HC Deb 08 November 1912 vol 43 cc1611-2W

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that official evidence was tendered by the Home Office and the Lord Chamberlain's Department to the Joint Committee on Stage Plays, stating that the present system of censorship as it works with regard to plays could not be applied with regard to music halls, and that the Lord Chamberlain ignored the music halls; whether, in view of this, he can explain why the Lord Chamberlain intervened in respect of a wordless play at the Palace Theatre before its production; under what Statute he was acting; and in what manner the Lord Chamberlain and his advisory committee were enabled to judge of the character of a wordless play before it was publicly presented?


The official witnesses before the Select Committee, while sug- gesting the need for a censorship at music halls, pointed out the practical difficulties of an extension of the existing system. Music halls were not, at the time the evidence was given, licensed by the Lord Chamberlain, and were consequently outside his jurisdiction; but an arrangement has recently been made by which the managers of music halls obtain from the Lord Chamberlain or the London County Council, as the case may be, licences as theatres under the Theatres Act, 1843. In the case of the play now in question, I am informed that the Lord Chamberlain judged of its character from the synopsis submitted to him and from the report of his representative who witnessed the full dress rehearsal. A wordless play clearly comes within the definition of "stage play" in Section 23 of the Theatres Act.