HC Deb 26 April 1926 vol 194 cc1655-7

asked the Attorney-General on what grounds he caused an information to be laid against the Reverend Jack Bucknall, a clergyman of the Church of England at Delabole, Cornwall, in respect of a leaflet stating that an attack would soon be made by the employers on the wages and hours of labour of the working class?

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)

On application from the Chief Constable of Cornwall, I authorised proceedings for penalties to be taken against this man for printing a leaflet without having printed thereon his name and place of abode or business, as required by the provisions of the Newspapers, Printers, and Reading Rooms Repeal Act, 1869. I have since been informed that the defendant pleaded guilty, and was fined the sum of three guineas and £4 7s. costs.


Is it not a fact that this priest did state on the leaflet the name of an unincorporated guild, and that the sole ground on which the Attorney-General granted the information was that the guild whose name was on the leaflet was an unincorporated body and not an incorporated body

Viscountess ASTOR

Considering that this priest's job is to preach peace on earth and goodwill to all men, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman not think that he got off pretty lightly?


Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider also that a priest's job is to preach righteousness?


In answer to the last supplementary question, I am glad to say that my responsibility is not to keep a priest's conscience. In answer to the first supplementary question, the pamphlet in question had imprinted on it "Published and printed by the Guild of St. John and St. George, Delabole." First of all, it obviously exposes anyone who circulated the pamphlet to prosecution for dispersing and publishing a pamphlet without the proper imprint upon it; and, secondly, such information as I had led me to believe that the alias was adopted in order to prevent responsibility being fixed for the spread of a very poisonous pamphlet.


Was it the contents of the pamphlet that upset the Attorney-General?


There was no question of the Attorney-General being upset. The question was whether I should give my sanction, on an application made by the responsible police authorities, for prosecution for an offence against the law. I gave that authority because I saw no mitigating circumstances, and, in fact, the defendant pleaded guilty and was dealt with as a guilty person by the responsible magistrate.

65. Mr. ATTLEE

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the Reverend Jack Bucknall, a clergyman of the Church of England at Delabole, Cornwall, was recently fined £7 10s. for the technical offence of printing a leaflet without having printed thereon his name and address; and whether he will take steps to remit or reduce the same?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, except that the fine was £3 3s. The answer to the second part in the negative.


Were the Magistrates entitled on a technical point like this to open up the question of the contents of this pamphlet; and is not the fine much too large for the offence?