HC Deb 11 February 1941 vol 368 cc1230-42

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [5th February]: That the matter of the Complaint be referred to the Committee of Privileges."—[Mr. Spens.]

Question again proposed.

Mr. Speaker

I desire to read to the House two letters which I have received since the Debate took place. The first letter is from Messrs. Joynson-Hicks and Company, and is as follows: To the Rt. Hon. The Speaker, House of Commons, S.W.I. Sir, Our attention has been called to the proceedings in Parliament arising out of our letter published under the heading of 'Mr. Weininger' in the 'Times' issue of 31st January,1941. As signatories to the letter, we seek leave on behalf of our client and ourselves to offer to the hon. Members of the House of Commons a sincere and humble apology for the matter in respect of which you have ruled that a prima facie case exists which may constitute a breach of Privilege. May we add that it would appear from the reports in the press of the Proceedings in the House that a phrase which we used in our letter would seem to have been construed differently from our intention? In using the words 'These are the facts as we know them,' we intended to convey that we had set out the facts which, having been communicated to us by our client in the form of instructions, were within our personal knowledge. It never occurred to us that this expression could he construed as a challenge to the existence of those facts which were found by the Select Committee, and we appreciate and greatly regret that this phrase was open to such an interpretation. We have the honour to be, Your respectful and obedient servants, JOYNSON-HICKS & COMPANY. I have also received the following letter from the Editor of the "Times" news paper: Sir I have read the report of the discussion in the House of Commons on Wednesday last relating to the publication in the 'Times' of January 31st, of a letter from Messrs. Joynson-Hicks & Company. As Editor of the 'Times' I naturally take full responsibility for the publication of the letter. I see that you, Sir, have come to the conclusion that Mr. Spens made a prima facie case that the letter, in the form in which it appeared, constituted a breach of Privilege, and in view of your Ruling I am most ready to apologise to the House and to yourself for its publication. I have the honour to be, Your obedient servant, GEOFFREY DAWSON.

Colonel Gretton (Burton)

It is within the recollection of the House that I moved the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate last week, in expectation of a letter being received from the solicitors, Messrs. Joynson-Hicks & Company. That letter, Sir, you have just read to the House, as well as the letter from the editor of the "Times" newspaper. I suggest that no Member of this House wants to pursue these matters of Privilege too far, and I am confident that no one who was a member of the Select Committee desires to carry these matters further than need be. In the circumstances, I suggest that the letters of withdrawal and apology be accepted, and the incident so closed.

Mr. Spens (Ashford)

I would ask leave of the House, in the circumstances, to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

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