HC Deb 24 April 1928 vol 216 cc803-4

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the fact that the India Office cannot furnish a list of the books proscribed by the Government of India and that a bookseller in this country has no definite assurance as to which books in India are liable to confiscation on arrival in India, he will consider the desirability of publishing at least a statement indicating the kind of books which are liable to confiscation?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Earl Winterton)

The number of books published in this country which are prohibited from entering India is very small, and my Noble Friend does not consider that there is any necessity to publish a statement of the kind suggested. The hon. Member may, however, take it that the classes of books which are prohibited are those which are grossly offensive from the religious point of view and those of a revolutionary or seditious nature, the publication of which in India would constitute an offence under Section 124A. of the Indian Penal Code.


Is the Noble Lord not aware that the Foreign Office refused to give a categorical statement in regard to the books which are proscribed, and the Post Office threatened to take proceedings other than confiscation against anyone sending the wrong books; and is he aware that one of the books proscribed is "Socialism and the Living Wage"?


This question has nothing to do with the Foreign Office. I think the hon. Member must have meant the High Commissioner's Office. If any bookseller or private individual is doubtful about any book which he wishes to send to India, he will be able to inquire at that office whether or not that book is prohibited. It is not proposed to publish a list, which would only be a gratuitous advertisement for a number of very undesirable publications.


If these books are likely to come under the ban of the law in India as being seditious, why are they not allowed to go there so that the law may take its course in India?


The reason is that under the law it is open to the Government of India to notify from time to time such books as are prohibited under the Act. I regret if any inconvenience has been caused to any respectable bookseller.