HL Deb 01 August 1968 vol 296 cc395-7

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to bring to the attention of the Press their liability to prosecution if they publish advertisements offering employment in Rhodesia.]


My Lords, the offence to which the noble Lord refers was first created under Article 13(1) of the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) Order 1968. The debates on this Order and its successor, namely the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) (No. 2) Order, in both Houses aroused considerable interest and were accorded widespread publicity. In the circumstances no special steps were considered necessary to bring their liabilities under Article 14(1) of the Existing Order to the attention of the Press.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware in the first place that the debates on this matter did not go into much detail, and the subject was headed, in any case, "Restrictions on certain activities promoting emigration to Southern Rhodesia". Is he also aware that this is not the sort of matter that would naturally come to the attention of provincial newspapers and trade papers? Is he further aware that in many cases advertisements in trade papers are set up well in advance of the time of publication? May I ask him whether he will take steps to draw this matter to the attention of the organisations concerned, particularly the Newspaper Society and the Periodical Proprietors' Association? Could he give guidance to the police in this matter and suggest to them that in the first case, at any rate, in view of the nature of this provision, it would be sensible to give a warning before bringing a prosecution?


My Lords, I certainly do not think that I could intervene in a decision of the police. That is a matter for them and the officers of the courts. In regard to the first part of the supplementary, I will see that the attention of interested parties is drawn to this particular Order. On the other hand, the Lord Chancellor, in his speech on both occasions, and the Attorney General in another place, specifically drew attention to this particular provision. Personally, I should have thought that it would be known among the majority of Press management but if there is fear that there may be some provincial papers which do not know, I will see what steps can be taken.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether included in this prohibition of publishing advertisements offering employment in Rhodesia is employment at the University College?


My Lords, a certificate can be given to permit certain types of advertising for positions in Rhodesia. My understanding of this is that it could cover recruitment for educational, medical and religious fields, but each case would be judged on its merits.


My Lords, may I also ask whether the noble Lord agrees that this Question could help to bring to the attention of the papers concerned the unusual requirement which is imposed upon them?


My Lords, if the Press take note of the noble Lord's Question I should have thought that the point I made, that they would have taken note of the debates in this House, is certainly valid.


My Lords, is the Minister aware that his comments about the steps which he may take will give satisfaction, because I believe that there has been a gap in communications on this matter?


My Lords, would my noble friend, in addition to writing to the proprietors' associations, also communicate with the National Union of Jounalists and the Institute of Journalists, who are very much involved in these matters?


My Lords, I will discuss with my Department the best means of drawing everybody's attention to this particular Order.

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