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Solomon Islands

Volume 655: debated on Tuesday 13 March 1962

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Harmful Magic (Prosecution)

10.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why a man in the Solomon Islands was recently sentenced to one month's imprisonment for being in possession of two pieces of magic wild ginger.

He pleaded guilty to an offence under the Preservation of Order Regulation, the relevant section of which provides that "any person who has in his possession, without lawful excuse, an article normally associated in native minds with harmful magic shall be guilty of an offence". The maximum penalty for such an offence is imprisonment for six months or a fine of £20.

Since the Minister is himself responsible, with previous Ministers, for such legislation, does that mean that he and other Ministers believe in the magic properties of this ginger? Further, since the laws are based on laws of the United Kingdom, if any hon. Member were to be in possession of it would he be liable to go to prison in this country?

I do not think that that would apply. I understand that among the Solomon Islanders wild ginger is a well recognised instrument of sorcery in the seduction of women.