HC Deb 20 January 1992 vol 202 cc11-2
24. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Attorney-General how many prosecutions for inciting racial hatred there have been in each of the past two years; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General (Sir Patrick Mayhew)

In 1990, there was one prosecution for an offence under part III of the Public Order Act 1986 and in 1991, there were four such prosecutions. In 1991, proceedings were commenced in a further case, but they have not yet been concluded.

Mr. Marshall

May I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that answer. Although regretting the need for such prosecutions, may I congratulate him on the vigour with which he prosecutes those who peddle such odious doctrines?

The Attorney-General

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. "Odious" is the word for the publications that infringe the Act. I wish that it were possible to bring more of those who are responsible for them to justice, but, as my hon. Friend knows, because he makes a close study of such matters, it is often impossible for the police to identify those who are responsible.

Mr. Janner

May I first associate myself with the words of the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) with whom I fully agree? That the Government are now taking action is appreciated. Will the Attorney-General please assure the House that such action will also be taken against people who do not normally reside here, such as Louis Farrakhan—if by mistake he or anyone like him is allowed in—if they come to this country to try to stir up racial hatred in this decent land?

The Attorney-General

The hon. and learned Gentleman is friendly in his remarks. He should know that it is not the Government who take action in these matters, but the Attorney-General. They are extremely important matters. The hon. and learned Gentleman will know that I recently had the privilege of giving the Sir George Bean memorial lecture in which I set out in some detail to the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women the basis for my approach to such matters. It may be helpful to me to put a copy of that lecture in the Library.