Seanad Éireann - Volume 30 - 14 November, 1945

Censorship of Publications Bill, 1945—Second Stage.

[931] Minister for Justice (Mr. Boland): I am in a difficult position in regard to this Bill. I have charge of the Rent Restrictions Bill which is in Committee in the other House. The Bill is not at the moment before the Commttee, but it probably will be in a short time. I was aware that the Seanad would have to meet to deal with a Money Bill to-day, which was somewhat too early for my purposes. Accordingly, I asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he could take the Second Reading of the Censorship of Publications Bill on my behalf here, and he kindly promised to do so. If the Seanad has no objection, I shall leave the Bill to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.

Mr. Douglas: When a Minister comes along with another Minister possessing as much charm as the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs does, it is extremely difficult to raise any objection to what he suggests. The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs will not, however, be offended if we say that we should prefer to have the Minister for Justice here for his own Bill. This is not a Second Reading Bill. It is a Bill which calls for attention mainly on Committee Stage and, possibly, on Report Stage. If we are assured that it is not intended to rush the Bill, I think we shall have no objection to the course proposed. This is a type of Bill on which the amendments to be put down may depend, to a large extent, on the speech made by the Minister at the conclusion of the Second Reading. If there will be ample time between this stage and the Committee Stage and between the Committee Stage and Report Stage, I shall have no objection to the Minister's proposal.

Mr. Boland: I have no desire to rush the Bill at all. There is an amendment down to a motion which is being discussed in the other House and the debate may take longer than was expected. I might, therefore, not be required in the other House for some time, but I should not like to take charge of the Bill here if I were unable to remain. On the other hand, [932] the other House could not proceed with its business in my absence. I should be prepared to have this Bill left over, if the House desires.

Mr. Hayes: The Minister for Justice and other Ministers generally come here when they have business before the House. If a Minister has a complicated Bill in the other House, it is quite clear that he is entitled to ask another Minister to come here. The point which Senator Douglas made was, I think, that we had no objection to taking the Second Stage of this Bill to-day but that we would like a long interval before Committee and, perhaps, a longish interval between Committee and Report Stages.

Mr. Boland: I have no objection. I have no desire to rush the Bill at all. I did not rush it in the other House.

Mr. Hayes: Then, we may welcome the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and say farewell to the Minister for Justice.

Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Little): The purpose of this Bill is to effect certain changes in the machinery of censorship which experience of the working of the 1929 Act has shown to be desirable. Under the 1929 Act prohibition orders in respect of books and periodicals are made by the Minister for Justice on the advice of the Censorship of Publications Board. The Act does not provide for any appeal against such orders, but it does provide that the Minister, after consultation with the board, may revoke or vary a prohibition order.

Experience has shown that this procedure is unsatisfactory. The Minister is the person authorised to make prohibition orders, but it is impossible for him to read all the books, and even when he does read a book, and doubts whether it should be prohibited, he is naturally reluctant to oppose his personal judgment to the considered opinion of a number of persons specially selected for their qualifications for this particular task. Secondly, experience has shown that some form of appeal against prohibition orders is very desirable. Under the 1929 Act, [933] it is, of course, open to the Minister to revoke a prohibition order, but this procedure is not satisfactory, as it makes the Minister a court of appeal from his own orders.

This Bill provides for two important changes in the procedure. It provides that the Censorship of Publications Board will be empowered to make prohibition orders themselves, and it provides for the establishment of an appeal board, to which appeals may be taken against prohibition orders made by the Censorship Board. The Bill provides that the author, or the publisher, or any five members of the Oireachtas, may appeal against a prohibition order, and it enables an appeal to be made in respect of a prohibition order made under the 1929 Act, as well as in respect of a prohibition order made under the Bill.

The Bill provides for some other slight alterations in the law, but most of these are consequential on the two main provisions to which I have referred, and I do not think it is necessary for me to go into them in detail at this stage. A large portion of the text of the Bill is merely a restatement of the existing law. It was thought better to repeal all Part II of the 1929 Act, and to re-enact it with the desired amendments, rather than to have a shorter amending Bill of a “patchwork” character.

I should like to take the opportunity to express here, as the Minister for Justice did in the Dáil, my appreciation of the work done by the Censorship Board. As far as periodical publications are concerned there has been, I think, complete success and no complaints; and it should be remembered that the main reason for setting up the board was to check the import of undesirable newspapers, and other periodicals. There have been some objections to prohibition orders in respect of books, but these objections have been very few when it is remembered that nearly 2,000 books have been prohibited. In one sense it hardly seems worth while to interfere with a system which has worked so well, but I think that there is a good case for some form of appeal, and that, however rarely the right of appeal may be [934] exercised, the mere existence of that right will provide an answer to such criticisms as have been made. In any case, a change is necessary as regards the Minister's position. The Minister has long felt that that position was unsatisfactory and unreal, and ought not to be allowed to continue.

Mr. Douglas: As the Minister has pointed out, this is an amending Bill. If not passed, it would leave the censorship provisions as they are at the present moment. I do not wish to raise the question whether the particular form of censorship we have now is the best method of dealing with immoral or indecent literature. I have already given my views. I do not think I would be justified in repeating them on this Bill.

I am treating this Bill as an amending Bill, and I propose to make certain criticisms of it on that basis. In the first place I would like to congratulate the Minister on one thing. It is almost the first time in which an amending Bill has taken the whole of a section and put it into a new Bill as a piece of fresh legislation. That, I think, is a highly desirable method of legislation. I hope it is the start of a period in which we shall have no more legislation by reference. Perhaps, it may not be satisfactory from the point of view of lawyers, but I imagine that even they may prefer the simple method.

However, this is not the kind of Bill which is likely to be the cause of actions in the courts. It is the kind of Bill which depends largely on administration, a Bill in which individuals may be interested. It is a Bill in which it is desirable that the provisions should be in a readable form. As far as the main changes are concerned, and in so far as the Bill provides for some limited form of appeal, I believe it is an improvement. Afterwards, I will have something to say about the exact form of appeal, but in so far as it purports to remove responsibility from the Minister for Justice, I am not quite satisfied with it.

I do not object to the fact that the order censoring books will not be signed by the Minister on behalf of the committee which does the censoring. There is a great danger that Parliament [935] may lose any possible control over that committee. We might find ourselves in the same position as if we had given Córas Iompair Éireann, for instance, the function of censoring books. Fundamentally, the censoring of books by the State is a matter which Parliament should control. It seems to me that the Minister or the Department of Justice should be held responsible. It may be the position that the Minister for Justice is responsible——

Professor Magennis: It is so.

Mr. Douglas: But it is not clear that it will remain so. I suggest that it is a matter which should be carefully looked into. Clearly at the moment, the committee is under the supervision of the Minister for Justice. Reading this Bill carefully, it is not clear that the committee will be under him and that he can raise points with it. I feel it is a matter which requires looking into. If he is responsible, that is good enough. But he has told us that he has signed orders censoring books which he has not read. I can understand a Minister having to sign orders censoring books which he has never read and does not intend to read. That can be quite understood.

We come to the main changes in the Bill. Take Section 5. I have examined that section and I think the proposed arrangement is a stupid arrangement. At the present moment, to the best of my belief, the customs authorities have the power, to stop indecent books. Originally, I think that was a Post Office provision under an old British Act of Parliament. I am not proposing that that should stop. It is not clear, however, that when a customs officer stops a book that it is ipso facto indecent. That is a matter of law.

We now propose to put a peculiar duty on preventive officers. They are not very highly paid, and neither are they a very highly educated section of the Civil Service. Personally, I have a feeling that they are underpaid, having regard to the duties they have to perform. How the Minister for Justice got it into his head that they were suitable censors of books, I [936] do not know. How did he think that they could look at a book in somebody's bag and, by the picture on the cover or by a glance at the inside, make a decision right away? It seems that they should not have the power to seize the book from the person importing it and to send it to the committee.

I think the proposed arrangement is a bad one and that there are grave dangers in it unless it is modified. Travellers will be passing through this State, arriving at Rineanna, for instance, from America, and taking books with them. We have seen that some of the censored books have been printed in America. The traveller may meet there a preventive officer who does not like the cover or perhaps the title of the book, or who thinks that the name of the author is like that of an author whose books have been censored before, and he, therefore, seizes the book. The book is taken from the traveller and there is no provision here to ensure that it will ever be returned to him. He is merely a visitor passing through the State. I maintain it is wrong, it is stupid and it may possibly make us a laughing stock to pass a Bill under which that can occur. It should certainly be made clear that a book cannot be seized if the traveller produces reasonable evidence to show that he is a citizen of another State and that he is merely passing through this State. That could be done by accepting his passport as evidence.

Apart altogether from that aspect, I cannot see why this particular class of civil servant is picked out as a person who can stop a book and judge whether a book is one which should be sent to the committee. Furthermore, the general attitude adopted hitherto —and there are signs in the Bill that it is still the attitude of the Government —was that the main object of censorship was not to interfere with the liberty of the individual but to prevent the sale and distribution of undesirable literature.

I think that anyone who wants to read a particular book and buys it in England for his own purpose, should not have that book seized just because the particular man who [937] sees the book in the customs thinks that the book should be sent for censorship. It is the property of the person who purchased it. He has bought it and I do not think there is any possible ground which can justify its being taken from him. At the present time books are being sent before the committee, but they are not stolen for that purpose. A person cannot walk into a shop, take a book off the counter and justify his act on the ground that it should be sent to the committee. I do not see why the same should not hold good in regard to books owned by private individuals. For that reason I think that Section 5 should be deleted or, if it is not, it should be very drastically amended.

There is one other point in regard to which I think some amendment is really necessary. Under Section 6 it is provided—I think, speaking from memory, we had the same provision in the present Act—that the Censorship Board may communicate with the author or publisher of a book and take into account any representations made by him. It seems to me that where the author, editor or publisher has an address in Eire, the board should be obliged to communicate with him. I do not think that there should be an obligation to communicate if he resides outside the State, but I think it should be an obligation if he is residing within the State and that it should not be simply a matter of “may”. There is another peculiar feature which I do not understand. When a book is being examined the committee may communicate with the author, editor or publisher, but when it comes to the question of an appeal it is only the author or the publisher who is allowed to appeal. Why the editor, particularly when it happens to be a collection of stories, should be denied the right of appeal, I do not see. There may be some good reason for it, but it does not seem to be clear.

The next provision which I dislike in the Bill is that by which five members of the Oireachtas can make an appeal. That is placing on all members of both the Dáil and the Seanad a peculiar duty. It is not a privilege I can assure you. At least, I cannot [938] conceive it as a privilege; it is a duty. It is a duty placed on them to watch the whole working of the censorship; otherwise it is a farce. If they are not to take an interest in it, and exercise their functions, then there is no reason for it. I think it is a duty which should not be imposed on members of the Oireachtas and I have many reasons for that statement. One reason is, I confess, a somewhat personal one. I do not want to have people asking me to join in an appeal as to whether a book should or should not have been banned. I think I have something better to do with my time than to read all the books in regard to which somebody has a grievance and which have been censored. It might or might not be good for me but I do not want to do it. I imagine most members of both Houses are in a similar position. In addition—and this applies more definitely to a member of the Dáil than to a member of the Seanad—I should not like to stand for popular election and find myself faced with the accusation that I had signed a form to say that there should be appeal against the censoring of a particular book as I am perfectly certain somebody would accuse me of the deepest possible immorality. On the other hand, if I had refused to sign an appeal, in all probability it would be said that I was an extremely narrow-minded person who would not allow a certain point of view to be expressed. I think you might easily find that certain members of both Houses who, for want of a better term, may be said to represent minority interests will be placed in the position that they will have numerous requests of this kind. If this provision remains part of the Bill, I should not sign an appeal in respect of such books without reading them; if members do sign appeals without reading the books it will be a farce. I suggest sincerely to the Government that members of the Oireachtas are not particularly suited to this function of watching the censorship. Speaking generally, we have not a particularly high standard of literary ability. We are probably just as moral as anybody outside but we have no peculiar sense or fitness by which we can judge what is moral or immoral. To put this duty [939] on us is something which is really a mistake.

The question arises: Is there any alternative? In 99 cases out of 100 I think that the editor, the author, or the publisher, would be the proper person to appeal. I can see quite definitely that there may be cases in which a group of persons may be interested or in which literary persons generally feel that the censoring of a particular book is raising a new principle or a new standard. Consequently, I think there ought to be some persons other than the author, the publisher or the editor entitled to appeal. Apparently the Government share that view, and, in the absence of any better suggestion, they could think of nothing better than five members of the Oireachtas. I did hear a suggestion that it might be confined to the 11 nominees of the Taoiseach to the Seanad. That, at any rate, would enable him to choose persons who he thought were highly suitable for the function. I do not think that even that would solve the problem. I suggest that the function should be confined to the editor, the author and the publisher, and to any three members of a committee of a recognised cultural, scientific or literary body. It might be necessary to define those but it should be possible to define a body which in the opinion of the Minister was a scientific, literary or cultural body. The kind of body I have in mind would be the Royal Irish Academy, the P.E.N. Club, the Royal Dublin Society, or possibly committees of established libraries. I am sure it would be quite sufficient to have these bodies choose three members or any given number.

That, I think, would prevent any abnormal number of appeals, which you might have if you simply left it open to any member of the public. I do not think it would be required, but there could be no objection if we provided that any of the recognised Churches could appeal. That would arise only if there was any principle involved, and I do not think there is the slightest danger of a large number of appeals from any of them. I [940] think it would be far better to leave it to some recognised bodies in the State than to leave it to members of the Oireachtas. However, if the latter scheme is one of which the Minister for Justice is so enamoured that we cannot persuade him to change it, then it is pretty plain to me that there has to be some method by which we can get the books to read.

We will assume for the moment that this Bill is law, and we will assume that a request has been made to me by some people that I respect, to join with four other members in appealing. The first question is: where do I get the book? It would presumably be illegal for me to get it at a bookseller's, and it would be illegal for the bookseller to sell it to me. It would presumably be illegal for me to import it from England. Therefore, I assume that the Minister is going to keep copies of all those books, and that he will, as he is Minister for Justice, supply me or any member with a copy on request, or alternatively, that they will be placed in the Oireachtas library. That may lead to a popularity of the library which does not exist at the moment. I do not want to be frivolous. I am quite serious in saying that there will have to be some method by which the books can be obtained. Otherwise, it would obviously be a farce. I was thinking of putting in an amendment where it is provided that it is not an offence to import a book when it is not intended for circulation. We might put in that it is not an offence if it is imported by a member of the Oireachtas. That, I think, would be an essential corollary if what I still think is a ridiculous portion of the Bill is to remain.

There are some smaller points which will arise in Committee. I have dealt only with the larger ones, which seem to me matters of principle. The Bill is an amending Bill; the only principles in it are the changes which are being proposed.

Professor Magennis: This, I am glad to learn, is regarded by Senator Douglas on behalf of the Opposition as an amending Bill. It is not so, specifically, described on the face of the Bill itself. That, of course, is precisely its function. [941] The Act of 1929 is to be regarded as the principal Act.

While Senator Douglas was speaking, I could not help feeling, with all respect to the authorities that have control over the regulation and disposition of public business in the Oireachtas, that it would have been highly appropriate to have initiated this piece of legislation in Seanad Eireann. I almost expected Senator Douglas to have said so himself——

Mr. Douglas: I quite agree anyway.

Professor Magennis: ——because he has been a consistent and able advocate of using the provisions already at our disposal to relieve the pressure of work in the Dáil by introducing measures exactly of this type in this House. I hope the Minister present will not think it a reflection on him, my very great friend of a lifetime, to say we have the spectacle of the Minister who has the carriage of this legislation not able to be present because a very important Bill has been subjected to an unexpected amount of proposed amendment, and his presence is required in the other House. Senator Douglas, as I expected he would, joins with me in utilising this occasion to advertise the need so to dispose of public business.

Returning to the matter in hand, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs read to us, in introduction, precisely what the Minister for Justice—except in regard to one sentence—read in the Dáil. If he will forgive me, I should like to read it again. I should like to read it again, not through any suggestion of a defect in his reading, but because it is an idiosyncrasy of mine that I need to get used to the sound of my own voice. I will then feel more at ease in dealing with this measure. The Minister said: “The purpose of this Bill is to effect certain changes in the machinery of censorship.” A great many people, including writers to the morning papers, are not aware that that is the expressed purpose of this Bill. “The purpose of the Bill is to effect certain changes in the machinery of censorship”; that is [942] what the Bill of 1945 does in regard to the Act of 1929. The Minister adds: “which experience of the working of the 1929 Act has shown to be desirable.” With that I do not in all agree, and I would claim that I have some justification for expressing criticism of the working of the Act of 1929, seeing that I have been for 11½ years a member of the Censorship Board—which is a longer period than that for which the Minister for Justice has been connected with it. However, I must not be too meticulous, for the moment at any rate, in criticism. The Minister continues: “Under the 1929 Act prohibition Orders in respect of books and periodicals are made by the Minister for Justice on the advice of the Censorships of Publications Board.” I should like to interpolate a phrase there, and say: “prohibition Orders are made— when they are made——.” The Minister continues: “The Act does not provide for any appeal against such Orders.” There again that depends upon what you mean by an appeal. I have the Act of 1929 with me. Senator Douglas was under a certain disability through having to quote it from memory. The Act provides that after consultation with the board the Minister may revoke or vary a prohibition Order. That, surely, is an appeal. He does not hear an appeal in the sense of there being any public inquiry, and I may say in passing, that representations were from time to time made against the Censorship of Publications Board that the public could not appeal. There is nothing to prevent them. Hear Section 8 in the Principal Act:—

“The Minister may at any time after consultation with the board by Order revoke any prohibition Order theretofore made by him under this Act.”

I can refer to an actual case: the case of Seán O Faoláin's book Bird Alone. An appeal was taken to the Minister, and the Minister consulted with the board, and thereupon— or thereafter, to be accurate—the Minister allowed his prohibition Order to stand. If the public did not make use [943] of this provision of the 1929 Act, the fault was theirs, not that of the Act As you will see, the Minister agrees with me a few sentences further on. He says:—

“Experience has shown that this procedure is unsatisfactory. The Minister is the person authorised to make prohibition Orders...”

—that is, in the Act of 1929, the prohibition Order proceeds from the Minister alone as Minister for Justice—

“...but it is impossible for him to read all the books, and even when he does read a book...”

—as he has been known to do, I interpolate—

“...and doubts whether it should be prohibited, he is naturally reluctant to oppose his personal judgment to the considered opinion of a number of persons specially selected for their qualifications for this particular task.”

I turn from the reading to comment. The provision in the Act of 1929 is that the Minister shall appoint five fit and proper persons to be members of the board. The stipulation that the five members he appoints should be fit and proper persons is removed under the Act of 1945. It is sufficient for the purposes of the 1945 Act that they should be five persons—and “persons,” by the way, in the Interpretation Act, 1937, includes women as well as men, and that is all to the good. I shall now return to reading the text:—

“Secondly, experience has shown that some form of appeal against prohibition Orders is very desirable. Under the 1929 Act it is of course open to the Minister to revoke a prohibition Order but this procedure is not satisfactory, as it makes the Minister a Court of Appeal from his own Orders.”

That, I regard as a quotation from myself, only that it is expressed with more reverence for the Minister for Justice than my original version. The prohibition Order revoked by order of [944] the Minister is the operation of an appeal. “It makes,” he says, “the Minister a Court of Appeal from his own Orders.” Of course it does. That was one of the frequent sources of friction—I admit that there were frequent occasions of friction—between the five fit and proper persons and the Minister for Justice: that he regarded himself both as Censor and as appeal authority. Now, there lies the great blot on the Act of 1929—there are many blots, grave and serious defects, but they vary in mighty degree. Some of them are major, some minor, and this is one of the two major blots on the Act of 1929 which have been calling for remedial legislation for years. It is no fault of the board if the Minister is not aware of those defects. To me it appears that these two serious defects should have been dealt with in the present measure.

I am not so much concerned with, although I am far from indifferent to, certain other blemishes in the Act, but these are two very serious defects. We were led to believe—perhaps that is too strong a term—we were optimistic anyhow and thought that by-and-by a time would come when it would be possible to have the bad old Act of 1929, or the good old Act of 1929, if you like, made still better. One of the first things the Board of Censorship did after it began to function—I hope that this is in order, by the way, and I am sure that the Leas-Chathaoirleach will set me right if I am wrong—one of the first things the board did was to approach the then Minister, Mr. Fitgerald-Kenney, to ask for an amending Act. They had discovered faults that hampered their operations, and the Minister agreed with them that these were faults, and he asked them to defer their representations until they had collected more from experience. In any case, he would not like to bring in an amending measure so soon after the Act of 1929 had been passed and only with much difficulty.

Now, I was a member of the board at the time when the present Minister for Justice came into power and I, with the optimism which is my disease [945] —a lifelong, incurable disease—assured my colleagues on the board that now we had got a Minister for Justice who was strong enough and bold enough to make any change in the legislation which experience had shown to be necessary, and that the hour had struck for a deputation from the board to approach Mr. Boland, the new Minister for Justice. I wonder if I am at liberty, being still a member of the Censorship Board, and so a part of the Department of Justice, to say what we were told. I think that if the Minister were here he would grant me permission, and I would assume that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs will be equally obliging.

Mr. Little: I am not quite so sure.

Professor Magennis: Well, I shall be as discreet as possible. The Minister did not think that he could carry an amending measure just at the moment. I considered it a reflection on the Fianna Fáil majority that the Minister, with the majority he then commanded, should hesitate to introduce an amending measure.

I should say that the deputation was specially chosen, the chairman being Right Reverend Mgr. Boylan who, unfortunately for us and for the public, was taken away by the Taoiseach because of his high scholarship, to share in the great work of the Institute for Higher Studies. I should say that the failure of the Act, in so far as it has failed, is in a large measure attributable to sub-sections of Section 6:—

“Whenever the board under this section makes a report, not dissented from by more than one and assented to by at least three members of the board, stating that in the opinion of the board the book or the particular edition of a book which is the subject of such a report is in its general tendency indecent or obscene and should for that reason be prohibited or that in the opinion of the board such book or edition advocates the unnatural prevention of conception or the procurement of abortion or [946] mis-carriage...and should for that reason be prohibited, the Minister may by Order (in this Act referred to as a prohibition order) prohibit the sale and distribution in Saorstat Éireann of such book or of such edition of a book.”

I take it that the House is acquainted with an earlier provision, whereby any member of the public is at liberty to complain to the Minister for Justice that a book is indecent or obscene, and, under a certain regulation, about which I shall have something to say later, the book finds its way to the Minister—that is, to the Department of Justice. Let me quote the two relevant sub-sections of Section 6:

“(1) Whenever a complaint is duly made under this Act to the Minister to the effect that a book or a particular edition of a book is indecent or obscene...the Minister may refer such complaint to the Board.

(2) The Board shall consider every complaint referred to them by the Minister under this section and for the purpose of such consideration shall examine the book or the particular edition... which is the subject of such complaint and on the completion of such consideration the Board shall make to the Minister their report on such complaint.”

The Minister as advised took one interpretation of Section 6 and the Board took another. The Minister was advised that the proper construction of that section was that he was the Censor. I am not accusing the Minister of doing anything illegal or improper. I have already stated, when criticising the administration of this Act, that I regard him with some admiration for the sense of duty he has exhibited. As a matter of fact, his “virtue” in that regard is exactly what the Board was forced to lament. He had legal advice. I do not know from what source he received it.

In the case of Julius v. the Bishop of Oxford and in other cases of much later date, it was held that the [947] word “may” will ordinarily be taken to be a permissive word, but if the power conferred by the word “may” is one which, as in this case, is to be exercised on behalf of someone who has a special interest—the complainant and the people of the Twenty-Six County State—thereupon the “may” which confers the power also imposes the duty of exercising the power. We held, therefore, that the Minister was not obliged to read the books after us. In the passage read out here, the Minister stated he was made a court of appeal from his own Orders. They should have been his own Orders only technically. It was not necessary that he should become censor over and above the Censorship Board specifically appointed for the purpose.

The Minister said that often he did not read the books. Who, then, did read them? For on several occasions, the representations of the board were rejected. The Minister himself referred to one case. It is given in the reports of the debates of this House on the occasion of Senator Sir John Keane's motion of no confidence in the Censorship Board. That was in November, 1942. The Minister then revealed to this House that he read one of the books then being discussed and he was convinced that, if the book were let loose upon the public, it would do serious damage. He said that he banned it, whether he was legal or not. Anybody who thinks it worth while to look the matter up will find it in the official reports for November, 1942. Now, the great merit of this Amending Act of 1945 is that it gets rid of all that blot. No longer can there be that friction between the board and a too conscientious Minister for Justice, seeking to do what there is no legal need to do—read the books in regard to which he writes a Prohibition Order.

There can be no such friction any more because now, when the board reads the books and, after a discussion amongst the members, decides upon a prohibition order, that results not in a report to the Minister but in the publication in Iris Oifigiúil of a notice [948] that the book is prohibited. That is a tremendous improvement. But there are other new things introduced into this amending Bill about which the same cannot, unfortunately, be said.

Before I pass to them, I should like to deal with that other blot on the 1929 Act which I mentioned. I might forget it in the interest which these other items will excite. Here I have a note of representations made, from time to time, by the Censorship Board to the Department of Justice. If the House permits me, I shall refresh my memory by referring to the written paper: “The Minister has been informed that the Act has been, to a great extent, a failure, for the following reasons: inadequacy of funds and inadequacy of staff, resulting in inability to deal with the maximum number of new novels within the minimum time after their publication.” The public are under the impression that the members of the board have quite a nice job——

Mr. Douglas: Who thinks that?

Professor Magennis: I shall answer that question this very moment it is put. A few years ago, some one complained at a western county council that books and papers were in circulation which were seriously undermining the local morality. That was a new and fresh voice in a county council. Another county councillor, incited to further comment, asked what the board was doing for its money. I may say, in passing, that I wanted to write to the county council and suggest to them that, if they would commission me, as a member of the Seanad, to raise the question in the House, I should gladly do so, but they should furnish me with particulars of the salaries paid to the members of the board—especially the salary paid to the chairman—so that I might deal with the matter with knowledge. My colleagues would not have that. They thought that it would be playing “a low-down trick” on the council. I was challenged as to who thinks we have a nice job. Lots of people think so. A member of the [949] Dáil, when this Bill was going through that House, wanted to know how much more money this was going to cost. He feared, perhaps, there would be an increase in the salaries of the members of the board because of increased work. Members of the board are unpaid. No member of the board, so far, would act unless he were unpaid. I am told by a civil servant who, I am afraid, has few opportunities of knowing for certain, that the Minister for Justice has already received applications for membership of the new board. Those applicants are, evidently, under the impression that salaries are payable in return for the work of reading dirty books.

Under the Principal Act, in addition to the complaints received from members of the public, the board has power to initiate complaints through a member, or through one of its officers. The indignant public may still write as they do, asking why this idiotic board publishes a judgment against a book after everybody who wants to read it has read it. I agree—I do not mean that it is an idiotic board— but the board actually does examine a book and pass judgement on it after nearly everybody has read it and lend it to his friend, and his friend has lend it to another friend.

That is what is happening now. We become aware in divers ways of the fact that some grossly obscene books are in circulation, and we are power less. How are we to get the book to examine it? The board must get a copy of the book. Perhaps the book costs 8/6, 9/- or 12/6. Public spirit in the Twenty-Six Counties does not go quite so far as those prices, and the result is that we do not get the book. The only other way in which the board can get it is to subscribe to lending libraries.—Recently “friends of” W.A.A.M.A., who purport to represent abroad the culture of the Twenty-Six Counties, appealed to the Times Book Club not to allow us, through Switzers' Library, to be provided with books in circulation there.—The handicap is something not known to the public at large. This board, which does not stop [950] a book until it has been read in perhaps 20, 25 or 30 different libraries, is described as failing in duty to the reading public. The cost of the activities of the board seems to be troubling the souls of Deputies so much that the Minister had to reassure them. They were concerned about the cost of it, civil servants' salaries, postage and incidentals, and subscriptions to libraries. He said it was not more than £1,000.

So far as remuneration goes, no taxpayer need lose a night's sleep over it, and no one should think that getting himself appointed to the board will increase his income. On the contrary, I can assure him that appointment to the board will diminish his income. Members of the board do not get allowances. As one of the members, I have had frequently to travel in from Greystones to the city, a return journey close on 40 miles, without any allowance for petrol or tyres. I can assure those who aspire to membership of the board —who want to sit in our places—that they will not make such a “good thing” out of it as they may fancy. When this Bill passes into law, the members of the present Censorship Board cease, functus officio. We can claim that we have stopped a good deal of obscene output gratis. We had not, however, power to stop all of it.

There is another thing: this Bill of 1945 might have enabled the board to deal with the country-town shop libraries. Senator Fearon made representations on this point to the Minister when he gave us the courtesy of a personal interview with him. People said the board have made prohibition orders against such and such a work when it is three years old. Yes, that is true, but when it is three years old in Britain, it is here only beginning its vicious career. There are London libraries, libraries in some club or other, which sell off their old stocks after they have been years in circulation. The books are bought by firms in England which traffic in the distribution of them to branches in the provinces and to our country towns; they send their books by the parcel to our country shops. When I was touring, [951] I remember seeing these shops. They were frequented after Mass by people wanting to buy cigarettes or sweets. These shops drew their supplies of books on loan from English centres. For all one knew, the books might have come from hospitals and might have been infected with disease. What care is taken to ensure that they are disinfected? Furthermore, country shopkeepers had to take the batch of books from the head centre in London. They could not pick or choose; it was all or none.

If the State did not impose some sort of obstacle, it could hardly be expected the shopkeeper could do it. Senator Fearon proposed that all those little country branches of London libraries should have to take out licences. They had to take the licences out for cigarettes and tobacco. Why should they not do it for books? A small sum would cover the administrative expenses.

All these matters are wholly disregarded in the amending Bill. It may be that the draftsmen were not cognisant of these things, but time and again the Department of Justice has been told about it. There is another thing: the law has not been enforced. Remember, there are laws which came to us from the time of the British régime, quite a number of laws regarding the distribution of obscene literature. They are still operative. One of them is referred to in the amending Bill—an Act of the 1860's. The law has not been enforced. From the time that the 1929 Act began to function the Gárda Síochána folded their arms— folded their wings, I might say, and rested. They are all in Killarney. The burden is laid upon the Censorship Board to do everything. How did the district justices aid in the work? One district justice refused to convict because he said “a notice in Iris Oifigiuil is not sufficient a notice”. Did anyone ever hear of a more silly judgment? Another district justice refused to convict because “lending library distribution is not distribution within the meaning of the Act”. There [952] is no possible opportunity of curbing the activity of the Censorship Board that has not been availed of by some crank somewhere, as if it were his solemn duty to circulate obscenity freely and without hindrance.

Mr. Madden: And the moral poison goes on.

Professor Magennis: Of course, it does. I live opposite an avenue which cost the Dublin Corporation some £13,000 to convert from a delightful country lane into an avenue, one long row of electric pillars. It was the source of at least 70 per cent. of the infanticide cases in the police courts. Senator Madden has rightly said that the poison goes on.

As to appeal, every member of the board wants an appeal. The philosophy of which I was professor for half a century holds that it is contrary to natural justice for such a thing to happen as that a body of men pronounce an author's book offensive to morality, proclaim it, hinder the free sale and circulation of it and leave the author or his publisher who is hit financially no opportunity of appeal. We, who are operating the Act of 1929, are not callous to the sense of grievance which banned authors and publishers may have. No matter what friction there was, we accepted the authority of the Minister for Justice. We allowed him to be censor and appeal authority too despite the view we held as to the proper interpretation of the Act. The only appeal was that provided for in Section 8.

The Minister very properly, as the man he is, felt highly uncomfortable in the dual rôle which the law appointed for him. He confessed that frankly in the Dáil and through the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs he tells us here again. He says that in fact the position was “unreal”. There is no doubt about it. I know myself that he felt it intolerable. Now this measure has the merit that the Minister is relieved from that. I do not believe that the Minister would retain his position if he were called on any longer to discharge this double [953] function. Consequently it is an absolute necessity to the administration of the law in regard to periodicals and books that the position should be remedied as it is in this Bill.

There is a Bible story I recollect of one devil being cast out and seven other devils entering in. The Minister in this Bill has cast out the devil of Section 6 and its various sub-sections, with its possibilities of vicious interpretation. What has he done—? I am in the hands of the Minister present as to whether what I am going to enlarge upon is part of the principle of the Bill, that is to say, the character of the appeal that is provided. Possibly—I am not quite sure about it myself—the principle of the Bill extends only to this, that there is a censorship board, that it examines books and, if it deems it to be right and necessary, publishes a Prohibition Order in Iris Oifigiúil which may become the subject of an appeal to a court of appeal set up for the purpose. That I take to be the principle of the Bill and the rest trimmings.

I should like to be allowed, if I may, to say something on the character of the Appeal and its machinery. To begin with, this court of appeal was so essential, in my poor judgement, that I had the temerity to do as Senator Sir John Keane did—to draft a Bill myself. Senator Sir John Keane—the cause of whose absence from our sitting to-day I, in common with my colleagues, regret—introduced, I think on the 19th June, an amending Bill to set up an appellate element in the administration of the Act of 1929, but he allowed the defect on which I have enlarged to persist. He merely grafted on to the existing system, as it stands, an actual tribunal, as he called it, of appeal. He introduced his Bill, and some of our colleagues will remember that he withdrew it precipitately on the Minister for Justice saying that he intended to bring in an amending measure. Well, I flatter myself that I displayed a little more political sagacity than the Senator, for I did not introduce my Bill; I had recourse to the Minister, and if I recommend too warmly some of the merits [954] of the present Bill it will be understood that it is the parent praising his child. The Bill which I drafted and submitted to the Minister relieves the Minister of the impossibly painful position which the unamended Act led him to occupy, and provided for a court of appeal. I take this opportunity of doing the Minister further justice.—I am sorry that I have mislaid this report of the Dáil debate. Some poltergeist has removed it from my feet.

Mr. Douglas: An enemy hath done this.

Professor Magennis: If I may quote it from memory I promise to do so as accurately as I can. He said that he was loath to put his judgment against the report of men such as the members of the Censorship Board, men who were appointed specially because of their fitness for the particular work in hand. He used words to that effect. The Minister was so determined to rid himself of this onus of being Censor and Appeal from Censor that he thought of getting rid of the board and substituting for it a full-time salaried civil servant. One can see that if he held the view that five men specially selected were not to have their judgment over-ridden by a further body, this was his only way out, or give up censorship altogether. Now my Bill made it possible for him without casting any reflection upon the board or without hurting the amour propre of any member of the board, to have an appeal to another body. When I received his letter, which unfortunately found its way into the Press just preceding the last general election, communicating to the members of the board the Minister's intention to supersede them by the appointment of a wholetime salaried civil servant, it contained a statement to each member of the board that he could not conceive of putting another body over their heads to be in a position to set their findings aside. That was a compliment to the board. The Minister intended it as a courtesy.—The members did not all receive it in that light. Some of them have since died, and I [955] will leave the matter at that.—Considering the use made of it by political opponents, I am bound to say on behalf of the Minister that his proposal was meant to relieve himself and his Department of a duty cast upon them which they found it impossible to reconcile with their other duties. The Minister exhibited a great deal of humility in the expressions he used.

The Appeal that I contemplated was an appeal to a wider circle; an appeal from a smaller number of men who studied the books complained of to a wider number, not in any way implying that any one of them was superior in capacity for the function to any member of the Appeal Board. It was common sense that in a multitude of counsellors there is wisdom. But in the present Bill an Appeal Board is set up, and it is a board of three, to which appeals are to lie from a Censorship Board of five and two votes of the three outweigh all the others.

I am not objecting to the Censorship Board being five, but that an appeal should lie from five men to two men does not at all, I think, represent a sane principle. It is an appeal from the inferior to the superior mind, for it is from five to three; under the provisions of the Bill here the vote of two members of the appeal board could over-ride the decisions of the chairman of the appeal board plus the whole five of the Censorship Board, rejecting the complaint, the citizen who initiated the complaint, the five members of the board—supposing them to be unanimous— and the chairman of the appeal board, making seven in all. That judgment is to be over-ridden and set aside, nullified by the finding of two. Not only are the two declared to be superior to the whole lot, but there is worse to come. Before I proceed, let me say this: If there are two such men to be found in the land, who are willing to take on this very disagreeable task, why not put those high experts on the Censorship Board, where they will scan all books that come before them? Remember, whoever [956] is chairman of the Censorship Board in the time to come will have that task, as I can tell you from my experience. He and the secretary of the board will have to watch the reviews in the newspapers and get from hidden hints and round-about expressions what books are suspect, and read those, and, before they are submitted to the board, before they are circulated, make up their minds whether or not it is worth while circulating them, or whether sentence could be passed against them. There is a good deal more to be done than actually reading the books that are complained of by an outsider.

Well, we have an appeal board of three, with two sufficient to annual a prohibition order of the board. It is peculiar arithmetic this but, as I interpret the peculiar arithmetic, it means that these men are admittedly superior for the task of censorship. It is a very difficult as well as a disagreeable task to undertake to pass judgement on a book and try to judge whether it is injurious to public morals or not, but, as I said, there is worse to follow. This appeal is not an appeal. In my scheme, the Censorship Board was one of the parties to the appeal, or they could delegate some one among their number to represent them and he could be heard on behalf of the finding. There is no such provision in the present Bill, so that the so-called appeal is really in the nature of an ex parte application to a court, which, in the case of the courts, is only one of the first stages in the prosecution of a suit. Surely, when that measure passed like lighting through the Dáil, the Dáil was not realising what it was doing. That is why I began by observing that if enlightenment had come to the Dáil through this House first discussing the measure, there might have been another story to tell about its march.

As the situation is, this Bill is practically law. It lies in our hands, of course, to do our utmost to see that its defects are remedied, but how are we going to do it? The Dublin Press seemingly has lulled the public into apathy—all quite confident that this is [957] a fine measure. It is a fine measure in that one respect that I need not harp upon again, and by dwelling on that almost exclusively as the aim and scope of this measure one gets many to applaud. When I read the account of the Bill in the Irish Press I was overjoyed. “Our Political Correspondent” announced that a measure was going to be introduced the following Wednesday, which would embody a system of appeal, and I felt: “Now that great blot is removed”. But when I read the measure I had to sing a different song.

Mr. Hayes: I suggest, Sir, that the Senator should not trust the Irish Press like that. It is not good enough.

Professor Magennis: I did not say I trusted it.

Mr. Hayes: I am very glad to hear that.

Professor Magennis: Trust, as Senator Hayes will know, is not the same thing as hope. Now, the appeal board is provided, as the Minister has explained, with “an additional safeguard”. As I am not likely to be again a member of the Censorship Board, I do not resent the provision of an additional safeguard on the board. It does not touch me, but in principle what is it worth? Five Deputies or five Senators, or three of one and two of the other, may be prevailed upon to institute an appeal against a prohibition Order. An author or a publisher who institutes an appeal must put down £5 in evidence of good faith that he does not consider it a frivolous objection. This provision about the deposit, by the way, is copied from the Censorship of Films Act, with which I am highly familiar, having been chairman of the Censorship of Films Board for its first five years, and having taken part in making the Act and amending the Act, and it has misled the Department more than once, similarity being mistaken for identity. If a film renter lodges an appeal [958] against the refusal of a certificate of exhibition on the part of the State Film Censor, he has to make a deposit of £5, but these five legislators—the additional safeguard—make no deposit. It is a very curious thing that the very day the measure was going through the Dáil, Deputy O'Higgins was recommending a motion to inquire into corruption in one of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Mr. Hayes: I think, Sir, that these are not exactly the terms of Deputy O'Higgin's motion.

Professor Magennis: It is a summary.

Mr. Hayes: I do not think it is a summary.

Professor Magennis: Well, I think it is so. However, we will defer the discussion until the Official Debates can be produced.

Mr. Hayes: As regards the relationship between the two Houses, if we are going to have the other House discussed, I suggest that it should be done with some degree of accuracy.

Professor Magennis: I hope that this is not interruption for interruption's sake.

Mr. O'Donovan: The other House discussed this House, however.

Mr. Hayes: On a motion.

Professor Magennis: Perhaps I may resume, if Senator Hayes's fit of interruption has passed away. “Five members,” said a Deputy, “are not to be troubled with the importunity”—these are not his words—“of constituents to go and get busy launching an appeal.” Yes, but it might be worth while for a publisher, who has a lot of money embarked in a book that is prohibited, to take measures to [959] have an appeal instituted. He can work up an agitation. I do not think that some of the great publishing houses in England, when they have no moral scruples about pouring obscenity from their presses—using paper in a time of emergency which might have been used for better purposes—and deluging their reading population with absolute fifth, are going to be very scrupulous about what they do in order to get prohibition Orders removed. I agree thoroughly with what Senator Douglas said on that point. A member of this House should not be asked to be “an additional safeguard” against the possible aberrations of five men who are chosen because they have public spirit enough to undertake this hideous task without remuneration.

The Minister, by the way—I may mention in that connection—complained, amongst other grievances, that he had to bear the odium of the prohibition Order. In that he is not exact for, during the debate in this House in 1942, not a syllable of reproach to the Minister was heard from any side of the House. The odium fell on the “Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Gestapo” of the Catholic Church in Ireland, the chairman of the board, and in every piece of slander and of libel that issues in the Press it is upon “Professor Magennis and his myrmidons”, or “Professor Magennis and his this, that and the other”, that the odium falls as the chairman. He is regarded as the guilty person. So that if there is to be any garment of repentance worn in the church porch, it is not the Minister who has been called upon to wear it.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

Professor Magennis: I was dealing with the provision for appeals. There is to be an appeal board of three members, one of which, the chairman, is to be a lawyer. The Minister intends that he shall be a judge. I have the temerity to ask why a judge. In what respect? He will be a judge of the [960] High Court or the Circuit Court. Obviously, he is to be judge on points of law when points of law arise on the hearing of an appeal. That brings me to the interpretation clauses, of which we have two, one in the Principal Act and another, differing numerically, in the present Bill. I am quite sure the Minister will not succeed in getting a judge. Here, perhaps, I am trespassing on the realm of prophecy. The judges refused to accept a reduction in their salaries, and were successful in their resistance, and I do not expect it is at all likely that any one of them is ambitious to add to his already onerous duties by taking on this additional task, because, presumably, he will have to read the book on which he has to adjudicate, and if he has any knowledge of psychology, as well as of literature, he will prefer to keep to his own task, remembering the Stoic adage “Sufficient unto each man is his own task”. Again, there is some probability, the final clause will have to be made use of when the appeal is terminated. Section 23 of the Bill reads:

“The expenses incurred in the administration of this Act shall, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.”

So I live in hope that the Minister for Finance will be strong enough to resist any attempt to provide fees for a member of the appeal board. Whatever measure of success has attended the work of dealing with books, periodicals and complaints, was largely attributable to the fact that no one was paid, except officers of the board.

A judge is one of those three to whom an appeal is taken. What is the appeal from? A prohibition order. Based on what? On the verdict that the book is indecent. The judge says: “This is a book with no unity whatever except what is provided by the contents being enclosed in one cover.” Let us say that it contains six short stories, each independent of the other, all of them [961] excellent, save two, which are filthy. Are the board to let the filth poison the air and to make the atmosphere fetid for all of us? They are compelled to report under the 1929 Act that the book is, in its general tendency, indecent. The judge will say: “What were they thinking of; the book has no general tendency and we cannot prohibit its sale and circulation on the ground that it is in its general tendency indecent; this prohibition order must be revoked.” There is nobody to represent the board which, properly regarded, is one of the parties to the appeal. So the presence of a judge is not quite such an advantage. If it were, surely the board which creates, under the new Act, the prohibition order, should have a judge among its members, too, to guide them in the interpretation of the legal terms which occur in the Act. I foresee all sorts of difficulties in this connection and particularly the difficulty of being forced to have recourse to fees or even a salary for the chairman of the appeal board.

This phrase “in its general tendency indecent” is one of the bugbears of the Press, of authors, of members of the board and of the Department of Justice. It is an artificial thing. A citizen complains that a book is indecent or obscene. Surely, the issue to be tried is: “Is it indecent or obscene?” and the report should be “complaint sustained” or “complaint rejected”. Why are we confined to an artificial finding—that the book, in its general tendency, is indecent? The board has reported to the Minister and to the Department again and again— both personally and in writing— against this, but no regard is paid. There it is in the new, supposedly amending, Bill. What very few people know—so far as I am aware, it has escaped observation up to the present time—is that there is an article in the Constitution of great interest in this connection. That is Article 40.

The Constitution, I need hardly tell the House, was enacted in July, 1937— eight years after this Principal Act. When the Principal Act was enacted, those who took part in setting up the [962] censorship had to act on British models and precedents. It was a part of the criminal law and the difficulties of the Minister for Justice of that period were, as I explained before in this House, to adjust the criminal law, the common law and the statute law with regard to indecent publications and the indecent publication of pictures and to turn it into something more like a civil procedure. When the Constitution was enacted by the Irish people in 1937, they decreed what in America is known as the “four liberties”. One of the liberties is the liberty of speech, publication and utterance. May I read Article 40, Section 6, sub-section (1):

“The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality: (i) the right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.”

That is, the right of free publication as well as free utterance. That right is restricted and frustrated, we are told, by the censorship when a prohibition order is issued and the sale and circulation of a man's book in the Twenty-Six Counties is prevented. But that right is to be enjoyed “subject to public order and morality”.

“The publication or utterance...”

—the two terms used in the criminal law of England—

“of blasphemous, seditious or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”

The publication of indecent matter is, therefore, an offence under the fundamental law of the country and not under any particular enactment.

That means that the Constitution is to be implemented by legislation, arranging how it is to be determined that a publication or utterance is indecent or obscene. What has happened is this: there was a difficulty in England, indeed it is a difficulty everywhere, about defining indecency and obscenity. Indecency itself has the degree of obscenity and of gross [963] obscenity. That difficulty is common also to the definition of obscenity, so that there are really degrees of indecency and there are specific names in describing indecency and obscenity. On a former occasion, in 1943, I quoted the case of the Queen versus Hincklin, in which Lord Justice Cockburn made a deliverance on the matter which was afterwards cited in Geneva when there was a proposal to have an international restriction on the publication and circulation of obscene literature.

Both the French and the Indian representatives quoted Lord Justice Cockburn's opinion:—

“We have to take into account to whom the publication is likely to go, into whose hands it may fall, and will it fall into the hands of those whose minds are such as to receive the influence of it so that it makes for depravity.”

That is admittedly the first attempt to “define” obscenity. It is not perhaps what philosophers would call a definition, but for legal purposes, it has been described as an excellent approach to a definition and it has been acted upon.

Now, the Minister, who was a lawyer as well, my friend, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, had carriage of this Act of 1929 and he put it into the Interpretation Clause—in the little dictionary—which is in Part I of the Act of 1929, and Part I, let me emphasise, is not repealed by the present measure:—

“The word ‘indecent’ shall be construed as including suggestive of, or inciting to sexual immorality or unnatural vice, or likely in any other similar way to corrupt or deprave.”

Let me take the statement contained in that: “The word ‘book’ includes every printed publication....” It is a well-known differentiation which Law has established again and again that there is a difference between “means” and “includes”. “Means,” [964] it has been held, states what it does not include in effect, but what it means. There are other Ministers of State besides the Minister for Justice but the Minister in this Bill is the Minister for Justice and not any other Minister. The word “includes” is designed to be extensive so as to enlarge the scope of the term so that it not only means what it ordinarily means but is deemed to include this as well.

We have had criticisms of the working of the censorship from many nonlegal minds, editors of papers and periodicals, and writers of leading articles. All of them take us to task as to the meaning of what incites to sexual immorality or unnatural vice. The board decides nothing of the kind. If a book is not censored, we are told that we have legally recommended its publication. We do nothing of the kind. There are thousands of people with confused minds accusing us of breaking the law. You have heard it in this House when accusations have been made that we have banned a book published with the imprimatur of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. I took the two editions of that book to the House. One of them had the imprest permissu superiorum. I read it out and I read the other book which had been banned, and showed it was made a new book by deliberate act of the publishers, and an entirely different version of the original book. Yet, we are told that the book bearing the imprimatur has been banned. A friend, one of the University lecturers, repeated that statement during the Thomas Davis book exhibition, that we banned a book bearing this permissu superiorum.

Senator Sir John Keane repeated it in the December number of a journal called “Commentary”, although he had heard the two books read out here in November. Thus far on this question of Appeal. I have been asked by the next speaker to leave room for him as he will not be able to come to this House to-morrow, and I will reserve my further criticism for the Third Reading, but so far as I have dealt with it on the Second Reading, I have taken [965] what I consider to be the central issue. Is the Bill to pass, making it law that the Board is no longer to report to the Minister, but to make its own prohibition Order subject to appeal. That is the issue on the Second Reading and on that expection, I will reserve my further criticism for the Committee Stage.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: I give this Bill a very hearty welcome, and, in so far as it is proper for me to do so, I recommend the House to pass it with certain amendments which I propose to move. If it does not approve of the amendments I shall ask the House to pass it in its present form.

As far as I can see, this Bill is a careful, conscientious and bona fide attempt to make workable or, at all events, partially workable, the system of censorship which up to this has provided nothing but irritation for the people of Ireland and amusement for cultured people outside our country. If this Bill is passed, more especially if it is passed with certain amendments, I think you will have a workable measure, and one against which, perhaps, there is not so much to be said. All censorship, I confess, in my view is a thing which in principle is rooted in evil. I believe it to be equally indefensible in practice. I believe that it defeats with inevitable sureness the very objects for which it is introduced, that it brings in its train a whole number of consequences and carries with it a number of by-products which are wholly disastrous. But while I hold that personal conviction very strongly, so much so that I think many of my friends, both in the House and outside it, will be surprised to find me speaking as strongly, as I intend to speak, in favour of a measure whereby the liberty of individuals is cut down by the arbitrary decisions of the board, yet I realise that that is an individual view and that it probably does not represent the sense of this House. Therefore, as the whole argument against censorship depends on the fact that the opinion of an individual who wishes to impose his mind on another may be a wrong opinion, I must [966] accept the position that I myself may be wrong in my individual views and by my acceptance of that position at the same time provide one of the arguments against censorship.

As it is, I propose to deal with this Bill on the assumption that it will be impossible for me to persuade the House that a more drastic measure of amendment would be desirable, and with the conviction that this measure before the House does away with a great deal of the evil of the original Act and preserves any merit it may have had. With that provision and with the provision that I do not wish to suggest for one moment that censorship may not do a certain amount of good—though I wish freely to declare my personal view that it generally does more evil than good—I think we can only approach the discussion of the provisions of this Bill by some consideration as to the way in which the original Act worked because the introduction of this Bill by the Minister is a confession of the fact that the original Act and the original system of censorship were in fact a failure. If we want to see how and why they were a failure, it is not necessary to examine any abstract argument for or against censorship but merely to examine its practical working to see what were its fruits.

The fruits of the last Act were, as you all know, a register of prohibited publications, which is more familiarly though perhaps less reverently known as Everyman's Guide to the Modern Classics. By that publication the work of the Censorship Board must stand or fall, and though I have not got the latest edition before me, up to about a year ago I did take the trouble to make some analysis of what had been the fruit of the work of the board. The first thing, I think, that would strike any impartial observer who might look at this register—possibly some members of the House have the register in front of them at the present moment—the first thing that would strike anybody looking casually down the column is that among the publishing firms who had their books prohibited [967] are the Students' Chrisitan Movement, the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and the Mothers' Union.

Professor Magennis: Hear, hear.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: These three firms are firms maintained by people who exist for the purpose of spreading Christian knowledge, Christian doctrine and moral and careful views. If one finds that books published as being desirable to be read by people of that class fall under the ban of the Censor as books that nobody ought to read, it at least would give one some hesitation in accepting the view that the action of the censorship was correct or that their judgment was valid. But it does not rest there. For the moment I am only dealing with books which are professedly religious and professedly moral. A few years ago there was set up a council known as the Central Council of Health Education. It was under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of Canterbury and it had on the council members of every Church, members of the medical profession, members of local government institutions and bodies. Their object was to provide books which should be read by every young man and young girl. This body, comprising churchmen of different denominations, with the experience of doctors to help it and the experience of local administrators to guide it, published a number of books which, in their opinion, were books which every boy or girl, every adult man or adult woman, ought to read. If they wished to approach life with a proper knowledge and a proper respect for its functions it was desirable that they should read these books. But the books which the Archbishop of Canterbury and his coadjutors considered should be read by every young man and girl were classed by the Board of Censorship as books which no young Irishman or girl might open. That, of course, called forth a public and open protest from the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin.

Again I ask you if you find these five members of the Censorship Board or the working majority of them, classing [968] books as unfit to be read by any young Irishman or Irish girl, when these particular books had been prepared by a representative committee of clerics and responsible laymen as books which should be read by every young man and girl, does it not raise in your mind some suspicion that the working of this Censorship Board was not all that it should be. Does it not make you feel that this is a case where everybody is out of step except Johnny?

Professor Magennis: May I ask the Senator has he read the publication of the Mothers' Union? Criticism should be based on actual experience.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: I shall try to answer the Senator to the best of my ability. I think that book was given to me to be looked through by one of the Senators at a meeting here. I glanced through it and I saw nothing which I thought objectionable. I may be mistaken as to whether that was the exact work to which the Senator refers, but he asked me this question in the middle of my speech. I had passed from that some time ago and I propose to continue where I left off of my own volition. I may say I have read the publications with which I was dealing a moment ago, that is, these pamphlets. For myself, if the Senator wishes to know my opinion, I rank myself on the side of the Archbishop of Dublin and the Archbishop of Canterbury against the Senator and his coadjutors.

Professor Magennis: And the Constitution.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: I cannot deal with every point now, but I will deal with every point individually afterwards to the best of my ability.

Professor Magennis: So shall I.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: I pass for the moment from books which are deliberately published for the purpose of improving the public morals to those books whose object is the more common one of providing legitimate entertainment [969] and amusement—the novel and the story. If you trouble to go through the list of novel writers and story writers in Everyman's Guide, you will find, first of all, that 44 Irish writers have had 170 books banned as being indecent and obscene, and that that list includes practically every Irish writer of note and practically every Irish writer whose name or works would be known outside this country. Are all our writers so depraved as to be classed by the Censorship Board as indecent and obscene? This is a small country. We have not got a very great number of writers, but 44 of those have had a black mark put opposite them in 170 books by the five gentlemen, or the working majority of the five gentlemen, composing the Censorship Board.

Let us consider America. Quite recently there was an investigation by a responsible literary journal as to who were the ten greatest novelists who had written in the last 20 years. The journal was The Saturday Review of Literature. They selected the ten greatest American novelists of the last 20 years. If, with that list of ten in your hand, you then go through Everyman's Guide, you will find that the Censorship Board have classed seven of them as writing things which were indecent and obscene, and should not be read in Ireland. You will find, further, that when there had been a selection made of the five greatest American novels of the century, according to the Censorship Board three of those novels might not be read in Ireland. Again I ask you, does that not arouse in your minds the suspicion that all was not well with the working of the Censorship Board?

Professor Magennis: Will the Senator permit me, as I permitted him on other occasions, to correct that remark? He is not acquainted with the 1929 Act. I can illustrate my point from the case of Deputy Dillon, who complained similarly that a book by a great author of whom he was making a special study had been banned by the board, interrupting his studies. I said to him: “All you have to do is to apply to the Minister for Justice, indicating what [970] studies you are pursuing, and he will let you have a permit.” A fortnight later, Deputy Dillon came to me and thanked me, with the remark that the Minister and the chairman of the board did not do justice to the legislation they were working under by keeping it a secret from the public. I said: “It is in the Act.” It is in the Act for Senator Kingsmill Moore.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: I am obliged to the Senator for telling me something which——

An Cathaoirleach: Might I suggest to Senator Magennis that those points should be dealt with on the Committee Stage, and that the Senator be allowed to continue his speech uninterrupted?

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: I may say that that point had not escaped me. It does not seem to affect my argument. What I stated was that, of the five greatest American novels, three were on this list of censored publications. It is quite true that, if an individual writes to the Minister for Justice, he might get a permit to introduce and read one of them, but that does not affect the weight of my argument that if, out of the five best novels, you find three banned, it is much more likely that the judgment of the Board of Censors is wrong than the judgment of the people who have acclaimed those as great novels—giving that enlightenment on life and that knowledge of human character which it is the business of all of us to acquire—which should be available to be read by every responsible man and woman.

I have dealt with the main Irish and American authors. I could deal, with equal fulness, with the Continental authors. I will only remind the House that there has been published recently a novel which no responsible critic of whom I am aware ranks lower than amongst the six greatest novels ever written, which most would class amongst the first three, and which many would put at the top. I refer to Proust's work, The Remembrance of Things Past. Here again, [971] we find that certain of the books of Proust in that series appear in the register of prohibited publications. We are always taught that England is the home of everything objectionable, and I think 67 English authors appear on the list. It is not so bad as Ireland, because it is a much larger country, and Ireland has 40 authors on the list. I do not propose to go into this at length. I think I have shown already that the name which has been given to this register was a pretty accurate one, and that it may soberly be regarded as the guide to the best of the modern classics.

Professor Magennis: It is also called the best seller.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: I accept that, but I would imagine if it is a best seller it is more likely to be so as a guide to modern classics than because it gives the names of books which you cannot get.

Professor Magennis: They cross the Border to get them.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: I think the general conclusion is inevitable from the facts I have stated that this Act has been operated with complete disregard to the wording of the Act, which, despite what Professor Magennis said, does require that before a book can be banned it should be in general tendency indecent or obscene. The eminent Professor referred to the definition section, but— I speak subject to correction on this— I think the Censorship Board has to find, before it reports against a book, that it is in general tendency indecent or obscene.

Professor Magennis: That is the report formula; yes.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: And I maintain that no five rational men could have banned, under that formula, the books which have been banned, and that, if the question had been open to be put before the courts as to whether [972] it was conceivable that the books could come within that description, the decision would have been reversed by the courts, not merely because they differed from the Censorship Board but because they considered that no five men, regarding the words of the Act, could reasonably have come to such a conclusion. It is also, I think, clear that the instructions of the Act with regard to the importance of considering the question of literary merit before a decision was come to, were almost entirely disregarded. It would appear, indeed, that the effect of the working of this Act has been that it has affronted the general opinion of decent and responsible men; that the effect of it has been to impose the view of five persons as a kind of fetter upon the intellect and the information of the nation. Now, when I say that, I want to make it quite clear that although I am attacking the judgment of the Censorship Board, as such, I do not intend to exhibit any disrespect for any individual member of it. We have in this House, in Senator Magennis, the chairman of the board, and we do know perfectly well that Senator Magennis is quite outstanding for his erudition, for his acute thinking, for his more than elephantine memory and, if I may say so, for his powers of endurance. I make no pretence to any such high qualities, but this I do say: that whether it be the case of Senator Magennis or any other member of the board—be their qualities ten times as outstanding or be mine ten times as negligible—I still would resist with my last breath the right of Senator Magennis or any of his colleagues to tell me what I may or may not read. If they were to give me advice in the ante-room, it would be received with gratefulness, with consideration, and with thanks for their kindness in giving it, but when advice is turned into command, it becomes effrontery and impertinence, not on their individual part, but on the part of the people who put them in the position of having to act in such a way as that.

It is obvious, as I said, that it is implicit in this Bill that the Censorship Board in the past acted erroneously, and that the problem before the [973] House is to see in what way their actions may be legitimately controlled so as to ensure that the Bill, when it becomes an Act, is properly interpreted, that an opportunity is given to everybody to put forward his own view, and that, if I may use the phrase broadly, the trial is a fair one. Senator Magennis himself has called attention to what, I think, is one of the defects of the Act, in that it uses in a definition section the word “includes” instead of “means”, and the first thing which I hope to recommend the House to adopt subsequently is that the definition should be made clear and that, instead of the phrase “the word ‘indecent’ includes”, the phrase “the word ‘indecent’ means” should be substituted.

I suggest that it is also necessary that the appeal tribunal, which Senator Magennis very reasonably criticises because of its small number, should be one which would command the respect of everybody, both authors, publishers, and the general public. There is another thing I should like to see. While the provision for somebody to be on the board who is skilled in legal learning is a very proper one, I should like to confine it to a judge of the High Court, the Supreme Court or the Circuit Court, because everybody knows that although a man may be seven or even 17 years a barrister he may never have held a brief. Now, while it is necessary to have somebody there to restrain enthusiasm, within the possible legal meaning of the word —and that is all to the good—the House might consider whether it would not also be wise to have somebody there to represent the interest and the peculiar outlook of the authors and publishers themselves or, if that were not feasible, to allow at least one member of the board to be nominated by a responsible body such as the Irish Academy of Letters; and that the third person should be chosen as representing the ordinary reading public—not looking for anything that is pornographic, but not looking at the same time to have the life of the world, the representation of which is the sacred trust of the novelist, represented as something entirely etiolated, emasculated, and controlled.

[974] I would agree with Senator Magennis that it might be possible—and for myself I would have no objection—to add two persons to represent the members of the two chief Churches of this State; but that the body should be a responsible and representative one, whose opinions and judgments will carry weight, I think is absolutely necessary. It is not merely necessary that its opinions should carry weight, but it is also necessary that those who are interested in maintaining the thesis that a book is indecent, and those who are interested in maintaining the thesis that it is not indecent, should both have an opportunity of putting forward their points of view before the Censorship Board and the appeal board. I think that the person who has introduced a book to the notice of the board, and who alleges that it is indecent, should be allowed to develop his thesis before the board, and that similar facilities should be given to the author or publisher.

In fact, I think we should go further. In connection with this system, which seems to be growing, of the anonymous denunciation of books by people who are unwilling to accept responsibility for the slanders they impliedly make when they denounce a book, I think they should be forced to have the courage of their convictions, and that if a book is to be labelled indecent and obscene by the Censorship Board, the person who has called it to their attention should appear as the person who set the board in motion and have his name published together with the name of the book which has been banned. Those who choose for denunciation books which should properly be banned will therefore get a mead of honour, and those people who adopt a procedure something like that of the Lion's Mouth in Venice, of sending in books with marked passages in the hope that busy people, who may not have time to read the whole of the book, will condemn it because of these passages, will then find that perhaps people do not think so much of their Comstockian methods as they would like to believe. That is another method that I should like to see introduced. But if we can make sure that the book is properly examined, that the words [975] of the Act are observed, that there is no snap decision made by reading a page here or a page there, or by looking at marked passages, and that an opportunity is given of controverting views and arguing against views based on a method such as that, then I think that this Bill is one which is very worthy of the support of this House, is one which will help to restore the credit of this country, and that, in so far as it modifies the existing system, it will save the censorship from complete discredit and will enable it to produce as much good as there may be inherent in the system.

Mr. Campbell: Perhaps I may be described by some members of the House as a non-intellectual and as an individual who is steeped in superstition, but I welcome this Bill, particularly as it does not propose to alter the purpose of the 1929 Act in regard to the prohibition of books and periodicals of an indecent and obscene character. As the Minister said, the changes proposed are based on the experience gained in the working of the 1929 Act, and are changes which the operation of that measure has shown to be desirable. The first proposal in the Bill before us is to alter the system under which, in the present Act, the Minister made the prohibition orders in respect of books and periodicals on the advice of the Censorship of Publications Board. That is a reasonable proposal, and one which will reflect itself as an improvement on the present position. The Bill provides that the Censorship of Publications Board shall be empowered to make the orders themselves, and this should prove to be a much more satisfactory method than the one at present in operation, under which the Minister is called on to prohibit the publication of a book or periodical which, in fact, he himself may not have read at all. It also relieves him of the very difficult task, even when he has read the book or periodical concerned, of deciding whether a particular work should be prohibited from circulation or not. The position was, I think he said in the other House, that [976] he was reluctant to oppose his personal judgment to the considered opinion of a number of persons specially selected for their qualifications for that particular task.

It removes also the anomalous position by which the Minister could on occasions constitute himself a court of appeal against himself in respect to prohibition Orders made by him. We would agree with the Minister when he said that such a principle was to say the least of it unsatisfactory. The proposal in the Bill leaving the issuing of prohibition orders in future solely to the decision of the Censorship Board itself is a welcome one and is, in my opinion, an expression of confidence and appreciation of the excellent work done under the present Act by members of what was at times a very much criticised body. They accomplished no mean task in achieving what the Minister in the Dáil debate on this Bill described as a complete success in stemming the flow of filthy literature which at one time, by the magnitude and gravity of its indecency and obscenity, threatened to engulf our young people in moral ruin. To the extent to which success has been achieved in that respect we owe it to the constant viligance and diligence of the members of the Censorship Board, and particularly to the chairman, Senator Magennis.

The second proposal as set out in Section 3 of the Bill to establish for the first time the censorship of publications appeal board is another one which, we are told, the working of the present Act has shown to be desirable. To that proposal in itself I think there can be little objection. There are, however, inherent in the setting up of such an appeal board difficulties that might endanger and frustrate the whole purpose and intent of the Bill. There is the possibility—and we might as well face up to the fact—that it may not work as easily or as satisfactorily from the point of view of those who desire to see all salacious books and publications banned from circulation in this country, as the system it is intended to replace in the present Act, and under which the Minister, [977] after consulation with the board, could revoke or vary a prohibition Order. When I say that I do not wish to convey the impression that those who will constitute the appeal board, and who, I am quite certain, will be as anxious as I would be to exclude obscene and indecent literature from circulation here, would deliberately set themselves out to frustrate the purpose of the Bill.

Trouble in this respect might easily arise from quite honest difference of opinion in interpreting the section of the Bill which sets out the conditions which must be fully considered before a decision is arrived at to prohibit the circulation of any book or publication. Under the present Act the Minister himself was the only appeal and consequently the position in that respect was made relatively easy from the point of appeal.

There was no danger of a conflict in the matter of legal interpretation in regard to the section of the Bill to which I refer. There is, however, in my opinion, a very real danger of a development along that line manifest in the Bill before the House. Senator Magennis gave some indication of the work of the Censorship Board. I am not in a position to say if the Censorship Board, under the present Act, has experienced any difficulty in regard to the interpretation of sub-section (a) of Section 7, and of a similar sub-section in Section 9, but I contend that the setting up of the appeal board will increase the probability of a development in that direction, and it is not impossible to conceive a situation being arrived at, in which the interpretation of that sub-section by the Censorship Board might be diametrically opposed to that of the appeal board. If this development were to become a permanent feature in the relationship between the Censorship Board and the appeal board, it is quite easy to visualise a position of stalemate being reached in which the whole Act might be rendered nugatory.

For that reason I ask the Minister seriously to consider an amendment of Section 7 (a) and of Section 9 (a). The words in these sub-sections that a book or a publication before being prohibited, [978] must be, in the opinion of the Censorship Board, “in its general tendency” indecent or obscene leave the sections wide open to a very free interpretation, and I feel that the small section of the community opposed to censorship of even indecency and obscenity would not be slow to use every manner of persuasion to secure the revocation by the appeal board of a prohibition order. The Minister, quite rightly, may ask me what is the necessity or what is the justification now for any change in the form of words to which I refer. My reply is that the world has retrogressed to such an extent since this particular clause was given a certain interpretation when it appeared in the 1929 Act and when there was no appeal board, that with the provision of the new appeal machinery adumbrated in the Bill a much more liberal view was now likely to be taken and that the words “in its general tendency” indecent or obscene might be construed as suggesting that, before banning a book or a publication, it would be necessary to prove that such a book or publication was written designedly to set forth indecency or obscenity.

I am fortified in that contention by a paragraph in The Publishers' Circular and Booksellers' Record in its issue of July 29th, 1945, which reads:

“In a recent lawsuit in the United States' Court of Appeal it was ruled that ‘there are no absolute and enduring standards of what is obscene. The border-line between obscenity and decency changes with the times, with the public taste in literature, and with public attitude on sex instruction’.”

Having regard, therefore, to the ever-changing attitude of mind and the general lowering of moral standards in other places in respect to these subjects, I think it is essential—and I will go so far as to say that there is a grave obligation imposed on us—to ensure that as far as is humanly possible there shall be no equivocation in regard to the interpretation of the particular sections of this Bill setting forth the tests that must be applied before a book or a publication shall be deemed to be indecent or obscene. [979] Again, the Minister may ask me what form of words I would suggest to get over the difficulty of interpretation of this particular section. If I may be permitted to say so, I think he has suggested the ideal solution. Replying to a point made by a Deputy in the Dáil on the Committee Stage a question arose as to whose responsibility the banning of a book should be, and reference was made to the fact that the people doing so would be experts. The Minister himself supplied the ideal form of words which should be substituted for the words as they appeared in Sections 7 (a) and 9 (a). On that occasion the Minister stated that to decide whether a book was indecent or not did not require any great theological or ethical learning; that a knowledge of the Ten Commandments was sufficient.

I have no desire and probably would not be competent to follow the learned dissertation of Senator Kingsmill Moore this evening, but I say as a plain, ordinary Irishman that I approve of the Ten Commandments being imposed as a test as to whether a book is indecent or obscene. As a plain, ordinary Irish subject I would stake my claim and rest my case on the Ten Commandments being imposed as the test whether a book is decent or indecent. I shall, probably, be accused of being a non-intellectual and of being soaked in superstition, which is what is usually alleged against the ordinary, plain man in this country. If there is to be progress and if Senator Kingsmill Moore takes his stand beside the Archbishop of Canterbury and other eminent divines, I prefer to line myself up with the Ten Commandments.

Mr. Kingsmill Moore: Are you suggesting that the two Archbishops do not do that?

Mr. Campbell: I am sure that they are quite sincere in the work in which they are engaged, and I know that they are trying to teach in accord with Christian principles, from their point of view, but I prefer to stand by the Ten Commandments and apply that [980] test. I am not suggesting that they do not obey the Ten Commandments. As regards paragraph (a) of Section 7, which deals with books which are in their general tendency indecent or obscene, and in regard to paragraph (d) which deals with matters that violate the moral law, I suggest seriously that the test of the Ten Commandments be applied. I do not know whether the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs would be more competent than the Minister for Justice to translate the Ten Commandments into a suitable sub-section. I feel sincerely and deeply about this matter. Inevitably, my view must differ from those who dub themselves intellectuals. The Ten Commandments are quite sufficient for me. In a Christian country such as this, I do not see why we should not adopt the Ten Commandments as the test whether a book is indecent or obscene or not.

The same remarks which I made in regard to the definition of these words “in its general tendency indecent or obscene” apply with just the same force to paragraph (a) of Section 9 of the Bill. I think that Section 9 requires an amendment of that kind even more than Section 7 because it deals with periodical publications which fall into the hands of ordinary people, nonintellectuals, day after day and week after week. We all know what the position was here less than 20 years ago—before the Censorship Bill became law. We know how, Sunday after Sunday in our towns and villages, the people themselves seized those lecherous publications and publicly burned them in the market squares. I do not want to see any “let-up” on this question of censorship. I think that it is legislation for the greatest number we ought consider. I was told by a Senator that there were various ways of importing those books. I think he told me that he was a member of a group which had made arrangements for importing those books. Senator Magennis described how the rejects of London libraries were imported here and sold in the shops and circulation libraries. People got those books every Sunday morning, probably coming from Mass, when they [981] were buying their cigarettes or sweets. As mental pabulum, they were not getting as good value as they were getting in the sweets or cigarettes.

I advocate the amendment which I have indicated and, if the Minister does not accept my proposal, I propose to put down an amendment to make clear what is intended by the section. As it is, it is open to various legal interpretations which will not be to the common good. If we cannot embody the Ten Commandments in legal phraseology, we should at least alter the section by providing for the omission of the words “in its general tendency”, thus providing that a book shall be prohibited if it is “indecent or obscene or subversive of public morals.” That should be acceptable in a country like this where practically 100 per cent. of the population has a decent, Christian outlook. I shall not introduce the question of religion. Everybody in the country believes in the practice of some form of the Christian religion.

If the Minister does not accept my suggestion, I intend to move an amendment in the terms which I have mentioned. I do not want to embarrass the Minister. The Minister for Justice will not, I am sure, be embarrassed by my amendment, because he struck the high spot of the whole debate by suggesting that the Ten Commandments should be the test. I do not want to be considered a puritan but I think that there are more fundamental things in life than the reading of obscene or indecent literature. I should be misinterpreting the voice of the plain people if I said otherwise. They do not want any of this literature. Yesterday, I read a letter from a member of the Oireachtas pointing out that Northern Ireland was superior to us because there there was no censorship of books. The writer of that letter represents a working-class constituency. If censorship were removed and there were to be a flood of lecherous, indecent and pornographic reading matter, I wonder how he would feel about it. Does he think that his constituents approve of what he is advocating? I know the danger that arises from perusal of those books. It end [982] with the moral ruin of the young people concerned. It is not set out in this Bill that one of its objects is to protect adolescents from the impact of this foul literature but we all realise that that is what it is intended to do. We ban those books and this periodical literature to protect youth and to protect adolescents as well. There is a fairly decent opinion in this country and we want to preserve our tradition in that respect.

This country has been referred to as a mere backwater. I should prefer to see it remain a backwater to seeing it subject to the danger of perusal of this literature. Senator Magennis mentioned that only £30 to £50 was allowed for the operation of this Act. This country spends thousands of pounds on the inspection of animals, health conditions in factories, and many other phases of activity. The life of the country is governed by inspection. We take those measures for protection against physical disease. Why should we not spend more money in protecting our population from moral disease? This curse of bad literature ultimately leads not only to moral, but to physical ruin, in many cases. I have seen it in Mountjoy Prison. I am convinced that the consequences flow from bad literature among girls and boys. I could show there at the present time 25 young girls suffering from a fell disease, and I have no doubt that they did not pick it up in the country towns or the cities of Ireland. There was some other motive, and I am convinced that evil literature played its part.

Section 9 of the present Bill imposes an obligation on the citizens to collect several issues for publication before the Censorship Board can act. I think that one issue of any paper containing indecent, obscene or pornographic matter, should be sufficient for the board to impose a ban on the publication concerned. We all know the story of the bad apple, how it can contaminate a whole barrel of good apples. The same thing can happen in the case of a periodical. Why should a periodical be allowed to go for three issues before the board can ban it?

I would urgently appeal to the Minister [983] to give these matters serious consideration. We are told that the world is progressing. If it is hoped that we are to progress as they are progressing in other countries, I want to say that we do not want to make progress in that direction. I do not pretend to speak for the intellectuals. I feel quite certain that many organs of the intellectuals will assail me fiercely in their next issues. I am a representative of the plain people. I know the working class as well as any other member of the House, and I know they do not want this Bill.

The working class do not want it, but the pseudo intellectuals tell us that we must let up on the censorship. They are making a mistake if they think the plain people are going to stand for any reintroduction of the vicious type of literature which the original Act was largely successful in keeping out. I refer to the periodical publications which were a disgrace to this country.

I do not know why people revel in these things. I have had experience of meeting people in all walks of life. Recently, in the course of business, I had to meet three men from Manchester. Their ages were about 65 or 67, and I never heard such filth in all my life. Their stories were a disgrace to humanity, the worst I have ever heard. They were so bad that I left the company under protest. I cannot conceive why apparently sensible men should be guilty of so much pornography. I cannot understand why we should be asked to let stuff of that kind into the hands of the people.

I do not know whether anything I have said has been worth listening to, but I felt it incumbent on me to state very plainly that I believe that the censorship can avert greater evils. This flood of filth not only results in moral wrong but, ultimately, to my own knowledge, it leads also to physical wrong.

Mr. Ryan: I support this Bill, but I do so without expressing any strong views for or against censorship. I feel that this Bill remedies, to a certain extent, a defect in the Act of 1929. We have heard Senator Magennis this [984] evening telling us his experiences as a censor for a considerable number of years, and I think that he deserves every gratitude from the country for his unselfish services in the cause of pure literature.

His experience, as narrated by him this evening, has been of considerable assistance to me in determining my views on this Bill. I agree that it is an improvement, that there should be an appeal from the Censorship Board. I think Senator Magennis will not quarrel with that. But the form of appeal given by this Bill is, in my opinion, rather half baked and incomplete. The Bill provides for an appeal board consisting of a judge or a person of judicial standing, together with two other members. Now, what is the idea of having a judge as chairman of an appeal board? Because he is a person capable of determining matters on a judicial basis. In other words, the legislature regards him as a person capable of determining the intention of the legislature as expressed in legislation.

The Bill is silent as to the procedure before the appeal board and also as to the procedure on an appeal. It is true that Section 20 of the Bill empowers the Minister to make regulations in relation to any matter or thing referred to in the Act, or on any other matter about which he considers it necessary or desirable to make regulations for the purpose of carrying into effect the objects of the Act. But the Bill does not contain any provision to enable the Minister to regulate appeals. I consider that is absolutely necessary. There must be some certainty about the mode of appeal.

The Bill simply says that the author or the publisher or five members of the Oireachtas may appeal to the appeal board. You may appeal by writing a letter or a postcard, but I say there should be a prescribed form of appeal just as you have a form of appeal from a District Court to a Circuit Court, a proper system of procedure. The Bill is also silent as to the procedure before the board, whether the appeal board is master of its own procedure, or whether it is entitled to hear evidence, representations made by publishers, or [985] even by the five members of the Oireachtas who have signed the notice of appeal in respect of the book. What are the functions of the five members? Is it to appeal to the appeal board and leave the matter there?

That is like a member of this House receiving a letter from some friend asking him to do him some favour. He acknowledges the letter immediately and says he will be prepared to do everything, yet in fact, he does nothing. Here the members who appeal to the appeal board against the prohibition of a book in which they are in no way concerned have apparently no further duty or liability in the matter. I certainly say that this Bill is incomplete so far as the procedure before the appeal board is concerned, and I would suggest that the matter should be remedied in order to make the appeal effective and satisfactory.

I have listened to the views of Senator Professor Magennis on the question of an appeal from five members of the Censorship Board to three members of the appeal board. The type of hearing is not the same. There are five members of the Censorship Board, described as fit and proper persons and the appeal board is composed of three further persons, one of whom, described as a legal person, will be chairman.

He may be a judge. He will probably be a judge and there will be two other members. It is possible that there may be very few appeals but, at all events, I think that a person who is aggrieved by a decision of the Censorship Board will have a second chance and I am certain will get a very fair hearing. I would suggest that, as the functions of the appeal board are of a quasi-judicial nature, the members of the appeal board should have before them all the representations that can be made by the appellant and by persons who are in favour of upholding the order of prohibition made by the Censorship Board. Therefore, I would suggest that this matter should be considered carefully so as to make this body an effective and satisfactory appeal tribunal.

There are other matters in the Bill [986] to which I desire to refer. I think that when the Minister for Justice was introducing this Bill in the Dáil and when the Minister for Posts and Telegraps was introducing it here this evening they said that the object of the Bill was to effect certain changes in the machinery of censorship, and gave other explanations as to the reason for the introduction of the Bill. These were satisfactory as far as they went, but we have had no explanation whatsoever from the Minister for Justice in the Dáil or the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs in this House as to why members of the Oireachtas should be dragged into this matter nolens volens. I am not aware of any representations made by any member of the Oireachtas that he, with four other members, should be appellants to the appeal tribunal. No explanation has been given as to why this greatness has been thrust upon members of the Oireachtas. I think Senator Douglas said that this provision might result in a certain amount of nuisance to members of the Oireachtas. They will be canvassed perhaps by disgruntled authors and disappointed publishers who may wish, if I may use the word, to “chance” an appeal to the appeal board. We all know that the members of the Oireachtas have enough to do without reading those types of books. I quite agree that any member of the Oireachtas who would sign an appeal to the appeal board against the prohibition of a book without having read the book is not worthy to be a member of the Oireachtas. Therefore, I would ask the Minister to consider seriously the deletion of this provision from Section 8 and also from Section 10 of the Bill. This is a provision which is an uninvited guest as far as the Oireachtas is concerned. No tangible reason or explanation has been given for its introduction to this Bill.

It must be remembered that the only order that can be made by the Censorship Board under Section 7 is an order prohibiting the sale and distribution of a book. When an order of prohibition is made by the Censorship Board, it is an order prohibiting the sale and distribution of a book, and an appeal to the appeal tribunal is an appeal against [987] the order prohibiting the sale and distribution of the book.

I now come to Section 5 of the Bill, which places, in my submission, altogether unnecessary, perhaps unwanted and, I would add, unjustifiable powers in the hands of customs officials. Section 5, sub-section (1) says that “an officer of the customs and excise may detain on importation (for the purpose of referring it to the Censorship Board for examination) any book which, in his opinion, ought to be examined by them under this Act”. “In his opinion”! If a customs officer says: “In my opinion, that book should be examined by the Censorship Board”, there is no appeal against it because we, the Legislature, are by this Bill putting these unlimited powers into the hands of the customs official. I certainly say that a customs official is not by training or, may I say without disrespect, by education fitted for the position of a censor of books. I would even say that the customs officials in the Post Office are not fitted for that work. About seven or eight years ago there was founded in England a periodical known as The Modern Law Review, to which I subscribed from the very beginning. It is a high-class law review, on a par with the Law Quarterly Review and the Cambridge Law Review. A few years ago I received from the publishers in London my quarterly part of that Law Review practically in tatters. On two or three occasions I never received it. I believe myself—I do not think I am engaging in phantasy—that it was held up by the Post Office because the word “modern” appeared in the title. The result was that, in order to get my perfectly legitimate Law Review, I had to instruct the publishers to put it in a closed envelope and address it to Professor M. J. Ryan, S.C., instead of to M. J. Ryan, so that the Post Office authorities would know that it had something to do with the profession of law.

I know of another case in which a High Court judge, since dead, arrived at Dun Laoghaire carrying a book with him. A customs official took the book from him and said: “That book is on [988] the list of prohibited publications.” The judge, who had his name on the book, did not protest but said: “I think you are wrong.” The judge went home, and had been home only about half-an-hour when this unfortunate customs officer rang at his door and told him that he had made a mistake, that the book which was prohibited was a work by an author of the same name. That is an example of the censorship which takes place at Dun Laoghaire. Reading this Bill, we find that a person can bring in to Dun Laoghaire a book which is on the register of prohibited publications, which is prohibited by law, and escape, provided he can prove that the book was imported otherwise than for sale or distribution.

Section 18 of the Bill is as follows:—

“(1) No person shall, except under and in accordance with a permit, import any prohibited book or any prohibited periodical publication.

(2) Where a person is charged, under Section 186 of the Customs Consolidation Act, 1876, with the importation of a prohibited book or a prohibited periodical publication it shall be a good defence for him to prove that the book or periodical publication was imported otherwise than for sale or distribution.”

If a traveller from America or some other country should arrive at Dun Laoghaire with a book which was not intended for sale or distribution in this country, the customs officer is entitled under this Act to take that book from him if in his opinion it ought to be censored. The purpose of censoring books is to prevent their sale and distribution; it is not to censor the morals of travellers from abroad. The customs officer in Dun Laoghaire is not there to prevent a traveller from abroad reading anything he chooses. The purpose is to prohibit the sale and distribution of those books in this country. Now, what may be the result? A traveller arrives at Dun Laoghaire with a book which has not been introduced into this country before. That traveller may merely have brought that book with him to read while he is here. The officer at Dun Laoghaire may seize that book in [989] the opinion that it ought to be censored. He sends the book to the Censorship Board. The Censorship Board examines the book and then makes an order prohibiting its sale and distribution. Then it is put on the list of prohibited publications. Nobody in this country would ever have heard of the book only for the officer at Dun Laoghaire, who thought it ought to be censored.

Therefore, I say that this section defeats its own end; it defeats the end of the Bill. I would suggest, therefore, that this section at all events should be modified so as to provide for the detention of books likely to be sold or distributed in this country, and I would suggest that this section should contain a provision somewhat similar to Section 18 to provide that a book should not be detained if the traveller satisfies the customs officer that such book is not intended for sale or distribution in this country. As I said, the Bill on the whole is a very useful one. It improves the machinery of censorship, and, if I have criticised it, it was in the desire to make the Bill more workable and more effective for the purpose for which it was intended.

Mrs. Concannon: This Bill has been described by various speakers, and very truly, as a machinery Bill. Therefore, it did not seem to me when I read it that there would be a very long Second Reading discussion. I myself did not intend to intervene, because, as I read the Bill, it accepts the principle of censorship, and its object is to make that censorship effective. We have learned by the experience of the last 18 years, or whatever is the number of years during which we have had censorship, the defects of the Censorship Act which has been in force up to this, and, since we accept the principle of censorship, it is very important to make that censorship as effective as possible. Therefore, it seems to me that Senator Kingsmill Moore's speech was most extraordinary. He began by saying he welcomed this Bill. Then, most illogically, he went on to show that he did not approve of censorship at all. The next part of his speech was devoted to an attack on those who for many laborious years have performed the [990] thankless task, the revolting task, of reading the sordid stuff that some people tell us is classical. Who are those people who proclaimed them classics, and who pity us in our ignorance, our low-brow ignorance, because we are deprived of them? I often got Harper's Magazine, and saw the reviews of books, and from those reviews I am supposed to take my idea as to what are classics. Those of us who have had an ordinary education, those of us who have had the advantage of being trained in the traditional moral standards, have our own definition of classics. We do not have to take it from Americans, or we do not have to take it from people who are very great at blowing their own horns; people who are just trying to push themselves and make it appear that their works are classics inasmuch as they offend our ordinary moral standards. That seems to be the great test of classicism. Any ordinary, decent feeling is food for babes; it is not classics, according to those people.

The point is that the Irish people and the State have accepted the principle that they are responsible to God for their actions; that before the Tribunal of God there is responsibility both on States and people. They have accepted the principle of censorship and our task now with regard to this Bill is to make that censorship work well. I think, therefore, that the speech of Senator Ryan was most helpful, because there are apparent defects in this Bill which we hope the responsible Minister will consider carefully. Senator Kingsmill Moore, on the other hand, having stated his opinion of censorship, proposed to amend this Bill, and from what he said the indications are that he wants to make censorship a laughing-stock, to make it ineffective. That idea seemed to me to be behind his whole speech. Therefore, we have to fear Senator Kingsmill Moore's amendments, and keep a very clear eye on all the amendments. At the same time I hope that every member of this House, sensible of his and her responsibilities, will read the Bill carefully, and will consider whatever amendments may be brought forward. I hope that the Bill will be taken seriously. To my mind, [991] it was very disturbing to find the other House taking it so casually. This is one of the most important Bills that have come before us, and I must say that the Seanad has taken it seriously, but the other House was concerned more with the political effects rather than with something which concerns the whole moral welfare and physical health of our people, because if you let all this literature loose on the country the physical consequences will be dreadful. I have recently been talking to a person who holds a very responsible position in New York City, and she was most alarmed at the conditions there. It appears that in this great State from which we are told we are to get our knowledge of what are classics, there is a law providing that everybody who is found guilty of an offence, even such things as motoring offences, has to submit to a blood test, and the results are most disquieting as from 6 to 7 per cent. have been found to be tainted with disease. That is the country from which, presumably, we are to allow pornographic literature to come in, and which would have swept through the country had it not been for the work of the Censorship Board. In spite of criticism and cynical jests they have stood up to it, and have done their work without fear of criticism and without reward.

I think that we ought to take this thing seriously. The fact that only £35, at most, is given for the purpose of the Censorship Board just shows what we have thought of their work, and, when we realise what they have done and what they have saved us from, we ought not to let this occasion pass without expressing our gratitude to them. I think I speak on behalf of the ordinary low-brow people of Ireland when I say that I believe Senator Kingsmill Moore is wrong when he says that censorship has caused irritation to the Irish people and amusement to cultured outsiders. Well, I do not think the Irish people are very irritated by it. I think that Senator Campbell spoke on behalf of the ordinary Irish people in the speech that he made. It was a splendid speech, and he is to be congratulated on it. Speaking on behalf [992] of the women of Ireland, I am very grateful to the Censorship Board for what they have done, and what they have saved us from.

Mr. O'Dea: Senator Kingsmill Moore, apparently, does not like censorship at all. He would like to allow everybody to read what they wish to read, and to do what they wish to do. Apparently, he approves of this Bill, because he hopes it will release some books that the present Censors have refused to be allowed to be distributed amongst the people of this country. Well, I have a fear that the Bill will have that effect if it goes through in its present form, because it deals only with publications that are indecent or obscene, and paragraph (b) appears to give a definition of what is indecent or obscene. The same definition is repeated in Sections 7 and 9, and it would appear to me that if there is an appeal—and, apparently, the chairman of that board will be a legal man and will have to try whether the Censorship Board were right or wrong in refusing to allow publication —the appeal board will be tied down by these words to the question of whether the publication concerned was indecent or obscene: did it suggest the use of contraceptives or such things, and, if not, then it ought to be allowed to be published. Now, you may have a book that is blasphemous, or a book that encourages divorce. We know that several books and plays that have been published have insidiously shown that divorce should be permitted. For instance, you have the situation where the rich and vulgar shopkeeper marries the noble clergyman's daughter; how she could not live with him because of his vulgarity and merely married him for his money, and she eventually leaves him, and in such books or plays all the sympathy is with the lady who leaves her husband.

Now, that kind of publication would not be obscene or indecent, but if that kind of literature is published in this country and comes before an appeal board. I believe that the appeal board would say that the publication should not have been stopped and that it is right for it to be sold in this country. For that reason, I strongly recommend [993] the amendment suggested by Senator Campbell. I hope the Minister will accept that amendment or, if not, that Senator Campbell will propose it later on. I would also suggest that he use the word “blasphemous” and put it into the amendment along with the words “subversive of morality”. I think he should also put down the word “blasphemous” in addition to “subversive of religion or morality”, and I also hope that steps will be taken to deal with such books so as to prevent them escaping by means of an appeal under this Act, which will occur if the Act is not properly drawn up.

Mr. Summerfield: At this late hour I shall not go into many of the points that I should like to go into, but in supporting the Bill I would suggest that in the operation of censorship up to now the board has not achieved all that it could have. With regard to the question of the publication of a list of books that have been banned, the experience has been that the publication of such a list has only extended and accelerated the sale of such books. As soon as it was known that books were banned, there was a demand for them. Now, I am surprised that in the course of the debate more stress has not been laid on something which, to me, appears to be obnoxious to the general community, and that is the provision whereby the personal luggage of travellers, whether Irish people or foreign people coming to this country, is now going to be at the mercy of men who, whatever their other merits may be are not trained to deal with the things with which they will be called upon to deal. In that connection, I have had personal experience of bringing in a book that I thought was fit to bring into this country for my own reading. I think that this Oireachtas should not be asked to pass legislation of that kind. We all admit that any customs examination is embarrassing and obnoxious to a degree, but we know that it has to be submitted to because of the universal practice of looking for dutiable goods; but whatever argument can be made for it on that score, none can be made on this particular score.

[994] There can be no justification for the removal of a private traveller's book, which he has got for his personal perusal, and there is certainly no justification for its being done in the manner that this Act provides for. I suggest that this will lead to considerable indignation, and that the Act would be strengthened by the deletion of that provision rather than by its retention. I think it ought to be struck out.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: If the Senator would please allow me. It is now 9 o'clock. Is it proposed that the House should sit later?

Mr. Quirke: I suggest that we should go on until this debate is concluded. There are few more speakers, and the Minister should be given an opportunity of replying.

Mr. Hayes: That is quite reasonable.

Mr. S. O'Donovan: I do not like to let this Bill pass without interjecting a few remarks.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Before the Senator proceeds further: is there any time limit proposed now?

Mr. S. O'Donovan: I do not think there should be a time limit, but I will set myself a time limit of five minutes.

Mr. Hayes: I do not like the proposition that there should be no time limit.

Mr. Douglas: There was an understanding that we should endeavour to finish the Second Stage to-night, and I suggest that we should go on for a half or three-quarters of an hour. As the Minister wants to deal with the matter, I think it would be well for us to go on for some time longer.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Very well.

Mr. S. O'Donovan: As I have said, Sir, I do not like to let this occasion pass without contributing a few remarks to the debate because, on the last occasion on which censorship was discussed here, I contributed to the debate, and, as a result, got a leading article in one of the daily papers the following morning. On that occasion [995] I referred to our standard being higher than the standards of other countries. I repeat that here to-night: that we, as a Christian country, predominantly a Catholic country, have higher standards than those of other countries: that our standards are higher than the standards which are observed in other countries, or, at least, whether they are observed or not, they are not even indicated in the legislation or in the general make-up of foreign countries.

If that were true on that occasion I think it is doubly and trebly true to-day. Since then practically the entire world has been involved in a war which has brought out the worst instincts in the people and nations involved in that war. It has brought out the worst characteristics in the human race, and I am satisfied that it has, to a great extent caused a reversion to pagan standards of conduct. We in this Christian country, which is predominantly Catholic, have set a higher standard than that which obtained in the past; certainly much higher than obtained in the recent past, and I hope we will maintain that standard. Our standards necessarily should be higher. When people speak about the abolition of censorship, we, as a Catholic people and as Catholic representatives in this Assembly, should raise our voices against any relaxation of the principles established by the Act of 1929. If there was any doubt in my mind about the present Act going to be an improvement the speech of Senator Kingsmill Moore confirmed it. The Senator led off by saying that all censorship is an evil. Therefore, we are evil people if we suggest that there should be any censorship. The Senator finished by saying that he was not going to have any five men dictate what he was to read, or any three men deciding on appeal what he would read. The Senator is a lawyer, and if he will not have any five men dictate what he should read does he want to have the law of the jungle here?

If no five people can dictate to him what he is to read, or what he is to do, what position does he want to bring [996] about? I understood there were five members on the Censorship Board that was in existence up to the introduction of this Bill, and that one of those representatives was a colleague of Senator Kingsmill Moore in this House, representing Trinity College. I wonder if it is fitting for a Senator to come out with such a violent attack on the existing Censorship Board, containing a representative of Trinity College who, I assume, was nominated by the Protestant section of the Christian Church?

I think the attack made on the Censorship Board is not justified. Not only was the Board but the Senator's own Alma Mater attacked. The books that have been banned by the Censorship Board were referred to as “Everyman's guide to the modern classics”. I think it is unbecoming of Senator Kingsmill Moore to make such a statement in this House. If these books are “Everyman's guide to the modern classics” they are not mine. Any books banned by any members of a tribunal set up—I do not mind who they are—certainly are not modern classics. Two of the books banned recently were brought to the notice of Senator Magennis by me. Having read them I saw they were filled with filth. One of them, bought at Woolworth's counter, was shown to me. I did not know then that Senator Magennis was chairman of the board, but I understood that he was connected with it. I brought the book to his notice and he subsequently informed me that it was banned. That book was not what Senator Kingsmill Moore or anybody could describe as a classic. It was filthy, one that no decent Christian would consider suitable reading for himself, for any member of his family, or for any member of the community. I do not know if a number of books by Irish writers would be what the Senator described as “modern classics”, but we certainly must have some adequate system of supervision of what is published and read in this Christian community. If there is not to be a loosening of the existing censorship, it is up to members of the Seanad to support this Bill and to see that no amendment is made unless there is proof to the contrary. The [997] line of argument adopted by Senator Kingsmill Moore would tend to convince me that he has a hope that the so-called amendment to be effected by this legislation will eventually mean that there will be greater facilities for the dissemination of books that should not be published or circulated amongst our people. I repeat what I said on a former occasion, that I believe our standards are higher than those prevailing elsewhere and as public representatives it is up to us to maintain those standards as high as possible. To bring about a position when anybody can read what he wishes, can do what he wishes, or say anything he wishes seems to me to have been the argument of the Senator. Apart from expressing my absolute disagreement with that view, I appeal to the House in case such an interpretation could, by any chance, be placed on this legislation, to see to it that some alternative is ensured before this Bill becomes law.

Mr. Meighan: I feel that it is my duty, on behalf of the plain people, to pay tribute to Senator Magennis who, notwithstanding his many preoccupations, has acted as chairman of the Censorship Board. I should like him to accept that tribute as coming sincerely from the plain people of the west of Ireland. I have no legal training and, therefore, am not in a position to give an opinion on the legal pitfalls which have been pointed out, but I suggest to the Minister that he should take note of the points raised by Senator O'Dea and Senator Ryan, who have legal experience. Instead of a loosening of the regulations, there should be a tightening-up. The legal points raised by the Senators to whom I have referred should receive careful consideration. Senator Summerfield suggested that, if a visitor came in with a book which might not be up to standard, it was not our business to interfere with it. I think we should be prepared to act up to our responsibilities in respect of anything which would harm the youth of the country, no matter what irritation it causes. If visitors are found in possession of offensive books, they should be taken up from them. If any concession be made, it should be on the basis of an undertaking by those people [998] that the books would not get into the hands of anybody in this country.

I was very interested in the debate, and I had no idea that so large a volume of work was imposed on the Censorship Board. The paltry amount of money which is placed at the disposal of the board astonishes me. If as has been stated, the amount placed at the disposal of the board is £30 or £50, it is not at all in keeping with the amount which should be expended on this work and bears no relation to what is spent on other public activities. This is a very important Bill because, if moral ruin comes to this country, it will entail physical ruin. I suggest that the Minister should see that the consequence of this Bill will not be a loosening but rather a tightening of censorship regulations.

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Little): When I undertook to substitute for the Minister for Justice, I did not think that I should be so disturbed by the arguments put up. I do not say that I was greatly disturbed by the arguments in connection with the Bill but I was disturbed by the literary judgments given here. Perhaps, I had better turn to serious matters. Everything that has been said in the debate will be noted and considered very carefully by the Department. In the event of the Department coming to the conclusion that some suggestions made would be useful, they will be the subject of suitable amendments. I should like to congratulate Senator Magennis for the Trojan work he has done over a great many years in spite of the barrage of criticism which he has received. Some persons might have been more sensitive than he was to this criticism, coming, as it did, from superior-minded persons who seem to represent that tradition in Ireland which belonged to the Bucks of the 18th century—the placemen who were so bitterly denounced by men like Jonathan Swift. If I thought that advocacy of the amending Bill, as made by Senator Kingsmill Moore, was serious, I should have grave misgivings about the Bill. But I could not help feeling, as I suppose everybody else here felt, the unreality of the [999] Senator's speech as compared with the speech made by Senator Campbell. He brought us down to reality. He has contacts which others of us have not the privilege of enjoying and, being so much in contact with the people, he knows where the evil really lies.

I do not think that I should go into all the details of the Bill. They will be gone into in due course but it may be said that this Bill is largely the product of the experience of the past few years. When we were in Opposition in 1929, I was responsible for a considerable number of amendments to the Bill then introduced. Therefore, I took an interest in the matter and, though I cannot say that I am au fait with the whole of the legislation on the subject, my mind has been refreshed sufficiently to look back to the time before the 1929 Bill came into operation and to have regard to the evil operating owing to the absence of such a Bill. When Senators argue against the principle of the original Bill, they argue against the consensus of opinion not of one Government but of two Governments, over a long period, and the consensus of opinion of 99½ per cent. of the Irish people, who realise what the position would be if there were no such legislation.

The old method of censorship was established as far back as 1876 when customs officers were given power to stop obscene literature. They have done that work extremely well and very effectively. It could not be claimed that the literature which is stopped in that way is intellectual in any shape or form. Even Senator Kingsmill Moore could not make that claim. From a mental as well as a moral point of view, it would be intolerable that such literature should be dumped in here. The customs officers are the only persons who can stop that volume of rubbish at the point of entrance. As to the point whether their powers should be limited with regard to the inward traveller, I am sure that the Minister will give it his consideration. If a book which has been banned is found on a person, he does not, according to the terms of the Bill, commit a crime [1000] by having the book, provided he is not bringing it in for sale.

The reason why members of the Oireachtas have been put in is because in their public capacity they accept a certain responsibility, and the attack which has been made on the whole institution of censorship has come from people who contend that this thing is a hole and corner business and that public opinion is not involved. There is no one, perhaps, more sensitive to public opinion than members of the Oireachtas and if they think that as public representatives they should convey their views on a particular book to the State Institute, they are carrying out their duties. It may perhaps make things irksome for us and it may add a little more work to what we have to do, but I am inclined to give as much authority and dignity as we possibly can to the members of both Houses.

There is a good deal of slighting and cynical comment to-day about our public representatives, and I feel on that account alone that we should vest them with as much authority as we can. I do not think there is the least likelihood of their acting on behalf of these financial interests who want to sell pornographic literature in this country. As to the funds of the board, the funds of the present board have never been exhausted by the board although it is true they are small. At all events they have never been exhausted, whether it is that the board are able to get the books they require without paying for them or not. In any case we would always be able to get the money to meet their requirements so far as books are concerned, and if any member found it necessary to put in a bill for travelling expenses, his travelling expenses would always be paid. But, again, I would like to repeat that the work the board does is extraordinarily self-sacrificing and greatly in the public interest. I think it was Senator Douglas who referred to the possibility that there would be lack of control over the board——

Mr. Douglas: I think the suggestion I made was that the principle of Parliamentary control, as it is at the [1001] moment, should be preserved. I am not suggesting control in any other meaning of the word.

Mr. Little: I think there is the germ of control in the Bill, because it enables the Minister to get rid of a member of the board if he is unfit to act or fails to act. But you are actually appealing to the public spirit of the members of the board, and perhaps the Senator knows how difficult it is to get people to act on these boards and to do what is very unpleasant work. Senator Ryan raised the question of procedure. The Bill provides all the machinery which the Minister requires to establish the procedure for appeal. Very little procedure is required. What you want is to get three fresh minds, as unprejudiced as possible.

It would be a terrible thing if Senator Kingsmill Moore came in on one side and Senator Ryan on the other side to argue a case as to whether a book should be banned or not. I think the printed word should be the only evidence before the board. If I was asked to judge a book, I would read it and, having read it, I should be in a position to say: “I do not think that would do anybody any harm” or “I think this is not a book that should be allowed to circulate.” There is no doubt that this is an amending Bill and it will give the benefit of the doubt to the book.

Senator Magennis, I think, was slightly mistaken in his argument that there might be seven on one side. I think it would be a very improbable case where the whole Board would have condemned a book leaving only one in favour of it. If you have what you might call unanimity in the lower court the common sense of the situation would be that the book would never have a chance of getting through. However, the Minister can argue that on the amending stage.

Professor Magennis: Could the Minister justify the principle of making two votes over-ride all the others? Would he also justify the principle that five Deputies or Senators may intervene on behalf of a foreign publisher who is making wealth out of his filth, that he will not allow five Deputies to [1002] make an appeal against the board who by some error of judgment may have allowed a book to pass? Is there to be a protection for the foreign publisher and none for the native citizen? Why this solicitude for the publisher and no safeguard for the ordinary citizen? Remember that the five Deputies or Senators are to be a safeguard against the operations of the Censorship Board. I can conceive of the board letting a book pass which should not be allowed. I protest against this solicitude for the author who writes these books which the public without knowledge will desire to read. I do not agree, if the Minister will allow me to say it, that you can detect a book merely by reading it. You have to discuss it. The main work of the Censorship Board is discussion. If a book is obscene, grossly obscene, yes——

Mr. Little: I think the Senator is over-anxious in the matter.

Professor Magennis: I have 11½ years' experience of it.

Mr. Little: I think if the Senator, in the course of his experience, had not had a strong public opinion behind him, his task would have been more difficult. Ultimately, it is public opinion that will determine these matters, and any five members of the Oireachtas who would lend themselves to backing up a book which was pornographic would, so to speak, be cutting their own throats, so far as public life in Ireland is concerned. I could not imagine any charge more damning against a Deputy or Senator than one that he lent himself to a conspiracy to corrupt the life of the Irish people.

Professor Magennis: The books are not all pornographic.

Mr. Little: I would ask the Senator to wait until the amending stage comes along. Although I am not in a position to make any promises whatever, I can say that we are anxious to make a really effective instrument out of this amending Bill. There is no doubt about it, that when Senator Kingsmill Moore said that all censorship is rooted in evil he was just talking “boloney”, if I may be allowed to use [1003] the word. While the whole world is trying to destroy a whole set of ideas, here we are trying to do something mild in censorship.

Are we not ignoring all the background of the present efforts abroad that outdistance any inquisition that ever appeared in the past? It requires no argument of mine to point out the importance of checking evil ideas or of further justifying the necessity for having the Bill there. All I can say is [1004] that I hope that our people who have been so good in operating this Bill will not in any way be influenced by the absurd and unreal criticisms of people like Senator Kingsmill Moore.

Question—“That the Bill be now read a Second Time”—put and agreed to.

The Seanad adjourned at 9.30 p.m. until Wednesday, 28th November, 1945, at 3 p.m.