HC Deb 08 July 1942 vol 381 cc772-3
56. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the recent prosecution of the medical author and the publishers of an alleged obscene book; whether he is aware that the jury returned a verdict of not guilty and the judge dismissed the case; why the proceedings were instituted; and whether he is satisfied that those who initiated the prosecution are fully competent to discriminate between obscenity and the serious consideration of biological and psychological questions?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)

I am aware of the facts stated. The attention of the Home Office having been drawn to this book it was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions and, after full consideration of all the relevant questions, the prosecuting authorities decided that there was, prima facie, a case for seeking the decision of a court. The book was accordingly submitted to the Chief Magistrate at Bow Street, who granted process at common law against the author and publishers. The case was heard at the Central Criminal Court, with the result of which my hon. Friend is aware. If my hon. Friend's suggestion is that acquittal by a court necessarily implies that proceedings ought not to have been taken, I am unable to agree.

Mr. Sorensen

Is it not highly desirable to distinguish between pornography on the one hand and literature of this kind on the other, and will my hon. Friend take steps to see that such a distinction is made?

Mr. Peake

My hon. Friend is aware that there is no kind of censorship and that in a case of this kind it is impossible to predict with absolute accuracy what the findings of a jury will be. I think that in this case both the Home Office and the Director of Public Prosecutions have shown a commendable vigilance.

Mr. Sorensen

May I take it that the Home Office is satisfied with the results of the proceedings at the trial?

Commander Locker-Lampson

Does my hon. Friend propose to circulate this book among Members of Parliament so that they can decide whether it is what it is alleged to be?