asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he takes to prevent the import of sadistic literature directed to the young from the United States of America and Canada.
If the hon. Member is referring to children's comics imported as supplements to newspapers, I would remind him that this is being done under an open general licence for newspapers which has been in operation since 1939. The importation of indecent or obscene literature is prohibited under Section 42 of the Customs Consolidation Act, 1876.
Is the Minister aware that the Director of Public Prosecutions drew attention to this very serious matter a few weeks ago and that since then the Home Secretary has not been able to give an assurance that the Commissioner of Police is taking proper precautions in the matter; and as most of this literature is imported from America and Canada surely his Department could take some steps in the matter; and will he give it his immediate attention?
My right hon. Friend does not think that censorship should be one of his functions. On the other hand, I think it wrong to waste dollars on newspapers which are imported not for their news content but because they happen to have these comic supplements. I have seen a number of these journals myself and, while I do not think they are any more sadistic than the ordinary British comic, I do think they are pretty trashy.
Would it not be more helpful if we could get some good literature from the United States, which none of us can buy, instead of these things?
That is an entirely different matter.
Is not the Minister aware that apart from this stuff there is a mass of other appalling stuff that comes from America which could not possibly be classified as literature in any sense, and would he stop it from coming into this country?
Will the Minister at least try to use his influence to stop the magazine proprietors in this country from buying the rights of American stories, Anglicising those stories and presenting them to British readers as though they were the products of British writers, who are put out of work as a result of this disgraceful practice?