HC Deb 21 May 1931 vol 252 cc2176-7
13. Mr. SCOTT

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the continued dissatisfaction that exists as to the censorship of cinematograph films, especially those which are passed for universal exhibition but are unsuitable for children; whether he is now prepared to supersede the existing board by a Government hoard of censors; or whether he will now appoint a select committee to inquire into the whole question of censorship and the desirability of having a separate board for Scotland?


I have not received evidence of any general dissatisfaction with the standards of censorship which are observed by the British Board of Film Censors; and, for the reasons which I gave in reply to a question by the hon. Member for East Dorset (Mr. Glassey) on the 11th December last, I am not, as at present advised, prepared to ask Parliament to consider the establishment of an official Board of Film Censors. Such complaints as I have received are mainly concerned with the general tone of the films, and many of the complainants themselves admit that this is a defect which no system of censorship could remedy. On this aspect of the matter I have recently received a deputation from the Birmingham Cinema Inquiry Committee, who asked me to institute an inquiry to investigate the possibility of improving the general standard of the films. I am at present considering whether such an inquiry could be expected to produce any useful results and I hope to reach a decision on this point in the near future. The relation of the present system of film censorship to Scotland is, of course, a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.


May I ask the sources from which he gets reports. Are they sources directly connected with the film industry?


The sources are letters and resolutions, sometimes personal approaches, and, as indicated, we have conferences and interviews with the trade.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the reports presented to the Church of Scotland Assembly bear testimony to the dissatisfaction which is spoken of in the question?


I have not had that specially brought to my notice, but the Scottish aspect is rather a matter for my right hon. Friend.


Is it not a fact that where films are not passed by the censor, the local licensing magistrates have power over the same?


Yes, that is so.

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