Feeds

Written material saved from censor's big black pen - for now

Lords suicide debate saves the day

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Censorship of written material is off the agenda – for now: and for that we may need to thank Lord Falconer’s intense interest in suicide.

This week in the House of Lords, an amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill, put forward by Baroness O’Cathain, was withdrawn at the last minute. This amendment was designed to make possession of extreme pornographic written material an offence, in much the same way as extreme pictures are now.

It was what is known as a "christmas tree" amendment, in the sense that it did not relate directly to the text of the bill, but used the Bill as a convenient hook on which to hang. It was the third in a series of such amendments due to be debated on Tuesday night: the first two were in respect of assisted suicide abroad, proposed by Lord Falconer, and genocide.

Such was the interest in the suicide amendment that debate dragged on well past the point when their Lordships usually adjourned for their supper. House business, which usually takes place at half seven, was delayed until twenty past eight, when a stampede of hungry Lords headed for their canteen. Debate on the Coroners’ Bill did not resume until an hour later.

Sadly for the Baroness, New Labour reforms to the way parliament works means that the Lords now shut up shop at 10 pm – and debate on amendments cannot carry on between sessions without prior agreement between parties. Although not the case in this instance, the streamlining of parliamentary business through excess guillotining of debate has been bitterly resisted by opposition parties, who claim that important legislation is now passed with little or no formal scrutiny.

The Baroness’ amendment was eventually called at three minutes to ten – at which point she appears to have decided it was not worth putting, and did not stand up to propose it.

This may not be quite such good news for those worried about the possible extension of censorship to possession of written material. By withdrawing the amendment when she did, the Baroness reserves the right to bring it back to the House at Report stage in October.

Typically, peers put forward amendments of this kind to test the water. Although the Baroness did not receive formal support from her own front bench, she will have carefully noted who did lend her support, as well as the reaction her amendment received informally from the government side of the House.

El Reg managed to have a brief word with the Baroness as she was leaving the House: she expressed herself pleased with the result, and our impression was that she felt that her amendment had helped to rally support around this issue.

She would not be drawn on her plans for the future. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.