HC Deb 01 December 1930 vol 245 cc1804-6

I have to ask your indulgence, Sir, and that of the House to make a short personal explanation. In certain reports which appeared on Friday of the debate on Thursday, I read for the first time a statement to the effect that the hon. Member for Erdington (Mr. Simmons) had raised a point of Order in the course of the debate on Thursday in which he had asked you whether it was in order for me to apply the term "insulting dog" to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I looked in the OFFICIAL REPORT and saw there that no specific reference was made to me in the hon. Gentleman's point of Order, but I gathered that it was intended to refer to me. I did not really catch his point of Order—there was a good deal of noise going on in the House at the time—otherwise, I should at once have risen to say, what I now say, that I never used any such phrase, that I never used any phrase that could be taken as either remotely resembling it—[An HON. MEMBER: "Yes, you did!"].As some hon. Gentleman has taken the rather unusual course of challenging what I said, I may say that I have the authority of my right hon. Friend the Member for West. Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) and of others who were sitting beside me to say that there is no foundation whatever for the allegation. I should be very unwilling to think that any hon. Gentleman does not accept a statement by another Member of the House. I assert with the utmost emphasis that there is not the slightest foundation—I am not blaming the hon. Gentleman—for the allegation that I used any such phrase, or any phrase resembling it, or any opprobrious epithet of any sort. I should not have referred to the matter had it not been for the prominence given to another incident which followed it on Thursday, and I very much hope that you, Sir, and the House will accept my statement that the hon. Gentleman was wholly and entirely mistaken in imputing such words to me.


May I claim the indulgence of the House to make a personal statement arising out of the remarks of the Noble Earl? When the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was addressing the House on Thursday night, I called your attention, Sir, to the fact that I heard the Noble Earl use the words "insulting dog" in reference to my right hon. Friend. The Noble Lord was present at that time. Then you, Mr. Speaker, said that if the remark was made, it was entirely out of order and most improper. The Noble Lord did not deny it at that time. I should like to say that at a later stage in the proceedings I again referred to the words that I accused the Noble Lord of using. The Noble Lord was present, and in his subsequent remarks to the House he did not deny that the words were used. My impression of the words I heard was very, very clear. My impression of the fact that I heard the Noble Lord use the words of which I complained is beyond the shadow of a doubt, as far as I am concerned. I can only say, therefore, that I regard what we have heard to-day as an expression of the Noble Lord's desire to dissociate himself from the words complained of, an expression that would have had more weight and value had it been made at the proper time.


Why was this statement read out and prepared beforehand?


I wish to raise a point of Order. I have always understood that a personal explanation made at Question Time is either to withdraw an allegation or to apologise. I consider that the hon. Gentleman has taken the opportunity of repeating the allegation which has been made against me, and I ask if it is in order for him to do so, and whether, if he rises in his place, he should not rise for the purpose of withdrawing the utterly unwarranted allegations made against me.


A personal explanation of the kind which the Noble Lord has made has always, in my experience, been accepted without any reservation, and I hope that that will be the case on this occasion. No doubt there was considerable noise on Thursday. I am afraid that some misunderstanding may have arisen, and I hope that the incident will be forgotten.