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"Labour's Southern Voice" (Article)

Volume 486: debated on Monday 16 April 1951

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asked the Attorney-General whether he has considered taking action, under the Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934, against the journal, "Labour's Southern Voice," in respect of an article which appeared in the February-March issue entitled, "Cutting the Coddle at Catterick."

Yes, Sir. I have read the article in question. However, irresponsible and offensive it may be, I do not think that it constitutes an offence for which it would be appropriate to take action under the Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934.

Does the Minister not agree that this is a most disgraceful article to appear in a Socialist paper at a time when the Government are trying to encourage men to join the Armed Services?

Yes, Sir. I think it is a most deplorable article, but if I were to institute proceedings in respect of every deplorable, irresponsible and false statement made in publications of one political complexion or another which might constitute a criminal offence, the time of the courts would be fully occupied.

Are not certain statements in this article—that discipline is based on fear and class distinction, and, secondly, that courts-martial are a negation of the elementary principles of justice—an incitement to disaffection?

I do not think that, taken in their context, it would be at all appropriate to give further publicity to these statements by prosecution under the Incitement to Disaffection Act. I regard the statements as wholly false.