HC Deb 04 April 1913 vol 51 cc781-3

I wish to call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to what scents to be a breach of privilege. It is contained in paragraphs in a paper called the "Stockbroker," issued to-day but dated for to-morrow. I consider that such statements as I am about to read are very grievous to the prestige of this House and to the hon. Members of it. It is obviously in the interest of the prestige of the House that such statements should not continue to be made. I therefore bring this matter forward in order to get your ruling on the question, as it seems to me to be the only method likely to stop such conduct as this. The particular points on page 4 to which I wish to call your attention are these:— Whether they made money or lost, it does not matter one jot. They were out to make money on an 'inside tip.' They now pretend that they bought for investment. This is mere quibbling. They in effect had a free option on the shares; they paid no money. It is a misuse of terms to call it an 'investment.' Investment presumes souse sort of income, the capital remaining intact. A speculation presumes a purchase with the express intention of selling on a market rise. That is exactly what Ministers did—only they did not sell enough. These passages appear to me to contradict the evidence of Ministers given upstairs, and therefore should be treated as a breach of privilege. Further on a paragraph says:— The 'Stockbroker' does not accept financial advertisements. However, I am loth to disappoint a Prime Minister, so I have this week accepted the advertisement of a new firm of outside brokers, Messrs. George, Isaacs, and Murray, to which I desire to call the attention of my readers. In another part of the paper there is a displayed advertisement in the following terms:— George, Isaacs, and Murray, Parliamentary Stock and Share Dealers, 1190, Downing Street, S.W. Private Wireless to the U.S., Telephone to the House of Lords, the House of Commons, and the Stock Exchange. The firm pays special attention to Marconis. Invest on credit through our new system. One of our exclusive features is the Six-monthly Settlement. Send on your orders. There is no hurry about the money. We never gamble. We specialise in pools and free options. Other brokers want cash. We don't. Telephone address:—'Quibbling.' I submit that such statements are derogatory to this House and the various Members of it, and the only method of putting a stop to it is either by treating it as a breach of privilege or by some pronouncement on your part.


Until the hon. Member read the portions on page 4 of this paper, I had not had my attention specially called to them. In regard to the passage first read by the hon. Member, I think I can hardly hold it to be a breach of privilege. They are comments upon evidence which has been given before the Select Committee of the House. Whether they are erroneous comments, or justifiable, is surely a matter which in the first place the Committee of the House itself will have to decide. But that is a matter for the Committee to consider, and I think it would be very improper if I were to decide that statements of this sort were breaches of privilege when the matter is really before the Committee. I should be prejudging the very issue which the Committee is now considering. In regard to the last page, it appears to be more in the nature of a jest than anything else, and we should never take jests too seriously even in this House. There is certainly nothing in the last page which can possibly be called a breach of privilege. I think under the circumstances the hon. Member will be well advised not to take any further notice of the matter.


I accept your suggestion.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3. Adjourned at a Quarter after Five o'clock until Monday next, 7th April.