HC Deb 09 December 1920 vol 135 cc2406-7
44. Mr. SEXTON

asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to the attacks by a certain syndicate of daily and weekly newspapers upon Members of this House whereby Members who voted in certain Divisions of Thursday and Friday of last week are described as wastrels; whether this is an attack upon the privileges of this House; and what steps, if any, he intends to take to protect Members in the performance of their duty against such attacks?

54. Colonel C. LOWTHER

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the action of a certain newspaper threatening to pillory as national wasters all Members of this House who refuse to vote against the Government's economic policy on the 9th December; and whether he will consult the Law Officers of the Crown as to how far it is legal for a daily journal to openly threaten to villify, in their respective constituencies, Members who refuse to support the policy it advocates?

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Before these questions are answered, may I ask whether it is in accordance with the practice of this House for hon. Members to complain of attacks made upon them in the Press, and, if it is in order, therefore, for the question to appear on the Paper?


On a point of Order. Is it not in accordance with the practice of this House for the Members of this House to be protected in performing their duty?


As one who has, during his political life, endured more newspaper attacks than probably any man in this House—


And inspired a good many.


I would respectfully counsel my fellow-Members not to take these newspaper attacks too seriously. If we do our duty fearlessly the public will judge us fairly in the end. There is no fairer tribunal than the British public, who are quick to resent unfair attacks, and there are many signs that they are doing so in this case.


Does the right hon. Gentleman not think there is a difference between fair criticism and literary hooliganism?

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is it not a fact that this House recently has not been reported or taken sufficient notice of in the Press, and that public service has been done by drawing public attention to the doings of this House?


The Press have only a certain number of columns.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir F. HALL

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in consequence of the action of a certain part of the Press, many Members of the House intend to vote for the Government who would have felt that it would be advisable for them under the circumstances to have voted against the Government? I shall vote with the Government.


When I saw these attacks I rejoiced because, knowing how the British hate to be bullied, I knew the Government is all right.


Is not the question of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir F. Hall) tantamount to an admission that he has been driven into another lobby by the action of the newspapers?


I do not want Lord Northcliffe to run the country.

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