HC Deb 01 August 1951 vol 491 cc1425-7
8. Mr. Awbery

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that emergency newspaper regulations have been made in Singapore; that they reduce the freedom of the Press and give powers to the legislature to suspend a newspaper for offences not stated; and if he will delay implementing these regulations until he has had consultation with all interests concerned.

30. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the new restrictions on Press freedom in Singapore.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Emergency (News paper) Regulations were published on 5th July and were approved 10 days later by the Legislative Council, with two dissentients. I am in correspondence with the Governor on certain aspects of this matter, and I would therefore prefer not to make a statement at this stage.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Secretary of State aware that the new regulations give power to suppress not only newspapers but also newsprint; and should he not take action through the courts rather than using arbitrary powers to suppress newspapers and newsprint?

Mr. Griffiths

As I have said, I prefer not to make any statement on this matter. I am discussing the matter with the Governor.

Mr. Driberg

Since that means that my right hon. Friend cannot make a statement to this House until October, if he finds on examination that the allegations contained in my hon. Friend's supplementary question are correct, will he take immediate action during the Recess?

Mr. Griffiths

I will discuss the matter very fully with the Governor, and will consult with him about what action will be taken. I would ask my hon. Friends to bear in mind that this is in Singapore, in the heart of an area where there is an emergency.

Mr. Niall Macpherson

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the emergency as being in progress for some considerable time. Can he tell the House what then has now caused these regulations to be made?

Mr. Griffiths

As I have said, I am in correspondence with the Governor on this matter, and I should prefer to leave the matter where it is until our consultations are complete.

Mr. Awbery

In view of the fact that the regulations are due to become operative today, will the Minister hold them up until an inquiry has been held?

Mr. Griffiths

I do not think I ought to hold up regulations which have been approved by the Legislative Council. I am consulting with the Governor, but I could not hold them up because this has been decided by the local government.