HL Deb 19 May 1970 vol 310 cc989-91

4.2 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—[Baroness Birk.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The Earl of Listowel in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Short title and citation]:


I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name. This is a technical Amendment, and it is necessary in order to exclude Northern Ireland from this Bill. The reason is that, although the Indecent Advertisements Act 1889 extends to Northern Ireland, the subject matter is a transferred matter, and any amendment of the Act must be a matter for the Parliament of Northern Ireland. Naturally, if this Bill is passed I hope that the Northern Ireland Parliament will amend the Act accordingly. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 19, at end add— ("( ) This Act shall not extend to Northern Ireland ").—(Baroness Birk.)


As my noble friend has said, this is a subject on which the Government of Northern Ireland are free to legislate for themselves. The Government therefore welcome this Amendment and recommend it to the Committee.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported, with the Amendment.

Then, Standing Order No. 41 having been suspended (pursuant to the Resolution), the Report received; Bill read 3a.


My Lords, in moving that this Bill do now pass, I should like to thank the House for allowing the Bill to proceed with such ease. I would thank the Government for their help, and also the Opposition and particularly the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, who has explained to me that he is unable to be here to-day but who spoke in the debate on Second Reading. I should also like to thank the many other noble Lords who offered their help, but who did not participate simply in order to avoid taking up time when there was no apparent opposition to this Bill. I am very grateful to them for their silent co-operation.

The effect of the Bill, if it gets to the Statute Book this Session, as I hope it will, will be to make it possible for the first time for V.D. not only to be openly discussed but to be the subject of open education. For the first time in 81 years—that is, since the 1889 Act—warnings, health and educational posters and leaflets will be relieved of the legal restrictions which to-day still hamper any anti-V.D. campaign or effort. The fact that the law has probably been broken many times, usually inadvertently, does not mean that it cannot be and has not been invoked on odd occasions by different people. A further effect of the Bill will be that newspapers will no longer be at risk if they publish such advertisements or reproduce some of the educational material as news copy. In the current Health Education Council campaign, only one newspaper, the Sunday Times, reproduced a poster, the Council being informed that many other newspapers considered that they would be legally at risk if they did so. The importance of this applies not only to newspapers but even more so to medical journals and health journals, where I am sure your Lordships will agree that it is most important that this material should be reproduced.

This is an uncontroversial measure. Indeed, the only criticism I have received from any noble Lord is that it does not go far enough, This, if I may say so, is probably true of almost any piece of legislation; but this Bill does a considerable amount and has a very great practical effect. It is, I am aware, a small dot in a large legislative field, but if it becomes law this Session, as I very much hope it will, the effect will be quite out of proportion to the Bill's modest contents. I hope that by the time that Parliament dissolves it will be on the Statute Book. I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Baroness Birk.)


My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will wish to congratulate my noble friend on the skill with which she has moved this small but very important Bill.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.