§ Earl WINTERTON
May I ask the permission of the House to make a personal explanation as to the incident which occurred yesterday? I feel that I owe an explanation as to the circumstances which led me to refer to the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) as a company promoter. Although yesterday I was in possession of general information which caused me to make the statement, I had not beside me the reference necessary to state the facts with precision. I have subsequently obtained that reference, and I desire to read it out. I find that the hon. Gentleman was an original director of the Credit Assurance Guarantee Corporation, and also an original director of the British Dominions Insurance Company.
§ Mr. BOOTH
May I ask, on a point of Order, whether the reference the Noble Lord is now making should not be confined to the actual charge he made yesterday? The hon. Member is not suggesting that I was a promoter of either of these companies. I think I am entitled to know whether he now suggests it. An original 531 director of an assurance company is surely something entirely different from a company promoter.
§ Earl WINTERTON
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish my statement, as is usual, I think he will see the point. He is a director of the Yorkshire Iron and Coal Company, and in addition to that he is, or has been, a director of nine other companies, four of which have gone into liquidation, one compulsorily. Under those circumstances the hon. Gentleman should not have called upon me to give the denial of the statement I made. In view of the fact that I did unreservedly withdraw the statement made at that time in deference to a request from the Chair, I think he should unreservedly withdraw the very offensive imputation he threw across the floor of the House.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I certainly withdraw the statement which escaped me. I assure the Noble Lord I do not bear the slightest ill-feeling towards him. If an opportunity had been afforded me yesterday, I would have withdrawn it then, but I think you, Mr. Speaker, quite wisely decided to proceed with the business of the House. I take this opportunity of withdrawing the word I used, and I do it quite freely. In regard to the other matter, I beg to assure the Noble Lord again that there is not any truth whatever in the statement he made. I have never been a director of any company which has gone into compulsory liquidation. As to the charge made that I was a company promoter, I wish to say that I never have been. I have been taxing my memory to think whether there could be the slightest foundation for the charge, and I frankly tell the House what it may be. I am not, like the Noble Lord, the son of rich parents, and my father, after an honourable career in business, did turn his own cotton-manufacturing concern in Lancashire into a private limited company, dividing the shares entirely among his own children equally. I gave my father special advice, but I was treated exactly like the other children, have been so treated since, and have insisted on it. That is the only matter I can call to my mind in regard to which I was in any sense a company promoter. I do assure the Noble Lord that, having had to make my way in life as a business man from a somewhat humble origin, there is no incident in my business career of which I need be in the least ashamed.