§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General whether his attention has been directed to an article in the current number of the Saturday Review, entitled "The Traffic in Titles," in which reference is made to one peerage creation during the Rosebery Administration and to two peerage creations during the late Administration; and whether, having regard to the seriousness of the libel contained therein and the punishment which it deserves, unless it be proved to be true and written in the public interest, he will consider the advisability of moving the Public Prosecutor in this matter?
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir JOHN WALTON, Leeds, S.)
My attention has been called to the article mentioned by the Question of the hon. Member. Founded as it is on the merest surmise, it is impossible to treat as serious charges, if they can be so described, made on such flimsy and speculative grounds.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I do not think the hon. Member need carry the matter further by quoting statements from the article.
§ SIR JOHN WALTON
If I may be allowed to say so, I used advisedly the expression flimsy and speculative, because 145 the inference is drawn from the fact that it is the writer's opinion that certain gentlemen had been ennobled who had no claim to Royal favour resting on public or other services. He draws from that fact the inference that they must have paid cash down. This seems to me, as I said, highly flimsy and speculative.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
But seeing that there is a charge against the Government of the country ought not the writer to be called upon to prove his statement if he can?
§ SIR JOHN WALTON
The so-called charge is a mere opinion of the writer founded on the grounds he indicates, which do not bear a serious character at all.