HC Deb 28 November 1927 vol 211 cc31-2
49.Sir W. de FRECE

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the type of play produced at subscription theatres which do not need a licence and over which the Lord Chamberlain has no power; and whether, seeing that these theatres can produce and do produce banned plays and that these productions are virtually public, he will consider whether the powers of the Lord Chamberlain in this respect can be use fully extended?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)

I have been asked to reply to this question. The circumstances in which performances of unlicensed plays are given by societies formed for the purpose have been under consideration, but there is no power to interfere unless the performance is a public one and for hire. Whether a particular performance of the kind is, in fact, public or not and for hire or not can only be decided on the facts of the case. The Government do not contemplate introducing legislation on the subject.

Colonel DAY

Is it the case that these plays cannot be stopped even by the London County Council or by the police authorities acting under the Disorderly Houses Act?


If they were of the disorderly character suggested by the hon. Member the police would take the necessary steps.

Colonel DAY

Is it not a fact that all plays performed in a licensed theatre, if they have not a licence, come under the Disorderly Houses Act, whether they are of such a character as mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman or not?


I have explained that plays which are performed not for hire do not come under the Act or under the supervision of the Lord Chamberlain.


Will the Minister consider the avoidance of this unfair competition by leaving the moral judgments of the people to the people themselves?


Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it would be proper and appropriate if the censorship of plays were abolished altogether?


No, Sir.