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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Call to move explicit 'lads mags'
Lad mags
Magazines advertising porn sit next to comics, the MP says
Sexually explicit "lads mags" should be banished to the top shelf by law, a Labour MP has told the Commons.

Claire Curtis-Thomas wants an independent regulator to restrict the display of such magazines in a bid to stop children from buying them.

She says some of the publications are "repulsive" and "degrading to women".

But Tory MP Angela Watkinson opposed the measure, saying it did not take account of the "complicity" of the women involved in the photo shoots.

'Graphic' contents

Mrs Curtis-Thomas presented her Regulation of Sale and Display of Sexually Explicit Material Bill in the Commons, stressing that many of the publications she was concerned about contained "hard-core porn", numbers for "sex chatlines" and adverts for masseurs.

She said descriptions of sexual acts in the Dictionary of Porn in an April edition of Zoo magazine were "so graphic and repulsive I am prevented from quoting it on the floor of the House of Commons".

Lads mags are designed for those that don't have the courage to reach up to the top shelf
John, London

While such magazines were aimed at men in their 20s she fears they are available to children as young as eight.

Many were being sold alongside comics like the Beano and the Dandy despite containing pornographic articles, she said.

"Throughout Britain today there is unrestricted access to such material," she said.

"Whilst I am not advocating the censorship and prohibition of such literature for adults, there must be safeguards in place to protect minors from this obscene material."

They are not victims - these women are paid for their services and surely must take some responsibility for their involvement
Angela Watkinson
Tory MP

She says that unlike the film industry, the 9pm watershed on television and controls over internet use, there is no limit on where and how explicit publications are sold.

Her bill would establish a new, independent, non-partisan regulator on the sale and display of magazines which are not currently "top shelf", she said.

But Ms Watkinson said that while the bill was "well intentioned", she opposed its purpose to bring in a government regulator.

She added that it also did not take into account the "co-operation" by women featured in the magazines.

"They are not victims - these women are paid for their services and surely must take some responsibility for their involvement."


She said the introduction of a lifestyle magazine for teenage boys could "reduce any curiosity" they might have for "these grossly unsuitable publications".

Piers Hernu, the former editor of Front magazine who has also written from FHM and Loaded, said there was a difference between lads mags and top shelf material.

"They have toplessness - if that is sexually explicit and degrading to women than that's Claire's point of view, it's not mine," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He said the MP was creating a furore about something which was not happening.

"Parents and teachers are not up in arms about minors buying lads mags simply because they do not," he said.


He accused Mrs Curtis-Thomas of trying to impose an "embittered morality" on the rest of society, which prompted her to snap back: "I'm not embittered. I'm a woman of 48 with three young children.

"I happen to think about their welfare first and I put the profits of... companies like yours second, and most of the people in this country share that sentiment."

Mrs Curtis-Thomas' bill, which has cross-party support, is unlikely to become law due to a lack of parliamentary time.

Earlier this year guidelines were introduced to move newspapers and magazines with sexual content to higher shelves, but the deal is not legally binding.

Advice was sent out to 19,000 newsagents to display such magazines out of the sight of children.

Clare Curtis-Thomas MP introduces her bill

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