HC Deb 31 July 1930 vol 242 cc741-69
The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir William Jowitt)

I beg to move "That this House doth agree with the Report of the Committee of Privileges."

In rising to move the Motion which stands in my name, I must confess that the task with which I have been entrusted is one which I would gladly have been spared and one which, I think, is as distasteful as any task can be which is entrusted to a Member of this House. It must be distasteful to propose a Resolution which must, as its corollary, involve that you, Sir, shall censure a fellow Member, but, as a member of the Committee of Privileges, it is my duty to move that this House doth agree with the Report of the Committee. I propose to say that which I have to say in the fewest possible sentences. I shall, I hope, in saying what I am going to say, avoid any unnecessary bitterness. At the same time, I shall not seek to palliate or excuse the conduct of the hon. Member. That, I feel, he alone can do by taking the course that always has gained, and always, I hope, will gain, the respect of this House—but it is a course which involves courage. I shall ask this House to say that the recommendation of the Committee of Privileges is a recommendation best consistent with the honour and the dignity of this House. if we have erred in that Report we have erred, I think, on the side of leniency, but, in so erring, we have at least avoided the possibility of a crown of false martyrdom.

4.0 p.m.

The speech which was referred to the Committee of Privileges contained much that was grave. It contained two matters of outstanding gravity; the first, that Members of this House took bribes to help to pass doubtful Bills in the interests of private individuals, and the second, that the taking of such bribes was in keeping with the traditions of this House. I can imagine no graver charge. If the honour of Members is not kept untarnished and above even the suspicion of reasonable men, it is manifest that this House can never again perform any useful function, no matter what change may take place in its composition, its Rules or its Procedure. Unless we can assume the probity of our fellow-members, debate becomes a mere mockery and politics a mere sham. For this reason, the Committee of Privileges concentrated their attention on this aspect of the case to the exclusion of the other matters, grave though those other matters undoubtedly were.

I should like at this stage, if I may, to explain to the House the view which the Committee of Privileges takes, and, I think, rightly takes, as to its functions. It is not designed to act as a committee of investigation. It manifestly could not undertake any investigation as efficiently as a tribunal properly constituted under the Act. Such a tribunal, which can be set up by a Resolution of both Houses, is commonly presided over by some distinguished Judge. It can enforce the attendance of witnesses, it can compel the production of documents, and witnesses who attend before it are given by Statute complete privileges and immunities. But the Statute provides that such a tribunal can only be set up to inquire into a definite matter. If there were grounds for supposing that certain specified Members had received bribes, notwithstanding the grave risk of hardship to men in public positions should the accusation be unfounded, I say that it would be better to court the most searching investigation, in the full light of day, into definite allegations before such a tribunal.

What, then, is the Committee of Privileges? I will explain that it is not a committee of investigation, It occupies rather the position of a grand jury. It has to see whether there is some prima facie case to be tried, whether there is some definite allegation to be inquired into. It does not, of course, require proof. That is a matter for the tribunal of investigation, but it does expect, and it is entitled to expect, that charges will be made against specific persons, with, at any rate, some rough degree of particularity. Had the hon. Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool (Mr. Sandham), as we fully anticipated, laid before the Committee any such charges, or any charge, which could properly be described as definite, so as to entitle this House to act upon the Statute, we should have felt it our duty to advise this House to set up such a tribunal of investigation. What happened? The hon. Member came before us and repeated his charges in mere general terms, but declined to tell us who the Members were who received bribes to pass Bills. He declined to tell us by whom the bribes were paid or the circumstances or the occasions involved. When we told the hon. Member that we could not recommend setting up a tribunal of investigation unless we could say that there was some definite charge to inquire into, when we explained to him that our position was analogous to that of a grand jury, he still declined to particularise his charges. In the circumstances, it was manifest that we could not avail ourselves of the Statute, and that we should not be justified, even apart from this difficulty, in setting up a tribunal to investigate unspecified charges, which might turn out to be unfounded, upon mere idle gossip.

I should like to add this. I can hardly believe it possible that any Member of this House in a public speech can make charges such as these without first taking every step open to him to verify those charges. Either the hon. Member had or had not taken such steps before making his speech. If he had not, his conduct in making that speech is, I think, quite inexplicable. If, on the other hand, he had, then his conduct in declining to give us any particulars to enable us to recommend an inquiry to take place, is, I think, equally inexplicable. There remain but two things to say, first, that altogether apart from the truth or falsity of these charges, we have to consider the occasion on which they were made. If any Member feels confident that he has discovered facts—grave facts—such as these about one of his fellow-Members, and if, with a due sense of responsibility and in the public interest, he feels it duty to reveal those charges, he should do so openly and clearly, and from his place in this House. The hon. Member told the Committee of Privileges that he was unaware that there were any rules of Privilege. Be it so. The one satisfaction to be obtained from this whole melancholy business is that in future no Member can be in doubt upon that point. This House guards, and will guard its Privileges. It has ample power to restrain, and, if necessary, to punish those who disregard them. It is manifest that the Committee could come to no other conclusion than that the hon. Member, apart altogether from the truth or falsity of those charges, was guilty of a grave breach of Privilege in regaling his constituents with these sensational allegations. [An HON. MEMBER: "He was not addressing them."] I do not mind whether he was addressing his constituents or not in making these allegations to a public meeting.


The allegations were made neither to his constituents nor to a public meeting, which seems to me to make all the difference, and I only rise to interrupt the Attorney-General because I do think that that is a matter of considerable moment.


May I say that a copy of that speech was sent to the Press before it was delivered?


I do hope that all sections of the House will consider this very grave matter in a calm manner. The facts need no exaggeration on my part. If I am wrong in describing it as a public meeting, or as a meeting of his constituents, let me be corrected. The point, to my mind, remains exactly the same, and if grave charges of this sort are to be made, there is one place, and one place only, from which they should be made, and that is this House. Secondly, we feel that the statement that the taking of bribes was in keeping with the traditions of this House could not be passed over in silence. We felt it to be a gross libel upon this House as a whole. The hon. Member's ignorance of the rules of Privilege seems only to be equalled by his ignorance of the traditions of this House. I have finished what, as I have said, is to me a very distasteful task. I feel that the less that is said about this matter the better. I ask the House—I ask all sections of the House—to approach this matter in a, calm, judicial spirit, anxious, as they all must be, to uphold the traditions and the dignity of this great assembly.

Question. "That this House doth agree with the Report of the Committee of Privileges," put, and agreed to.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Philip Snowden)

I beg to move, That Mr. Sandham, the hon. Member for the Kirkdale Division of Lancashire, has committed a breach of the Privileges of this House by his speech, reported in the 'Manchester Guardian' newspaper of Monday, 28th July, 1930, and that he be admonished by Mr. Speaker for the breach of Privilege that he has committed.


I am somewhat at a loss to follow the procedure that is being adopted. I understand now that you have put the Motion that the Report of the Committee of Privileges be adopted. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is carried!"] I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if it is the Rule of the House that such a Motion must be put without debate?


Any Motion of this kind, of course, can be debated, but I put the Question from the Chair "Ayes" and "Noes," and there was no response from the Noes when I gathered the voices.


This seems to be a most extraordinary thing on a Motion of this importance, when I certainly said "No," and when the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Sandham), the person charged, was on his feet, and was not seen by you. I have never seen an occasion of this kind in this House where there was not a reasonable opportunity for the Member who was personally affected to make his own statement, and where there was not an opportunity to those who were in direct opposition to the proposal to cast their votes in the Division Lobby against it. I propose—


The hon. Member is now making a reflection on me. I think I am within the recollection of the hearing of the House. I put this Question. I said, "As many of that opinion say 'Aye'. "There was a response from the Ayes." The contrary, No." There was no response. After I have declared that the Ayes or Noes have it, it is no use Members raising their voices. The voices have been gathered, and the Question has been carried.


I am very sorry. It seems to me that that is not usually done in these cases, and I regret very much that in a matter of this importance to one man, he should have lost an opportunity simply because one did not—


On a point of Order. As one who has been to some extent concerned in this matter, I should like to ask a question. Is it not a fact that the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Sandham) will have full opportunity of discussing his conduct on this Motion? In submitting that point of Order may I, without any disrespect, say that it is extremely important that we should hear what the hon. Member has to say.


I was going to ask the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) to proceed with his remarks.


May I submit point of Order?


Mr. Maxton.


I agree that the Attorney-General was performing a very disagreeable duty. I agree that he did it with very great skill and, if I may say so, with quite unnecessary bitterness and, if I may say so, in a tone that did not seem to coincide with his claim that it was an unprejudiced Committee that had gone into the matter. At the outset and right through this matter until now there has been evidence that a man making charges of this description need not expect an unprejudiced hearing from this Assembly—[Interruption]—nor from the representative body which it set up. My hon. Friend went to the Committee and was asked to produce evidence on the spot. Ho declined. He declined, having been advised in this matter by several of his colleagues, including myself. A right hon. Friend of mine who used to occupy a seat beside me on these benches got himself involved in a case of libel in the Courts. It took him seven months before the cause could be brought into Court. It took seven months' labour on the part of skilled counsel and solicitors. It took several thousands of pounds to bring the case into Court, and a week's operations in Court to arrive at an indecisive judgment on a matter very similar to the matters involved in our present proceedings.

My hon. Friend was expected yesterday, on about three hours' notice, to present a case, admittedly only a prima facie case, but a prima facie case involving the definite names of persons, naming the nature of the association: names that were going to be printed and published broadcast throughout Great Britain, with absolutely no assurance that, having done that and having made these allegations, there would be any tribunal that was prepared to investigate them, before which he could bring his witnesses and afford those witnesses the protection which is absolutely necessary for witnesses in a matter of this description. My hon. Friend declined to do it. I would strongly commend his declining to do it, and I commend the same conduct to any other person involved in a similar type of public operation. I regret very much that, through my own laxity perhaps, I have been denied the opportunity of moving the Amendment that I proposed to move, that a judicial court of inquiry should be set up, that that should be the decision of this House, that my hon. Friend should bring forward his evidence and his witnesses, and that we might have the matter thoroughly examined.

It is true that this House as an instrument of government can only remain if it is clean and above board, honest and straightforward in its operations, and is composed of men whose character is beyond reproach and suspicion. It is the duty of Members of this House to use their efforts in that direction, to maintain the prestige of Parliament and the standard of conduct of Members of this House. My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkdale in the beginning of this matter was telling the people who were responsible for sending Members to Parliament, for choosing Members for Parliament, for financing Members for Parliament, that they, in pursuance of their responsible duties, should choose men of character beyond suspicion. That was the privileged position in which he made his speech. Admittedly, it became a public speech and went beyond the bounds of its purpose, but he was addressing there men who had a certain responsibility and to whom he had a responsibility, and he was carrying out that responsibility in a fair and straightforward way. I say that he is not deserving of the censure of this House, and I certainly shall cast my vote against the Motion that has been moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


I desire to oppose the Motion that the censure of this House should be passed upon the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Sandham). I do so on two grounds, first, because of my own experience with the Committee of Privileges, and, secondly, the character of the Report which has been presented to the House. When this matter was under discussion, two or three days ago, I said in this House: I wish to say to the House and to you, Mr. Speaker, that I have never, in public or in private, made charges of corruption against anybody, but there are charges in existence about which probably nothing would have been heard under ordinary conditions which become immediately relevant and overridingly important if a Member of this House is placed on trial, as it were, for saying that corruption does exist in the House of Commons."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th July, 1930; col. 315, Vol. 242.] That was a statement made in the full light of day. When the House of Commons decided that this matter Should go to the Committee of Privileges, I would remind the House that it had refused to have a Select Committee and that it declined to alter the composition of the Committee of Privileges in any way to make that Committee more acceptable than it appeared to be to the hon. Member for Kirkdale or his friends. In spite of that fact, I felt that it was my duty to go to that Committee. I expected, and I think that most hon. Members of this House expected, that I should he asked to go there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] When I received no notification from the Committee, I sent a letter, addressed to the Prime Minister, as Chairman of the Committee of Privileges: I am left in some doubt by the terms of the Resolution adopted by the House of Commons yesterday whether the Committee of Privileges in dealing with Mr. Handham's speech at Manchester will confine itself to deciding whether that speech constituted a breach of the Privileges of this House, or whether it will investigate the assertion that corruption exists among, Members of the House of Commons. If it is the first with which the Committee will deal, I have nothing to say, hut if it is the second, I feel it to be my duty to inform you that I have information in my possession which if true supports directly the charge that corruption exists, although I ought to add that Labour Members are not implicated in this case. This information T shall be prepared to place before the Committee and to support it by oral evidence, provided that certain conditions are observed: (1) that any witnesses I may produce shall be given immunity, that is, shall he assured that they can speak freely, and (2) that the Committee has powers or will obtain powers to subpoena certain witnesses to be indicated by me and to compel the production of certain books and papers by the concern or concerns which I may indicate. I shall be glad to hear from you on this matter at your convenience. I did not write that letter without good reasons. I have received the following reply, dated to-day Dear Mr. Brown, I have your letter of the 30th instant, informing me that you have in your possession information which if true supports directly the charge that corruption exists among other than Labour Members in the House of Commons. The Committee of Privileges cannot deal with such information, unless directed to do so by the House of Commons, as it is not a court of inquiry of that kind. If you have information in your possession you must produce it, and if you hand it to the Attorney-General he will no doubt advise me, as Leader of the House, as to what steps, if any, should be taken regarding it. The anxiety to hear this information will be diminished at a later stage. The impression I was under when this matter was referred to the Committee of Privileges was that we were going to get an investigation into the substantial truth of the charges; that we were going to get an investigation into the substantial truth or otherwise of the charges made. I have read with great care the evidence tendered to this Committee, and I see that three specific charges are mentioned. The first is the charge regarding drunkenness; the second is a charge in relation to transactions said to have taken place in connection with the Money-lenders Bill, and the third is a charge that Members of this House have used House of Commons stationery to write puff letters in return for money. On the first charge I observe that the hon. Member for Kirkdale in his statement said that he was prepared to produce six witnesses; that is the charge of drunkenness. In regard to that charge, I observe that he was not asked who the witnesses were, that none of them, in fact, were called, and in his speech to-day, and in the report of the Committee of Privileges, that side of the charge is passed over completely. With regard to the second charge about the Moneylenders Bill, the hon. Member for Kirkdale made certain stipulations to the Committee. They read as follows: My witnesses are poor men whose whole means of livelihood depend upon their names being kept absolutely secret. I shall also want to summon all necessary witnesses and necessary books and documents of the firms involved. I shall also want to summon at least one member of the Committee of Privileges. And then he concludes: I trust that the Committee, which I am sure is anxious to probe this matter to the bottom, will grant me all necessary facilities. The Attorney-General has told us to-day that the Committee of Privileges was not in a position to undertake this investigation, and, indeed, that is confirmed by the terms of the Prime Minister's letter to me. The kind of report I could imagine that Committee presenting to this House would be something like this: We have had in front of us the hon. Member for Kirkdale, who has repeated the charges made elsewhere, and in regard to certain of them he has offered to produce witnesses, but we have not seen them. In regard to other charges, he said that he desired a judicial inquiry, and has promised, if that inquiry is forthcoming, to produce witnesses and documents, and so on. Therefore, we report these circumstances to the House and we ask the House of Commons whether it is prepared to set up the judicial inquiry asked for. If that report had been forthcoming from the Committee, I should have regarded it as a fair report. I do not regard this document as a fair report. It seems to rue that its sole purpose is to see that the whole matter is closed with a censure upon the hon. Member for Kirkdale at She earliest possible moment. I wish now to make this statement on my own behalf. I have no kind of responsibility for the speech which the hon. Member for Kirk-dale made: and I would not have made it, but when the general issue of corruption is posed in this House I repeat what I said the other day, that I myself have certain evidence, and that I will take an opportunity of following the advice of the Attorney-General from these benches on the appropriate Estimate at as early a date as I can.


I desire to claim the indulgence of my fellow Members of this House for a few minutes and I would preface my remarks by saying that I am speaking quite spontaneously and that I have no connection with the supporters of the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Sandham) or those who are so willing to howl down any appearance of reply from his side. I speak entirely as a Member of this House who is very proud and jealous of the position he holds as a Member of the House, and proud of its honourable and lengthy traditions. Whether I remain a Member of the House after the next appeal to the country or not, I shall still for the rest of my life regard it as an assembly of gentlemen doing their best in the public service, open and above suspicion. Those are sentiments seldom echoed from these benches, but they are sentiments which the majority of us feel, although we may not be sufficiently courageous to express them except on occasions like this. The honour and integrity of this House are as dear to Members on this side as they are to any others. It is purely from that direction that I desire to claim the indulgence of the House for a few minutes.

While regretting very much the indiscretion of an hon. Member sitting on the same side of the House, and while regretting that he has made no previous provision for being called to task on account of it, I do say that all of us now should endeavour to the best of our ability, for the honour of ourselves as individuals and for the honour of this House, to try and get these charges investigated, and then remorselessly, if you like brutally, deal with the propounder of unproved charges or with those who would besmirch the honour of this ancient and honourable assembly. I know it is extremely difficult for you, Mr. Speaker, to give the House an opportunity of deciding in that direction, but I feel that if it was a calm and controlled vote very few of us would dare to vote against the fullest investigation of the charges made. It is difficult for you, Sir, to reopen the question, but if there is any way I respectfully and earnestly ask that it should be done.

May I appeal to my hon. Friends in the Labour party. However incorrect it may be, if it is believed by the people in the country who have supported us and sent us here that there has been the slightest burking of an investigation our honour is gone, and in the interests of the great movement, for which some of us have sacrificed over 30 years, and in the interests of the honour of this House, I appeal to hon. Members on this side to support my appeal that if it is possible within the Rules of Order the fullest and strictest examination should be made into these charges so that those who are not fearful of such an inquiry may be cleared, and if there are any that are fearful, then let them be discovered so that the honour of hundreds of hon. Members may not be lost.


May I just say this in order to avoid any possible misapprehension. I certainly, and I think a very large number of hon. Members in all parts of the House, agree with the sentiments which have just been expressed by the hon. Member for Bar-row-in-Furness (Mr. Bromley). The trouble the House has to face is this: we cannot avail ourselves of the statutory procedure under the Act of 1921 unless we have had definite charges made. Directly definite charges are made this Government will take an immediate opportunity of setting up a judicial inquiry to inquire into them.

Lieut.-Colonel SPENDER-CLAY

I think we have reached a situation when hon. Members who make insinuations and charges should rise in their place in this House and make definite charges which can be met and inquired into. I challenge hon. Members to get up in their place and make their accusations in this House.


"Sandham"; "Brown."


I am rather amused at the atmosphere of the House when the character and honour of an hon. Member is in question. I want to remind the House that whether they inquire further or not the names which have been suggested in connection with bribery will be mentioned in the Lobbies, and probably innocent men may he defamed. [Interruption].


Why do you not give us the names?


I can assure the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) that I have never heard his name mentioned.


Let us have the names now.


A good deal has been said in the report and in the speeches in this House as to the breach of Privilege, but surely greater than a breach of Privilege is the question of the honour and honesty of hon. Members. In the interests of the innocent a judicial inquiry ought to be set up and a full investigation made. [HON. MEMBERS: "Of what"?] If the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Sandham) has made statements that are untrue, and are proved to be untrue, then he ought to be asked by this House to apologise. I would like to know from the Attorney-General what the real procedure is in connection with the setting up of a judicial inquiry. [HON. MEMBERS: "He told you!"] One Speaker in the Chair is enough. I am rather keenly interested in this question, because I have striven for eight or nine months to get a judicial inquiry set up. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that it is necessary to put down specific charges. I have given specific charges, and given the names and given the amount of money they received and have been refused a judicial inquiry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] In Glasgow. I made statements similar to the statements made by the hon. Member for Kirkdale. I made them in the Glasgow City Council. I was sent for by the Procurator-Fiscal in the city of Glasgow. He asked me and a colleague if we could produce the names and evidence regarding these persons. We gave the names, we gave, the amounts that they received, and we gave the period during which they received them, and the service for which they received them. What was the procedure? It was this; The Lord Advocate's assistant went to some of the people who had received the bribes and said: "Is it true that you received a certain amount of money?" They said "No." Then he replied, "There is no evidence."

This is an entirely new procedure for the legal machine to adopt. Are you going to adopt that method when a man is accused and charged with murder? Are you going to the murderer and say to him, "Did you commit the murder?" and if he replies "No," will you say, "There is no evidence to produce"? This statement by the Committee of Privileges is, in my estimation, a complete attempt to hush up and prevent inquiry being made, because it is well known, I am informed, on the: Front Bench of the Labour party, that an inquiry did take place in connection with the Moneylenders Bill as to bribes having been received. The names of the persons who were suspected were also mentioned to the Labour Party Executive. If that is true, why is there the necessity of entirely preventing inquiry and hushing the matter up by simply making a scapegoat of the hon. Member for Kirkdale? You think that by bringing a Motion of Censure on the hon. Member for Kirk-dale you are going to clear your names in the eyes of the British public. It is an old and obvious dodge that cannot be carried out outside this House. I say here to hon. Members that if they are anxious, and if the Attorney-General is anxious, to discover whether or not there is evidence, he ought to set up his judicial inquiry, give protection to the witnesses, and allow them to produce their evidence and documents.

Suppose that the hon. Member for Kirkdale had conic before the Committee last night. Would the names of the witnesses have appeared in this report? Would their evidence have appeared in the report? Would it not be a deliberate attempt to strike and stab these men and drive them out of their employment? An obvious dodge of that description cannot be worked amongst honest and intelligent men. Surely it cannot be a crime to desire clean government. I remember the time when, from many miles distant, I heard Members on the Front Bench in this House challenging Members on the other side of the House with the possibility of corruption, and at that time the Labour party as a fact were in full cry that these Members should be placed in the dock. But to-day hon. Members are ready to line up behind the Front Bench and defend every and any action against—[Interruption.] I am not here to give allegiance to any man; I am here to fight the case of the working classes and the British public for clean government. I stand down to no man in my desire for clean government.

Suppose that we were to take this question with an unruffled temper and were to say, "Well, if there are men in this Rouse who are receiving bribes, surely if there are only a small number in the House, the great majority should say, 'Let us have the evidence.'" [Interruption.] I made a statement myself in demanding a judicial inquiry in Glasgow, and on a privileged occasion, when challenged inside the Labour Group meeting, I gave the names of the men, and I was threatened with three actions for slander afterwards. You are asking that poor men's names should be mentioned—


On a point of Order. I want your guidance, Mr. Speaker, as to whether we are to take our procedure from the City Council of Glasgow?


If poor men are in question here, I suggest that in order to protect every man who is willing to give evidence of any kind an inquiry should be set up. I know that an inquiry cannot be set up unless at least there is a feeling amongst the Members of this House that they want a clearing of the characters of the great majority here. If it is true, as I stated previously, that if these men had come before the Committee of Privileges last night and had made their statements and given the amounts of money that were received, it would have come out in the report, these individuals would have been pursued for the rest of their lives. In the interests of those who are prepared to give witness I ask the House to demand the setting up of a full judicial inquiry to deal with the matter.


My first duty in this matter is to my informers—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about your colleagues?"] I respect that duty, and if it be a question as to whether I have been treated with ridicule or ignominy, rather than let my informers,down—[Interruption.] Please do not worry, because I am not afraid of the ultimate result. Do not make any mistake about that. If my informers are wrong—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who are they?"] What has it got to do with you? If my informers are wrong, I shall have been wrong. That up to the moment has not been settled—[Interruption.] I do not feel the touch of implication. Right is right, and truth is truth. I am only seeking for the truth, and as a consequence my first step is to protect my informers as far as I possibly can. What I do desire is the appropriate place for making statements with the protection for these people that I demand. I submit to the House this: If I had gone fully into the matter last night, what would have happened? There would have been the whole of the matter printed in the Report. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] What is the good of hon. Members talking? One can only judge by results. The report is before the House with almost every word that transpired last night. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Why not? There is no reason "why not" as affecting myself. I am not concerned about that. My conscience is quite clear. All that I desire is that the truth shall be sought.

5.0 p.m.

I ask the whole of the Members of this House to seek for the truth for which I am seeking, irrespective of personal exposure, and irrespective of personal results. To say that it is necessary for me definitely to take the step of naming people in this House before I can get protection from the judicial tribunal that I desire, is asking too much from me, in. view of the fact that I have a duty towards my informers. [Interruption.] Oh, yes. I shall stand by these people in the way that I have done hitherto, and, if there is any blame meantime, I will take it like a man. The question whether the matter is to be investigated or not is one for this House to decide. If the House passes this Vote of Censure on me now, I want to ask the Members who vote for it to remember that there may be other conclusions arrived at later on, and to examine the possibilities of those conclusions here in the light of their own vote this afternoon. I have a perfect right to do that, and I do so and wait patiently for events.


I need hardly say that there is not a shadow of foundation for the insinuation which has been made in some of the recent speeches that there is a desire to shirk the full consequences of a judicial inquiry. We are all most anxious that it should take place, but, as the Attorney-General has pointed out, we cannot act upon general statements and general accusations. Under the Statute which enables the House to set up a tribunal of inquiry, there must be specific charges, and I want to say this to hon. Members on the back benches below the Gangway on this side that if they will now make a specific charge—and may I say in regard to one remark made by the hon. Member who has just sat down, that he is under no obligation to disclose the names of his informers—if he or any other Member will now make a specific charge, I will place upon the Order Paper of the House to-day a Motion for the setting up of a Committee of Inquiry.


Obviously, my hon. Friend would be quite unwise, having decided to pursue the matter in another way and standing here under a Vote of Censure from this House, to carry the matter further in the way which the right hon. Gentleman suggests. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is an excuse!"] It is no excuse at all. I am perfectly certain that the Members who are shouting so loudly for publicity in this matter will be more than amply satisfied before it is finally disposed of.

Mr. W. J. BROWN rose


Where is your courage now?


I have more pluck than you have. I feel that some words are due from me following what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has just said and because, whatever else I lack, I hope that courage is not one of the things which I lack, I propose to respond to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said. But I do not propose to respond—[Interruption.] I ask hon. Members not to make up their minds before they hear me. I have never known such an assembly in my life for not waiting for the end of the sentence. As a matter of fact, foreseeing that this very situation would arise this afternoon, I consulted Mr. Speaker before this afternoon's sitting with the object of ensuring that I should be able to participate in the Debate and also with the object of ensuring that I should be able to read correspondence which had passed between the Prime Minister and myself. You, Mr. Speaker, will confirm this. You were gravely doubtful—[Interruption.] If there is any doubt about this, Mr. Speaker will confirm me. You Sir, will confirm me when I say that you were in grave doubt as to how far you would be entitled to let me proceed on those paths, on the ground that when charges made by one Member were under discussion, it was not in order for another Member to get up and make other charges about somebody else. I am not responsible for the Rules of Order. That was the advice which I got from you, Sir, and I propose to abide by it, but I propose to say something else.


I hope that the hon. Member will not implicate me in this matter. I told him that it was quite possible, if he adopted that line of argument, that I would have to call him to order. That was all I said. I could not possibly foresee the line which the debate would take and what would in the first instance appear to my mind to be out of order might not be out of order now.


I am very much obliged to you, Sir, for what you have said, and you will perhaps allow me to complete what I was going to say. I was going to say that in any event I do not propose to make specific charges here this afternoon. I do not propose to do so for two reasons, both of which are good. One is that at the moment the House of Commons has not yet disposed of the charges of the hon. Member for Kirk-dale (Mr. Sandham). The second reason is that when I do make my statement, it will be made upon the Vote of the appropriate Department, with names mentioned, with amounts mentioned, with the individuals who paid over the money mentioned, and with a complete statement that will compel this House to make that investigation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not do it now?"] Because nobody knows better than some Members in this House that I cannot make this statement in its completeness and be in order on this occasion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Try!"] The longer I listen to the kind of thing that is going on at the present time, the more profoundly convinced I become that the hon. Member for Kirkdale was exceedingly wise in the line which he took. At any rate, the House of Commons this afternoon is not giving a very convincing demonstration of its desire to do the right thing. I leave it there, with the observation that in my time, in my way, on the occasion which I choose, and with the evidence which I will bring, I will make my statement.


I shall not detain the House for more than a minute or two, but I propose to give a vote this afternoon, and I do not want it to be a silent vote. I regret that I could not have given it on the Motion that was put first. I would gladly have done it then, because I want to say that in my opinion the line which the hon. Member for Kirk-dale (Mr. Sandham) took, was about the only line which he could be expected to take in the circumstances. What has become perfectly clear in the course of this debate is that there are very few persons in this House this afternoon who really understand the procedure before the Committee of Privileges. There have been all kinds of explanations, but it is very clear that few hon. Members know the line which they would be expected to take, and it was very clear that, in the main, the hon. Member for Kirkdale had to decide what action he would take, I will not say altogether unguided, but not guided very clearly or, as it seems to me, with a specific amount of kindness or charity. I do not see what else he could have done in the circumstances. The charge which he made is on record.

May I say that no one regrets more than myself that this occasion has arisen. I certainly regret that the speech was made, and I say that in the hon. Member's presence. I would not have made the speech myself. I am a very old protagonist, but I can say that I have always held the House of Commons in a great amount of respect and on different occasions I have had to remonstrate—I think I can say with truth—with some individuals, who sit upon this side of the House now, upon their very vitriolic discussion of the House of Commons itself. I have heard Members who are sitting on this side denounce this House of Commons and every tradition it has got, holding it up to obloquy and ridicule on every possible occasion, and yet they become semi-paralysed the moment one of its functions is interfered with. It is an amazing exhibition of inconsistency. Let me say, in conclusion, that I have read a little bit of ancient history in my time, including Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," and I am now understanding more than I ever did before what must have been the feelings of some of those persons who were let loose in the arena when the pack got into full cry. There has been, this afternoon, an exhibition of almost primitive savagery. The hounds have been in full cry because of the speech which the hon. Member made. It does not do credit to any side of the House and, even now, there will be no inquiry and prayers will probably go up on high that no charges have been made.


I am sorry to delay the Division which the whole House clearly desires, but I could not give a vote in favour of this Motion without bringing before the House the matter as it appears to me in the light of the report which we have in our hands. If the vague general charges which were made by the hon. Member in a public speech had remained exactly, after the sitting of the Committee, as they were before, I think nobody on this side of the House would have had any difficulty in supporting the Motion made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But that is not quite the situation. The hon. Member said more to the Committee of Privileges than he said previously, and it is just that more which it appears to me has not received sufficient consideration, but requires full consideration, before we go to the very heavy measure of censuring a Member of this House.

What is that more? It is that with regard to the second charge a degree of specification is made by the hon. Member which he certainly did not make before. The Attorney-General says that before any tribunal can be set up specific charges must be made, and he interprets the word "specific" to mean that there must be a definite name. Is that necessary, and, if not, how does the new statement of the hon. Member stand with regard to specificness? That statement is that certain Members have received money from the Moneylenders' Association in consideration for services rendered during the passage of the Moneylenders Bill. Short of the actual mention of names, I can hardly imagine a statement more specific. I rise on account of that sentence, and it appears to me that this is not the time to pass a vote of censure upon the hon. Member. That time may arrive, but I do not think it has arrived now, and so far as I am concerned I could take no part in a Division which undertook to censure the hon. Member now. It appears to me that he has added some degree of specificness to what he said in public, and that he has added such a degree of specificness that it becomes a mere legal quibble for this House to say that no charge of sufficient specificness has been made to enable an inquiry to be made. It is true that no Member is mentioned, but the Bill is, and the alleged bribery, and the persons who gave the alleged money are mentioned.

There is one way in which the House can be taken out of a very difficult situation, and that is that the hon. Member should now complete his specificness. If I seem to be patronising the hon. Member, it is not my intention, but he said he did not know the Rules of Privilege. Does he know that what is said in this House is privileged? Does he know that he has complete privilege against any possible danger for what may be said in this House? And, of course, he will not forget that if he has said something in error and without foundation the House will still have its opportunity when censuring a Member who says something of great importance in a rash mood, but this is not the time to censure the hon. Member. It is a time first and foremost for two alternatives. Either the hon. Member now should give the names, which I think would be far the preferable method, but not the only method, for this reason, that a degree of specificness has been attached to this charge which makes it necessary that a full investigation should be made. If we are not to have the assistance now of the hon. Member, these investigations should proceed independently, and until they are finished, the Motion against the hon. Member should be adjourned.


I think the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Skelton) has really placed too much importance upon one particular sentence in this report and has misunderstood the significance of that sentence. There are two things in issue. One, which must be important to the whole House, is the position of the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Sandham) himself. There is also the issue, equally important, of the reputations and characters of those Members whose characters are challenged and charged, without their being named. When the Committee of Privileges is set up, it is its duty to find out whether a charge is made against any Member of this House in particular, and until a Member is named, no Committee of Inquiry can go into the charges, because no charges arc made against any individual. It would be very unfair to the Members of this House and to the taxpayers of this country to set up a roving inquiry in order to find out who is to be charged. It would be an unheard of thing. Why should a Member of this House have to go to the trouble and expense of getting up his own defence to meet charges made by the hon. Member for Kirkdale? Why should every Member of this House—because that is the position—do so?

Any statement made in this House is completely and absolutely privileged. If anyone is under any suspicion, if there is any evidence that anyone has received money from moneylenders, let the charge be made here and now, but until the charge is made, the responsibility for the failure of investigation must rest upon those making yet not making the charge. Here is the opportunity. If there is any substance here, and if the hon. Member himself, as I believe, is, and all of us, we must assume, are, jealous of the dignity and the honour of this House and of the reputation of the whole of the Members of this House, here is an opportunity now for him, under the protection of a complete and absolute privilege, to say, without giving the names of his informants, "I make this charge, and I demand an inquiry into the conduct of Mr. So-and-so, or the hon. Member for So-and-so, because he has received money from moneylenders in order to pass the Moneylenders Bill."

Otherwise, what he is doing is to ask that he himself should be protected, but that no other Member of the House should be protected. He is demanding a privilege for himself which he is not prepared to extend to others. He asks for himself a privilege which he is not prepared to extend to the person whom he is going to charge. The person who is to be charged has his reputation at stake and is as much entitled to be protected as the hon. Member himself, and in protection of that Member, he should, having the opportunity of absolute privilege now, name that Member.


I want to draw the attention of the House to a point on which perhaps the House is under a misapprehension. The Attorney-General, in his opening speech, referred to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and indicated, I think, that it was necessary, before a tribunal could be set up, that specific charges should be made and persons named. The last speaker took the same point. I have with me here a copy of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, and there is nothing in that, Act, as far as I can see, which deals with specific charges at all. The Act is very much wider in its operation, and it gives power, where it is resolved by both Houses of Parliament that it is expedient that a Committee should be set up, for inquiring into a definite matter described in the Resolution as of urgent public importance.

I submit to the House that the specific charge made, the definite statement made by two Members of this House, that they have evidence of very great importance and interest to every Member of this House, that they are prepared to lay that evidence on oath, with witnesses to be examined on oath by a judicial Committee set up by the House is a definite matter of urgent public importance. Whether or not the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Sand-ham) gives the actual names of the persons implicated is a matter for him to decide, but he has definitely said that he is prepared to do it before a judicial inquiry under full protection. There is nothing to prevent this House, by Resolution this afternoon, setting up such an inquiry and giving him the possibility of doing that to-morrow, if the House desires to do so. The hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. W. J. Brown) is in the same position. But for the House now to pass a Resolution which avoids the possibility of such an inquiry would seem to me to be a public misfortune of the greatest importance.

With regard to whether or not the matter is definite, it is true that no names are at present given, and I think the hon. Member for Kirkdale is entitled to say that the whole of the facts should be produced at once, at one time, before a judicial tribunal, and not a portion of them, which would mean having the whole thing raised through the Press for several days. He is prepared to lay the whole matter before the Court of Inquiry immediately that court is appointed. The charge is specific. The cases are mentioned. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he desired specific charges, and they are here in the Report of the Committee. What the hon. Member said was, "The specific charges I now make," and he went on to particularise, first, the chary of drunkenness, which seems, somehow or other, to have been overlooked; secondly, that certain Members had received money from a specific organisation in connection with a specific Bill; and, thirdly, the use of the stationery of the House. I think it would be a great misfortune for the prestige and dignity of this House, and gravely unfair to many Members of the House, if the Government were not to take the opportunity, which I submit the Act affords, for setting up such a Committee. It is well within their powers, and I hope very strongly that they will make use of the powers which they possess, and which, I am convinced, both sides desire them to exercise, to set up a proper judicial Committee of Inquiry.


I do not want to give a silent vote. The hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Morris) said that the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Sandham) was privileged, and therefore there was no reason why he should not give the names, but if he gives any name here to-day, the individual whom he does name will have to suffer conjecture and doubt until that Committee is set up, and it would not be fair to that individual to make this statement to-day. It has been said on several occasions to-day that no charges have been made and that there is nothing sufficiently definite. If there is nothing sufficiently definite, why all this bother and excitement If all this passion has arisen and all this excitement has been displayed, surely it makes it perfectly plain that the matter is sufficiently definite, as it stands at the present time, for setting up this Committee. I want to remind the House again that one may make definite statements naming individuals, but whenever these individuals are named, there are other people who may have been in association with them who may be put in a very difficult position. Everyone knows what makes bribery possible, but it is a very difficult thing to prove. It is in the same category as blackmail, where the courts hove always decided to allow names not to be disclosed, and immunity given to individuals in connection with things that have been done.


The hon. Member says that in cases of blackmail names are suppressed, but that applies to the name of the prosecutor.


Yes, but it is very difficult in a question like this to say who is the prosecutor and who is the accused. Who is the accused here? [HON. MEMBERS: "All of us."] The question that I have asked has proved the point that I have been making, because hon. Members say "All of us." The hon. Member for Cardigan suggests by his question that the prosecutor in the case before us is the hon. Member for Kirkdale. The hon. Member agrees with me, and I put it to the House that the divergence of opinion that has been shown obviously proves the difficulties that there are in

this matter. The way out of it is not to condemn the hon. Member for Kirkdale, and the House will stand condemned unless a, committee of inquiry is set up.

Question put, That Mr. Sandham, the hon. Member for Kirkdale Division of Lancashire. has committed a breach of the Privileges of this House by his speech, reported in the 'Manchester Guardian' newspaper of Monday, 28th July, 1930, and that he be admonished by Mr. Speaker for the breach of Privilege that he has committed.

The House divided: Ayes, 304; Noes, 13.

Division No. 483.] AYES. [5.34 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Cohen, Major J. Brunel Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Colman, N. C. D. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Compton, Joseph Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Cowan, D. M. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Harris, Percy A.
Alpass, J. H. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Daggar, George Haslam, Henry C.
Ammon, Charles George Dalton, Hugh Hayday, Arthur
Arnott, John Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Hayes, John Henry
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Davies, Dr. Vernon Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)
Aske, Sir Robert Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)
Atkinson, C. Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)
Attlee, Clement Richard Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Day, Harry Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Denman, Hon. R. D. Herriotts, J.
Balniel, Lord Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Barnes, Alfred John Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Hoffman, P. C.
Barr, James Dukes, C. Hollins, A.
Batey, Joseph Duncan, Charles Hopkin, Daniel
Bellamy, Albert Ede, James Chuter Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Eden, Captain Anthony Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)
Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N. (Cardiff C.) Edge, Sir William Hunter, Dr. Joseph
Benson, G. Edmunds, J. E. Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.
Berry, Sir George Egan, W. H. Isaacs, George
Bird, Ernest Roy Elmley, Viscount Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.) Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Fermoy, Lord Jones, Rt. Hon. Leit (Camborne)
Bowen, J. W. Fielden, E. B. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Foot, Isaac Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Forestler-Walker, Sir L. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Boyce, H. L. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Kennedy, Thomas
Bracken, B. Ganzoni, Sir John Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Briscoe, Richard George Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Lathan, G.
Broad, Francis Alfred Gault, Lieut-Col. Andrew Hamilton Law, Albert (Bolton)
Brothers, M. George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) Law, A. (Rossendale)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lawrence, Susan
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Gibbins, Joseph Lawson, John James
Burgess, F. G. Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley) Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Burton, Colonel H. W. Gill, T. H. Leach, W.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Gillett, George M. Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Calne, Derwent Hall- Glassey, A. E. Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Cameron, A. G. Gossling, A. G. Lloyd, C. Ellis
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Gould, F. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Carver, Major W. H. Gower, Sir Robert Logan, David Gilbert
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Long, Major Hon. Eric
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Longbottom, A. W.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Granville, E. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Chapman, Sir S. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Lowth, Thomas
Charleton, H. C. Gray, Milner Lunn, William
Chater, Daniel Greene, W. P. Crawford Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Christle, I. A. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Church, Major A. G. Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) McElwee, A.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) McEntee, V. L.
Clarke, J. S. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John McKinlay, A.
Cluse, W. S. Groves, Thomas E. Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Macquisten, F. A.
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Price, M. P. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Quibell, D. J. K. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Mander, Geoffrey le M. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Mansfield, W. Ramsbotham, H. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
March, S. Raynes, W. R. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Marcus, M. Reynolds, Col. Sir James Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Margesson, Captain H. D. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Thurtle, Ernest
Markham, S. F. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Tillett, Ben
Marshall, Fred Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Tinker, John Joseph
Mathers, George Ritson, J. Tinne, J. A.
Matters, L. W. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Melville, Sir James Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Todd, Capt. A. J.
Middleton, G. Romeril, H. G. Toole, Joseph
Millar, J. D. Rosbotham, D. S. T. Tout, W. J.
Milner, Major J. Rowson, Guy Townend, A. E.
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Salmon, Major I. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Montague, Frederick Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West) Vaughan, D. J.
Morley, Ralph Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Viant, S. P.
Morris, Rhys Hopkins Sanders, W. S. Walkden, A. G.
Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South) Sawyer, G. F. Walker, J.
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Scurr, John Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Mort, D. L. Sexton, James Wallace, H. W.
Moses, J. J. H. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick) Sherwood, G. H. Watkins, F. C.
Murnin, Hugh Shield, George William Wellock, Wilfred
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Shiels, Dr. Drummond Welsh, James (Paisley)
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Shillaker, J. F. West, F. R.
Noel Baker, P. J. Shinwell, E. Westwood, Joseph
Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Oldfield, J. R. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Sitch, Charles H. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Williams, Dr J. H. (Llanelly)
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley) Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Palin, John Henry Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Paling, Wilfrid Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Womersley, W. J.
Palmer, E. T. Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Penny, Sir George Snell, Harry Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Perry, S. F. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Sorensen, R. Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.
Pole, Major D. G. Southby, Commander A. R. J. Charles Edwards.
Potts, John S. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Cove, William G. Stephen, Campbell
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Forgan, Dr. Robert Wallhead, Richard C.
Brockway, A. Fenner Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Wise, E. F.
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Lees, J.
Buchanan, G. Maxton, James TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Kinley and Mr. McGovern.

Question put, and agreed to.

Ordered, That Mr. Sandham, the hon. Member for Kirkdale Division of Lancashire, has committed a breach of the Privileges of this House by his speech, reported in the 'Manchester Guardian' newspaper of Monday, 28th July, 1930, and that he be admonished by Mr. Speaker for the breach of Privilege that he has committed.

Mr. SPEAKER then called upon Mr. SANDHAM by name and, Mr. SANDHAM standing up in. his place uncovered


[sitting in the Chair covered]: Mr. Sandham, you have heard the Resolution to which the House has just come.

No more painful duty can fall upon the Speaker, with whom principally rests the guardianship of the Privileges of this House, than to have to admonish one of his fellow Members for having committed a breach of those Privileges.

The House has, by the Motion which it has passed., instructed me to admonish you for the speech which you delivered outside this House and which was reported in the "Manchester Guardian" of 28th July.

It must always be clearly understood that a Member cannot make public utterances outside this House derogatory to the House of Commons without committing a breach of Privilege, and being called to account by his fellow Members.

You have, moreover, brought charges against Members of this House of a very grave character. You have had an opportunity, first in the House itself, and then before the Committee of Privileges, of either specifying definite charges or withdrawing or apologising for the accusations, neither of which have you attempted to do. The Committee of Privileges have reported to the House, after hearing what you had to say, that your speech, besides being a grave breach of Privilege, is a gross libel on the Members of this House.

It is clearly the duty of every Member to uphold the rights, the Privileges and the prestige of this House, and, above all, the honour of its Members. This you have not only failed to do, but you have gene out of your way publicly to degrade it and them in the eyes of your countrymen and of the world.

It now only remains that, in accordance with the commands of the House, I should admonish you, which I accordingly do.

Ordered That the admonition delivered by Mr. Speaker be entered upon the Journals of this House."—[Mr. P. Snowden.]