Keith Vaz is Labour MP for Leicester East. Worked as a solicitor before entering parliament.
Violent Computer Games
Has campaigned against violent video games beleaving that people can be influenced by them.
- "The implications of the research, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, are far-reaching. Every precaution should be taken to ensure that children are not exposed to games that will diminish their sensitivity to violence. Children need to be protected from violent games for this reason: although a child's morality continues to grow and mature as they grow older, they are still immature and lack the necessary capabilities to deal with the exposure to violence that these games give them," Vaz told the House of Commons in March 2006. The Register notes the researchers were not convinced they had proved that playing violent computer games led to aggressive behaviour.
Introduced a private members bill, which aimed to increase the size of the age certificate on video games, like most private members bills it failed to become law. His speech introducing the Violent Computer Games bill.
Signed Early Day Motion 2592 Darfur online video game 18 July 2006
- That this House is disturbed by the online video game `Darfur is Dying' created by mtvU, the music video giant's network for university students in the United States; recognises the very important need to educate and raise global awareness about the human rights and humanitarian issues as well as the causes of the conflict in Darfur; and believes that this can be done without trivialising this complex conflict and stripping the Darfurians of their dignity.
Wrote Early Day Motion 1172 Sale by Rockstar Games of the `Bully' video game 30 November 2005
- That this House denounces the recent rise in violent video games; condemns the forthcoming video game Bully, which allows players to adopt the persona of Jimmy Hopkins, a 15-year-old thug who has been incarcerated in a boys' boarding school, and in which points can be scored by terrorising other pupils with a range of physical and psychological abuse; notes with grave concern that last year more than 31,000 children and young people spoke to a ChildLine counsellor about bullying; and calls on the Government to urge the British Board for Classification to take a much more cautious approach with this game and to ban it from being sold in the United Kingdom.
In 2004 he asked Tony Blair to investigate links between Manhunt-type games and violence.
Keith Vaz, Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, said he also believed the government had shifted its position, in the light of recent data loss scandals. Asked if the prime minister was creating "wriggle room" - for fear he would not get the scheme through Parliament - Mr Vaz said: 9 January 2008
- "I think there may well be a little bit of nuances being created here."
- He said his committee was to look again "at the issue of data protection in respect of ID cards because of what's happened over the last few weeks and the minister has agreed to come and see us in a fortnight's time and I think if there is going to be a change of policy, that will be a good opportunity to make it clear, that it has changed".
Mr Vaz said ID cards for foreign nationals, which are being introduced later this year, were effectively being used as a pilot to "see whether or not the information is then subsequently lost".
- "I don't think they can take another major loss of data in this way and that's why the select committee is going to look at it again,"
Signed Early Day Motion 2699 Freedom of Information 10 December 2006
- That this House welcomes the finding of the Constitutional Affairs Committee (HC991) that the Freedom of Information Act has `already brought about the release of significant new information and....this information is being used in a constructive and positive way' and the committee's conclusion that it sees `no need to change' the Act's charging arrangements; views with concern reports that the Government is considering changing these arrangements to permit an application fee to be charged for all requests or to allow authorities to refuse, on cost grounds, a significant proportion of requests which they currently must answer; and considers that such changes could undermine the Act's benefits of increased openness, accountability and trust in the work of public authorities.
House of Commons debate National DNA Database 21 April 2008
- While of course accepting the beneficial aspects of the DNA database, it is now the largest of any country in the world. It is estimated that there are 500,000 mistakes connected with the database. Can the Minister assure the House that that will be dealt with, and that the information contained on the database is protected from any unfortunate loss?
Signed Early Day Motion 2603 retention of DNA samples 19 July 2006
- That this House recognises the vital role DNA and the DNA database play in the detection of crimes but is concerned about the retention of DNA on the National Police Database of those individuals who are neither charged nor cautioned; further recognises the potential detrimental effect the retention of DNA has on innocent juveniles; further recognises that there is a disproportionate number of DNA samples retained from members of black and ethnic minorities; and therefore calls on the Government to bring forward legislation to remove the DNA samples of non-charged and non-cautioned individuals currently on the database, except when the individuals concerned give their express consent to the retention of their DNA.
- 2008-06-09 - The Guardian - ID cards could help turn Britain into a surveillance society, warn MPs
- Author: Nicholas Watt
- Summary: A compulsory national identity card scheme could be used to monitor the movements of British citizens because of the dangers of "function creep", a committee of MPs warned yesterday. Britain is in danger of turning into a "surveillance society", the Commons home affairs select committee says in a report which calls on the government to promise that the multibillion-pound ID card scheme will not be used as a matter of routine to spy on people ... Keith Vaz, the Labour chair of the committee, said: "What we are calling for is an overall principle of 'least data, for least time'. We have all seen over the past year extraordinary examples of how badly things can go wrong when data is mishandled, with potentially disastrous consequences. The public don't have much choice over the data held on them by public bodies so they must be confident about how it is being collected, stored and used, otherwise we are in danger of becoming a 'surveillance society'."
- 2008-06-09 - The Times - MPs fear ID cards could be used for spying
- Author: Richard Ford
- Summary: The multibillion-pound identity card scheme could be used to carry out surveillance on millions of people, a Commons select committee said yesterday. MPs added that they were seriously concerned at the way that local councils and other agencies were using spying powers to deal with low-level crimes such as dropping litter. In a 117-page report on surveillance, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee urged the Government to make it easier for the public to challenge decisions to keep their DNA on the national database. Keith Vaz, its chairman, said: "What we are calling for is an overall principle of 'least data, for least time'. We have all seen over the past year extraordinary examples of how badly things can go wrong when data is mis-handled, with potentially disastrous consequences." He added: “The public don't have much choice over the data held on them by public bodies so they must be confident about how it is being collected, stored and used, otherwise we are in danger of becoming a surveillance society.”
- 2008-06-08 - BBC - ID cards 'could threaten privacy'
- Summary: The government should limit the data it collects on citizens for its ID card scheme to avoid creating a surveillance society, a group of MPs has warned. The home affairs select committee called for proper safeguards on the plans for compulsory ID cards to stop "function creep" threatening privacy. It wants a guarantee the scheme will not be expanded without MPs' approval. The Ministry of Justice said it had to balance protecting the public with protecting a right to privacy. ... Committee chairman Keith Vaz said there could be "potentially disastrous consequences" if data was mishandled. Therefore, he said, the government should draw up a "broad outline of contingency plans" to deal with potential security breaches in the ID cards programme.
- 2006-11-2006 - The Register - Video game critics' bandwagon rolls backwards
- Author: Mark Ballard
- Summary: Keith Vaz, the prominent British Labour MP, jumped back on the anti-video game violence bandwagon today after the EU got it kick-started and on the roll again. But then the funniest thing happened - it appeared to be going backwards.
- 2006-10-18 - The Register - UK retail giant canes Canis Canem Edit
- Author: Hard Reg
- Summary: Controversial game designer Rockstar will not see its take on Bash Street, Canis Canem Edit - aka Bully - on sale in shops owned by UK retail giant DSG, it has emerged. The reason? The chain believes the title is "not appropriate" for its "family-friendly image". ... Canis Canem Edit was originally titled Bully - it retains that name in the US - but renamed after its portrayal of violence in a school setting was criticised by a anti-bullying groups and UK Labour MP Keith Vaz, who today named the game in a parliamentary question to the Prime Minister.
- 2006-10-18 - BBC - Point-by-point: Question time
- Summary: Ex-Labour minister Keith Vaz said the video game Bully showed violence by pupils against teachers. He asked Mr Blair to convene a meeting with industry representatives to discuss this and similar situations. The prime minister said he had not seen the game but the ministers responsible were happy to meet those involved.
- 2006-09-04 - The Guardian - Sit down. Boot up. Smash fellow pupil with baseball bat
- Author: Steve Boxer
- Summary: Labour MP Keith Vaz has joined the calls for Bully to be blocked. He has form as an opponent of Rockstar. ... Vaz has since repeatedly demanded a tightening of regulations on violent games.
- 2006-08-11 - The Register - Peaceniks take on Rockstar in violent games row
- Author: Mark Ballard
- Summary: Campaigners against thuggery have revived their campaign for a computer game depicting child-on-child violence to be banned in time for Christmas. A campaign led by Keith Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, to regulate violent computer games with a Video Games Bill, which has also called for Bully to be banned, got off to a bad start in May. Its second reading in the House of Commons was dropped due to a lack of parliamentary time, although Vaz may revive it in the next session.
- 2006-08-11 - The Guardian - Virtual bullying game condemned by charities
- Author: David Fickling
- Summary: A computer game in which players are encourage to punch, Chinese burn and wedgie their way to schoolyard success has been condemned by anti-bullying campaigners as "gravely irresponsible". ... Leicester MP Keith Vaz tabled a bill in parliament last December calling for such games to be banned, following reports that Bully was being developed.
- 2006-03-02 - The Guardian - Yesterday in parliament - Video games
- Summary: A bid to make age restrictions and content labels larger and more visible on violent computer games was launched by Labour former minister Keith Vaz who has been leading a campaign for a crackdown on the sale of such software after the killing of Stefan Pakeerah in the city in 2004. Mr Vaz's video games bill, which aims to increase the size of the age certificate on video games, gained its first reading but stands little hope of becoming law.
- 2006-03-01 - The Guardian - Bid to curb violent video games
- Summary: A bid to curb the sale of violent video games was launched in the Commons today by a former minister. Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, has been leading a campaign for a crackdown on the sale of such software after Stefan Pakeerah was killed with a hammer and knife by a 17-year-old in the city two years ago.
- 2006-01-26 - The Guardian - Yesterday in parliament - Violent video games
- Summary: Mr Blair came under renewed pressure from Labour's Keith Vaz to take action over violent video games after the murder of 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah. The victim's mother Giselle has said she believes that the violent video game Manhunt encouraged the murder. Mr Blair said the government had commissioned research into this issue and intends to publish it shortly.
- 2005-12-27 - The Guardian - Yesterday in parliament - Bullying video game
- Summary: A violent new video game featuring playground bullies fighting each other was condemned by Labour former minister Keith Vaz. He urged ministers to intervene over the game, which is expected to be on sale in the UK later this year. Mr Hoon said the government worked closely with the industry to ensure young people only had access to games with appropriate content.
- 2005-08-19 - The Guardian - Fury of victim's mother over computer game on bullying
- 'Author: Stephen Ward
- Summary: A year ago Giselle Pakeera saw the killer of her teenage son jailed, and she was convinced that Manhunt, a violent computer game his killer had played was to blame. ... Leicester East MP Keith Vaz has backed Ms Pakeerah's campaign for tighter restrictions on violence in games.
- 2005-12-09 - BBC - The Politics Show East Midlands: Computer games
- 'Author: Allister Craddock
- Summary: The East Midlands Politics Show looks at how the video and computer game industry is regulated in the light of Keith Vaz MP's current Early Day Motion asking for the game 'Bully' to be banned. ... "Bully" has not been released yet, but Mr Vaz claims it highlights the rise of violent games from an industry that needs more than voluntary regulation.
- 2005-11-11 - MCV - Industry baulks at MP call for Government regulation
- Author: Ben Parfitt
- Summary: Outspoken MP Keith Vaz looks set to create consumer confusion and industry fury with his plans to present a Bill to Parliament calling for a Government-backed age ratings scheme for games.
- 2005-10-26 - BBC - MP attacks school bullying game
- Summary: Former Labour minister Keith Vaz urged the government to refer Bully, which has a pupil fight scene, to the British Board of Film Classification. Failing that, it should be banned, he told the House of Commons. Mr Vaz, MP for Leicester East, asked Commons leader Geoff Hoon: "Do you share my concern at the decision of Rockstar to publish a new game called Bully in which players use their on-screen persona to kick and punch other schoolchildren?" "Will you ask the prime minister to refer this video to the British Board of Film Classification? If they don't make any changes will the government use its powers to ban this video?"
- 2005-08-19 - The Guardian - Fury of victim's mother over computer game on bullying
- Author: Stephen Ward
- Summary: A year ago Giselle Pakeera saw the killer of her teenage son jailed, and she was convinced that Manhunt, a violent computer game his killer had played was to blame. Last night she called for tighter controls ahead of the release of a new game about bullying at school by the makers of Manhunt. ... Leicester East MP Keith Vaz has backed Ms Pakeerah's campaign for tighter restrictions on violence in games. ... Earlier this year researchers from the Swedish National Institute of Public Health cast doubt on any link between violence and video games, after reviewing 30 studies from around the world. The study discounted the link between games and violent behaviour or aggressive feelings - although it did find a child who had been playing a violent computer game was more likely to pick up a toy sword or toy gun than a child who had not.
- 2005-01-13 - BBC - Midlands: Copycat killers
- Author: Jonathan Ray
- Summary: Does the violence people see really lead to violent behaviour? Giselle Pakeerah, from Leicester, is certain that grisly images can provoke a brutal copycat response. ... The MP, Keith Vaz, (Lab, Leicester East) will raise the issue in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons.
- 2004-09-15 - BBC - PM backs violent game inquiry
- Summary: The prime minister has told parliament a violent video game - blamed by some for the death of a Leicester boy - should not be used by children. Leicester East MP Keith Vaz asked Tony Blair to investigate links between Manhunt-type games and violence.
- 2004-09-16 - The Register - Blair reveals some games 'unsuitable' for kids
- Author: Tony Smith
- Summary: Blair today told parliament that the game Manhunt, alleged to have been involved in the murder of Leicester teenager Stefan Pakeerah, was "wholly unsuitable for children". Indeed, Tony, that's why Manhunt carries an 18 certificate. It is already unlawful to sell the game to anyone under that age. ... The PM's comments came in answer to a request from Leicester East MP Keith Vaz for yet another investigation between violent games and violent actions. Vaz asked the question on behalf of Pakeerah's parents, who believe the game was a direct cause of their son's death at the hands of Warren Leblanc, 17, who pleaded guilty to the crime in July.