§ Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
I beg to move,That the speech of Alderman Bowles reported in the 'Nottingham Journal' newspaper of 3rd April, 1933, and the speech of Alderman Huntsman reported in the 'Nottingham Guardian' newspaper of the same date, be referred to the Committee of Privileges.I wish to bring to your notice, Mr. Speaker, a matter of Privilege. I do so with much reluctance because questions of Privilege ought not to be lightly raised, but it seems to be impossible for this particular case to be passed over in silence. The facts are briefly these. Last year the Nottingham Corporation Bill was referred to a Select Committee, of which I was chairman. The Bill was strenuously opposed by the Nottinghamshire County Council and the urban and 1584 district councils around Nottingham. I will, of course, say nothing as to the merits of the Bill or of the decision reached by the Committee, but will only Say that the Committee gave to the consideration of the Bill five weeks of daily close and continuous attention. Yesterday there was reported in the Nottingham Press a luncheon given by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham to the General Purposes Committee of the corporation and the officials of the corporation concerned with the Bill. Speeches were made at the luncheon, and in the "Nottingham Journal" of yesterday I found that Alderman Bowles made the following remarks. The first was under a subhead "Not impartial." He declared:'I have never been satisfied,' he declared, 'that we went before an impartial tribunal.'1585 Later on, he said:I think Nottingham's case was unfairly dealt with. … I trust there may be more safe legislation in future for the great municipalities who carry the rest of the country on their shoulders. They ought to have a fair and straight deal when they go to Parliament. We never had it.In the "Nottingham Guardian," under the heading "Alderman Huntsman's Amazing Outburst," I find this:Alderman E. Huntsman spoke of the 'stupid and persistent cross-examination of Sir Bernard Wright' at the inquiry, and asked how long the municipalities were going to sit silent in face of 'this absurd mummery.' Here was a House of Commons Committee, with no principles to guide them, knowing nothing of Nottingham and caring less, and yet called upon to decide the destinies of a great city.The committee did not come down to Nottingham to have a look at it, or see where its boundaries were. …In a remarkable outburst, Mr. Huntsman exclaimed 'Anybody can come here, if he has got money and belongs to the party which happens to be in the majority, and get elected to Parliament. When he gets there he has no weight whatever. The others are round the corner, and up the back stairs. If we had anybody in Parliament representing this city, with an ounce of authority, they would have seen that our legitimate objects were recognised.'
§ Mr. BATEY
I beg to second the Motion.
I happened to be one of the Members of the Select Committee. There were four Members on the Select Committee, and every decision given by the Committee was unanimously given, all the four members agreeing. When I saw those reports yesterday—although they were after-dinner speeches—I felt that it was not really fair comment.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
In whatever circumstances these speeches may have been made, I think that the House will agree that the charges made in them are serious, and that those who made them should have the opportunity provided by the Rules of this House of repeating them, of justifying them, or of withdrawing them. I therefore concur in the Motion which has been moved, that the matter should be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
That the speech of Alderman Bowles reported in the 'Nottingham Journal' newspaper of 3rd April, 1933, and the
speech of Alderman Huntsman reported in the 'Nottingham Guardian' newspaper of the same date, be referred to the Committee of Privileges.