HC Deb 05 May 1977 vol 931 cc629-30
5. Mr. Tim Renton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has plans to revise the Obscene Publications Acts.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Dr. Shirley Summerskill)

The departmental committee which the Government are to appoint should first be allowed to carry out its comprehensive review of the law on obscenity, indecency and censorship.

Mr. Renton

I welcome the setting up of that departmental committee. May I ask, with all suitable humility, whether it will consider the reccommendations for the amendment of the Obscene Publications Act, which I suggested in a Bill last year that had all-party support? May I also ask whether anyone who is interested will be able to give evidence to the departmental committee and, in view of the widespread concern on the subject, whether some of the evidence will be heard in public?

Dr. Summerskill

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's first supplementary question, is that the review will cover the Obscene Publications Act and the common law on obscenity and indecency. Evidence will be given to the committee, but it depends on the chairman, when the committee is set up, whether there will be any public sittings.

Mr. Marten

May I, as one who is very broadminded and not a bit prudish, ask whether the Minister is aware that magazines that are available on public bookstalls and are sent to me by constituents who have bought them are circulating among schoolchildren, and that not only the pictures but the articles in them are extremely corrupting to those of tender years? Is there anything that can be done to limit that sort of thing happening in the meantime, before the committee reports?

Dr. Summerskill

The committee will be looking into restrictions on indecent displays and also into Customs and postal controls on indecent and obscene material. That, I think, covers everything that the hon. Gentleman has in mind.