§ MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has seen a very full report in the Yorkshire Post, of Friday, 30th June, of the provisions of the Building Societies Bill, and the deliberations of the Select Committee on Building Societies; and whether, as Chairman of the Committee, he can explain how these matters became public although the House is not yet in possession of them?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. H. GLADSTONE, Leeds, W.)
The report in question, which is practically verbatim, was brought to my notice. As The Yorkshire Post is a Tory journal, published in Leeds, I at once wrote to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds expressing, as Chairman of the Committee, my strong regret that the Building Societies Bill, as amended by the Committee, should have been given to a newspaper before being issued to hon. Members. The right hon. Gentleman informs me that he is responsible for having given the information to the representatives of The Yorkshire Post, having been under the impression that the Report was public property. He says that if unintentionally he has shown disrespect to the House he is exceedingly sorry.
§ MR. JACKSON (Leeds, N.)
I hope I may be allowed to explain. The position of the matter is this. The Committee had been sitting for some time. Their labours had terminated, and their Report had been made to the House. I was under the impression that when a Committee was discharged and its Report made to the House there was no longer any reason for reticence with regard to the conclusions at which the Committee had arrived. It is certainly 812 within my recollection that a great many Reports of Committees have been made public at once after having been laid on the Table. During the evening of Thursday last one of the Lobby representatives asked me whether I could tell him what conclusion the Committee had arrived at, and I did so. I was under the impression, and still am, that I was within my rights in doing so. I think it would be convenient if Mr. Speaker would be good enough to guide us with his opinion on the subject—namely, whether, when a Committee to which a matter has been referred have reported to the House, an hon. Member is any longer debarred from stating the conclusions at which the Committee have arrived?
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS
I was about, with your permission, to ask Sir, whether, although a Report on amended Bill may have been formally communicated to the House, it is not more regular, before communicating their contents to the public, to allow the print to be distributed to Members?
§ MR. SPEAKER
There has been a prevalent impression that when a Committee's Report was laid upon this Table it at once becomes public property. That view has been acted upon in several instances; but I am bound to say that the more regular practice is that the Members of the House should be the first to be put in possession of the results of the deliberations of a Select Committee. Still, I am quite aware that the contrary practice has prevailed more than once.