HC Deb 06 November 1946 vol 428 cc1359-60
3. Mr. Wilson Harris

asked the Attorney-General when the committee sitting to consider the revision of the law of libel is expected to report.

The Solicitor-General

My present information is that the Report of the Porter Committee on the Law of Defamation will be ready early in the New Year.

Mr. Harris

Seeing that an inquiry into the Press was advocated on the ground that an inquiry into the law of libel is desirable, will the hon. and learned Gentleman ask this Committee to pick up a spare public relations officer from somewhere in order that their activities may be advertised to the world?

Mr. Gallacher

When he is considering the Report, will the hon. and learned Gentleman take into account the present state of the law which, because of possible libel, caused me to make six changes in a pamphlet I did a short time ago? Will he see to it that something very clear is set down about what is libel?

The Solicitor-General

The present state of the libel law obviously would be a material circumstance to be taken into consideration.

Professor Savory

May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he will consider introducing the French law which gives the person attacked the right of reply in the newspaper and which requires that the newspaper shall give him the same amount of space as that used for the attack and just as prominent a place in the newspaper?

The Solicitor-General

The citizen in this country who is attacked in the newspaper has every right to reply, and, as far as I know, that is a right which is vigorously exercised.

Mr. W. J. Brown

Is the Minister aware that an earlier supplementary question made reference to the fact that six possible actions for libel were deleted, but that 18 others still remain?