HC Deb 28 January 1960 vol 616 cc342-3
5. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what authority an officer of his Department telephoned the publishers of a book called "Lolita," prior to publication, informing them that there would be no official action against this book; whether it will henceforth be his policy to give publishers similar information concerning the possibility or otherwise of actions in regard to specific books prior to publication; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)

No officer of my Department telephoned the publishers of "Lolita", and I have no responsibility for proceedings under the law relating to obscene publications.

Dr. Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware, however, that a newspaper report to this effect created great anxiety amongst a section of publishers who would like such an opportunity on an entirely voluntary basis? Further, is he aware that a number of reputable publishers are very much aggrieved that their own highly artistic publications, which at least must appeal to normal tastes, are being seized under the operation of the present Act and that they accordingly make invidious comparisons?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. On the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I was aware of the Press reports and I have given the Answer in so far as it concerns myself and my Department. On the second part, that is a wider issue than arises on this Question. I do not doubt that there is anxiety, but I am afraid that I could not say any more on this Question.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Is the right hon. Gentleman hinting that some other officer of the Government made the telephone call, not someone under his immediate authority?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. I am answering only for myself and my own Department.