HL Deb 16 January 1980 vol 404 cc115-32

2.57 p.m.

Lord NUGENT of GUILDFORD rose to call attention to the Report of the Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship (Cmnd. 7772); and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg leave to call attention to the Williams Report on Obscenity and Film Censorship and to move for Papers. I should like to begin my speech by paying a tribute to this hardworking committee on the report they have produced. This is indeed the most comprehensive review there has ever been of the law and the related facts of this unattractive but not unimportant subject. I would like to record my admiration for the comprehensive and brilliant arguments which they have adduced for the radical changes which they advocate. My praise must stop short of thanks for their recommendations, because I am unable to agree with them.

My Lords, the substance of the report, which not all noble Lords may have read, lies in the arguments and the thoughts in Chapters 5, 6 and 7. In Chapter 5 the committee describe the philosophy, if I may put it that way, of the report, and they declare the principle that freedom of publication of all matter including pornographic matter should prevail unless the causation of harm is proved beyond all reasonable doubt, and this is argued very lucidly. Then Chapter 6, which is the biggest chapter in the report, comes along and proceeds to dispose of all arguments that pornography is harmful, and this clears the way for recommending that all existing laws should be swept away and replaced by a system which would make all written pornography completely free of any legal restraint; all pictorial pornography, or almost all, would be legal but would be legally restricted in regard to its place of sale. It would be restricted to be sold in separate premises in shops where there would be no display and no entry for youths under 18. There would be a new definition of pornography of what is offensive to reasonable people". There is an important exception, which I shall mention later in my speech, to the wholesale liberalisation here indicated. Moreover, films are to be dealt with differently and I shall refer to that later as well.

Obviously as regards this very difficult subject—difficult in every way, difficult to enforce and so on—there are great attractions in the simplification and limitation of the law which would at the same time deal with the evil of display. The objections to this solution come from those who believe that pornography is intrinsic- ally harmful. Therefore, when it reaches the level of being obscene—whether it is written or pictorial—it should be legally banned; and therefore the recommendations of the Williams Report provide no safeguard for the moral and cultural life of our people. Thus, a different legal solution is needed. That, I should say without any doubt, is my own personal belief and it is not shaken by the extremely lucid and clever arguments in Chapter 6 which dismiss my point of view as a reactionary resistance to cultural change. I still have the same conviction and I guess that a good many other people do, also.

I believe that pornography is harmful for two reasons. First, it is harmful to the individual. It has the effect of implanting in the mind of the victim sexual fantasies which exclude normal decent feelings, and worse than that, it is pervasive. Addiction usually follows, so that there is a progressive coarsening of the mind of the victim, suppressing his finer side and shutting him off from the life of his soul. That is the first reason why it is harmful. Secondly, it is harmful to the community as a whole. It is damaging, in my opinion, to the great institution of marriage and family, which is at the basis of the whole of our lives, because it presents sex as something between men and women which is trivial and lewd—indeed, the complete opposite to the consummation of the loving, married partnership of reality. Therefore, I believe that uncontrolled pornography amounts to progressive pollution of the cultural and moral environment. There is a danger, if not a certainty, of progressive debasement and corruption of our national life. That is the argument for Government legislation to strengthen rather than to weaken the law, as the report recommends.

I turn to the report. I think that there is quite an important fallacy in Chapter 5, which is a crucial chapter in the report, which states the argument that there should be no restriction of publication unless harm is proved beyond all reasonable doubt. All of us here, as legislators, are well aware that the general application of this test to any legislation which we were considering would stop altogether some important legislation reaching the statute book. I think particularly of legislation like race relations legislation, equal opportunities legislation and other philosophical kinds of legislation which from time to time we feel we should tackle. The fact is that we, as legislators, well know that there are times when we feel that it is in the public interest that there should be some restriction of freedom of expression in the national interest. We have to balance very carefully just what that is. Without any doubt pornography falls into that category. Therefore, the test which the committee apply crucially to their argument in Chapter 5, that only what can be proved beyond reasonable doubt to be harmful should be restricted in publication, is not a valid test, and indeed is contrary to precedent in our legislative system.

I turn to the new definition of legal pornography which the report recommends. It begins by saying—and rightly in my view—that the existing situation of the law, statute and common law, which it reviews admirably and most lucidly, is a mess. I think that most of us could agree with that and that something is needed. However, its new definition of legal pornography which is to be, "What is offensive to reasonable people", does not seem to me to be likely to meet the needs of the situation.

It seems to me easy to see the weakness of this definition. Let us take the simple example of the salesman of pornographic material, which, of course, would now he completely legal, but he must sell the pictorial pornography in an inner room and without display. He does not do that. In order to increase his sales he sells it in the front of his shop and displays it in the window. So he is prosecuted. He is taken to court. But what does he do? He gets all his friends to come along—all reasonable people within the new definition—who all say that they have not been offended by it and therefore no prosecution is secured. I make the point that, although this is attractive as a definition, I doubt very much whether it will really stand up any better than the present position. I believe—and I am sure that noble Lords with legal expertise will have views on this—that the definition is bound to be weak because of its failings. There is nothing specific in it: "What is offensive to reasonable people". After all, every criminal offence is offensive, but each criminal offence which is on the statute book has a specific name—robbery, arson, fraud, rape and so on. However, this definition is vague and I believe that it would be likely to make conviction even more difficult. I do not think that it would be satisfactory.

So I return to the existing definition of obscenity which tends to deprave and corrupt. That has the virtue of being something we all know and understand and it is descriptive. On the other hand, we must accept, as the report rightly says, that courts have failed again and again in extreme cases to convict on it. However, my view is that the reason for the failure of convictions is not that the offence is wrongly described, but the impossible wideness of the "public good" defence in Clause 4. Here I would interject the thought that we must accept, as I am sure all noble Lords do whatever view they take on this matter, that public opinion on this subject is sharply divided between those who give top priority to unfettered freedom of speech and those who give top priority to public morality. Of course, the great silent majority of the nation are somewhere in between.

In my judgment, the 1959 Act, which of course is crucial to all of this, was an unhappy example of a sincere attempt to find a compromise between those two conflicting points of view. The result was that the first three clauses of the 1959 Act set out to control pornography, as the moralists wanted, and then the fourth clause, for the "public good" defence, was designed to let them all off. The result has, of course, been that the authorities and the police have had an impossible task trying to make an inoperable law work.

I am not surprised that the report recommends that the "public good defence should be dropped. But, of course, the kind of solution that I wish to see is that perhaps it should not be completely dropped but should be sharply limited, anyhow. The report also indicates in this context that the words "deprave" and "corrupt" added to "obscenity", which were intended, of course, to assist, have proved a difficulty in the courts, and therefore there is obviously a case for dropping them. In the light of experience it seems that the Customs and Excise Act 1979—which consolidates the Customs and Excise Acts—which simply contains the offence of obscenity and indecency, is probably better and, therefore, I should prefer it.

I turn to the exceptions to this general liberalisation which the report recommends. As recommended by the Williams Committee, there are two classes which are to be prohibited. The first is pornographic pictures which involve youths under 16 years of age or which involve actual physical harm in their production. Those are to be legally prohibited altogether because there are inherent dangers for the participants in such activities. The second class of pornography which is to be prohibited is the live sex show, either with adults or with children. Certainly I—and I expect most people—would welcome a legal ban on those activities of pornography. However, I make the point—and I shall make it again—that the validity of the great argument in Chapter 6 of the report that pornography is not harmful, is clearly shaken if these two classes of pornography are to be prohibited because they would be harmful. But evidently the Williams Committee has made a judgment in this case that the spectacle of the live sex show is harmful but the photo is not, even if it is a photo of perversions, bestiality and all the other activities in which pornography is involved. That is the committee's judgment.

I turn to films. Here the committee recommends that there should be complete control of films, which is something quite new. This again shakes the "no harm" argument. The committee recommends that a statutory film examining board should be set up with full powers of censorship—something we have never seen before. The justification for this is that the committee sees the film as a uniquely powerful form of media, with the danger of harmful disturbance to the minds of viewers. In its argument the committee recognises that there is no absolute proof of harm; nor is there a convincing link with violence in society. But it says that it would be "entirely sensible to be cautious" in dealing with such forms of pornography.

Evidently the committee was so disturbed by some of the films it saw that it recommended censorship as a safeguard. I believe that these two sectors taken together form a very important point. The reaction of the Williams Committee to film pornography and the other two sectors of pornography is exactly the same as the reaction many other people have to written and pictorial pornography generally. We believe that at a certain level of obscenity they are so damaging that the law should declare them to be illegal. I certainly would not be one to accuse the Williams Committee of paternalism, of which the committee somewhat freely accuses others. I simply welcome the fact that at some level the committee feels that pornography should be legally banned.

These two incidents illustrate that even this liberally-minded committee recognises that at some level pornography is harmful; that such is the tremendous skill of the modern pornographer, that a line should be drawn; that these classes should be identified as being illegal while others fall within legality. The committee is defining a line which is a great deal lower than it has ever been before, with a much tighter control over films. I believe that the great Chapter 6 argument, that pornography is not harmful, should not be regarded as a new principle. It should be seen as a supporting argument for lowering the line between what is legal and what is illegal. I personally agree that it is a matter of judgment as to where the line should be drawn. I do not agree with the committee's conclusion as to where that should be.

There are many other points which I should like to mention, but in all our interests I shall bring my speech to a conclusion. In my judgment the report deserves very careful study before Government legislation proceeds. Whether or not one agrees with the argument—if one does not, one ought to know why one does not for the arguments are very lucidly set out—it is certainly a very valuable assembly of knowledge on this subject. I believe that the case for wholesale liberalisation, which is implied in the report, is not made out. I advise the Government to maintain the traditional offence of obscenity, dropping or greatly limiting the public good defence.

Finally, I believe that pornography is harmful to the life of our people; that it is being exploited today on a huge scale by powerful financial interests, both national and international, who are ever- searching for an extension of their market to younger people by more prurient material. Therefore, it is the Government's duty to safeguard the individual and the moral life of our people from this cultural pollution by strengthening the law against pornography and against those who breach all canons of decency in their publications, rather than weakening it as this report recommends. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.17 p.m.


My Lords, I speak in this debate as an individual who recognises that there is no really solid evidence to support the views which I am about to put forward. I believe—as I suspect most noble Lords who speak in this debate will believe—that my views are based on sound and shrewd instinct, and that the views of everyone else are based on wholly unreasonable prejudices. It is because there is this vast variety in approach to this difficult subject that I ought to begin by saying, on behalf of your Lordships, how grateful we are to the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, for giving us an early opportunity to debate the Williams Committee Report.

I should also add that because of the bewildering variety of views which, no doubt, will be expressed in this debate, the most astonishing feature of the Williams Committee Report is its unanimity. The fact is that it was not a hand-picked committee. I know several of its members and I have no doubt that they began with an open mind and a strictly rational intellectual approach. That they all came to agree on the matters which they were considering seems to me to be one of the most remarkable feats of chairmanship about which I have ever heard. The third preliminary observation I should make is to say how very much we are all looking forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strauss—the very distinguished parliamentarian whose speech is to follow when I sit down in, I hope, not too many minutes' time.

I begin by stating what, in a sense, I suppose is the classical Liberal position, which is simply that any form of censorship or control over the freedom of expression is intrinsically objectionable. I go on to add that it is, indeed, wholly unnecessary in a society which would consist entirely of responsible adults. But, of course, that is not the sort of society in which we live. Censorship or control is not only intrinsically objectionable, but I believe that by its very nature it is bound to be capricious. One has only to think of the extraordinary decisions in adjacent geographical areas in this country in recent years. In one area a particular book has been found to be obscene, but a few miles away another court has ruled that it is not obscene. Any form of censorship is bound to be capricious in that way. Indeed, I add also that any form of censorship is bound, in the light of history, to look ridiculous. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that the obscene publications of today are likely to be the school textbooks of tomorrow.

Therefore, I begin by saying that any form of control is objectionable, capricious, and often ridiculous. I am sorry to have to go on to say that nevertheless I find, looking around at some of the material that is at present available, that some form of control is manifestly necessary. I say that because I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, that in certain circumstances pornography can be harmful; and I think not only of the pornography of sex but perhaps much more of the pornography of violence.

Perhaps I may add, as I deal with this question of whether pornography is harmful, how difficult I have always found it to accept some of the evidence given by the little troop of expert psychiatrists who have been going round our courts arguing that in fact the more obscene pornography is, the more therapeutic its effects on a substantial number of members of the community. Although that may be so in an isolated case, I find it difficult to take it seriously as a substantial argument.

When one considers what is the harm done by this form of publication, I ought to make it clear that I do not myself accept that pornographic publications are themselves likely to lead to the commission of violence or sexual crime. I accept that there are many cases in which those who have committed offences of that kind are found to have literature of that sort in their possession, but I am not sure that it is a simple question of cause and effect. I suppose that the most notorious case in that respect was the Brady, Myra Hindley case many years ago, in which particularly revolting offences were committed, and Brady, if I remember rightly, had a large quantity of literature of that sort in his possession. It would be a rash conclusion to jump to that if that literature had not been available those offences would therefore not have been committed.

I believe that pornography can do harm in four different ways. The first is simply this: I believe that it demeans the writer, the reader, and, if there are illustrations, the photographer and the actor or model who is taking part. I cannot prove that assertion. I can only say that it seems to me self-evident that human beings who are exposed to great pieces of music, great masterpieces of painting, become, perhaps only transiently and perhaps only marginally, slightly better human beings for the experience.

I cannot remember who it was who wrote that after listening to a particular work of music he felt as though he were 10 feet tall and had a thousand glorious years to live. I believe it to be true. If works of art, works of literature, if reading or looking at pictures. can marginally make human beings slightly better human beings, I find it difficult to see why it does not automatically follow that looking at other sorts of pictures, or reading other sorts of writing, cannot make human beings slightly worse human beings. I must confess that I accept that exposure to publications of this sort is liable to make human beings somewhat more unworthy of being so called.

Secondly, there is harm that can be done, because clearly irreparable damage can be done to children who are exploited for the purposes of pornography. The Williams Committee quite openly recognised this. Thirdly, there is harm that can be done in the most literal sense because there are cases known where actual physical harm, sometimes with the consent of the victims and sometimes without their consent, has been done in order to produce pornographic or obscene pictures. Again the Williams Committee recognise that. In cases where there are photographs of torture, for example, it is not always axiomatic that the pictures are simulated. There is a real possibility of harm being done in that sense.

Fourthly, I accept, as I imagine all your Lordships will, the main argument of the Williams Committee that there is also harm done by pornography in the sense that its public display is found to be offensive: found to be offensive by people who find it either offends them as individuals or offends their concept of what a good society should be. Against that background of the possible harm that can be caused by publications of this nature I venture to look for a moment at the recommendations of the Williams Committee. I do so principally devoting my attention to what seems to me to be the most remarkable, and perhaps not the most commented on, recommendation, which is the one at Paragraph 7.22 which, in effect, states that the printed word shall be totally free of any sort of restriction or any sort of prohibition.

As I understand that—and I have re-read the paragraph; it seems to be self-evident—the Williams Committee are prepared to contemplate a situation in which, for example, a piece of sadomasochism, such as the Story of O, is available in paperback to adolescents at their local newsagents, if they wish to buy it. I find that a surprising suggestion. The main criticism that I have of what I accept as being a most helpful contribution towards the discussion of this whole subject, is that it appears to exempt the written word entirely from every form of control. It does so apparently on the argument that in some ways the written word is less immediately stimulating than the photograph. I doubt it, certainly to people who are capable of phantasising on sexual matters. I believe that if we are to proceed to consider the Williams Report as a basis for possible legislation in the future, it would have to be after looking again to sec whether the printed word has not in some way or other to be included in the proposals that are made.

There are other weird forms of pornography which will bring a smile to your Lordships' faces. There are pornographic gramophone records. I once took part in a case in which such records were produced. They were long-playing records. I think it took us a day and a half to listen to these things being played. Those of us who were still awake at the end were, I must confess, absolutely bored to tears, but it is extraordinary the devious forms that pornography can take. Whether the spoken word is to be included as the written word in the Williams Committee's exemption, I am not entirely clear. It seems to me clear that there must be some restriction on the printed word. One cannot make the fundamental distinction that the Williams Committee did between the printed word without a photograph and the printed word with a photograph. The problem of censorship of the printed word in any way is not only the capriciousness and sometimes the absurdity of it but also the fact—and this causes one to hesitate—that it is liable to be entirely ineffective. It is liable to create if not a black market at any rate a blue market in literature of that sort. I suspect that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, will well remember his distinguished defence of a slightly tedious book called Lady Chatterley's Lover many years ago. I suspect that at that time, when the book was thought to be banned, it was passed from hand to hand at university with a great deal more rapidity than it is today, when it is widely accepted as being unobjectionable and somewhat dull. Any form of censorship is bound to give rise to a situation in which there is trading under the counter and corruption and sometimes violence in the industry that grows up as a result. Nevertheless, despite that, it seems to me that we must look at the whole question of the printed word again in the light of this report.

Many other noble Lords wish to speak and I will not detain the House for much longer. I believe, subject to that, that the definitions proposed in this report are workable and are an improvement on those we have been seeking, rather ineffectually, to operate since 1959. The proposals for restriction and prohibition are sensible, and certainly the proposals for film censorship seem to be a tidying up and an advance on the present position. I would add only one comment about the film censorship matter. I may have missed it in the report, but I have not seen any recognition there of the difficulty that arises when films which are categorised in one way or another by the censor are shown on television, films now being the staple diet of our television channels most evenings.

At present, as I understand it, if the television authorities think a film is objectionable they sometimes cut out so of the more remarkable pieces of the film and then salve their consciences by showing it very late at night when the parents have gone to bed and the teenagers are in the sitting-room still watching television. If we are to put films in categories in this way and endeavour to restrict their viewing to certain age groups, it appears that we shall have to consider with some care how that is to affect the position of the television authorities when they are showing such films.

I think that is sufficient by way of observation of this helpful and provocative report at this stage. I believe we would be right to have some major reservations about parts of the report. I believe too that it is right to suggest, as the report does, that the time has come when we might try to tidy up the whole of our existing legislation and introduce one new comprehensive measure to deal with this very difficult problem; and when we come to do that we shall find much in this report that is of real assistance to us.

3.34 p.m.


My Lords, in addressing your Lordships' House for the first time I wish to speak about the Williams Report because it deals with matters which have always interested me and with which at various times I have been directly concerned. The first occasion was a very long time ago, when I was elected to the London County Council in 1925 and was put on the sub-committee of the Theatres and Music Halls Committee. One of the first things we had to consider was whether the magnificent Eisenstein film Potemkin should be shown. I remember that, despite the persuasive arguments which some of us put forward, it was decided that the film should not be shown. That angered me very much, as have many subsequent bannings.

The most interesting and to me most satisfying incursion into censorship which I have had (and it is referred to in the report which is before us) concerned the action taken on the initiative of this House in respect of theatre censorship; and I wish to pay tribute to the many occasions on which your Lordships' House has taken the initiative in important humanist and libertarian reforms. A Motion was passed in this House setting up a committee, a rare bird, which led to the joint Select Committee of both Houses, to consider the whole question of theatre censorship and I was honoured and delighted to be asked to be its chairman. After very careful consideration we came to the surprising conclusion—surprising in view of the different attitudes of various members of the committee when we started our proceedings—that theatre censorship should end. The most surprising aspect of that decision was that it was unanimous; it was surprising in exactly the same way as the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, said that the Williams Committee had come to unanimous decisions on the various censorship matters which came before it.

Normally a committee, after passing judgment, must wait for years before any action is taken. In our case—the theatre censorship report—the Government refused to take any action (their refusal was understandable because it was contentious and it would take up time) and finally we decided that the only way to make any progress was if a Member who was keen on the matter was lucky enough to draw a high place in the ballot for Private Members' Bills. I was lucky enough to do that, the first and only time in my 47 years' membership of that House. The Government said they would not give us any facilities—that they would not allow civil servants to advise us, something that was essential if we were to produce a sound Bill. But, by a lucky chance, on the day the decision was taken by the Cabinet, important Cabinet Ministers who opposed it were absent and, with the active help of the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, we were given the facilities; the Bill scraped through on the last day of the Session and finally became the law of the land.

It was of course opposed by many organisations and bodies, particularly religious and moralist ones, as always happens when contentious measures dealing with moral issues are proposed They said terrible things would happen if the Bill became law, that it would lead to the moral disintegration of society, and so on. What in fact happened was that many excellent plays which otherwise would never have been produced were produced and have now become famous in this country and abroad. It is also true that some plays whose only appeal was sex were put on, and some of these —and I have particularly in mind oh! Calcutta!—were very popular; they were seen by thousands who got great enjoyment out of them and there is no evidence that they did anybody any harm.

Believing, as I always have, that there should be the maximum liberty for every individual to read and see what he wants—I agree there must be certain exceptions, but they should be reduced to the minimum—I find the Williams Report admirable. Its conclusions are firmly based on the evidence put before it; it is not just the view of individuals, of amateurs, who have come to a conclusion without thinking about the matter much. Anybody who reads the report must be impressed by the weight of the evidence put by sociologists, psychiatrists and psychologists who are almost unanimous, with very minor qualifications and hardly any exceptions, in their view that pornography does no harm to the individual or to society.

I should like to quote just one sentence from the report; it is from Chapter 6: None of our psychiatric or psychological witnesses in fact saw very great harm in straightforward sexual pornography, and some, indeed, felt that cases more frequently occurred in which the effects of pornography were beneficial rather than harmful". That kind of view is expressed frequently in the report. They are the views of the people who work in this field, psychiatrists and others. These are their conclusions after years of study and experience.

There was also the very important report of the committee set up by President Nixon. It was probably the most thorough and comprehensive report that has ever been made on the subject. That report, too, was unanimous. Its conclusions were rejected out-of-hand by President Nixon. After the interview of thousands of people, that report came to the conclusion that it had found no evidence that exposure to explicit sexual material plays a significant role in the causation of delinquent or criminal behaviour among youths or adults.

I know that individuals have different views on this matter. The noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, feels very keenly that it is wrong and that a certain other view, which I call the moralist view, is right. It seems to me that against the background of the evidence put before the committee, and the now popular arguments of the libertarians in favour of freedom for the individual—apart from the adolescent, of course—to view and read whatever he thinks right, the report is sensible, exceedingly well written, and practical.

Of course, it is bound to be highly controversial. There are very many people, apart from some of those who have spoken in this House, who will be opposed to it, but I cannot myself see any strong argument against any single one of the propositions that it puts forward. There may be some matters of detail which are questionable but, broadly speaking, the attitude of the committee seems to be correct. For example, I can see no reason against the proposal for separate shops, as in France, for viewing and buying restricted material containing sexually stimulating pictures, or the proposal to replace the present film clubs with public cinemas for the showing of pornographic films, provided there are the necessary warnings and safeguards. That would exclude those who, in I think the view of everybody, should not see such pornographic material, but it would give adults the right to decide for themselves, without being told by moralists what is good for them and what is harmful.

It seems to me equally sensible that the recommendation that the written word should no longer be subject to prosecution should be accepted. Although this is largely a legal matter, I am told that in view of the acquittal in the case against the publishers of Inside Linda Lovelace, no prosecution against the written word in such matters has any chance of success in the future.

Legally the most important proposal of the committee is the change suggested in the definition of obscenity; that it should no longer be that contained in the judgment of Lord Cockburn in 1868: that it is something that tends to deprave and corrupt. That definition was incorporated in my Theatres Bill only because no one could think of a better one. Someone has thought of a better one now. It is stated categorically in the Williams Report that the lawyers who gave evidence all seem agreed that the old definition is a bad one and that a better one should be substituted for it, and it seems to me that the new definition suggested is a good one, though to my unlegal mind it raises certain difficulties which the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, who has just spoken, seemed to suggest are not serious. In future the test will be whether pornographic material is offensive to reasonable people. I consider that it is admirable to make offensiveness the crux of the crime—not the degree of pornography.

But there is the question, who are reasonable people? We all think that we are reasonable people. Of course we do. Mrs. Whitehouse thinks that she is a most reasonable person, and indeed she argues her case very reasonably on television. Will the reasonableness of the viewer of pornography be permitted as a matter for discussion in the courts? Will counsel on both sides argue what is a reasonable person? I believe that what tends to corrupt and deprave is not a question on which witnesses can be called to give the court help. Will the question of the reasonableness of a person be a subject on which witnesses can be called? I do not know. It would be most helpful, and I should be relieved, if we were to have an authoritative answer to this question. Is such an answer possible?

I do not wish to waste your Lordships' time, and in a maiden speech I should receive a black mark which would remain for ever if I spoke for longer than about 10 minutes. So, in conclusion, I want to say that I think the report is wholly admirable. I hope that it will be considered quickly by the various bodies who will want to consider it. One cannot opeh to have a unanimous verdict, but I hope it will be sufficiently favourable to allow the Government to proceed. Probably they will say that this is a matter on which there should be no Government legislation, that it is a matter for the two Houses of Parliament, that it is up to private Members to put forward their views, and that the subject should proceed on that basis, as happened in my case with theatre censorship. I hope that when there is a verdict the Government will not only make arrangements for a Private Member's Bill enacting the provisions of this report to come before the two Houses, but provide all the necessary facilities in time and Civil Service expertise so that they can, after proper scrutiny, become the law of the land.