HC Deb 03 December 1925 vol 188 cc2526-7

I beg to move, That the period of suspension from the service of this House of Mr. William Murdoch Adamson do terminate this day. The House is well aware that, owing to a failure in the drafting of a Standing Order, whenever a Member has been suspended, he can be restored only by the vote of the House on the Motion of the Leader of the House, and the somewhat difficult and invidious duty is left to the Leader of the House, who must take into account all the circumstances of each individual case, and at the same time interpret, as he is best able, the feeling of the House, because this is essentially a matter for the whole of the House. I feel that I ought to begin by apologising to the House that I was not present when this unfortunate episode occurred, but I happened to be very much occupied in Conferences over Irish affairs and with regard to the reception of our foreign guests, who have now left the country. I hope to do better in future.

I have been at pains to acquaint myself with the fact of what occurred, and I am quite clear in my own mind, and from my knowledge of the hon. Member himself, that this was not a case of premeditated infringement of the manners and customs of the House. I am quite convinced that it arose from one of those temporary losses of control which occur to most people and which most of us regret heartily as soon as the occasion has passed, I fancy, and I think his demeanour under his punishment was such, that we may feel that he at once felt the regret which he has very properly expressed in a letter. Therefore, it is my duty to-day—I may say my pleasure—to move this Motion, and I am quite sure that it will commend itself to the House. Before I sit down, I should like to say, although this has nothing to-do with the hon. Member, that the circumstances have carried in their train one question on which the Minister of Pensions would desire to make a personal statement, and I am sure that the House would be willing to hear him.


By leave, I would respectfully thank the House for the opportunity of making a personal explanation of the position. The case to which the hon. Member for Cannock endeavoured to draw attention on 1st December was that of a Mr. Birch, who had been in receipt of a pension of 12s. a week for himself and 3s. for his wife for eye troubles. As the result of an independent report from Mr. Birch's own doctor, an examination was held and he was found to be suffering from a serious disorder, which affected his mental condition, and this necessitated his certification as insane. To establish the connection between this fresh development and Mr. Birch's war service, naturally required careful investigation by the Ministry's medical advisers. A favourable decision, accepting the disability as aggravated by war service, was, however, arrived at on 19th November. Authority for payment of treatment allowance to Mrs. Birch was given on 24th November, and payment was actually received by her on 27th November at the full rate of 38s. 6d. per week. The above facts show that the statement in a Labour newspaper this morning, to the effect that the action of the Ministry was a sequel to the hon. Member's question on 1st December, is entirely untrue. On the contrary, the method of raising the question had actually the effect of preventing the Minister giving the facts to the House, as he could, and would have done, if he had been questioned in the usual way. I would add, in justice to the hon. Member that at the time he had not been informed by the Ministry that that was he case.

Ordered, "That the period of suspension from the service of this House of Mr. William Murdoch Adamson do terminate this day."