HC Deb 05 August 1943 vol 391 cc2466-8
Mr. Mack

The House will recall that last Tuesday the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) drew attention to a passage of a speech delivered by me on 30th July in this Chamber in which I was charged with having made an untruthful statement deliberately and one calculated to hurt and harm. Yesterday, the hon. Member intimated to me his intent to raise the matter again to-day. Under those circumstances I felt obliged to take the initiative and bring the matter before hon. Members now. The passage to which exception was taken by the hon. Member was as follows: It, almost reminds me of the famous interjection of the hon. Member for Mossley—a name which has a curious ring in my ear. He looked round at the Labour Benches and said, 'I look round on my hon. Friends and see in their evil faces the most sinister influence which might affect the status of my class for the future'—or words to that effect."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1943, cols. 1986–7, Vol. 391.] I have since had an opportunity of checking the source of my information, and have discovered that while it is incorrect to say that the hon. Member looked round at the Labour Benches and made the remarks I have mentioned, it is true that the hon. Member was responsible for a far more contemptible and gratuitous insult to the party to which I belong, in a book written by him in 1927 entitled, "Religio Militis." In Chapter V, entitled, "Profanum Vulgus," on page 113, after speaking of the alien blood which has debased our stock in our Northern industrial cities, and referring to Labour public speakers, he said: These good and true folk will listen with admiration and approval to the crazy wickedness poured forth by some notorious scoundrel whose long and greasy locks frame a countenance upon which each individual, were he not of the crowd, would recognise the brand of cruelty, vice and greed. Presumably, if my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) feels aggrieved, he can take that matter up himself. Then the hon. Member proceeds in this book: For my part"—

Mr. Molson

On a point of Order. Is an hon. Member in Order, when making a personal explanation, in quoting from a book, as justification for a statement which he made in this House about a speech?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member is certainly in Order in making his case in his own way, so long as he does not bring in anything of an abusive or disorderly character. The hon. Member may, certainly, quote from a book, if he thinks that to do so will help him to prove his case.

Mr. Mack

The hon. Member for Mossley, in this book to which I refer, proceeded: For my part I cannot look upon the evil and foolish faces of some of the leaders of Labour without a sense of deep humility. How greatly must we capitalist employers have neglected our duty if the workers choose to follow not us their natural leaders but such men as these. I have always endeavoured to show the utmost courtesy to all Members of this House and would indeed be loath to misrepresent anyone. In so far as I stated that the remark in question was made in this House, I unreservedly withdraw that assertion, but it will be equally conceded that the hon. Gentleman has, in substance and in fact, written and thus placed on permanent record a most unworthy sneer at Labour leaders, and I trust that the sense of deep humility which he then felt at the neglect of the working class to choose him as a natural leader will characterise his utterances in the future.

Mr. Austin Hopkinson

This House has rarely listened to such an exhibition as it has just heard. The hon. Member admits that his statement is utterly false from beginning to end, and then he has not the decency to apologise.