HC Deb 07 December 1944 vol 406 cc718-9
44. Sir William Davison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that there has been a recent recurrence in the activities of the common informer; that these persons, as a rule, take action on payment by third parties and frequently make money by threats of blackmail; and when he proposes to amend the law to prevent their activities.

Mr. H. Morrison

I am not aware of anything that can be described as a recent recurrence in the activities of the common informer. I have already expressed my views about the activities of the common informer which I agree sometimes come very near to blackmail. I should be very glad to get rid of all the antiquated provisions of the law enabling a common informer to sue for penalties, but I am afraid that any general overhaul of the law for this purpose is out of the question at the present time.

Sir W. Davison

Does not my right hon. Friend think it is very undesirable that facilities for blackmail should be given by the law as it exists at present? What is the reason for the delay in dealing with this matter which, some little time ago, he informed the House he had under consideration?

Mr. Morrison

I agree with the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. With regard to the second part, I did not hold out hope of legislation, and I gathered that during the present week the House had been discussing the congested state of the Parliamentary programme.