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Vaz: "Parents have a huge responsibility"

But Labour MP admits to not knowing which games his 14 year old son plays

Labour MP Keith Vaz has declared in a radio interview that when it comes to ensuring children can't gain access to adult-rated videogames, there is a huge responsibility on the part of parents - and he then went on to admit that he doesn't actually know which games his own 14 year old son plays at home.

Speaking on SubCity's Debate is Free programme yesterday, he also restated his belief that videogame boxes should have cigarette-style warnings about health concerns "splashed across the front".

"Parents have a huge responsibility, and it is extremely important that we should be in a position where we are telling parents about their responsibilities," he said. "I think it is very important.

"It's part and parcel of a partnership, isn't it? You have government, manufacturers, retailers and parents - all four have to do their bit. I have a son who is 14 years of age - I don't know what games he looks at, but I shall ensure that in future I will look at the covers, to make sure that these games are not over the age of 18.

"I think that's what parents are to do - constant vigilance."

When questioned specifically about the fact that packaging already contains rating certificates, as with films, he argued that there were checks in place to prevent children from seeing adult films.

"The difference between films and videogames is that if you go to the cinema and you're under a certain age, you're not let in," he said. "With a videogame, the evidence we have is that people are let in - so something really does need to be done.

"If you look to the packaging of an 18-rated videogame, it's [the size of] a tiny 10p coin. What it should be is the same as cigarettes - it should be splashed across the front: 'This has the potential to damage your health' - and that is not happening."

The debate was taking place as part of a look at the controversy surrounding Activision's Modern Warfare 2, which was released in the UK last Tuesday and broke day one and week one sales records. TIGA CEO Richard Wilson also appeared on the programme, and made the case for a videogames tax relief.

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