HC Deb 26 June 1952 vol 502 cc2421-2
31. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will propose to the Governments of the Commonwealth that they should inform each other of the censorship regulations in force within each member state, so that publishers in one part of the Commonwealth will not be put to the expense of exporting books to another part of the Commonwealth, which are then confiscated by the officials of the importing country.

Mr. J. Foster

No, Sir. Such information is readily available in that the importation of various classes of undesirable publications is prohibited in all the countries members of the Commonwealth by legislation on the lines of Section 42 of the United Kingdom Customs Consolidation Act, 1876.

Mr. Wyatt

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, although he is usually well informed on these matters, his answer was quite inaccurate? The Minister of the Interior in South Africa, under the Customs Act of South Africa, has arbitrary power to confiscate any book he pleases without giving any reason whatever.

Is he further aware that 3,000 copies of a book by Mr. Solly Sachs, on being imported into South Africa, were confiscated, and after the ban had been in operation for three weeks it was as arbitrarily lifted as it had been imposed in the first instance? In these circumstances, how are exporters of books to this Dominion to know where they are if they have not some idea about the basis on which the books will be allowed to be imported or rejected?

Mr. Foster

It must be a matter for the South African Government, and any information required must be sought from the appropriate South African authorities.