Mr. Speaker, with your permission and that of the House, I should like to make a short personal statement.
Last Thursday I was answering a number of Questions upon the subject of prosecutions under the Cinematograph Films Acts. The reply which I made to a supplementary question on this subject was misleading and I wish to correct it.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) asked me whether I had had the advice of the Law Officers of the Crown on the question whether a certain prosecution should be understaken. It is clear that the right hon. Gentleman had in mind the case of the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square. In reply I said:
I have had the advice of the Law Officers about all these prosecutions, and I have acted on their advice in these matters."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1952; Vol. 503, c. 612.]
It is the fact that I had consulted the Law Officers generally in regard to prosecutions under the Cinematograph Films Act, 1948, and it was this consultation which I had in mind in my answer. But I did not consult the Law Officers, nor, indeed, would it be the normal practice to do so, on the question whether a
prosecution should be brought in the particular case in question. Indeed, acting on the advice tendered by my Department, I had reached and announced my decision on this case before any consultation with the Law Officers took place.
It is, I know, the intention of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) to raise the whole question of prosecutions under the Cinematograph Films Act on the Adjournment. I welcome this course.
Meanwhile, I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman and the House for unwittingly giving a misleading answer and trust that this statement will clear up any misunderstanding on the point.
This is a personal statement, as opposed to a Ministerial Statement, and it is contrary to the practice of the House, when an hon. or right hon. Member makes a personal statement, to have any discussion or further questions.
I do not propose to start further discussion, Sir, but only to thank the right hon. Gentleman for sending letters to me and my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) to let us know that he would make this statement and for taking the earliest opportunity to put the matter right.