HC Deb 08 November 1934 vol 293 cc1287-8W

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the fact that the London County Council has a censorship overriding the decisions of the British Board of Film Censors, and that in consequence films which the latter body consider unsuitable for children are being permitted by the Council; and whether he will consider the desirability of legislation to make the censorship of films really effective?


The Cinematograph Act, 1909, empowers county councils to grant cinematograph licences on such terms and conditions and under such restrictions as, subject to the safety Regulations of the Secretary of State, the councils may by the respective licences determine. Following a decision of the High Court, county councils in England and Wales in the exercise of their discretion usually impose conditions to the effect (i) that apart from news-reels no film which has not been passed by the British Board of Film Censors shall be exhibited without the express consent of the council, and (ii) that no film which has not been passed by the Board for universal exhibition shall be exhibited to children under 16 without the express consent of the council except where a child is accompanied by a parent or adult guardian, in which case the responsibility rests with the parent or guardian. I understand that the London County Council have never allowed children unaccompanied by their parents or guardians to see a film which the Board passed for public exhibition to adult audiences. In the last three years there have been four cases in which films have been rejected by the Board and then on appeal to the council allowed to be exhibited by them with an exceptional condition that no child whatever under 16, whether accompanied by a parent or not, shall be allowed to see the film. In one case a film rejected by the Board has been passed by the council for universal exhibition, but I understand that no special question of its suitability for children was involved. There is thus no ground for the suggestion that the council are allowing children generally in London to see films which the Board consider unsuitable for them. I believe the present arrangement works satisfactorily, and I see no reason for legislation on the point.