HC Deb 29 April 1929 vol 227 cc1294-5
43. Captain CAZALET

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that Customs officials at English ports, especially Folkestone and Dover, demand now to examine every book and pamphlet that visitors may possess; and whether he has any information as to the effect of this scrutiny on our tourist trade or upon the importation into this country of indecent literature?


It is the statutory duty of the Customs Department to prevent the importation into this country of indecent or obscene publications. But it is not the case that Customs officials demand to examine every book or pamphlet that visitors may possess. In the course of their examination of passengers' baggage they may examine any books or pamphlets which they observe and such examination acts as a deterrent against the importation of indecent literature. I cannot imagine that it has any effect on tourist traffic.


Can the Financial Secretary induce his officials to use a little more discretion and tact in carrying out these duties?


I cannot admit the hon. and gallant Member's premises. I think our officials do the best they can, often under very difficult and trying circumstances. I will convey the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion to the proper quarter.


May I ask the Financial Secretary to believe that I have crossed the Channel as often as most people, and that I have never had any discourtesy from the Customs people and have never been asked to show one single book?


Have any fresh instructions been sent out, under the recent administration, on this matter?


I cannot say definitely offhand, but I am not aware of any.


Is the Financial Secretary aware that the experience of the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Saklatvala) does not coincide with the experience of the hon. Member for Acton (Sir H. Brittain)?