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New Clause 1

Volume 22: debated on Friday 30 April 1982

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Powers Of Arrest And Seizure

`(1) If a constable has reasonable cause to suspect that a person has committed an offence under this Act he may require him to give his name and address, and if that person refuses or fails to do so or gives a name or address which the constable reasonably suspects to be false, the constable may arrest him without warrant.

This subsection does not extend to Scotland.

(2) A constable or authorised officer of the licensing authority who enters and searches any premises under the authority of a warrant issued under section 5(3) above may seize and remove any apparatus or equipment or other thing whatsoever found on the premises which he has reasonable cause to believe may be liable to be forfeited under section 6(4) below.'— [Mr. Peter Lloyd.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

10.15 am

With this we may take amendment No. 10, in clause 5, page 4, leave out lines 23 to 28.

Subsection (1) of the new clause adds a power of arrest in circumstances where a constable suspects someone of having committed an offence and where that person refuses or fails to give his name and address or is suspected of having given false particulars.

The provision is closely modelled on similar powers in section 2(1) of the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981 and schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. As in those measures, the power would be particularly useful in dealing with the so-called front men—the individuals who are left in charge of a sex shop or cinema and who, when asked for their names and addresses, may refuse or give false particulars. If the police are forced to return the next day with a summons, experience shows that the front men may well have disappeared and the police action will be frustrated.

Although the power of arrest in the circumstances that I have described is unlikely to be used often, it will be a useful aid in law enforcement. I should add that the provision does not need to be extended to Scotland, because there is already a general power under Scottish legislation.

Subsection (2) includes the powers of seizure and removal, which are presently provided by clause 5(4). The latter is accordingly deleted by amendment No. 10. I hope that these amendments will meet with the approval of the House.

This will be my only intervention on Report, because I strongly support the new clause and all the 32 amendments that have been tabled, surprisingly, by the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd).

I have no desire to delay the progress of the Bill. However, the hon. Gentleman mentioned the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, and before we give unanimous support to the new clause I should like to ask once more, as I did in Committee, for his view of the relationship between the Bill and the new clause and the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill new clause that was tabled by the Minister.

That clause has not been discussed in the House, and the Bill has gone to the other place. I asked the hon. Member for Fareham that question in Committee, but he did not reply. The Minister intervened to say that the Home Secretary was still considering the interaction between the two measures. Does the hon. Member for Fareham feel that the new clause and the Bill are compatible with the new clause in the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill? Their aims are similar, but the details are different.

The hon. Member for Fareham has produced a good Bill, which deals with the whole subject of sex cinemas. Everyone seems to agree that sex cinemas should be dealt with separately from sex shops. However, a new clause has gone to the other place. Perhaps the Minister will tell us whether the Home Secretary has considered the interaction between the two measures. I hope that he has considered it, because it looks as though this Bill will complete its passage through the House before the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

Does the hon. Member for Fareham intend to compete with the Government Bill? His Bill covers aspects that are not included in the Government measure. Moreover, the fine that the hon. Gentleman proposes—a maximum of £10,000—is different from that proposed by the Government. We were told in Committee that the Government Bill would provide for a fine of only £5,000. Therefore, there are basic differences in the two Bills. Will the hon. Gentleman drop his Bill if the other Bill reaches the statute book, or will there be two Acts on the same subject, but with different provisions, on the statute book?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will tell us his reason for adding a new clause to the Bill and making it even longer than it was. I hope also that the Minister will tell us how he intends to deal with the problem.

I greatly appreciate the support that the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) has given to the Bill. With the amendments that I have tabled the Bill will be a thorough, complete, satisfactory and watertight measure. I cannot say much about the Government Bill with which I have had not been directly involved, and I shall leave those points to my right hon. Friend the Minister. My assumption and expectation is that if there are to be any further changes the Government Bill will be adjusted rather than the other way round.

I understand that Government Bills normally take precedence over Private Member's Bills. Hon. Members are usually coerced into dropping their legislation if the Government see fit to introduce their own. A Government Bill has the advantage of the advice of parliamentary draftsmen and the general support not only of the Government but of the House. It would be most unusual if the hon. Gentleman were to persist with his Bill in opposition to another Bill that is in some ways different from his own. However, I was interested to hear the hon. Gentleman's comments and I admire his perseverance. I am sorry that he does not seem to have consulted the Government and that there could not have been just one Bill. It is confusing to have two Bills that are similar in aim but different in content.

I do not share the worries expressed by the hon. Member for Halifax, but I shall leave the matter to my right hon. Friend the Minister.

I shall be brief. I seek reassurance that the reference in new clause 1 to "apparatus or equipment" includes video cassette recorders and video films. I have received personal confirmation that new clause 1 includes video apparatus, but it might help if that point were officially confirmed.

In Britain, the video market has grown even more quickly than the film industry has shrunk. In a brief period, the video market in Britain has shot up from almost nil to £160 million per annum. I have been prompted to raise this matter because, of that £160 million, no less than £100 million is reckoned to be pirated video tapes. The House should know that the production of a video tape is expensive, but extremely simple.

In counterfeiting, the illegal duplication of existing tapes is simply a matter of copying the existing product. The pirates can be quite creative when it comes to direct film theft. It is surprisingly simple to set up a duplication suite to produce pirate video tapes, although it can be very expensive. All that is needed is a master tape, made from a cinema print of a film, which is recorded on to a special 1 inch cassette using a telecine transfer machine. It is then merely a matter of connecting a professional video recorder of the type used by television companies—at an average price of about £5,000—to as many domestic recorders as can be afforded. The market has mushroomed out of all proportion since the Bill's introduction.

Will the hon. Gentleman explain what his remarks have to do with new clause 1?

Line 8 of new clause 1 simply states:

"seize and remove any apparatus or equipment."
I seek a formal assurance that video apparatus and tapes are included in those seizure powers.

Although it can cost up to £20,000 to set up a duplicating suite, the pirates can easily afford it in view of the massive profits. The hon. Member for Halifax will recall that the pirates' chief target was once pornographic material. However, in the past 18 months the situation has changed so rapidly that hardly any video pirates bother with pornography cassettes because of the huge profits that can be made from pirating video films.

This week, a Northampton couple agreed to hand back no less than £¾ million after one of the three anti-piracy squads in Britain had apprehended them. Video piracy in Britain had been taken up by major criminals. Three anti-piracy squads have moved into this twilight world of subterfuge and anonymity. They rely, first, on a tip-off about the activities taking place. They then infiltrate the organisations which may be engaged in the production of pirated videotapes and spend many weeks scrutinising their activities. They engage in what are known as "stakeouts", sitting in cars near pubs or coffee bars armed with cameras equipped with telephoto lenses to record all suspicious comings and goings.

10.30 am

The ludicrous aspect is that after all this effort and massive expenditure the maximum fine that can be imposed on the pirates is a meagre £50. If the pirates' distribution organisation is large enough the investigators will open their own video shop and attempt to buy and sell——

Order. The hon. Gentleman is really dealing with licensed cinematograph premises. I do not follow how that is relevant to new clause 1.

As I have said, the point relates to the words in line 8 relating to "any apparatus or equipment".

It does not refer to seizure on cinematograph premises, so the hon. Gentleman is dealing with something quite different.

I think that I am right in saying that clause 1 of the original Bill relates to video materials and tapes. So rapidly has the situation changed in the video market, particularly the illegal or pirate video market, that it is right and proper that the House should be assured that the Bill will cover these aspects.

I shall try to be brief, but I think that I am right to draw attention to the three anti-piracy squads run by the British Videogram Association, the Motion Picture Export Association of America and the Society of Film Distributors, which are financed by the film and video industry.

Many pirates use cheap imported video casettes from Taiwan, Singapore or Hong Kong. I hope that the Bill, and particularly new clause 1, will provide power to confiscate any apparatus or equipment used for these purposes.

I appreciate the importance of the issue that the hon. Gentleman raises. Many cinemas have been, as it were, knocked out as a result of pirating. As I understand it, however, the purpose of the Bill is to extend to film clubs a system of licensing which at present relates to ordinary commercial cinemas and to ensure that the films shown have been passed by the British Board of Film Censors. As I understand it, the board does not care whether a film is pirated so long as the version shown has been approved by the board, so I do not quite understand how the hon. Gentleman's remarks relate to the Bill.

As I have said, I seek to draw attention to a major abuse of the present law. It is my hope, and I think that it is the wish of my hon. Friend whose Bill we are lucky enough to be discussing today, that the House should be aware of those factors and should take whatever action it can to take account of the rapidly changing pattern of video piracy in this country, a pattern that has only recently come to light.

All the most famous films are available legally at a retail price of about £40 and a wholesale cost of about £30. Copies of similar quality are available from pirate sources at less than half that price. I refer to films such as "Time Bandits", "Watership Down", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "The Long Good Friday", and so on. The House should be aware that all are available in pirate editions. I hope that my hon. Friend will do all that he can to reassure us that the Bill will go some way towards meeting that threat.

It might be helpful if I intervene at this stage to pick up some of the points that have been made so far. On the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) about video, I think that the House is aware that cinematograph exhibitions in the United Kingdom are controlled by the Cinematograph Acts of 1909 and 1952.

Under the 1952 Act, a cinematograph exhibition is defined as
"an exhibition of moving pictures produced on a screen by means which include the projection of light".
That definition includes all the normal means of film projection, but probably does not apply to video exhibitions where, for example, a video cassette recorder is linked with a standard television monitor, where the picture is produced not by the projection of light but by the firing of electrons. Other video exhibitions involving the magnification of the image on to a screen are probably covered by the current definition.

As I think the House understands, one of the major purposes of the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd) is to remedy that situation. I can confirm that the problem raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough is met by the Bill. In particular, the power of seizure is covered by clause 6(4).

I should like to deal carefully with the important point raised by the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill). She has raised the matter before, and I hope that my explanation will satisfy her.

I think that the House generally feels a sense of debt to my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham for the 'way in which he has handled the Bill so far and the way in which he has set out his provisions. As he has explained, the new clause and amendment, taken together, are intended to strengthen the enforcement provisions of the Bill.

Clause 5 provides for power of entry, search and seizure and has been carefully drafted to balance the legitimate rights of the ordinary licensed operators against the equally legitimate needs of the police and officers of the local authorities to ensure that the statutory arrangements are all working properly. It is essential that in an area such as this the authorities should be able to take firm steps to catch the ingenious people who attempt to get round the new provisions.

We believe that the balance in clause 5 is about right. The new clause and amendments strengthen the powers of the police in circumstances where an officer suspects an offence and where there is a failure on the part of someone to give his proper name and address.

I very much agree with my hon. Friend that we need a power such as this in dealing with front men. This is a common operating device, and I see no reason why provision should not exist to counter it. We do not want a situation in which a front man can defy the police one day and be gone the next when the police return with a summons. Once the proposed provision is in the Bill, I do not believe that it will be used all that often, but its inclusion will undoubtedly close a loophole and provide a useful aid to enforcement. I therefore believe that it is desirable to accept it

It is understandable that there is confusion between this Bill and the provisions on sex cinemas in schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, as the hon. Member for Halifax said. We have always acknowledged that this is a complex matter and I am glad to have the chance to explain the Government's thinking.

Perhaps I should begin by saying that the Bills do, of course, have different origins. My hon. Friend's Bill was prepared and introduced before it was decided to add provisions on sex shops and sex cinemas to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. Equally, the GLC's General Powers (No. 2) Bill—on which the relevant parts of the miscellaneous provisions Bill are broadly based—was drafted in ignorance of the proposals in my hon. Friend's Bill. The initial overlap between the Bills in relation to sex cinemas is therefore accidental.

When I announced in Standing Committee on the miscellaneous provisions Bill that the Government would bring forward amendments on Report to enable local authorities to introduce licensing arrangements for the control of sex shops, I made it clear that the Government had reservations about applying those arrangements to sex cinemas, as the GLC's Bill had proposed. I suggested that this might be unnecessary in view of my hon. Friend's intention to introduce a Cinematograph Bill, the primary purpose of which would be to require sex cinemas to apply for a cinematograph licence. I repeated those reservations when the Government tabled their amendments on Report and they were reiterated by my noble Friend Lord Belstead on Second Reading in another place. On both occasions we said that we were continuing to consider whether it was necessary to retain the references to sex cinemas in the miscellaneous provisions Bill.

In Committee in another place my noble Friend explained the conclusions that we had reached and moved amendments to give effect to those conclusions. These were, briefly, that the primary means of control over cinemas should continue to be through cinematograph legislation as amended by my hon. Friend's Bill; that the provisions in the miscellaneous provisions Bill should nevertheless be retained as a long stop; and that the timing of the coming into force of the respective provisions should be so ordered that there would be no awkward interval between the two. The last point would be ensured by a commencement order to bring the sex cinema provisions in the miscellaneous provisions Bill into force on the day that my hon. Friend's Bill comes into force.

If both Bills are to come into force on the same day, how do we get over the discrepancy, say, about the maximum fine to be imposed? How is the court to decide which Act to charge someone under?

If I proceed with what I was saying it might help the hon. Lady to understand. There are proposals to align the fines between the Bills.

We reached these conclusions for the following reasons. We continue to think that my hon. Friend's Bill provides the most satisfactory means of exercising control over the commercial sex cinemas in Soho and elsewhere, which presently operate outside the cinema licensing arrangements. I note that in Committee, at column 11, the hon. Lady concured with that view.

Contrary to what the hon. Lady has just said, we give a certain priority to my hon. Friend's Bill rather than to the Government's measure. As we have always said, my hon. Friend's Bill is directly designed to deal with the problem that concerns the House. I shall come back to the reason why we are pursuing the other provisions.

As the hon. Lady has said before, the cinema licensing recognise the unique impact that can be exerted by the medium: point that was attested to by the Williams committee in its report. In particular, they afford the cinema licensing authorities complete discretion over what may be shown in their areas. This is achieved by attaching conditions to a cinematograph licence, which usually take the form of a requirement to show only those films which have been approved by the British Board of Film Censors or specifically by the licensing authority.

10.45 pm

What distinguishes a sex cinema from the ordinary high street cinema is simply that the former, like the latter, does not comply with the usual film censorship conditions and is able to show uncensored films. If the sex cinema were brought within the cinematograph licensing arrangements, the licensing authority could impose censorship conditions and the sex cinema would be on the same legislative footing as the ordinary high street cinema.

As the House is aware, the principal purpose of my hon. Friend's Bill is to bring about that situation. By qualifying the present exemptions from cinematograph licensing by a test of whether an exhibition is promoted for private gain, it will ensure that commercial sex cinemas—even those that may operate as a genuine club—have to obtain a cinematograph licence. This, in turn, will give cinema licensing authorities control over what may be shown, which, in practice, as I have said, means that they will have absolute discretion in deciding whether the cinema may operate as a sex cinema.

I hope that it will be clear from that explanation why it would be unnecessary to supplement that control by the kind of arrangements proposed in the miscellaneous provisions Bill in respect of sex shops. Local authority control over the number of sex cinemas would be achieved by the cinematograph licensing arrangements: if the local authority does not want a sex cinema, it can simply impose the appropriate licence conditions. Accordingly, to avoid the duplication of licensing arrangements, schedule 3 to the miscellaneous provisions Bill provides that if a cinema is licensed under the Cinematograph Acts it is automatically exempt from the licensing arrangements in that schedule.

Why, then, have we retained the provisions in the miscellaneous provisions Bill? As my noble Friend explained in another place, our decision followed consultations with representatives of the local authority associations. They were concerned, in particular, that there might be circumstances in which the requirement to obtain a cinematograph licence would not apply and in which the provisions of the miscellaneous provisions Bill could be brought to bear if necessary.

The sort of circumstance that they had in mind was if an exhibition was given free of charge in the back of a sex shop, supposedly with a view to the sale of the cassette or film. As my hon. Friend said in Committee, at column 7, we are confident that his Bill would apply in this situation. But we recognise, of course, that it would turn on the facts of the case and whether the court was satisfied that the exhibition was indeed promoted for private gain. In view of the local authority expressions of concern, we saw no great harm in retaining the provisions in the miscellaneous provisions Bill as a long stop.

We have therefore taken steps, as I have said, to ensure that the respective provisions come into force at the same time. It would be pointless to require these premises to apply for a licence under the miscellaneous provisions Bill if, on the coming into force of my hon. Friend's Bill a few months later, they had the opportunity of automatic exemption from the licensing arrangements in the former Bill.

I recognise that the situation in London will differ to some extent from that in the rest of the country. This is because the GLC is the cinema licensing authority in Greater London, although the London boroughs will be the licensing authority under the miscellaneous provisions Bill. I do not see that that should give rise to any substantial difficulty. It is not unreasonable to look to cooperation between the GLC and the London boroughs over the numbers of sex cinemas in Greater London. Moreover, the great advantage of the cinema licensing system is that, while the proposals in the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill are concerned with numbers and location, it would give the licensing authority complete control over what may be shown.

I hope that the House will forgive a somewhat lengthy explanation of the matter, but it is something that has occurred on previous occasions, and it is right to place formally on the record the reasons why we believe it is desirable to have on the statute book not only my hon. Friend's excellent Bill but the relevant provisions of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. I hope that the House will accept that there are good reasons for what we are doing. Beyond that, I very much hope that the House will accept——

Is it not right that when those who prosecute issue a summons they name the Act under which they are prosecuting, so that accordingly the penalty can be imposed only under the particular Act, and the magistrates are not faced with a decision on which class of penalty to impose? They are restricted to the Act mentioned in the summons.

The hon. and learned Gentleman is, by definition, a distinguished lawyer and I assume that what he has said is right, but there is also the question whether the penalties may be aligned anyway. I should have thought, on technical grounds, that what he has said is entirely plausible.

I am very grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for the fact that within the limited parameters of new clause 1 you have enabled the Minister to give a somewhat technical explanation of the interface between the Bill, the GLC's measure, and the vigorously debated schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which has now gone to another place. I followed the Minister as best I was able. No doubt you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, understood the Minister's argument entirely. I cannot say that I did.

My concern in commenting on new clause 1 arises very largely from my connection, which the House knows well, with the police service. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will be able to produce a potted explanation of what he has just said, for the benefit of members of the Metropolitan Police in the first instance, and also for members of other police forces, so that they will have some simple operating note in their stations and will know what they are supposed to do.

I am clear about what the police are supposed to do under my hon. Friend's lucid Bill. I think that there might be some difficulty among some of the junior members of the force in knowing at what point their powers arise from my hon. Friend's Bill—especially under the new clause—and in what particular, if at all, they will have a duty to act under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill when it finally makes its way on to the statute book, if not into their notebooks.

My hon. Friend's Bill will be very welcome to the police service, in particular in the London area, so I hope that he will make it his business to assist by providing to the Commissioner, for the use of his constables, a clear-cut note so that they will know precisely what are their powers and in what circumstances they are required to apply them.

It is well known that one of the least agreeable features of police work in the London area is to be required to act in the distasteful circumstances of the blue film world of Soho. For a young police officer to be thrust into that disagreeable environment and expected to enforce complicated law, in the face of some fairly sleazy characters—some of whom have access to some fairly sleazy legal advisers—is extremely difficult, so the first request that I make is for clarity, for the benefit of the ordinary constable.

I am glad that my hon. Friend has seen fit to include in his new clause—no doubt after discussion with the Home Office—the power for a constable to arrest without warrant any person who, in the particular circumstances, refuses to give his name and address. The Minister. in speaking for the Government—and, indeed, my hon. Friend as the promoter of the Bill—will know that the Royal Commission on criminal procedure has given much thought to the possibility of allowing police officers to arrest without warrant those who refuse to give their name and address in a wide range of offences.

It is likely that later this year the Government will see fit to bring forward legislation to implement some of the powers recommended by the Royal Commission on criminal procedure. I hope that one of the powers will be the ability to arrest where there is refusal to give the name and address. This can apply in many circumstances—in political violence, racial riot and many instances of street crime, where the police are sometimes inhibited by their inability to do very much when people either refuse to give their name and address or give a false one.

My hon. Friend is right in pinpointing by his new clause the problem that can arise when a constable, going into a private club in Soho, is faced with one or two "wide boys" who will not give their name and address and who then disappear, so that no further action can be taken. But I suggest to the Minister that in so far as the idea has, rightly, been accepted in the Bill—as, indeed, it has in some other areas of the law—it should give encouragement to the Government to move on the same front in those other areas in which the Royal Commission has said that there should be power of arrest without warrant when there is refusal to give a name and address. That is a matter of some importance, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on paving the way for what will be a very useful addition to police powers in areas apart from this one.

I should like my hon. Friend to explain why subsection (1) of the new clause does not extend to Scotland. I take it that subsection (2) extends to Scotland, but I cannot see why the first subsection does not, unless the powers are already available to the police in Scotland to do what is stipulated in the Bill. If that be the case, I remind the Minister that this is not the first time that the Scots have been ahead of England in providing useful powers to the police to enable them to carry out their duty.

The police in Scotland have, for example, the power to stop and search football hooligans whom they suspect of carrying offensive weapons. That power does not exist in the rest of the United Kingdom. The provision proposed by my hon. Friend is very useful, but I should be interested to know why the Scots have a power that the police in the rest of the United Kingdom do not have. Should we not in future try to ensure that the powers of the police are the same throughout the United Kingdom?

The Bill provides that when an officer has seized and removed apparatus it may be forfeited. I shall be grateful if my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd) or my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will tell me how that provision will work.

11 am

Can a police officer who is satisfied that those concerned can be charged with having committed an offence send for a police van and load into it whatever is found on the premises, or can he take away only apparatus connected with the showing of the obnoxious film? I am not sure whether the police can seize only items connected with the showing of the film or whether they can clear out the whole place.

The doctrine of forfeiture is complex and, as a non-lawyer, I should not wish to cross swords with those who are better informed. However, I presume that forfeiture means that the owner loses his property for ever. What are the police to do with films that are forfeited? Will they have to destroy them? What is the limit of the responsibility of the police?

We all know that the police already have more than enough to do, and the House should be careful about loading them with additional responsibilities unless we make it clear how those are to be carried out.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham on adding useful clarifying provisions to his already effective Bill and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will provide a simplified code for the police.

By leave of the House, I should like to reply to the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths). I expect that my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd) will also wish to comment on them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds stressed the need for clarity and asked for a potted explanation. If the police are to do their job effectively they must know exactly what that job is, and it will be necessary to give them a clear explanation. They will not need to be encumbered with the points that I made earlier about why we are proceeding as we are.

My hon. Friend is knowledgeable about all matters concerning the police and he will know that the normal follow-up to legislation that imposes new duties on the police is a circular from the Home Office. We expect that after the passage of the Bill there will be a circular to the police and to local authorities setting out clearly how we see the legislation being operated.

I said earlier that we saw the Bill as, in a sense, a primary piece of legislation in this area, but I explained that there were doubts about whether certain activities would be caught by the Bill and that in those circumstances the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill would come in handy. The Home Office will use the familiar machinery to make it clear to the police what we think to be the position.

I cannot say much more about the arrest provisions. The area covered by the Royal Commission on criminal procedure is under review. I have no doubt that arrest provisions are being considered carefully by the commission, and the House will not expect me to say more than that.

The assumption of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds about the position in Scotland is correct. There is a general power under Scottish legislation, and therefore there is no need to include in the Bill such a power for Scotland. He asked why the Scots were different from the English, but that question strays beyond the confines of the Bill and is probably unanswerable. They are different, and in some areas they are pioneers.

That may be so, but I am cautious about saying sharp things about the Scots, even if there are none in the Chamber.

The hon. and learned Gentleman is not merely a legal luminary, but an expert on Scottish culture and I shall not cross swords with him on that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds mentioned forfeiture. Items that are ordered to be forfeited may be dealt with in such a manner as the court may order. That is prescribed in clause 6(4) and I think that it is certain that pornographic films and cassettes will be destroyed.

The idea that chairs and tables could be destroyed is going a little wide, because the clause requires that items must relate to the offence. That will be a matter for the courts to decide, but I doubt whether they would rule that all the furniture should be taken away and destroyed. It is expected that equipment directly concerned with an offence could be taken away and would normally be destroyed.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) for his supportive comments, which were well taken. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State has replied to my hon. Friend's substantive points and I have nothing to add.

My hon. Friend spoke about the time of the police that is taken up in dealing with such offences and said that as the clause enabled equipment to be forfeited that would add to their time and labour. That may be true in the short run, but it is designed to help the police to enforce the law, because it will remove the ability of those who commit offences to continue to do so, at least in the short run.

I believe that the police will find it useful to be able to take not only the films but the equipment on which they are shown. That will make it more difficult for the offence to be repeated and will be another penalty added to the fine proposed in the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.