HC Deb 01 February 1973 vol 849 cc1601-2
22. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has now decided to take to control publicly offensive displays relating to film shows and bookshops.

Mr. R. Carr

I am considering proposals for amending the Cinematograph Acts; so as to provide wider powers to deal with public advertising by cinema clubs, and for modernising the present laws relating to indecent public advertisements and displays; but I am not yet ready to announce my detailed intentions.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

May I say to my right hon. Friend how much I applaud what he has just said? When I say that after 2½ years perhaps one feels that it is time something like this was done, I hope that he will take my remarks in the spirit in which they are made. May I assure him that these displays give a great deal of offence to a lot of decent-minded people?

Mr. Carr

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I regard the present manner and scale of display as a commercial assault on freedom and not an expression of freedom.

Mr. David Steel

In his considerations, will the Home Secretary look at the recent legislation in Sweden, where I understand they have been quite successful in banning this sort of public display while at the same time being more liberal than we are over what may be published?

Mr. Carr

I shall certainly look at what they are doing in Sweden.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Am I right in drawing the conclusion from what my right hon. Friend says that he is also truly sympathetic to the Bill which my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Sir Gilbert Longden) and I have now in draft and will be publishing in a day or two, to control public display in bookshops, and that that comes under the umbrella of his observations?

Mr. Carr

I shall look with sympathetic interest at the Bill when it is drafted.

Mr. Heffer

Can the right hon. Gentleman speed this up, because many of us in the House who have very progressive ideas on a number of things—[Laughter.] I hope that hon. Members will listen for a moment. We find displays of this kind extremely offensive. As we have had them for far too long in this country, it is really time that they were removed, as they are offensive to ordinary decent working people.

Mr. Carr

Perhaps this is a subject on which I can look for support from both reactionary and progressive hon. Members alike.