§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
I wish, Sir, to ask your opinion on a question of Privilege. 287 I desire to call attention to a sentence which appears in The Times newspaper of this morning, concerning certain Members of this House, and reflecting, as I think, upon the action of this House itself. I wish to ask you, Sir, whether I shall be in Order if I make a Motion on the subject? The sentence to which I desire to call attention is this. The article, after mentioning certain Members of this House, says with regard to them—History will record with amazement that these men, whose political existence depends upon an organized system of midnight murder, and who draw at once their living and their notoriety from the steady perpetration of crimes for which civilization decrees the gallows, are permitted to sit in the British House of Commons.Now, Sir, I think that is a reflection upon this House—namely, that we permit an organized band of murderers to sit with us in this House, and that organized band of murderers are the very men who, as essential to the Constitution, a large Party on the other side of the House have declared must remain at Westminster. I wish to ask whether I shall be in Order in moving a Resolution in reference to this extraordinary statement as a question of Privilege?
§ MR. SPEAKER
My attention has been called only a short time ago to the article to which the hon. Baronet refers; but, however grave the charges and imputations made in that article may be, I do not think it is a case of Privilege. It has been the practice of this House to restrain Privilege under great limitations and conditions; and these restrictions and limitations have been, in my opinion, very wisely imposed by the House upon itself. The Rule is that, when imputations are made, in order to raise a case of Privilege the imputation must refer to the action of hon. Members in the discharge of their duties in the actual transaction of the Business of this House; and though I quite understand the hon. Baronet having brought this matter to my notice, I cannot rule that this is a case of Privilege. Of course, if hon. Members think themselves aggrieved, they have a remedy; and they will not be precluded from pursuing their remedy elsewhere than in this House.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
May I be allowed to ask what is the remedy for 288 the House, because it is the House itself that is attacked?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have ruled, in accordance with the precedents of this House, that it is not a question of Privilege; and, therefore, discussion cannot take place upon it now.