13 FEBRUARY 1959, Page 8

THERE IS ANOTHER ROW going on at County Hall, apart

from the one about Labour councillors and their rights of free speech. When the British Board of Film Censors refused their licence to an East German film called Operation Teutonic Sword, ostensibly on the grounds that it attacked a living person (General Speidel), but in fact, it is clear, on simple political grounds, the matter went before the London County Council Film Committee. The Film Committee has the power to grant a licence for the London exhibition of a film, despite the Censors' ban, if it thinks that ban unjustified, and it occasionally does so. The committee refused a licence to the film by seven votes to five, with one abstention. Whereupon one councillor invoked an ancient procedure of the Council whereby any matter may be taken out of the hands of its appropriate committee (if enough members can be found to support such a move) and laid before the whole Council. The question of a licence for Operation Teutonic Sword will therefore be con- sidered by the Council on Tuesday next. What makes the whole thing more entertaining is that the leaders of the Council have always maintained that the Film Committee's decisions are of a quasi- judicial character; they are therefore compelled to allow a free vote, for the first time since anybody at County Hall can remember. Incidentally, the councillor who dug up this little-known procedure was a Labour member; I should have thought that if the Opposition there were a little more on top of its job it would have discovered it long ago, and used it frequently.