuring that all programmes broadcast, including satellite channels, meet some basic minimum requirements. Both of these instruments will have sections which prohibit pornography and which, for example, will require safeguards to be exercised in the level of violence on television.

As stated in this debate, a system involving registration of suppliers and classification would be much more expensive than the system proposed in the Bill. The smaller cost is not the reason for opting for the system in the Bill. However, I am satisfied that the system in the Bill is the best system. I have examined the other systems and found them wanting or unnecessary. The penalties in the Bill control supply and there is no need for registration. Incidentally, I should mention that there will be no extra net cost to the Exchequer no matter what system is established. The video industry will have to meet any extra costs.

In the course of her remarks Senator Fennell referred to people who thought they saw a video nasty on RTE. She is perfectly right in saying that they did not. RTE would not screen anything remotely resembling a video nasty. What is clear is that some people do not know what a video nasty is. That is their good fortune. These films are disgusting and people who have not seen them would find it hard to credit how vile they are.

Indeed, I might say in reply to Senator Manning at this stage that having regard to what he said, and that he has not seen a video nasty, I am quite sure there are a number of people in this House who have not seen video nasties or who have not seen hard pornography films. I will say to him that if they have time and if they want to see what exactly we are talking about, it will only take five or ten minutes of their time because I presume they will have seen more than enough if they can spare that five or ten minutes. They will be available to anyone who wants to see them by contacting my office in the Department of Justice. It will only take five or ten minutes. I am sure you will not have any intention of going beyond that.

Senators Fennell and Manning referred to articles on the Bill in The Irish Times on 15 and 16 October by Ray Comiskey. I was amazed at the contents of the statements made in those two articles in relation to the Bill. Indeed, I arranged to have a letter delivered to The Irish Times on the afternoon of 16 October refuting point by point the major statements in the article which I regarded as unfounded. The letter or its existence has not up to now been published. I find it disappointing that The Irish Times have not seen fit to publish the letter to date. There was nothing in it which ought to have been censored on any yardstick. The letter pointed out, among other things, that those responsible for the articles were, of course, entitled to their opinion as to whether the Bill would be effective but that, in fact, there was no evidence whatsoever to establish that their opinion that it would not was correct.

I set out the reasons which satisfied me as Minister for Justice that the Bill would work. The available evidence points to the Video Recordings Bill being an effective Bill and to the objective of the Bill being achieved, that is, that no obscene videos would be allowed on to the market in the future and that those already on the market would be prohibited.

I am disappointed that The Irish Times did not see fit to publish the letter delivered by me on 16 October, given that they gave extensive coverage to one particular viewpoint in the two articles published on 15 and 16 October.

Senator Robb put his remarks on this Bill in a wide context and I agree with him that we must attack video nasties because of the images they portray and the consequences of those images. He expressed the hope that the Bill would not prove of little use as happened with some Acts. I can assure the House that I am determined that this Bill will be effective and I will ensure that the controls proposed in it will be enforced.

Senator Cullimore said the Bill may not succeed if it does not provide for registration of suppliers. My view is that the Bill as drafted provides for heavy penalties including imprisonment and that those penalties will prove effective. Incidentally the British legislation does not provide for registration and that does not limit its effectiveness.

Senator Maurice Manning asked a specific question about untitled blue movies: will they be controlled by the Bill. The answer is very definitely yes, they will be controlled. They will not get a supply certificate and therefore their supply will be illegal. Anybody who supplies them will be prosecuted and will be subject to the penalties in the Bill.

I agree with Senator Hanafin that people were very concerned at the availability of certain video films. I have received many requests to tackle the problem quickly. These requests came from a wide spectrum of society. I share their concern and accordingly I was determined to bring this Bill before the Houses of the Oireachtas as quickly as possible. Everything I have heard this evening has reassured me that it was necessary and that the priority I attached to the Bill was justified.

I agree with Senator Cregan that there is a big and a difficult job to be done. Nevertheless I am satisfied that the Bill provides the framework within which that job can be done. As I said earlier an amount of work and study went into the drafting of this Bill. The experience of other countries was studied and we learned from their success and from their mistakes. One of these mistakes relates to labelling of videos. Our provision whereby labels will be available only from the film censor is tighter than the controls elsewhere. I am satisfied that it provides the answer to one specific problem mentined by Senator Cregan during the course of his contribution.

Senator Daly and others, too, raised the question of copyright. This is a matter primarily for our Oireachtas colleague, Deputy Albert Reynolds, Minister for Industry and Commerce. The House will know that on 14 October last he restored to the Order Paper the legislation which is necessary to ensure that we will be able to deal effectively with this problem.

Senator Cassidy referred to the various representations. In drafting the Bill every effort was made to examine the many and differing points of view which exist in relation in particular to the details of the control system which should be established. I will give further consideration to the representations he referred to.

Senator Norris referred to the system of censorship already in operation and said that we should learn from our experience of those systems. I would like to ensure the Senator that the existing systems have been studied in the context of the drafting of the Bill. Basically that study indicated that all in all those systems have worked reasonably well. This Bill, therefore, follows the broad outline of the existing systems, that is, the banning of material on the basis of stated criteria, the initial decision to be made by a censoring authority and that decision being appealable to an appeal authority.

The question has been raised about the provision in the Bill providing for the making of a prohibition order in respect of a video film if the viewing of it would be likely to cause persons to commit crimes, whether by inciting or encouraging them to do so or by indicating or suggesting ways of doing so or of avoiding detection. The comment has been made that this provision could be used in the future to restrict the depiction of sexual or political crime. I regard this particular provision in the Bill as being totally justified and I do not see any reason why it should be changed. Video films which portray in detail how particular crimes could be committed could be used as a method of instruction in how to commit those crimes and I believe that this should not be allowed. As regards sexual or political crime it is not for this Bill to decide what should be crimes in those particular areas. The Bill will deal with the situation in relation to crime as it is defined elsewhere. If a particular action is defined in another legislation as a crime then it is a crime. That is the end of the matter as far as this Bill is concerned.

I hope I have dealt with all of the points raised by the Senators. I feel that the real discussion on this Bill, in the words of Senator Manning, will be during the course of the Committee Stage. I have quite an open mind on any amendments that will be proposed to the House. I will welcome discussion on any amendments and they will be treated with the respect they should be treated with. If I can be convinced of the need for any such amendments I will willingly accept them.

Question put and agreed to.

In consultation with the Minister we will provisionally set the Committee Stage for next week. That Stage is likely to be very detailed and, in addition, there are a few Bills coming in next week which have financial implications for staff and for various people. If next Wednesday does not suit the Minister we can discuss again an alternative date.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 11 November 1987.
Sitting suspended at 5.50 p.m. and resumed at 6.30 p.m.