HC Deb 30 June 1949 vol 466 cc1500-1
27. Mr. Wilson Harris

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the restrictions imposed by the Government of the Union of South Africa on the importation of books published in this country; and what representations he has made in this matter.

Mr. H. Wilson

The South African authorities have announced that they will permit recognised libraries in the Union to import all books freely. Other importers may import scientific, technical and educational books freely, but their imports of other non-fictional books will be reduced to 80 per cent. and imports of fictional books to 50 per cent. of their imports in 1948. I do not propose to make any representations to the South African authorities about these restrictions. They cannot be regarded as unexpected having regard to South Africa's balance of payments difficulties.

Mr. Wilson Harris

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that very different statements have been published about this? Does he agree that this is very much better than had been feared?

Mr. Wilson

I hope that my answer will put the facts in their true light.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is it not true that there is a ban on the import into South Africa of gramophone records of the songs of Mr. Paul Robeson, so that the majority of the people in South Africa cannot hear their own songs? Will my right hon. Friend make representations about this?

Mr. Wilson

That is an entirely different question.