HC Deb 20 March 1941 vol 370 cc306-7W
Sir E. Bennett

asked the Home Secretary whether he will give an asurance that no action will be taken under Defence Regulations 18a, 18b or 18bb against a subject of His Majesty in consequence of such subject having made a statement or expressed a view in an article in the Press or in a wireless broadcast if such article or broadcast has previously been passed by the censor or by an official of the British Broadcasting Corporation?

Mr. H. Morrison

As has been frequently stated the Government are anxious that the principle of freedom for the expression of minority opinions shall be maintained so far as possible and that the minimum use shall be made, even in time of war, of powers of repression. In the circumstances contemplated in the Question it is unlikely that any action would be called for under the Regulations, but I could not properly fetter my discretion by giving an assurance that I will refrain from using my powers in certain hypothetical circumstances. If in any case it becomes my duty to consider whether action under the Regulations is necessary for purposes of national security I must be free to exercise the responsibility placed upon me after taking account of all the facts and circumstances of the particular case.