Oral Answers to Questions — Highway Slogans (Prosecutions)

– in the House of Commons on 15th April 1943.

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Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that a youth, 18 years of age, was fined at Old Street, on 8th April, for writing a loyal slogan in whitewash on the footway; and whether he will urge the police to greater vigilance against those who write disloyal slogans and damage with tar the portraits of leaders of the United Nations?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

A by-law made by the Stepney Borough Council prohibits the defacing of the footway or roadway by advertisement or slogans. The offender in question was discovered painting a slogan in letters 12 inches high over about 14 feet of footway, and he admitted painting a similar slogan in an adjoining street. If some other offenders have not been caught this is not due to any lack of vigilance on the part of the police, who have instructions to use special endeavours: but unless offenders are caught in the act it is not easy in cases of this kind to obtain evidence which will enable a charge to be proved in a court of law.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any comparative figures of the two kinds of prosecution, to reassure those who feel that there are far more prosecutions of anti-Fascists than there are of Fascists?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I am afraid I cannot do so. It would really have no relevance to the issue. Whenever the police catch these people they prosecute them, and, if it is any comfort to my hon. Friend, I think that the Communists are at least as active in defacing the highways as the Fascists.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

We really must get on with Questions, as there are many more on the Paper.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the remark that has been made by the Home Secretary, is it not desirable that this House should know that the Communists got their idea of chalking on walls from the Labour Party?