HC Deb 04 November 1968 vol 772 cc474-5
29. Mr. Hordern

asked the Secretary of State for the Social Services if he will now publish a White Paper on the practice of Scientology.

Mr. Crossman

I have nothing to add at present to my right hon. Friend's reply on 15th October to my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. William Hamilton).—[Vol. 770, c. 81.]

Mr. Hordern

Does not the Secretary of State appreciate that it is absolutely essential for the Government to produce the evidence which they already have to support the action which they have already taken? Given the propensity of the scientologists to issue writs, is it not essential both for the Press and for the public to have a full document from which they can quote in freedom?

Mr. Crossman

I am very much aware that this is a very important problem, and I have reflected on it a great deal, even before I took over this Department. But the hon. Gentleman will see the importance of my reflecting very carefully at the next stage. I promise him that, if he puts down another Question next time he will get an answer.

Mr. Blenkinsop

I welcome the Government's action already, but would my right hon. Friend understand that there is a good deal of interest on this side of the House as well as on the other about the issue and that the facts as they are known should be given as much publicity as possible?

Mr. Crossman

I appreciate that there is great of interest on both sides. It is not only a question of facts. There are very important principles involved which I am seriously considering.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Since the right hon. Gentleman has reflected on the subject and is noted for his academic brilliance, would he say in one brief, concise sentence, exactly what Scientology is?

Mr. Crossman

Yes, I think I could: it is a fraud.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Even though the practice of Scientology may be a fraud, would my right hon. Friend agree that, unless the evidence is available to the Government to prosecute its sponsors for fraud, the less they meddle in matters which are really for individual judgment the better it would be, and that it would be more helpful to make that information available than to use their draconian powers in order to limit it?

Mr. Crossman

The questions which are now being asked show, I think, my wisdom in saying that a moment's reflection is required before one takes a very important decision. There is a good deal in what my hon. Friend says, but it is only one side of a very awkward question.