LONDON (Jul. 31)
The House of Commons adopted last night a bill aimed at incitements to rioting by fascists and others who would disturb the “public order.” The bill had already been passed by the House of Lords, and will become law as soon as it obtains the Queen’s consent.
The bill stems from parliamentary and popular opposition to the fascist and anti Semitic incitements that caused rioting in Trafalgar Square here a year ago. At that time, Colin Jordan’s National Socialist movement staged demonstrations at which Hitler was glorified. Jordan has since served a six-month prison sentence. Many organizations, including some of the leading Jewish groups in this country, have advocated a change in the law to forbid that type of incitement.
In summarizing the aims of the bill, Henry Brooke, the Home Secretary, told Commons that he was determined, with the aid of the new measure, to stop “the antics of fascists, Communists, the self-styled anti-nuclear Committee of 100 and other extremists.” The bill provides maximum fines up to $1,400 and imprisonment up to a term of 23 months for convicted violators. The bill is an amendment to the old Public Order Act of 1936.
Yesterday, a Conservative member of the Commons, T. H. Skeet, voiced objections to one clause of the amendment which provides equal penalties for those who incite to riot, and others who heckle the inciters. He maintained that the hecklers had “the right to defend their rights.” He also said he regretted that the bill would not halt the distribution of fascist and anti-Semitic literature.