Notorious lads’ mags such as “Zoo”, “Nuts” and “Maxim” are little more than pornography and should be given age-appropriate 16 and 18 certificates, warns Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas.
The Top Shelf Report commissioned by Mrs Curtis-Thomas will be released next week and will recommend introducing “statutory guidelines that are comparable to the existing standards for video, film and television.”
The display of lads’ mags is currently governed by a voluntary code of practice drawn up by the Periodical Publishers Association. It recommends retailers display sexually explicit publications above the eye-level of children.
But many retailers are ignoring current guidelines and displaying lads’ mags where they are readily available for anyone, including children, to pick up.
Mrs Curtis-Thomas stressed that: “The discretionary industry guidelines have failed. Children are still able to access material of a sexually explicit and violent nature.”
Labour MP Vera Baird added: “If young children are going out looking for “The Beano”, and end up flicking through a copy of “Nuts” magazine, they could see something disturbing.”
The proposals have cross-party support and the Liberal Democrat spokesman for culture, media and sport said: “This should serve as a final warning to retailers.
“If they can’t prove that self-regulation works in the next six-months, the Government will have to look at introducing appropriate legislation to ensure children are not exposed to these magazines.”
Men’s magazines often claim to be just “harmless fun” however critics express fears over their effects on young people.
In the report a sample of sixth-form students were surveyed and it found that 100 per cent of girls who looked at “The Daily Sport”, “Zoo” and “Nuts” expressed being angry, offended or upset by the images they contained.
One fifth of male students sampled admitted that looking at this material encouraged them to see women as sex-objects.
There has been widespread concern recently about children and young people being over-exposed to inappropriate sexual material.
Family retailer Bhs was recently criticised by parents for selling sex items next to children’s toys. A spokesman for Bhs described the products as a “bit of fun”.