Gallery Owners and Painters (Prosecution)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th April 1967.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead 12:00 am, 27th April 1967

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will take steps to prevent gallery owners and painters from being prosecuted concerning their pictures except where they can call expert witnesses and claim a jury trial.

Mr. Jenkins:

There is already a right to call expert witnesses in all proceedings under the Obscene Publications Act, and to jury trial in all proceedings under Section 2 of the Act. My hon. Friend may have in mind prosecutions under the Vagrancy Acts in respect of indecent exhibitions; I am keeping closely in mind the need for review of these Vagrancy Acts.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we must be continually vigilant to protect artistic freedom from interference? Have there not been several recent very disturbing instances of prosecutions of painters under the Vagrancy Acts? Does not the present anomalous law lay, for example, the National Gallery open to prosecution on the grounds of exhibiting nudes by Renoir, Rubens and Cranach?

Mr. Jenkins:

I hope that that is not likely to arise. There are certain archaic sms and anomalies relating to the Vagrancy Acts, and I shall keep the matter under close review.