HC Deb 15 December 1938 vol 342 cc2174-5
67. Mr. Mander

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider the advisability of appointing a committee to inquire into the political censorship exercised by the film trade organisation known as the British Board of Film Censors?

Sir S. Hoare

The basis for the censorship of films is the provision in the Cinemategraph Act, 1909, that premises used for the exhibition of films shall be licensed by the local authority. Most local authorities make it a condition of their licences that a film shall not be shown unless it has been passed by the British Board of Film Censors or has received the express consent of the local authority. I do not accept the suggestion that the Board has allowed political considerations to influence its judgment, but in any case the judgment of the Board is not final. It is open to the local authorities to allow a film which the Board has rejected.

Mr. Mander

In view of the fact that in the opinion of a great many people, this Board is exercising an almost entirely one-sided political censorship, hostile to the views of the Opposition and in favour of the Government, will not the Home Secretary consider further the advisability of having an inquiry into the subject?

Sir S. Hoare

I do not admit the assumption which the hon. Member is making in his supplementary question.

Mr. Mander

Will the Home Secretary allow me to direct his attention to certain films and invite him to visit them, and then he can see for himself?

Mr. H. G. Williams

Has the right hon. Gentleman also received complaints about the censorship exercised by the Liberals against Mrs. MacDonald?

Miss Wilkinson

Apart from any political distinctions, does the right hon. Gentleman consider it desirable in the public interest that the enormous powers possessed by this Board should be exercised by a purely private trade organisation?

Sir S. Hoare

That is a much wider question. The reason for this organisation was the feeling that it was in the best interest of the industry itself to have it. The industry, I understand, has no cause of complaint against the present organisation, nor, I gather, has the public, and in those conditions I do not myself see any reason for change.

Mr. Johnston

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this committee is taking any cognisance of the non-flam films and other films over which the trade organisations have no power?

Sir S. Hoare

No, Sir, I could not without notice.