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Report No. 43

6.4. Statutory provisions in England.-

In England, there are several enactments on the Statute Book which are designed to prevent the spread of disaffection. These are mainly concerned with the protection of public servants, and more particularly members of the Armed Forces who may be exposed to attempts to seduce them from their duty or allegiance. The Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 19191 prohibits an alien from causing sedition or disaffection among the civil population as well as among the Armed Forces of the Crown and those of its allies, and provides for summary punishment for the promotion of, or interference in an industrial dispute by, an alien in any industry in which he has not been engaged in the United Kingdom for at least two years immediately preceding.

1. Section 3, Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919 (9 & Geo. 5, c. 92).

6.5. In 1797, on the occasion of the mutiny at the Nore, an Act1 was passed punishing, as a felony without benefit of clergy, the incitement of soldiers or sailors to mutiny. It was at first a temporary measure2, intended to expire at the end of the first month of the then next session, but it was several times re┬Čenacted, and was in force till3 August 1, 1807, when it was suffered to expire, but it was revived and made perpetual4 in 1817.

1. The Incitement of Mutiny Act, 1797 (37 Geo. 3, C. 70).

2. Stephen History of the Criminal Law of England, Vol. 2, p. 193.

3. 41 Geo. 2, C. 29.

4. 57 Geo. 3, C. 7 referred to in Stephen History of the Criminal Law of England, Vol. 2, p. 193.

6.6. The Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934 was intended to provide less harsh penalties than those under the (unrepealed) Incitement to Mutiny Act, 1797. The principal offence under the Act punishes a person who seduces a member of the forces from his duty or allegiance1. The Act contains stringent provisions for the prevention, and detection of this offence. Moreover, it is an offence for any person to be in possession (with intent to commit, or to abet, counsel or procure the commission of the principal offence), of any document of such a nature that the dissemination of copies thereof among members of the Forces would constitute the principal offence2.

A leading author on Constitutional law has made the following comment after referring to the provision relating to possession of documents in the 1934 Act-

"This measure arms the Government with a means of restricting the distribution of political propaganda; particularly it could be used to suppress the distribution of pacifist literature. It must be admitted that prosecutions are rare and that juries are reluctant to convict3."

1. Section 1, Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934 (24 & 25 Geo. 5, c. 56).

2. Section 2, Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934 (English).

3. Wade and Phillips Constitutional Law, (1970), p. 529.

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