HC Deb 06 May 1907 vol 173 cc1346-8

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reasons are given for withdrawing the licence to act "The Mikado" in London and the provinces: what alterations or additions have been made in the play since the many hundreds of occasions of its previous presentation to cause the Lord Chamberlain to take a less favourable view of its effect on public taste and morals; and whether the Government will take immediate steps to remove the ban on this popular production.

The following Questions on the same subject were also on the Paper:—


To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that there is to be a performance of "The Mikado "in Leeds during the present week; whether the action of the Lord Chamberlain will result in its prohibition; and, if so, from what fund compensation will be forthcoming for the company which had intended the production of the play.


To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when, and for what reason, the Lord Chamberlain withdrew the licence for the stage representation of the operetta called "The Mikado" after its continuous performance for so many years past; whether the withdrawal is temporary or permanent; whether it applies to the provinces as well as to London; whether it relates to performances by amateur operatic and dramatic societies throughout the United Kingdom; and, in any event, whether performances may still he given in all eases where the contracts and arrangements had been entered into before the withdrawal of the licence had been published.


On the question of fact I am informed that the order of the the Lord Chamberlain applies both to London and the provinces, under Section 14 of the Act of 1843, for regulating theatres, and to all public performances of "The Mikado." The order is operative from the date of issue, which was March 26th. No compensation is payable under the Act. No alterations in the text have been made. As to the reasons for the prohibition I can add nothing to the Answer of my right hon. friend the Foreign Secretary on Thursday last.† I am informed by the Lord Chamberlain that it will be a matter for consideration whether, after certain modifications in the text, the present restriction can be subsequently removed.

MR. PIKE PEASE (Darlington)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not be possible in future to give rather longer notice in a case of this kind, as a great deal of inconvenience has been caused, especially in the town of Middlesbrough?


I will convey that to the Lord Chamberlain. No doubt he will bear it in mind.


Is it a fact that this music is forbidden to be played on ships of war and by regimental bands? May I also ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the action of †See (4) Debates, clxxiii., 1062. the Lord Chamberlain in this matter has made this country ridiculous in the eyes of the civilised world?


I strongly protest against the last remark of the hon. Member, and as regards his first Question it has nothing to do with my Department.


Will the licence be withdrawn for "H.M.S. Pinafore" which is a satire on another place?

[No Answer was returned.]