HC Deb 17 November 1966 vol 736 cc617-8
20. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation allowing trial by jury in all proceedings under the Obscene Publications Act where the defence of literary merit is raised.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I understand and sympathise with the hon. Member's concern over this. But there is nothing that I can usefully add at present to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State on 11th August to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg).—[Vol. 733, c. 385.]

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Since the Home Secretary, along with myself, was part of a delegation which called upon his distinguished predecessor, Lord Brooke, to press this reform on him urgently, is not the least that the Home Secretary can do to put his principles into practice and include this in the Criminal Justice Bill?

Mr. Jenkins

I do no think it could be put in the Criminal Justice Bill. We have had two Acts on this subject in the last seven years. But, should an opportunity for legislation arise, I shall endeavour to see that it is put into effect.

Mr. Hogg

Will the right hon. Gentleman note that there are at least two points of view about this subject and that both are likely to be expressed?

Mr. Fowler

In view of the undesirable publicity which always attends these cases, will my right hon. Friend consider at least providing that there shall be no private prosecution before a magistrates' court so that the matter can be examined by the Director of Public Prosecutions?

Mr. Jenkins

I am aware of all these points, but the matter would require legislation.