HC Deb 06 April 1936 vol 310 cc2400-2

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the statement made to the Prime Minister of Egypt, on 2nd June, 1926, that the acquittal of four persons, including Ahmed Bey Maher, tried for complicity in the murder of Sir Lee Stack, could not be accepted by His Majesty's Government as proof that the persons were innocent of the charges made against them, is still the view of His Majesty's Government?


My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. No such statement was made on behalf of His Majesty's Government with regard to the trial of persons accused of complicity in the murder of Sir Lee Stack.


Is it not a fact that His Majesty's High Commissioner, purporting to act on behalf of His Majesty's Government, used precisely the words that appear at the conclusion of my question?


No, Sir. My hon. Friend is misinformed.


If I put a question on the Paper drawing my right hon. Friend's attention to the actual words, will he be kind enough to give me an answer then?


If my hon. Friend will await the answer to another question on the Paper, he may see where his error arises.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Ahmed Bey Maher and Nekrashi Bey were tried in Cairo in March, 1926, for complicity in the murder of Sir Lee Stack?


No, Sir.

At the end of Questions:


I desire, Mr. Speaker, to raise a point of Order with regard to Question No. 26, which appears on the Order, Paper to-day in the name of the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland). You will observe that that question contains a grave implication in regard to two very distinguished Egyptian citizens; and you may remember, Sir, that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that that statement had no basis in fact. I understand it is a Rule of the House that Members have to accept responsibility for statements made in their questions. I submit to you that, when such a grave statement as this is put down in a question, the Member himself ought to make sure that. it is in accordance with facts; and that to put a statement of this kind in a question without making certain that it is true is a grave breach of the Orders of the House.


On that point of Order. May I say that, as far as I knew when I put the question on the Paper, the facts were correct in every respect? I have not had time, since the hon. Member told me he was going to raise this point of Order, to produce a more authoritative statement than the book written by the ex-High Commissioner of Egypt dealing with these facts, in which it is stated that these two men were tried by a Court of Assize in Cairo consisting of Judge Kershaw as President and two Egyptian judges; the verdict of the Court was delivered on 25th May, 1926, the trial having begun in March, 1926. On these facts I submit that the question as put down on the Paper is correct.


It is a very well known Rule of the House that, as the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) has stated, a Member who puts down statements in a question makes himself responsible for the truth of those statements. He cannot do more than that.