§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
I beg to ask the indulgence of the House while I make a very brief personal explanation. On Thursday last the Secretary to the Admiralty made a reference to me in this House. It would be quite out of place for me to go into the subject-matter of that statement. I wish, however, to say that my absence from this House was a misfortune which no one regretted more than myself. I recognise the courtesy of the Secretary to the Admiralty in giving me notice of his intention; but owing to what was perhaps the necessarily short character of that notice, I did not receive it till the following morning. I desire nothing better than to have an opportunity of stating my case before this House, but I fear from the reply given to the hon. Member for King's Lynn by my right hon. Friend that I shall not be 906 allowed such an opportunity. I must, therefore, endeavour to state elsewhere what I should have preferred to state in this House. I may add that, despite the very categorical statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, I still find myself so sharply at issue with him that I do not feel justified—taking the view. I do of what is the public interest in this matter—in allowing a misunderstanding of this kind to remain unexplained. I can only repeat, as my right hon. Friend seems to think otherwise, that this is in no sense a personal matter with me, and no hon. Member can point to a word of mine which justifies such a, belief. I thank the House for its indulgence in bearing me, and I trust I have made it clear that it is by no wish of my own that I failed to support the exact terms of my Motion.