HC Deb 10 December 1959 vol 615 cc715-6
6. Mr. Fletcher

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, as a result of the removal of the restrictions on United States imports, including printed matter, arrangements have been made to dump a large quantity of cheap pornographic novels in this country; and what steps he is proposing to take in the matter.

20. Mr. Oliver

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, with the removal of restrictions on United States imports to the United Kingdom, his attention has been drawn to the dumping on to the British market of cut-price sex and horror publications; and whether he will cause investigation to be made with a view to prohibiting this importation.

11. Mr. R. Harris

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he proposes to take to prevent dumping of paper-backed books and other literature from the United States of America, in view of the recent increase in these imports.

Mr. Erroll

It is open to the publishing industry in this country, if it considers that it is being materially injured by the dumping of any printed matter, to apply to the Board of Trade for the imposition of an anti-dumping duty.

Imported publications, whether dumped or not, which are indecent or obscene, are liable to forfeiture under the Customs and Excise Act, 1952.

The importation of pictorial publications harmful to children and young persons is prohibited by the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1955.

Mr. Fletcher

That may be an accurate statement of the law, but is not the Minister of State aware that arrangements have been made by various dealers, notably in Whitechapel, Brixton and Leicester, and elsewhere, to import, if they have not already done so, millions of cheap, American, pornographic publications? Is it Government policy to do nothing about that and to encourage the importation in large quantities of pornographic literature which must be harmful?

Mr. Erroll

The Government are not encouraging the importation of pornographic literature. I have described the adequate powers which the Government possess to prevent it coming into the country. While, according the hon. Member, I may have merely described the law, the fact is that the law is effective.

Mr. Oliver

Does not the Minister of State appreciate that representations have already been made to his Department about one aspect of the matter over which he has control—dumping at cut prices? I appreciate that indecent and horror comics are matters for another Department, but will not the Minister at least take the lead in dealing with the dumping aspect of the matter?

Mr. Erroll

If an application is made to the Board of Trade under antidumping legislation, it will be considered.

Mr. Oliver

Who has to make the application when representations have already been made to the hon. Gentleman's Department?

Mr. Erroll

The application must be made by those persons or firms who consider that material damage is being done to their activities by the importation.

Mr. Lipton

On a point of order. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington (Mr. Fletcher) has just made a curious observation about certain people in Brixton who are, he alleges, about to import pornographic literature. Is there any means of re-establishing the credit of those anonymous persons, if they have been unjustly attacked?

Mr. Speaker

Not by point of order.