A cross-party group of MPs has demanded an urgent review of the guidelines for newspapers and magazines with “sexually graphic” front covers.
The MPs, including Tory former Home Office minister Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and the Weald) and ex-Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell (Fife NE), said the review should consider whether pornographic magazines should be concealed in bags instead of displayed on the top shelf of newsagents.
They also called for the inquiry to examine whether a cinema-style age rating system should be introduced for magazines.
In a Commons motion tabled by Labour’s Lindsay Roy (Glenrothes), the MPs state that “politicians, retailers, publishers and distributors have a collective responsibility to protect children and young people from displays of sexually graphic material that they are not emotionally equipped to deal with”.
The motion calls for an urgent review of existing guidelines drawn up between the Home Office and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents.
The MPs said a review “must consider the availability of sexually graphic publications to children and young people, the positioning of these publications on the shelves of retailers, the potential for concealing these publications in bags and consider the question of age-rating such publications”.
They warn that failure to follow the revised guidelines could lead to calls for legislation covering all aspects of the availability and display of sexually graphic material to children and young people throughout the retail and publishing industries.
So far 11 MPs from the three main parties have signed Roy’s motion.
In 2006 Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas lodged a bill in Parliament arguing for legally-binding measures to keep sexually explicit magazines out of sight of children. Her Ten-Minute Rule bill failed to get through Parliament.