HC Deb 10 March 1964 vol 691 cc241-2
27. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what instructions he has issued to Her Majesty's Customs officers regarding the seizure from travellers of copies of publications held to be obscene under Section 2 or 3 of the Obscene Publications Act, 1959.

Mr. Maudling

Customs officers are instructed not to ask travellers whether they have obscene books with them, but if books which appear to be obscene are found in baggage, then, like other prohibited articles, they are detained or seized. The Customs naturally have regard to previous decisions of the Courts, whether given under the Customs Acts or in relation to the Obscene Publications Act, 1959.

Mr. Digby

Does not my right hon. Friend think that we are getting into a rather illogical position when the police are seizing books printed here while plenty more seem to be coming in from outside?

Mr. Maudling

The law is a little different between what the Customs are empowered and in duty bound to do, and what the courts determine. I agree that it would be quite illogical to prevent the import of books which could be freely circulated here. In general, my hon. Friend will find that Customs officers in their decisions keep in line with the recent trend of decisions in the courts.