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Periodical, British Guiana

Volume 478: debated on Wednesday 25 October 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has read a copy of "Thunder," a magazine published in British Guiana, which has been sent to him; and what action he is taking to prevent circulation of the false statements and distorted facts which it contains.

The hon. Member has already drawn my attention to this publication. As I informed him, I am fully aware of the dangers implicit in the circulation of publications of this sort amongst unsophisticated colonial peoples. I must, however, leave to the Colonial Government concerned the decision whether a particular publication should be proscribed. I am consulting the Governor and will write to the hon. Member when I have his reply.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that loyal people in British Guiana, and throughout the Colonial Empire for that matter, are much concerned at the circulation of this type of literature and the abuse of the freedom of the Press, and that they are looking to the Minister for a lead? Is he aware that he ought not to shelter himself behind the Colonial Governments, and will he fortify himself on this subject with a Debate on the Colonial Press?

I am not sheltering behind the Colonial Governments. I believe that, in this matter, they can best decide in the existing local circumstances, and where they have taken action I have given them my full support.

Has my right hon. Friend had recent copies of the "Evening Standard" sent to him?

Will my right hon. Friend remember that we do not wish to apply to the Colonies standards more strict than those operating in this country? In these circumstances, will he see that the widest latitude is allowed to papers of this kind so that the preservation of freedom in the Colonies will counterbalance any danger?

As I said, and I think I said rightly, I leave this matter to the discretion of the Governors. When they take action they consult with me, and where they have taken action to ban a publication I have been satisfied that that action was right.