HC Deb 09 May 1889 vol 335 cc1565-7
H. TYLER (Great Yarmouth)

Last week, in the course of some remarks on the Home Office upon a Motion to reduce the salary of the Home Secretary, the junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), as reported in the Times, made use of these words:— The Chairman of the Rhymney Iron Works, Wales, had boasted that it paid the company better to pay the fines that were inflicted and the expenses than to comply with the law. There is not the slightest foundation for that statement; it is entirely and absolutely untrue. On the Wednesday after that statement was made I met the hon. Member and asked him what authority he had for it, and I told him that it was not true, on which he said that he had a justification for it in a statement sent to him by a Mr. Dixon, of Rhymney, and signed by Mr. Dixon and other gentlemen. I went down to Wales at the end of last week and saw Mr. Dixon, and he said that he had made no such statement; and that the only statement he had made, signed by himself and other gentlemen, was one which had been sent to the Home Office and also a copy of it to the hon. Member for Northampton, and that it contained no such allegation. I asked Mr. Dixon whether he could allow me to see the statement so forwarded, but he was not able to find his copy of it; and I also asked the hon. Member for Northampton to allow me to see it, but he declined to do so. I obtained, however, elsewhere a copy of the paper sent to the Home Office and the hon. Member—the only document of the sort sent by Mr. Dixon—and I find that it does not contain anything like the statement in question. But I have, further, positive proof that I never made such an unworthy boast. Every word which I have said at the meetings of the company has been taken down by a competent shorthand writer, and no such boast is to be found among them. I think, in such circumstances, I may fairly call upon the hon. Member either to justify or withdraw his statement. When I informed the hon. Member that I would bring the matter before the House to-day I re- ceived a note which, as it seems to me to assume the form of a threat, I think I had better read to the House:— Mr. Bradlaugh presents his compliments to Sir H. W. Tyler, and begs to inform him that, on any explanation being made or statement offered in the House on Thursday, the Home Secretary will be asked to communicate to the House any reports made officially to the Home Office on alleged breaches of the Truck Act at Rhymney during the past 12 months. The company will be quite prepared to meet, at the proper time and place, these further questions but they do not affect the question whether I made the unworthy boast which I am alleged to have made and which I entirely deny.

*MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

I can only say the statement I made was made on the authority of Mr. Dixon, of Rhymney, and I have a letter from Mr. Dixon, dated May 3rd, in reference to that. If the allegation that the hon. Member made the statement at a meeting of shareholders is denied by him, it would be my duty to accept that denial and not persist in the allegation; but when the hon. Member adds that the statement made by Mr. Dixon does not contain that allegation, it becomes my duty to read the following letter from Mr. Dixon, dated May 3rd:— Sir Henry Tyler called upon me last evening respecting a statement made in your speech in the House of Commons that the Chairman of the Rhymney Iron Company had boasted, at a shareholders' meeting, that he would rather pay fines than give up the Truck shop, and that you stated to him when he met you that the statement sent you, signed by Mr. Dixon and two other gentlemen in Rhymney, was your authority. As I have mislaid my copy, and cannot trust to memory as to the contents, I shall be glad if you would kindly favour me with a copy of it in order that I may know its exact wording. I wrote at once to Mr. Dixon and to the hon. Member opposite stating that I would search fur Mr. Dixon's letter, but that, as it contained other allegations as to breaches of the Truck Act by the Rhymney Company, I could not furnish him then with a copy. The letter I received a year and a half ago, and I have not yet found it. I am perfectly sure that I have it, as all my papers relating to the Truck Acts are tied up in one bundle. But I made the statement on written authority which was not the authority that was rendered to the Home Office. Unless Mr. Dixon furnished a copy of his letter, I do not see how the hon. Member could have obtained it. As to the letter from myself, I did not know how far the hon. Member's personal explanation was intended to extend. The charge against him was also that he was now breaking the Truck Act, and I wanted, if the hon. Member had denied it, to prove that by the Reports of the Factory Inspectors. As far as the denial of words personally used is concerned, I am glad to accept—and I do accept—the disclaimer of the hon. Gentleman; but I justify myself to the House on the authority I have given and of Inspectors' Reports.