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Last Updated: Friday, 22 February 2008, 09:54 GMT
Dismember of Parliament
Paul Siegert
Paul Siegert
The Politics Show South East

Empire Magazine
Striking the fear of God..?

The thorny question of film censorship is hitting the big screen again, as Canterbury MP, Julian Brazier, believes violent films and video games could be responsible for acts of violence.

The Bogey Man, Death Trap, The Evil Dead and Zombie Flesh Eaters. Just a few films that over the years have been called 'video nasties'.

The Canterbury MP Julian Brazier believes films like these, and also violent video games could be responsible for people committing acts of violence.

He quotes the case of Warren Leblanc who admitted murdering his 14-year-old friend Stephan Pakeerah with repeated blows from a claw hammer and knife.

Stephan's mother has publicly attributed the murder to Leblanc's obsession with playing the video game Manhunt, although the trial judge did not confirm her view.

Mr Brazier also talks about the film Eastern Promises. This, he says, includes graphic scenes of throat slitting, child prostitution and a man having an eye gouged out.

Private Members Bill

Julian Brazier MP
Julian Brazier's Bill is up for a second reading

So next week Julian Brazier's Private Member's Bill to make the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) accountable to Parliament will get its second reading.

He claims that in the last few years the BBFC has followed a policy of allowing increasingly violent and sexual material onto the market.

There are several points to Mr Brazier' s Bill.

  • He wants Parliament to choose the four main officers of the BBFC. At present the BBFC makes all it appointments internally.
  • He believes Parliament should have powers to force the BBFC to tighten its guidelines.
  • He wants MPs to have the right to appeal against a classification. At present only the industry can appeal a decision - either to restore cut material or to lower a classification, but not to raise it or to have it banned.

Helen O'Haraof Empire Magazine
I absolutely think that political censorship is a step backwards
Helen O'Hara

Personal responsibility?

But should MPs really have the power to decide what we can and cannot watch.

Do adults not have the right to make that decision for themselves?

"Yes," says Helen O'Hara at Empire Magazine, who adds: "People can get a very good idea of what's in these films by looking at the box.

"A lot of what are termed as 'video nasties' these days are really bad films that wouldn't get any publicity unless people complained about them.

Cinema projector
And some thought the DVD would be the cinema's demise

"I absolutely think that political censorship is a step backwards."

While a spokesman for the BBFC said it was up to adults to decide what they wanted to watch and moviegoers were always free to look away from the screen.

So on Sunday we hear from Julian Brazier himself, and we get the views of a leading academic on whether there is any link between violence and the movies.

Mind your own Business?

It wasn't that long ago that councils did, well they did council type things.

Empty our bins, run our schools and libraries, collect our council tax.

But as Bob Dylan once sang, "the times, they are a-changing".

I guess you could describe Kent County council as the Arthur Daly of local government. It seems no matter what you need doing they can do it.

Need a plumber? He just might come from your local council

The council is moving into decorating, plumbing, plastering and landscaping.

They even have their own internet TV station.

But should councils be getting involved in entrepreneurial activities.

Kent County Council say it will help keep council tax rises low but what about small businesses who are already struggling to make ends meet and fight off competition .

And what happens when things go wrong?

The council lost money when it invested in a package holiday company offering flights from Kent to America.

A lack of demand caused the deal to collapse, losing the council tens of thousands of pounds.

So what should and shouldn't councils get involved with. Have your say on this week's Politics Show.

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