HC Deb 22 March 1956 vol 550 c1446
16. Mr. Benn

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will refuse to grant import licences for the Italian films, "Maggia Verde" and "Principessa di Canaria," which contain scenes depicting cruelty to animals which were especially shot for this purpose.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The import of cinematograph films is on open general licence from Italy. But in any case it is not the policy of Her Majesty's Government to use import restriction powers for censorship purposes. The Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act, 1937, however, makes it an offence to exhibit any film if the preparation of the scenes represented in it involves cruelty to animals.

Mr. Benn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in one of these films a horse with a dummy rider on its back was driven over some cliffs and killed when it fell 200 feet on to rocks, and that the director of the film was later fined in the Italian courts for cruelty? Can some action be taken to prevent that being shown in this country?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It would not be for me, under my import licensing powers, to deal with that, but under the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act action could be taken. Questions on the administration of that Act are matters for the Home Secretary.