§ MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General if his attention has been drawn to proceedings taken by the Attorney General of the Cape Colony against the editor of the South African News for publishing a defamatory and seditious libel; if he is aware that the matter in question originally appeared in the Freeman's Journal of 15th January, being reprinted in The Time 16th January; whether it is his intention to take similar proceedings against those papers; and, if not, if he can explain on what grounds does the action of those papers differ from that of the South African News; and whether he has considered the desirability of such a prosecution, so that by a discovery order being made the name of the writer of the original matter may be disclosed.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
The propriety of proceedings for libel must depend upon the circumstances under which the publication has taken place. I may remind the hon. and gallant Member that such libels upon our officers and soldiers ate in this country generally appreciated at their true value, while in the peculiar circumstances of South Africa their circulation there may do infinite mischief. The procedure suggested in the last paragraph of the question is quite unknown to our criminal law, and the proposal that a criminal prosecution should be instituted merely to obtain information is not one which commends itself lo my mind.