HC Deb 21 May 1931 vol 252 cc2207-9

I rise, with your permission Mr. Speaker, to make a short personal explanation about an incident which arose in the Debate last Monday. The House will remember that the Debate was upon the Foreign Office Vote, and during the discussion on Russian propaganda an hon. Member on the opposite benches made an interjection when I was addressing the Chair. The interjection of which I complain was: How much are you getting out of it? The attention of the Chairman was drawn to the observation at the time, but, as the Chairman did not hear the observation, he contented himself with saying that if that insinuation had been made it should be withdrawn. I subsequently heard that the interjection was made by the hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset (Major Colfox). I saw the hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset last night and told him that with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I would raise this matter this afternoon. The hon. and gallant Member informed me that he had for some time been paired for to-day and consequently would not be able to be present, but I think I state his position fairly when I say that he neither denied having used the words nor admitted having used them. No apology was offered, and therefore I wish to say that I have never at any time received any payment from any source whatsoever for anything I have done in this House in connection with Anglo-Russian relations or the work of the Export Credits Committee. I have no pecuniary interest in the firms in my constituency which are engaged in Anglo-Russian trade, and my motives in this matter are entirely the service of the constituency that I represent. For many years prior to the War a great export trade with Russia was done in my constituency, and I ask you, Mr. Speaker, in these circumstances, to give to me such protection as you can afford.


Hear, hear.


On a point of Order. May I ask you, Sir, whether there is any protection that you can afford me in this matter?


I am always ready to give any hon. Member protection in this House, but I thought that the fact of the hon. Member having made that statement, which was received with unanimous approval in the House, was sufficient to close the incident. That is the usual practice.


In view of the fact that the hon. and gallant Member who made the insinuation, and is known to have made it, is not here, and would not even admit having made it and would not apologise, is there no action that you can take in the event of these insinuations being made across the Floor of the House?


I do not think it is any good pursuing these matters beyond a certain stage. As I have said, the fact that the hon. Member's statement denying the charges made against him was received with general approval in the House seems to me to close the incident. If the hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset (Major Colfox) could have been here to-day, he would have undoubtedly accepted the statement.


I thank you, Sir, for your courtesy.