HC Deb 07 July 1885 vol 298 cc1827-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been directed to publications relating to objectionable subjects which have been printed and extensively circulated throughout the Metropolis by the proprietors of the newspaper called The Pall Mall Gazette; and, whether any means exist of subjecting the authors and publishers of these publications to criminal proceedings? He also wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that yesterday and today the sale of The Pall Mall Gazette had been suspended at the railway stations and other bookstalls in London, and had only been carried on by individuals in the streets, many of them being under age, who exhibited indecent placards and sold the publication at more than the market price to purchasers without reference to sex or age?


asked whether the proprietor and responsible editor of The Pall Mall Gazette, which, according to its own advertisements, was a journal written by gentlemen for gentlemen, and which purported to represent independent Liberalism, was a person of the name of Yates Thompson, and whether this was the same Mr. Yates Thompson who for many years was the confidential Private Secretary of Earl Spencer while Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and the confrère during that time of Mr. George Cornwall and ex-Inspector French, lately charged with felonious practices? ["Oh, oh!"]


The Question of the hon. Member does not appear to me to fairly arise out of the Question upon the Paper.


said, that in that case he would supplement his Question by asking whether the Home Secretary knew that the price of The Pall Mall Gazette, which had been hitherto sold at the usual trade price of 9d. per 13 copies, had that day been raised 25 per cent by the responsible manager in consequence of the increased demand arising from the pruriency of the previous day's publication?


I am asked a Question bearing on a point of pure law which might have been put very well to my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General. Treating the question as one of pure law, I am advised that the publication of any obscene writing is a misdemeanour, that the publishers can be prosecuted by indictment in the usual way, and that the offence is punishable by fine and imprisonment, according to the discretion of the Court. The question whether any particular writing is obscene is one for a jury to determine. It is a question of pure law, and it is one which I thought it right to inform myself about. With regard to the sale or price of the paper I have no knowledge either one way or the other.