HC Deb 16 August 1895 vol 36 cc167-8
MR. J. F. HOGAN (Tipperary, Mid)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department—(1) whether his attention has been directed to recent revelations as to the pernicious consequences of the unrestricted circulation of cheap literature of a grossly demoralising and corrupting character amongst the young; (2) whether he is aware that coroners' juries have appended to their verdicts on recent tragedies riders affirming the urgent necessity of legislative or administrative action, with a view to the correction or the checking of the evil; and (3) whether any official machinery exists by which effect might be given to this recommendation; and, if not, will he arm some responsible authority with supervising powers in this connection similar to those that have been exercised for many years to prevent the dissemination of unwholesome and objectionable literature from the stage?


My attention has been naturally called to statements in the Press with regard to the matter referred to, and representations have been made to me and to my predecessors at the Home Office on the subject of this undoubted evil. These representations have included riders to verdicts of coroners' juries. Inquiries, however, directed by the Home Secretary in 1888, have shown the difficulty of establishing a direct connection between juvenile crime and the reading of such literature. Under the existing law no means exist of stopping such publications unless they be of an obscene, blasphemous, or seditious character, and I have no authority to establish any such censorship as is suggested in the last paragraph of the question. The difficulties of legislation with respect to quasi-criminal literature not coming within the above descriptions have been, I am sorry to say, in my judgment rightly regarded as almost prohibitive.