HC Deb 26 November 1973 vol 865 cc63-4W
Sir D. Walker-Smith

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will specify the various statutory provisions dealing with offences of obscenity, including the display of offensive material and the sending of such material by post ; and whether he is satisfied that these provisions achieve sufficient clarity and certainty for the operation of this branch of the law.

Mr. Carlisle

The statutory provisions which create offences of indecent public display and related offences are :

  1. (a) Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824;
  2. (b) Section 2 of the Vagrancy Act 1838;
  3. (c) Section 54(2) of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 ;
  4. (d) Section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 ; and
  5. (e) the Indecent Advertisements Act 1889 (as amended by the Indecent Advertisements (Amendment) Act 1970).

Section 4 of the Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971 creates the offence of unsolicited circulation of material describing or illustrating human sexual techniques.

Section 11 of the Post Office Act 1953 creates the offence of sending indecent and obscene material through the mails.

Section 42 of the Customs Consolidation Act 1876 prohibits the importation of indecent and obscene goods.

The Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964 make it an offence to publish obscene articles, or to possess them for gain, and the Theatres Act 1968 makes it an offence to put on an obscene performance of a play.

The Cinematograph and Indecent Displays Bill, which received its Second Reading on 14th November is intended to strengthen, rationalise and clarify the law on indecent public display and related offences, and makes new provision to deal with the unsolicited circulation or advertising of indecent material. My right hon. Friend has no proposals at present to amend the law relating to obscenity, except for the proposal in Clause 5 of the Bill, which would extend the Obscene Publications Acts to all cinematograph exhibitions other than those over which the cinematograph licensing authorities have power to exercise control.