HC Deb 12 April 1937 vol 322 cc586-7
7. Miss Rathbone

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that Indian students educated in England, and others, have had their books, including sometimes books used as text books for university examinations, confiscated by the Customs officers on their return to India; what is the authorised practice in this matter; and with whom the decision rests as to what books shall be excluded from circulation in India?

Mr. Butler

I presume that the hon. Lady is referring to the search of the baggage of an Indian student by the Bombay Customs of 14th January last. Fifty-two books were seized; 41 of these were Communist books proscribed under the general notification banning such literature and five others were copies of a publication specifically prohibited under the Sea Customs Act. I am informed that none of the seized books can properly be regarded as text books. The decision for excluding books from India rests with the Central Government and Customs officers are authorised to seize books whose entry into India is prohibited.

Miss Rathbone

Are we to understand then that the instance referred to by the Under-Secretary is the only instance of the kind and that there is no justification for the complaint that this has been done in the case of accepted university text books?

Mr. Butler

Communist literature has been seized in the past, but not what are commonly regarded as university text books.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

Were any of the books confiscated written by ex-Socialists who now adorn the Government Front Bench?

Mr. Gallacher

Can the Minister submit to the House a list of the names that are "on the index" as far as India is concerned, so that Members may understand what is taking place?

Mr. Butler

I should be glad to look into any case which arises, and also to send the hon. Gentleman an idea of the books which we have in mind, though no doubt they are quite familiar to him.

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