HC Deb 11 December 1935 vol 307 cc896-7
26. Mr. LEACH

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he accepts responsibility for the new Ordinance No. 20, 1935, Seychelles Colony, which makes it impossible for a free Press to exist and which obliges all newspapers to publish free of charge all official communications of any kind insisted upon by the Governor immediately upon issue and places all newspapers under other onerous obligations?


This ordinance was introduced by the Governor with the prior knowledge and approval of my predecessor, and its provisions are based on those of similar legislation in other colonies. It was passed unanimously by the Legislative Council. The ordinance is intended to ensure that newspapers are published by responsible and substantial persons, that they may be suppressed by process of law on conviction of serious offences, and that the Government has the power to secure effective contradiction of misrepresentations when it is considered necessary in the public interest.


Does the right hon. Gentleman know that one of these newspapers has already had to close down, that others are considering the need to do the same, and what chance on earth is there for a free Press in this colony?


I do not know any of the details, but if the hon. Member will give me information I will inquire. I am sure he, like other Members of the House, would like to see a number of things that call themselves the Press, suppressed.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Legislative Council which passed this ordinance has an official majority?


I am not sure, but I will certainly inquire.


Will the right hon. Gentleman recommend to his colleagues in the Cabinet a similar ordinance to be applied in this country?

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