HC Deb 12 May 1971 vol 817 cc377-9
55. Mr. Roy Hughes

asked the Attorney-General if he will ask the Director of Public Prosecutions to reconsider his decision not to prosecute the Julian Press for sending unsolicited pornographic leaflets through the post to residents in the county borough of Newport, Monmouthshire, and other areas.

The Attorney-General (Sir Peter Rawlinson)

The Director of Public Prosecutions earlier formed the opinion, with which I agree, that under the existing law prosecution in respect of the circulation of these leaflets would not succeed. The Unsolicited Goods and Services Bill will come into force three months after the day on which it is passed, and I will then ask the Director to to reconsider the position.

Mr. Hughes

I am grateful to the Attorney-General for that information. Will he appreciate that this sending of unsolicited pornographic literature through the post is certainly causing a good deal of embarrassment to many families in my constituency? Would he not agree that action is needed?

The Attorney-General

I appreciate the present situation, but I know that the House will accept that I should not say anything further because I have undertaken to ask the Director to look at this matter again when the new legislation becomes law.

Dame Irene Ward

It would be very acceptable to most people in the country if the law were altered. Is it too much to ask that, when the country as a whole is demanding action, we might perhaps take it?

The Attorney-General

As my hon. Friend will appreciate, the initiation of legislation is not a matter for me, but doubtless what she has said will be noted by my right hon. and hon. Friends.

Sir Elwyn Jones

Is it not true that the law has now been altered, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, and that the problem facing potential prosecutions has been much eased?

The Attorney-General

The law will be altered when the Royal Assent is given to that piece of legislation, and then, three months later, it will come into effect. What the exact consequences will be of that Clause in that Bill on these particular leaflets I am not prepared to say.

Sir H. Harrison

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that it is not only in Wales that recipients live? This is widespread in the Eastern Counties. I am delighted to hear that, within a few months, these people will be prosecuted.

The Attorney-General

I appreciate that the sending of these leaflets is not limited to any part of the country. My hon. Friend will appreciate that I can go no further than to say that this matter will be reconsidered when the law is changed.