§ This Motion relates to certain consequential considerations which arose out of the cases of Mr. Allighan and the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walkden). It will be seen that the wording of the Motion which stands on the Order Paper is different from that which the House was debating in the late evening of 30th October, although the intention of this Motion is really the same as the intention of the Motion that was on the Order Paper at that time. The object of both the original Motion and of this substituted Motion is simply to give formal notice that in future cases of the sort on which the House pronounced judgment on 30th October, and where a Member has already been found guilty of corruptly accepting payment, it intends to proceed immediately not only against the recipient of the money but also against the offerer of the payment.
§ There are two points about the Motion. One is that the Member of Parliament must have been convicted by the House, and the other is that money should have passed, and it brings in the person who paid as well as the recipient, which appears to us to be just and fair in all circumstances of the case. In the cases of Mr. Allighan and the hon. Member for Doncaster, the Government were not prepared to recommend the House to proceed against the journalists or editors concerned in making the payment, because those persons were not necessarily aware at the material time that a Parliamentary offence was being committed. They were not infringing an actual Resolution of the House; nor, indeed, as I shall show later, were they infringing any recognised Privilege of the House. But from now on the intentions of the House should, in our judgment be on record, and if that is done, nobody will be able to plead ignorance.
I now come to the wording of the Motion which, as I say, has been amended in certain respects since we last debated this matter. The main differences are
two. The amended Motion is more general and less specific in its application both to the persons that it covers and to the penalties which it imposes. First of all, there is no specific reference to the "representative of a newspaper or of a Press agency." Secondly there is no reference to the penalty of exclusion from the precincts of this House. In the Debate on the original Motion certain hon. Members took exception to the wording of the second part of the Motion, and particularly to the words:
and if such person shall be the representative of a newspaper or of a Press agency,
on the grounds that these words, by implication, constituted a serious indictment of the profession of journalism, and by singling journalists out for pillory, left, in their judgment, the unwarranted impression that, as one hon. Member put it, "in the opinion of Parliament there is serious corruption in the British Press." I myself do not think that the words did bear such an implication. They were all related to the hypothesis that a Member of the House had already been found guilty by this House of corruptly accepting payment for the disclosure of confidential information. All the same, I felt at the time a good deal of sympathy with hon. Members in their criticisms, and I hope that the new wording may satisfy any reasonable objection on this score.
§ The other main change in the wording of the Motion relates to the penalty—the action which the House will take in specified circumstances against an offender. In the amended Motion it is now deliberately left open to the House to take "such action as it may, in the circumstances, think fit." The reason for this change is that it did seem right to His Majesty's Government on reconsideration not even to appear to fetter the discretion of the House by prescribing in advance a precise penalty which might or might not be appropriate in the circumstances of any particular case: As regards the action that the House might, in given circumstances, think fit to take, the main penalty 1093 that can be imposed is, of course, that mentioned in the original Motion: namely, the exclusion from the precincts of the House of the person or persons implicated in the charge of corruption.
§ I have seen it suggested that this involves an extension of Privilege, by imposing a penalty upon a person or a group of persons who are not themselves Members of Parliament. If I may say so, this is a misconception. Privilege has always extended to strangers as well as to Members. But this is not really a question of Privilege. Strictly speaking, the original Motion did not impose a penalty at all. It simply announced the intention in certain prescribed circumstances of possibly withdrawing a facility—namely, the facility of entering the precincts of the House, to listen to the proceedings, and to interview Members of Parliament. I do not think that anyone would dispute the absolute right of this House to lay down who shall and who shall not enter the precincts at any time for any purpose. Nobody has the right to be present in these precincts except by leave, of the House.
§ One further word I would say about the nature of Privilege. We are not, as I say, discussing Privilege here at all. Breaches of Privilege attract a range of recognised penalties. If a journalist, or newspaper editor, or for that matter anyone else, commits a breach of Privilege, he exposes himself to those penalties. Now the House has decided that party meetings or private meetings of Members, wherever they are held, should not, as such, attract to themselves the Privileges which attach to the proceedings of Parliament as a whole. Therefore, no question arises here of creating a new Privilege. All we are doing in this case is to give notice that where a Member of this House has been convicted of corruptly accepting payment for the disclosure of certain confidential information, the offerer as well as the recipient of the payment shall bear his share of the responsibility.
§ The Government have given most careful thought to the terms of this Motion, and the amended Motion, as it now stands in my name and that of the Home Secretary, represents their considered decision. In those circumstances I must make it clear that the Government do not feel able to leave the matter to a free vote of the House. Shortly put, the case 1094 for this Motion is that the House dealt, and dealt seriously and severely within its judicial authority and in its judicial spirit, with two Members of this House, one of whom was expelled and the other gravely damaged in his Parliamentary and political life, as a result of certain incidents. I take the view—I know that some of my hon. Friends think that I was perhaps too gentle—that the journalists and editors concerned could have fairly pleaded, whatever the ethics of the transactions may have been, that they did not know it would have been an offence to the House or a contempt of the House, or whatever it might have been adjudged to be. In these cases of doubt, I never wish the House to be hard. Therefore, I advised the House then, and I advise it now, that we should not take action against those journalists or editors.
§ I am bound to add however that, in my judgment, it does not generally accord with the laws of natural justice that Members of Parliament should find themselves shattered and ruined, and that the people who paid the money should go off scot-free. Therefore I am anxious that the House shall now give fail notice for the future that if this happens again, we shall take serious notice of it, so that no Leader of the House, whoever he may be, can be in the dilemma in which I have been on this occasion.
§ There is nothing vindictive about this. There is no wish to go for newspaper men. Indeed, I would not wish to do so, because I know them very well and have very human relationships with them, but these incidents do mean that the Lobby must mind its step. It must watch its members in their conduct. Editors must mind their step, too; otherwise they might bring themselves into conflict with Parliament, which would be most unhappy and most undesirable for the House and for the Parliamentary institution represented by this House. I do not want it to happen. I think that the way these Lobby men live with us, and their relationships with us, are, on the whole, a very happy state of affairs. They have their rules and honourable codes of conduct. The last thing in the world I should wish is that there should be any conflict, but those two incidents were disturbing. I will not mention any other, but I would beg of the Lobby and the 1095 editors concerned, of all of them, to take the lesson to heart and to consider it in its proper setting.
§ I have not the least reason to believe that any other Lobby man or any other editor will be disposed to fall into this bad action, as I think it was, in connection with the matters with which we dealt on 30th October. The Press as a whole in this country is upright and is free of this kind of trouble. I have no reason to believe that such a thing will happen again, but the House will be right to place on record that if unhappily such a thing should happen again, the House will take action, and will take a serious view of the matter. In those circumstances, I hope that the Motion will commend itself to the favourable consideration of the House.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
On a point of Order. May I ask you, Sir, if you intend to call the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) and myself, in line 4, after "payment," to insert:and persons responsible for instigating such payments.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Young)
I believe that the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) was told by Mr. Speaker that his Amendment would not be called.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
We had a discussion, as the Lord President has just reminded us, on 30th October, on a Motion dealing with the same subject as the Motion now before us. The Lord President has been good enough to point out the difference between this Motion and that one. I must say that I hoped, after the Adjournment of the Debate that night, that we would hear no more about this matter. I expressed the view then that such a Motion was, to use the words which I used then, otiose and quite unnecessary.
The right hon. Gentleman tonight—I do not know whether to use the words of which he made use in an earlier speech this evening—has been seeing "the shape of things that may be to come." That is what he said in the other Debate. The Motion proceeds on the hypothesis that something of the sort is likely to happen 1096 and that because it may have happened in the past, there might be a repetition of it. I think that is extraordinarily unlikely. I will say why in a moment, if the right hon. Gentleman will listen.
The right hon. Gentleman said just now that in the past there have always been, and certainly it has been the case in the years that I have been here, most happy relations between the Members of this House and the Lobby correspondents and other journalists who come our way. It is only in the last few months that this happy relationship has been disturbed, to the great distress of both parties, I am perfectly certain. The right hon. Gentleman said just now that there is nothing in this Motion which is in any way against the Press and that there is nothing—to use his adjective—vindictive in this Motion. Yet the fact remains that, to an observer, it would appear to be another dig, to put it no higher than that, at the relationships between Parliament and Press. That, I think, is a thousand pities. I would much prefer to leave things as they are now, for this reason, that the only justification that the right hon. Gentleman put forward at all, on this occasion or when we discussed it before, was that in his view—this is what he said the other time—it is fair that that note of warning should be issued and placed on the Journals of the House."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th October, 1947: Vol. 443, c. 1231.]I might agree with him if nothing had ever happened. In view of what has happened, in view of the reports of the Debate, and the report, if you like, of the Select Committee, I am perfectly certain that anybody who is going to carry on a journalistic vocation within the precincts of Parliament will look to this case as a locus classicus which will show him how to conduct himself. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that that is quite enough. I can imagine that any individual who first comes here from the journalistic world would probably be told, "Go and look up those Debates and let them, as well as what we tell you, be your guide." I do not think there is any use at all in putting a Motion of this kind upon the Journals, as the right hon. Gentleman wishes.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Press must take these lessons to heart. I have had no opportunity to contact anyone in this connection, but I cannot 1097 help believing they will have taken the thing to heart and that, therefore, it is quite redundant to have this Motion tonight, more particularly as, at the end of it all, the Motion concludes thatthis House will take such action as it may, in the circumstances, think fit.That we always will take, and it does not have to be put in the Journals. That is inherent in the constitution and the practice of this House; it is a long-established custom. When matters arise we, as a House, deal with them, and on matters of this kind we deal with them as Members of the House and not as Members of a political party, and I very much regret that the right hon. Gentleman said that if the matter were to go to a Division, he would crack the whip for those who sit behind him.
At the same time, in matters of this kind there are two sets of rules. There are what we might call the rules of law and there are the rules and code of honourable behaviour. If the law of Parliament is transgressed, anything which comes within the field of Privilege, will be dealt with as such at the time. If, on the other hand, there is any transgression of the law of the land, it is for the courts to deal with it. If, however, it is a breach of the rules of honourable conduct, I admit that the right hon. Gentleman is in a more difficult field, and these problems are generally dealt with as between honourable men—whom we must assume ourselves to be and whom, from our knowledge we believe the correspondents and newspaper people with whom we are in contact also to be.
One of the curious parts of this Motion is the wording. If, on this hypothetical occasion in the futurea Member shall have been found guilty of corruptly accepting payment for the disclosure and publication of confidential information about matters,then certain consequences will flow. First of all, not being a lawyer, but reading this—and if it goes into the Journals of the House we are all responsible for it—I am not quite clear what is the effect of the word "corruptly." I do not know if the hon. and learned Solicitor-General or anyone else is going to tell us what is the point of "corruptly" and what is the difference between that and accepting payment—or is it a mere vituperative adverb to make it sound rather unpleasant? What is "confidential information"? I find that a very difficult phrase to under- 1098 stand in this context. It has nothing to do with secrets. The Official Secrets Act is a complete protection of course, or ought to be, if there were a breach in that respect, so we can put aside any indiscretions which come within the ambit of official secrecy.
This is a matter of "confidential information." I suppose all of us in our contacts with our friends, relations and acquaintances from time to time discuss what are called private or—confidential matters, and I take it that means there is a natural or implied agreement that what we are talking about we will not pass on to somebody else, but there is no real test in it. One cannot say that it is automatically a piece of "confidential information." For example, if anyone happens to know when the House is going to rise for Christmas, that would be a piece of confidential information. I do not think it has been disclosed; certainly it has not been disclosed when we are coining back after Christmas; but if one happens to know and inadvertently tell someone, would that be treated as a piece of confidential information? I think we ought to know what is meant by this curious phrase, because it is a curious and unexpected phrase. But it goes further. There is this curious phrase to which I would like hon. Members to pay attention. The Motion does not in itself say there is anything wrong in disclosing confidential information. It is only wrong if you get something for it.
§ Captain Crookshank
Corruptly. But the damage, if damage there is to the State and Parliament, may be just as great, either to the individual or Parliament, in a case where confidential information has been disclosed and there is no suggestion of its having been done for any gain whatsoever. Indeed, one can have indiscretion of as great magnitude without there being any suggestion of corruption or payment at all.
There is the other phrase about "matters to be proceeded with in Parliament." It is a very curious phrase. I have made several inquiries on this, but I have not been able to find any explanation in previous history or previous Acts which gives any explanation of these words. Here we deal with legislation, we 1099 deal with general Debates, all openly discussed; legislation openly arrived at, right up to the Third Reading—but what are "matters to be proceeded with in Parliament"? The use of these words—and I would be pleased to receive any interpretation of the word "corruptly"—puts a risk, to put it no higher than that, on a number of our colleagues who, for all I know, may write in the Press and may be paid for their writings. I am not one of these, but I know that sometimes one sees signed articles, or articles under fancy names which one suspects may have been written or compiled by Members of this House.
No one has suggested there is anything wrong in that; I am not suggesting it now and I do not know whether anyone else is suggesting it, but it seems to me that if a writer gets paid and by inadvertence puts in his articles something which could be claimed to be confidential because it is not yet known to the world—such as the date of the rising for the Christmas Recess—and it happens in an article written today, and in the hypothetical case he is writing for payment, there would be a risk. I am not suggesting he would necessarily be proceeded against, but if it is confidential information, some thing which should not be disclosed, if in fact he does get paid for a series of articles, he will be wondering—to put it no higher than that—whether or not he may be covered by this Motion.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider that as the real point which we must bear in mind before we pass this Motion. After all, a great deal of information comes in one way or another to those Members who write. They can foresee when it is possible that the Opposition are going to take a very strong view. Has that something to do with confidential information—what the Opposition are going to do about a Bill which has not yet been produced? I am putting these things in order to bring out the sort of stupidities which, so far as I can see, are inherent in this Motion.
One can quite well say that none of these cases will happen, and that it is too silly to mention them, to all of which my answer is that I do not think these cases are going to arise in the future and that is my fundamental objection to the Motion. We have had these cases. Everyone 1100 knows what happens. Everybody knows the penalties upon those who, being Members of this House, offended. They can see, or have seen, all that has been said in evidence in the reports of the proceedings, and in HANSARD; and that is quite sufficient for dealing with the problem. It is quite unnecessary at this stage to put anything in the Journals of the House to the effect that the House will take such action as it may think fit, because that is redundant and quite unnecessary.
I hope that on further reflection the right hon. Gentleman will not press this Motion. I cannot believe it adds anything to the general code of Parliamentary behaviour, which, after all, grows, as he knows, from precedent to precedent. We have had these awkward cases. Everybody has seen what happened. Certainly the Press knows what has happened; and certainly anyone going to be in contact with Members of the House knows the risks which he may run if he deviates from the strict and narrow path—which I do not believe anyone will do, any more than I believe that any hon. Member of this House will do so. This may have been necessary six or 12 months ago, brought out of the blue for fear that something might occur; but now that these events have occurred there is no reason, in my opinion, for a Motion of this kind. Certainly, if the right hon. Gentleman is not going to withdraw the Motion, and is going to press it to a Division, I put it to him that he as Leader of the House, and as a good House of Commons man, ought to leave it to the free vote of Members of all parties.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, West)
I should like at the outset to declare my own special interest in this Motion. I am, by profession, a journalist. Every Member of this House has, equally, a special interest in this Motion, because every hon. Member is a journalist, or potentially a journalist, or a crypto-journalist. I feel therefore we are all deeply concerned with this Motion, and with its effect on the relations between the Government and the Press. Our own Press has for over 150 years been free of corruption. I want to emphasise this tonight so that it should not be thought, either at home or abroad, that the introduction" of this Motion implies 1101 any general censure of the Press. I was abroad at the time when the two recent Motions were debated about the conduct of two hon. Members in relation to the Press; and I must say that, instead of considering that that indicated a decay in manners and morals in this country, people abroad, on the contrary, considered that the intense resentment of any indication of corruption was proof of the wholesome civic and moral sense which prevails in Great Britain.
There was a time when there was corruption in our Press. Such corruption was present in the time of Walpole, but since then there has been a healthy resistance in the body politic against that kind of corruption. Men like Jack Wilkes, who was a Member of this House, and "Junius"—the pseudonym of one who was believed to be a Member of this House—so purified our Press that for over a century it has been the repository, in a sense, of the public conscience. The function of the Press has ever since been what "Junius" declared it to be. He said:The liberty of the Press is the Palladium of all the civic, social and religious rights of every Englishman.It is by that standard that our Press has maintained itself for such a long period.
But there is a danger which the wording of the Motion might seem to imply, and that I feel ought to be clarified tonight. There is a fear—an unfounded fear—that it is the wish of the Government to infringe in some way the rights and the liberties of the Press. I am quite sure that no one who understands the intentions of the Government in this matter will feel that that is the object of this Motion. None the less, we have to make it quite clear that the functions of the Press and that of the Government are entirely separate. There was a time in the last century when "The Times" criticised Louis Napoleon in France, and at that time a Member of the Upper House, Lord Derby, said:As in these days the English Press aspires to share the influence of statesmen, so also it must share in the responsibilities of statesmen.To that "The Times" replied in a famous leader:The purposes and the duties of the two powers"—meaning the Press and the Government— 1102are constantly separate, generally independent, sometimes diametrically opposite. The first duty of the Press is to obtain the earliest and most correct intelligence of the events of the times, and instantly, by disclosing them, to make them the common property of the nation.That seems to me to be a summary of the function of the Press which has not been improved on until the present day. Even now we must recognise that the Government must not either do or seem to do anything which will impair the Press in its free collection of news or in its, free expression of views.
Hon. Members of this House who are journalists find themselves in a certain difficulty. They have privileged access to information, the opportunity of prior knowledge which is not given either to their colleagues who are journalists or to the general public. For that reason, a Member of this House who is a journalist has in himself the duty of determining whether he has the right to disclose that information to the paper for which he happens to work. In one way an hon. Member who is also a journalist is rather like a doctor, because he has privileged opportunities which he must not abuse. A journalist who is also a Member of this House has on him a special responsibility for self-discipline, and for determining in his own mind whether what he wishes to disclose can suitably be disclosed.
That is, however, a code of conduct for Members of Parliament which I would not wish to enjoin on journalists who are outside Parliament. A point which I do wish to make tonight is that a journalist, whether in the Lobby or outside, has the obligation of obtaining news as rapidly and as accurately as possible, and of offering that information as quickly as possible to the general public. A Member of Parliament who is a journalist must have certain inhibitions in offering information to the public; on the other hand, a journalist who is not a Member of Parliament has on himself the duty of doing everything in his power to obtain that information, provided only that in its ultimate disclosure he does not infringe the Official Secrets Act, which covers certain specific things, and which seems to me to be an adequate restraint upon the Press in general in preventing it from disclosing information which might be detrimental to the country as a whole.
1103 For that reason, we must tonight make a clear distinction between restraints which are self-imposed upon Members of this House by themselves and those which are applied, or which we may seek to apply, to journalists outside the House. I am quite sure that the Government would not do anything which would limit the freedom of action, or the opportunity of having access to news, which is the right of every journalist, and, for that matter, of every citizen. We have therefore to watch the wording of this Motion very carefully, to ensure that there is nothing in it which in any way infringes the natural rights of every citizen to have free access to information.
There was a time in the 18th century when an interpretation of law stated that a publisher could be held responsible for the criminal publication of news by one of his agents, but that the publisher would not be entitled to trial by jury. It was not till well into the 19th century that that particular restraint on and injustice to publishers was finally removed. I hope that whoever replies ultimately for the Government, and interprets the wording of the Motion, will make it clear that a publisher or editor whose agent commits an offence in the form of bribery and corruption will not be condemned without an opportunity of stating his case. That seems to me to be a fundamental right of every publishes, and editor.
One thing which has disturbed me somewhat about the wording of this Motion is that on the condemnation of a person responsible for a disclosure of confidential information, it would appear to follow that the publisher whose agent he is should immediately, and almost automatically, be condemned. It is important that there should be adequate safeguards so that, in the event of the condemnation of an agent who has behaved in that way his principal will be given a full and fair opportunity of stating his case.
I wish to support this Motion because I believe its general intention to be a correct one. I believe the general purpose of the Motion to be to see that the relations between Press and Government remain as they have always been—cordial and friendly, with the rights of both respected by each. It is because of that relationship which grew up during the 19th century that our Press is today the best in the 1104 world. It is a Press which is incorruptible; a Press which has a high reputation for accuracy in the presentation of news; and a Press which has a high reputation for the responsibility with which editors state opinions. I know that there is a danger at a certain point that, in the name of freedom of the Press, journalists, and even editors, may engage in statements or put forward views which do not redound to the freedom of the Press, but rather indicate that freedom has degenerated into licence. Generally speaking, I do not think the Press of this country has suffered in that respect.
I believe the object of this Motion will be to secure that that never will be the case, and I believe that the Press, which has grown to be a model for the whole of Europe, will remain that model, because when there is anything which seems to infringe on either its freedom or its integrity, then Parliament, editors and journalists are quick in combination to see that those conditions do not continue.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I did not follow very clearly exactly the line of impression which the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) meant to leave with the House. I did gather, I think, that he was a British journalist, and that he was of opinion that British journalism was a model to the rest of the world; but for the rest, I was not quite sure what impression he was meaning to leave. I would not for the world say a word against the British Press, but I think it is a little too lightly assumed that all the rest of the world looks to our Press as a model.
I do not think it is really necessary to add very much to the general objections to this Motion which were made by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank). I had rather hoped, therefore, that the luck of the batting order might have enabled me to speak after we had heard the learned Solicitor-General's answers to the particular questions which my right hon. and gallant Friend put. But without that advantage, perhaps I may be permitted to overlap a little some of what was said earlier, of "corruptly," for instance. Does it mean that there can be acceptance of payment for disclosure and publication of confidential information which is not corrupt? Is the word "cor- 1105 suptly" adding something? I assume that it is, and if so, without wishing to criticise the Lord President of the Council who has had a lot to do today, I think we ought to have been told what, from the beginning. I do not think the lawyers on this side exactly follow what is meant to be imported by the word "corruptly"; I am sure the rest of us do not follow what is meant, and, therefore, we are under difficulty in arguing the point.
Secondly, I am not sure What "publication" means—"publication of confidential information." It appears that in one of the recent incidents out of which this has arisen, there were representatives of one section of the Press present at a series of confidential meetings, I understand that they were there—and I think it appears on the face of the evidence that if they were there, it was on condition that they did not directly report what happened, and in that sense they were not to publish confidential information. But it did not appear they were there for nothing, rather that they were there in order that what they wrote, and their subordinates wrote, should be more accurate as a result of their being present at the exchange of confidential information than would otherwise have been the case. If not, I cannot see why on earth they were there. If that is so, it seems that, in so far as they were in receipt of remuneration, they would fall under the mischief of this resolution.
It seems to me that "publication of confidential information" does not consist only and necessarily of saying "Bill Smith tells me in confidence, and I ought not to repeat it, but I do here tell you that X is going to happen tomorrow." You can so talk to the other person that if he is clever enough and knows enough he can spot what you are talking about—can gather more or less of the matters which were discussed between Bill Smith and the other confidential person. The point is simple enough but I may not have made it clear—that such publications might fall under this Resolution. If that is so, that is a very serious objection to the use of the words "disclosure and publication," an objection to which attention has not been previously called. I think there is a more general objection, and the simple way of putting the point is to show how lame is the conclusion of 1106 this Motion. After a lot of minatory and rather pretentious stuffthis House will take such action as it may, in the circumstances, think fit.Well, you could not really have a much more lame and impotent conclusion than that. Therefore, when one finds a rather elaborate assertion, and exposition, in order to come to such a very lame and impotent conclusion at the end, one inquires: Why is this thing being done? I have no doubt that the Lord President was well advised in what he said just now, and I expect he was right, when he said that this was not, strictly speaking, a matter of Privilege. I am sure that the learned Solicitor-General will bear me out, or perhaps the Home Secretary who is equally learned, although in a different sense—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
In a different and not inferior sense. I have forgotten what I was on now—too many interruptions from the Front Bench opposite. Yes, I know the point now. It was said that this was not technically a matter of Privilege, but I am sure that the distinction between what is a matter of Privilege and what without being such may be proceeded against, or normally thought of as naturally referable to the Committee of Privileges, I am sure that distinction between strict Privilege and what, not being strictly Privilege, might attract the attention, and especially the punitive or corrective attention of this House—the distinctions between those matters which are properly privileged, and those which are not, are highly and subtly Byzantine distinctions. I am sure that no Member can draw that distinction clearly unless he has just looked up the books, and consulted the clerks, and so on.
This is a matter of Privilege in the general sense, not only in the general outside sense, but in the general sense in which Members of Parliament talk about Privilege. Within that field—and within both halves of the field, both the half which is the strictly privileged half and the other half of the field—I think this is clear, although I hesitate to assert anything positively in these matters: that what the House cannot do is to legislate; that is to say, it cannot make something into a punishable offence which was not previously a punishable offence, nor can it 1107 affix to some line of conduct which was previously punishable some new or additional penalty or threat. I think I am right in saying that that is plain and has been plain any time these 300 years, or thereabouts. That is, of course, why the conclusion on this Motion had to be so lame and impotent.
But what is the rest of it for, then? What is the rest of it doing if it is not legislating, or coming near to legislation? No one can say that it is a piece of legislation in the sense in which a Statute is a piece of legislation, but if the Motion has no legislative tendency, what effect or purpose has it? I think the Lord President did come near to claiming legislative force for it. He said that he hesitated to proceed against journalists in earlier cases because they were not infringing any resolution or Privilege. You see the point. He stuck in "Resolution" as well as "Privilege." But Resolutions of this House do not create punishable offences. I think that is right, and I think the Home Secretary agreed with me three minutes or so ago that that was right. If that was the reason for not proceeding against them in the last case, that must be the reason for continuing not to do so unless this Motion is claiming some legislative effect. On the hypothesis of my argument, with which I think the Treasury, Bench had nodded agreement, that is what this Motion cannot do.
I noticed with great interest the almost spinsterish solicitude with which the Lord President in this connection was anxious to avoid anything that could, by the most prudish, be supposed to have the least taint of retrospection about it. It was rather interesting to those who had listened to the last Debate. When it comes to constitutional arrangements affecting great matters of legislation, with unpredictable effect on the whole world, retrospection does not seem to matter. But here, in this matter, the right hon. Gentleman was ostentatiously scrupulous to avoid any risk that the House might appear to have any retrospective or retroactive effect by proceeding against these journalists. If action against them then would have been retrospective, now the hoped-for tendency of this Motion must be something legislative. How otherwise can it make prospective what otherwise would be retrospective? I do not see any way round that dilemma.
1108 Either this Resolution means nothing and is clotted nonsense, or it really is intended to have some legislative tendency; or, what I am glad to say satisfies my prejudices while pleasing my reason, it is both, and on these grounds I hope that this House will vote against it.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Mallalieu (Huddersfield)
I know that the Lord President of the Council has had an exceptionally busy day, but I wish that he could have found time to listen to the speeches, both of the right hon. and gallant Member for Gains-borough (Captain Crookshank) and the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). I think it would have shown the Lord President the dangers into which one runs if one tries to confine, within the limits of legal phrases, something which is, after all, a problem of human relationships. This is a problem on which I, for all sorts of personal reasons, feel very deeply and very sincerely. I was horrified to hear hon. Members opposite dealing with it as though it were some nice issue to be argued before judges in a court of law.
I have been, as everyone else in this House has been, disturbed about the whole business of the relationship of journalists to Members of this House, and I have been disturbed particularly on two points. First of all, as the Lord President knows, I think that this House made a grave mistake, and was wanting in its duty, when it failed to punish Mr. Stanley Dobson and the Editor of the "Evening News" when they were caught out in the act of bribery. But I agree with the Lord President that the time for taking that particular action is now past.
The second point which disturbs me is the attitude which is arising in this House and, particularly, I regret to say, on my own side of it, to the profession of journalism, and to those who practise it. In the old days—I say in the old days as though I had as much experience as the Noble Lord the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton)—but I merely mean that I love this House and have known it for a long time—whenever one wanted to raise a laugh in the House, one referred to journalists, but the laugh that came was good-natured. It was like the laugh one gets outside at a reference to a politician or a nonconformist.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
The references were used always as friendly terms of abuse. Today the laugh raised when the subject of journalism is mentioned, is rather a bitter laugh, and I regret that very deeply. I think that it is perfectly natural. We have been presented in this House, in the last few months, with an example where t. member of the Lobby of the House of Commons has shown that he cannot maintain the high standard that is clearly expected of the Lobby. We have had the same thing with Members of the House and it is natural that it should cause some bitterness, but it would be tragic if those particular instances were magnified into a generalisation—if, because one Member at least has been guilty of lowering the high standards to which the Lobby has subscribed for over 60 years, we were to assume it was right to cast a slur on the whole body of Lobby Correspondents. For that reason I am delighted that the wording of this Motion has been changed from what it was when we last considered it.
That is now past, and I am very much concerned with our present and future relations with journalists who are members of the Lobby. I should like as a very humble, insignificant back bencher to make this suggestion to those who have more experience of this House than I have, that it might be a good thing if there were to he a sort of conference between the House of Commons and representatives of the Lobby—if, for example, the Lord President of the Council, the Father of the House, and perhaps a representative of each of the main political parties were to get round a table with representatives of the Lobby to discuss the various problems which now face us. One of the things which might well be discussed is whether or not the existing powers of the committee of the Lobby are sufficient to give them power to discipline their members. At the present moment—and perhaps it is really a lawyer's question—it is extremely doubtful whether the committee of the Lobby has any power over its members at all.
I believe it is in the same sort of position as other similar bodies like the Guild of Industrial Correspondents. Members may remember that Mr. Garry Allighan was himself a member of the Guild of Industrial Correspondents. He was expelled 1110 from that Guild for unprofessional conduct, but having been expelled, he issued a writ. The issue was never decided in court, but it is quite possible that the Guild of Industrial Correspondents, because of the action it took against Mr. Garry Allighan, might have found itself mulcted in very heavy damages. It seems to me that the same position might obtain in this House if the committee of the Lobby Correspondents decided themselves to take action against a member of the Lobby. I believe it is true that the only person who has power to take action against a man who holds a Lobby ticket is Mr. Speaker himself. I should like to see the powers of the Lobby Committee extended to this extent that they should have the privileged right to condemn the action of one of their fellow members as unprofessional, and to report that condemnation to Mr. Speaker himself, so that Mr. Speaker, if he thought fit, should take action. By "privileged" I mean that they should not thereby render themselves duct, but having been expelled, he issued
The second point I think perhaps a conference such I have suggested might take up, is the whole question of the written rules of conduct in the Lobby. I am extremely doubtful, without having discussed the question, about the value of written rules. So far as I can remember from my experience as a Lobby correspondent in years gone by, there were no written rules. There were certain established precedents and traditions, which in a way had the force of rules. For example, I always understood that if I spoke to a Member or a Minister in the Inner Lobby or anywhere else in the House, I could not quote him as having said what he did say without express permission, but I could quote what he said without referring to him unless he expressly refused me the right to do so.
That seemed to be the established tradition. It had pretty well the force of law but that was not enough. That was laying down a rule which might have done elsewhere, but here in the House of Commons, as hon. Members know better than I do, there is a particularly intimate sort of relationship between the members of the Lobby and Members of Parliament. It is impossible to lay down hard and fast rules. Very often Members of Parliament would come up to us in passing 1111 through the Lobby with a matter still in their minds from the Chamber and they would say a thing without putting any ban on it at all which in sober thought they would not have wanted to see in the papers. Every time we had to say to ourselves not, "What is my right; what is the rule?" but "What is fair?" En the words of a previous Speaker, we had to guide our conduct by consideration of what a gentleman would do, and that is the basis—not these rules that we may lay down on Order Papers—on which both we as hon. Members and members of the Lobby as journalists must conduct our affairs.
I know that in the present heat of feeling there may be some hon. Members who feel that that test can no longer be applied to the Lobby and that certain members of the Lobby have"shown that they cannot be judged on the standards of a gentleman, but I believe that those who feel that, do not know the sort of men that journalists really are. I am horrified sometimes at the things that are said in this House about journalists. If they were said from these benches or from the benches opposite about the miners or the doctors, there would be an absolute outcry; yet people can say things about journalists in this House and get away with it. I believe that arises from a failure to understand the tremendously high standard of conduct that the vast majority of journalists really have.
I remember that when I came into the Lobby first in 1933 I had the privilege of sharing a room behind and above the old House of Commons with two very well established journalists. Perhaps in part because I knew the House of old and that it was born into me but, even more, because of their influence, within about a week I had absorbed into my very being the standard of conduct which was expected from me in this House. Those two men who taught me have taught many others and they are still here, and there are dozens of other men like them in the Lobby. I would say that rather than lay down rules on the Order Paper trying to codify a standard of conduct, we as Members of Parliament should be prepared to leave the conduct of the Lobby to men like that, and that in no circumstances, whatever justification we 1112 may have because of recent events, should we attempt to put restrictions upon the freedom of access that members of the Lobby have to hon. Members of this House. That old fight between the Press and Parliament, which was really a fight between the Press and the public on the one hand and Parliament on the other, has been settled long ago. The Press represented by the Lobby and by the Gallery are now an integral part of the British Parliament, and I hope that nobody by action or even by words, will do anything whatever which will once again put back history and make the Press a class apart, strangers in a strange land.
I would rather appeal to my hon. Friends on this side of the House that they should really try to understand what are the problems of the Press and what sort of people they are. The Press itself, through the Lobby Committee and through their own elder statesmen, should be especially vigilant, not only for their own good name but to protect the rights of Members as well, so that working here in the House of Commons, whether as a journalist or as a Member, will again become in the future what it was in the past—one of the most fully satisfying jobs that a man can have.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Butcher (Holland with Boston)
I have rarely listened to a speech which gave me greater pleasure, and with which I found myself in greater sympathy, than that of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mallalieu). I felt he put his finger on the real code which should govern the relations between this House and the journalists who report our deliberations when he said the test should be what a gentleman would do under the circumstances. I believe that is the test which this House has applied for a good many years, and which it would be well to continue to apply in the future. It is with that in my mind that I read this Motion, and I really do not think that it will help in establishing conduct on that high level which he and I would both desire, if this House passes this Motion.
This is not a case of establishing relations for the first time between this House and Lobby correspondents. These relations have grown up over a period of years and during that time have been 1113 singularly free from unpleasant incidents. Now, after an unpleasant incident, we are hoping that those old pleasant and happy relations will be re-established. We have to ask ourselves how far will that be helped by the passing of such a Motion as we see on the Order Paper? First, I think it is open to criticism in terms of being completely woolly in its meaning. Secondly, I believe that such a Motion casts an undeserved slight on a body of men who have endeavoured to discharge their duties to this House in all possible ways to the best of their ability.
I do not think this is a matter on which we ought to spend a great deal of time. I associate myself entirely with the observations of the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crook-shank), but there is one thought that crosses my mind, which I would like to put to whoever is to reply from the Government Front Bench. I have been trying to read a law book, which is almost completely Greek to any layman like myself, but I understand that it is a misdemeanour to bribe, or to attempt to bribe, a Privy Councillor or a juryman, and it is an offence in Common Law. If that is the case, surely a Member of Parliament would not be very far out in the line which connects a Privy Councillor with a juryman, and therefore I ask whoever may reply, is it not a fact that in Common Law there are any necessary remedies available at present should there he any attempt to bribe a Member of Parliament in this matter?
Even if these remedies did not exist, I still believe that, by passing such a Motion as the one on the Order Paper, we are not assisting the smooth working of this institution, in which both politicians and Press men try to serve the people. We are rather clouding the issue. The position will never be quite the same after this Motion has been passed, and I hope, therefore, that after due consideration, and having listened to the speeches made in all quarters of the House, the Government will feel able to withdraw the Motion.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
This Motion raises a far greater issue than has been apparent from most of the speeches yet delivered, except for the speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mallalieu). I wish to try to persuade the 1114 House and hon. Members opposite—not to attack, but to persuade them—that this is not a small matter, not a question which can be disposed of in a short time, but that it raises matters which go to the very fundamentals of the relationship between this House and the Press. In doing so, may I commence on a somewhat egoistic note, by saying that not only do I stand here as the senior Member of the House—what is commonly known as the Father of the House—but I happen to be the oldest journalist in the House. I first wrote an article for a review in 1902, and I was asked to be a special correspondent of the "Daily Mail" in 1903, and became an editor in 1909.
I agree with everything the hon. Member for Huddersfield said in what I thought was a very eloquent speech. He said there had been a grievous deterioration in recent years—I would almost say in this Parliament—in the relationship between this House and the Press. I do not want to make a party speech, and I am not saying to whom blame attaches for that state of affairs, but it is a fact. I have noticed that some hon. Members opposite treated the part of the speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield in which he said that no one would dare to speak of miners or doctors as they speak of journalists, as a matter of small importance. If is a question of great importance, because the profession of journalism in this country is an ancient and honourable craft, and if there is a lack of understanding and good feeling between this House as an institution and journalists, it is the duty of this House to consider what are the reasons.
Before I come to the main points I wish to put to the House, I would like to associate myself with what the hon. Member for Huddersfield said when he suggested that it might be desirable to have some informal conference, at any rate as far as Lobby and Gallery correspondents are concerned, between them and some hon. Members of the House, to see how the situation could be improved.
I submit that this is a most dangerous and most unnecessary Motion. I would like to start with what I believe to be a truism from which I think there will be no dissent by any lion. Member in any part of the House. I say that the standard of personal integrity, irrespective of party, or class, is today, and has been within 1115 living memory, as high in this House as in any legislative assembly in the world. That is a deliberate understatement on my part, because I do not want to say anything wounding to other assemblies, but one might put it very much higher. I will go a step further than that, and I think I will have the assent of many hon. Members opposite when I say that it is equally true of the personal standards of journalists in this country. If we compare the Press of this country with the Press of a good many other countries, including some friendly countries, there is no doubt that the Press of this country stands far above them in integrity and responsibility.
To come back to the position of this House and, of course, the position of the House is undoubtedly affected by this Motion—the inevitable effect of the passage of this Motion will be to suggest that there has been, or that there is likely to be, corruption in our midst. I put that to the Home Secretary. The inevitable effect will be to suggest that there is, or is likely to be, corruption. I think that is a profoundly mistaken view. In my long experience there have been only two serious deviations from the high standard of conduct to which I have just referred. One was the far-off Marconi case, and the other was the case of Mr. J. H. Thomas. Each of them was infinitely less bad than the scandals in legislative assemblies elsewhere. I could mention such cases as the Stavisk case and the Teapot Dome scandal. I most sincerely hope that no one in this House differs from the view that this House, irrespective of class or party, has as high a standard of conduct and integrity as any legislative assembly in any country in the world. That being so, it is most unfortunate that this Motion should have been put on the Paper because, although I am sure that it is not the intention of the Leader of the House, the effect will be to suggest that there has been corruption and scandal.
Let us consider from what this Motion originates. Undoubtedly, as indeed the Leader of the House admitted, it originates from the disclosure of proceedings at two private meetings of Members upstairs. I do not deny that this is an undesirable practice, and it is a fact, which was brought out in a certain committee, to whose proceedings it would be 1116 out of Order to refer, that there have unfortunately been other instances of the same kind in the past. On those occasions it was the party which sits on, this side of the House, not the party opposite, which suffered from that state of affairs. There was a period when, in a certain London newspaper, there used to appear, practically every week, an account of what took place at the weekly meeting of the party on this side of the House, which is similar to the weekly meeting of the party opposite. I agree that that was so. But I would say—and here we come to the very gist of this Motion—that however undesirable that conduct may be—and I shall suggest in a moment the way in which it should be dealt with—it is not a break of the Privilege of this House.
I do not want to repeat what I read out on the last occasion when I spoke on this matter, when we were concerned with the two cases, but I would refer hon. Members to the evidence, in the Report of the Committee of Privileges in the first of the two cases, given by the learned Clerk. As I asserted on the last occasion, and as I re-assert now, the evidence of the learned Clerk was conclusive on the point that it was not a breach of Privilege to disclose what happened upstairs. Therefore, by passing this Motion, let the House be fully aware of this—and this is why I do not agree with my hon. Friend who has just spoken that this is a comparatively small matter, which can be easily disposed of—this House will be extending Privilege. That extension has never hitherto existed. I am sorry that the Lord President of the Council is not here. I know it is not his fault; he has been on the Bench all day, and must have something to eat; but I should have liked to tackle him personally on this matter, because he rather fenced, or perhaps I should say talked around, that point. I ask the Home Secretary to deny, when he comes to reply, my contention that this is an extension of Parliamentary Privilege.
The Leader of the House referred to the matter, because, as I say, he fenced round it. That brings me to two inescapable conclusions, which I should like to submit to the House. They are that either there should be a reference to the Committee of Privileges or to an ad hoc Select Committee to consider whether 1117 Privilege should be so extended. It should not be extended by a Resolution of this House, but only after consideration by a Select Committee of the Committee of Privileges. In that way all the arguments might be put by witnesses. It should not be done by a Resolution of this House. There should be no extension of Privilege without investigation by an appropriate Committee. The reference to such a Committee should be a very simple one. It should be to ask the Committee to say whether or not Privilege should be extended to private meetings of Members held upstairs, whether or not strangers are present. That has never been the case hitherto. The question should be decided in that way.
If it is decided that that should not be the principle pursued, then I suggest that there is another and much simpler way of dealing with the situation which does not require an undesirable extension of privilege, or need this Motion with all the dangers inherent in its wording and inherent in it generally. It should be dealt with by the very simple process of Members of each party who hold such meetings dealing with their own offenders in their own way. No assembly that I know of in the world is better suited to do that sort of thing. It is perfectly possible to prevent it. It is perfectly possible for any constituted party in this House, or any body of people who belong to different parties, to do what I suggest. If a Member gives away confidential information, there are a half dozen ways of bringing home to him the seriousness of his offence and of seeing that he does not repeat it. I have deliberately refrained, as did my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough from making a point which we could easily make if this was a party Debate, that this would not have happened but for the unfortunate conduct of two hon. Members opposite.
§ Earl Winterton
Very well. The hon. Gentleman need not get excited. I quite agree—and two newspapers outside.
§ Earl Winterton
The hon. Gentleman need not make this a party matter. It is not a party matter. It would not have 1118 occurred but for the unfortunate conduct of two hon. Members opposite. They might equally have been Tories or Liberals, or anything else. We should not pass a Motion because two Members, whatever their party affiliations, could not be dealt with through the medium of their own party discipline and because the mater had to be brought to the attention of the House. I repeat that this is an extension of the rule of Privilege.
I also wish to refer to the terms of the Motion. I do not think that my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough dealt with it in detail. As he said, he did not want to make a long speech. I do not think that the attention of the House has been fully called to the extreme danger of the wording of this Motion and of its extreme dubiety. I am not going to charge the Government with wanting to use this Motion for tyrannical purposes. But it might very easily be used by some subsequent Government with a large majority. Let the House look at the Motion:That, if in any case hereafter a Member shall have been found guilty by this House of corruptly accepting payment"—as my right hon. and gallant Friend said, what on earth is the meaning of the words. "corruptly accepting payment"?—for the disclosure and publication of confidential information about matters to be proceeded with in Parliament.I think that the hon. Member for Huddersfield put a specific case. I will do the same. Suppose that some Member of Parliament who is a journalist, or somebody outside the House who is a journalist, learns that a certain Bill is to be brought forward on a certain day and he discloses that information and receives payment for his articles. Is he solemnly to be charged in the House with:corruptly accepting payment for the disclosure and publication of confidential information"?I want an answer to that question. I want to know whether if a journalist, either in this House or outside, says that such and such a Bill is to be brought forward at such and such a time, or if he goes further and says, "The line of the Government will be so and so," he is to be charged because that information has not been released generally? Is he to be charged because there has been no statement across the Table to the effect that such and such a Bill is to be brought in 1119 on a particular day? Is he guilty or not guilty of:corruptly accepting payment for the disclosure and publication of confidential information"?How is one to check this matter? Let us take the case—this is no personal reference, because I happen to be rather an admirer of the writings, much as I dislike their politics—of two hon. Members who write under pseudonyms in the "Tribune" and the "New Statesman." They are Members of this House who appear, on the whole, to be very human in that they have said friendly things about myself on more than one occasion, and I am, naturally, rather on their side, despite their political views. How is one going to act in the case of anonymous writers who are Members of Parliament? How are we going to check whether they are giving away confidential information? There are a whole lot of other circumstances which one might bring in.
I want to ask again, putting this matter on a non-party basis so far as I can—and I have no wish to offend the Home Secretary—what is going to happen in the case of the correspondent or the editor of the "Daily Herald," who is always present, so we are told, in a Committee room upstairs at meetings of the Labour Party? I am not saying whether he should be there or not. I have no doubt that, as it is a private meeting, the Labour Party are quite entitled to have there whoever they like; but when he is present and gets information which is not open to other Members of the House, what is his position? He is disclosing confidential information. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] The hon. Gentleman says "Why not?" The whole purpose of this Motion is to prevent people from disclosing confidential information. [Interruption.] Well, if he does not do so, what is the object of calling a confidential meeting?
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
I can give the noble Lord the reason quite simply. It is usual to have the editor of the party newspaper present so that he may know how the party feels towards particular matters.
§ Earl Winterton
I am bound to make this observation on the hon. Gentleman's interruption. If I were making a party speech, I would advise him to tell that story to the horse marines, because I have 1120 never heard a more unconvincing reason given for putting in a privileged position a journalist of a particular party. Everybody knows that he is present in order that he may give information in his newspaper of what goes on at these meetings.
§ Mr. Nally
On a point of Order. Do I understand that the noble Lord is now suggesting that a certain journalist, namely, the editor of the "Daily Herald," is present for precisely the purpose of revealing confidential information? The Committee of Privileges, in its report, made it perfectly plain that he was not there for the purpose of revealing confidential information. If the noble Lord is going to repeat this allegation, may we have some guidance from you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether it is in Order for him to continue his speech, basing it on an assumption, and making an allegation, which has been denied by the Committee, that the editor of the "Daily Herald" was there for the improper purpose of getting and using information?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I doubt if the noble Lord suggested any improper purpose, but, whatever the Committee of Privileges found, is within the knowledge of hon. Members, and they will take note of it.
§ Earl Winterton
I suggested no such purpose. The hon. Member has been in a state of ecstatic excitement throughout my speech, and has not listened to what I said, despite my efforts to calm him. If he had been listening to what I said, he would know that I said that the party opposite were fully entitled to have the editor of the "Daily Herald" there and that he was fully entitled to be there. I said, nevertheless, and I repeat, that, by the terms of this Motion, it could be claimed that he was there for the purpose of disclosing confidential information, and that is my assertion. It may well be that a subsequent Government, when they are in office, will take exactly that view and will use this Motion to prevent a member of the Press of the party which is in Opposition from being present at their party meetings. I think we should hear much more about the real meaning of this Motion.
I rather regretted what I thought was the slightly admonitory tone of the Leader 1121 of the House—I am sure he did not intend it to be—towards the Press. I come back again to the admirable speech by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, which was not a party speech. I think it is really deplorable that there should be any suggestion—and I hope there is not—that the Gallery, or the Lobby correspondents, need any admonitions from this House. There have been certain backsliders. They have been properly dealt with. They had to come to the Bar of the House, and were put through a very unpleasant experience. Let us admit that is so, but I hope it is not generally held that the members of that most honourable and ancient profession, the Gallery and Lobby journalists of this House, need any admonitions from this House as to what their conduct should be. There should certainly be conferences, if necessary, and discussions between them and us as to what should be done to meet the situation, but, surely, no admonitions.
Long experience of this House has taught me that the position and authority of the most powerful and important figures are very ephemeral. I have seen figures come into this House who rose to great positions, and who have left this House and become almost forgotten in two or three years' time. But what is not ephemeral is the life of this House and its institutions. It is as continuous and lasting as anything can be in a mutable world. I would admit that the Rules of Debate. Standing Orders, and the like, which sustain that life certainly need amendment from time to time. Nobody denies that. But they should never be altered merely because there has been a temporary lapse from the accepted standards of conduct by a couple of Members, which is why they are being altered on this occasion. There has been a temporary lapse from those high standards of conduct from a couple of Members, and that is the reason for this very dangerous Motion, which may be used by successive Governments as an engine against the Press and the House. I think it is a very great mistake. The effect of this Motion is to magnify that lapse of conduct on the part of two Members of this House, and it is both ridiculous and dangerous.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
I notice in this evening's "Evening Standard" that the Labour Party dissociated itself from 1122 some Members who had sent a message to Germany. If the Labour Party is consistent, it will dissociate itself in the strongest possible manner from the speeches of the hon. Members for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman), and Huddersfield (Mr. Mallalieu). The Labour movement has never developed on the presumption that the capitalist Press plays fair or clean. The pioneers of the Labour movement had to strike with all their power against the "yellow Press" and the "lying Press" of this country. There never was a Labour Party Conference conducted from the attitude that the Press of this country was fair. Always there has been a demand made that the Labour Party must get its own Press, and be independent of the "yellow Press" of this country. I am sorry that the Amendment was not accepted. Before I go any further, I would point out to the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mallalieu) that if he wants a gentleman's party, he will have to look to the other side.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
Since when has it been the policy of the Communist Party to attack fellow workers? The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) says that he is attacking the Press; what he is actually doing is attacking the members of the Lobby, who are his own fellow workers.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I have not yet got to the members of the Lobby; I am talking about the capitalist Press of this country, which is dominated by great Press barons with millions of money to spend, and who will use it in the most corrupt manner. They buy up all and sundry. I am sorry that the Amendment which I have on the Order Paper was not accepted because, following the events which gave rise to this Motion, there have been very strong rumours in this House, in Fleet Street, and in London generally. Some hon. Members might say that rumour is not sufficient on which to pass judgment. But let me remind the House that, only the other week, it was decided to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into what, happened in connection with the case of the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, because of the possibility of rumour. The Committee was appointed to make certain that such rumours would be effectively dealt with. There have been very grave rumours in connection with the ex-Member of this House who was expelled, 1123 and the conditions in which the matter developed. There has been quite a lot of talk about some of the bigger fellows being involved in this business. I would like the Motion to be of such a character that it would not only be the editor and the journalist who would be present, but also the owner of the newspaper. After all, it is his money, and he knows how his money is being used.
I remember that, in 1906, when a group of Labour Members came to this House, the first thing that was done by the Press was to get at them, one after another, to try to buy them up. They were offered big money to write for the papers. It we are talking about corruptly taking money, there are hon. Members in this House who, merely as individuals, would not get paid for the articles they write for the capitalist Press. They are not paid big money by the capitalist Press because they are clever journalists; they are paid big money because they have the votes of the people, and are here as representatives of the people. If it was not for that fact, they would not be given even beans for the stuff they write.
I know associations of one kind or another who are always anxious to give Members of Parliament backhanders in order to get them to support this or that. I remember a colleague of mine, who is not here tonight, receiving money for a speech he made. He sent the money back. In the letter which was sent to him with the cheque, he was asked to get in touch with another hon. Member of this House, who was very serviceable to this particular association. I know that Lobby men are ordinary, decent, working-class fellows. The general body of Lobby men are good fellows. [Laughter.] There is nothing to laugh at in that. I have been associated with all kinds of journalists. Of course, most of them are not of the £1,000 or £2,000 a year type. I have had associations now and again with Lobby men, and I am quite satisfied that, in the main, they are decent chaps. I am quite certain that the Lobby man who was handing over some money now and again from his employer to an ex-Member of this House never dreamed that he was doing anything seriously wrong.
You can have corruption beginning, and developing from small things to big things without those who have taken the money actually realising what has been 1124 happening. I remember the time when the Thomas case came up—I told them in the House—that Thomas was at one time an honest working man, thoroughly trusted by his workmates, and he was corrupted, but it takes someone to corrupt a man—he cannot corrupt himself. It took the fellows from the other side to corrupt Thomas. Thomas was an honest railwayman, trusted when he came here, and I would say to the Minister—
§ Earl Winterton
The hon. Gentleman has made a most serious charge against those sitting on this side of the House. He has laid a charge of corruption. It has always been held that a charge of that kind is out of Order. He should be asked to substantiate his charge or to withdraw it. He has made a charge of corruption, and I would say, incidentally, that I have never myself heard a more disgraceful attack upon a man outside this House not in a position to defend himself.
§ Mr. Speaker
I think really the charge of corruption was not made against any individual Member, but was a general charge. The hon. Member expresses himself somewhat extravagantly sometimes. While I regret that charge, because it should not be made against any side of the House, it does not create anything which one would call out of Order. We simply regret it.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I am not prepared to accept the suggestion of the noble Lord about withdrawing because I remember Alfred Butt, and Thomas had with him other Members on the other side of the House, but the fact always remains that working class representatives do not become corrupt by themselves, but become corrupt because there is somebody there ready to corrupt them. If we are going to deal with corruption I would like this Motion to cover the owners of the newspapers, the big Press lords. I am quite certain that if we could have had one or other of the Press lords brought before the House, in the recent case there was no reason why they should not have been implicated. I would like to see a Motion of such a character as would bring in the Press lords and would deal with corruption in a sense of those who are always anxious and ready to offer money to Members of Parliament to support this or that. We have had one or two incidents brought before the House but there are many more—
§ Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre (New Forest and Christchurch)
On a point of Order. I understand the hon. Member to say, first, that the Press lords are always ready to bribe Members of Parliament, and, secondly, that there are a great many more cases than have been brought before this House. I must declare my interest as a director of a newspaper and I would like to ask if either of those two accusations are in Order?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. and gallant Member must remember that the word "corruption" occurs in the Motion we are discussing and we had better see how this Debate develops.
§ Mr. Gallacher
All I said was that we should have had the Press lords here with the editor and the journalist; and then I said that I should like to include those associations that offer, or are ready to offer, money to Members of Parliament. We have had instances of this kind in this House, just as we have had instances in connection with the Press lords. We have had one or two Members who have come to this House and drawn attention to the fact that certain people or certain organisations have sent money. When my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) got a cheque, he did not think about raising it, he just sent the cheque back.
§ Mr. Nicholson
On a point of Order. The hon. Member is making what may be wild charges and maybe substantial charges. Will you, Mr. Speaker, make it quite clear that if any hon. Member knows of a bribe being offered to a Member of this House by anybody at all it is his duty to bring that to the notice of this House?
§ Mr. Nicholson
Then I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. Member ought to be called upon either to substantiate his charges or to withdraw them.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I cannot recall the, different instances, but I will recall one—that of the hon. Member who used to sit on the third bench below the Gangway. I am talking about the last Parliament. That hon. Member—I forget which was his constituency, but his name was Reakes. [HON. MEMBERS: "He 1126 sat for Wallasey."] That hon. Member in this House produced a letter telling there was a sum of money sent to him in order to get him to assist in pushing through some particular business. Then there were one or two instances besides, but I only say—
§ Mr. Speaker
I thought the hon. Gentleman was making an explanation before I gave an answer to the point of Order.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I was referring to the fact that instances have been disclosed in this House of associations, other than the Press, being prepared to offer money to Members of Parliament. Surely, when we are dealing with the Press we should be dealing with those, too. I do not remember all the instances, but I remember that particular one very clearly. That is the point I am making.
§ Mr. Speaker
I think the hon. Member was making his point. It may have been an unsavoury one, but I think he is entitled to make it. The answer, as I said before, is that we should wait to see how the Debate develops. These things can be better answered in Debate. They are far better answered in Debate than ruled out by a point of Order. I think it is better for those things to be answered in Debate, than by a Ruling from the Chair.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I was about to finish when hon. Members started jumping up on points of Order. In my opinion, the Motion, if it is to deal with corruptly accepting money, should apply not only to the Press but to the Press barons. It is not a question of the Lobby men, but of the Press barons. It should apply to any association or organisation of any kind that corruptly offers payment to Members of this House for the purpose of influencing their conduct in this House. It should apply to the Press barons who, while an hon. Member of this House has the support of the people and is elected to represent the people, gets in touch with an hon. Member, and offers him payment in order that that hon. Member may become an agent on their behalf for some of their Press organs. I am not now dealing with the ordinary journalists. 1127 This is not a matter of skill at writing, but of inducing Members to sell the trust and confidence of the people. I suggest that this Motion should be broadened in order to include all these different phases of corrupt payment, not just the Press as something different from other types of organisation.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I must say, I should have thought it preferable not to have proceeded with a Motion of this kind, because it tends to create in the mind of the public the feeling that there is a large number of events of this kind, and that, therefore, the House is compelled to take some form of repressive action in order to stop it. Although two incidents occurred in recent months, the publicity which was given to the events in the House, to the findings of the Select Committee, and to the expulsion of one Member and the loss of prestige by another, would have been sufficient to deter the Press and any Member of Parliament from repeating the offences with which the two individuals concerned were charged on that occasion. Tonight, the Debate is almost enlarging upon the idea that that is the general practice of hon. Members. Indeed, the speech of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) tends to throw greater discredit on hon. Members than any other which has been made in this House for some time.
The danger which I see now is that hon. Members cann pass on information, although they may not be doing it in a corrupt manner, and may not be accepting payment. Only a week or two ago—and I have seen it on a number of occasions—the "Daily Worker" was giving reports of what had happened at Labour Party meetings in this House. Therefore, the "Daily Worker" must be guilty of one of two offences: Either it has a crypto in the Labour Party, who is reporting to it the proceedings—and the accurate proceedings—of Labour Party meetings, or it must be taking from the heinous capitalist Press reports appearing therein, and publishing them as true in the "Daily Worker." I admit it is a heinous offence for party members to attend a meeting as allegedly loyal members of that party, to hear the proceedings, and then to leave the room and 1128 to report what has taken place at that meeting to another party, and have it published to the world, when the party holding the meeting does not desire it to be published.
Another form of corruption which has grown up, but which has never been mentioned, is that of taking delegations of Members of this House to other countries in order that they shall come back here, and very often sign their names to documents they have never even read in approval of the countries they have visited while engaged on a sort of Cook's tour. After all, we know that the Communist Party lives by poaching on other parties, by obtaining information about and using "stooges" in those parties. I remember a case in point, when the "Black Circular" was being fought in connection with the trade unions by the Labour Party, the party of which I was then a member, and the Communist Party. I was amazed when jimmy Maxton and I challenged Harry Pollitt, in this very building, about allowing two men to give undertakings that they were not members of the Communist Party: one was Figgins, the railwayman, and the other was Joe McMillan of Bridgeton in Glasgow.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I never rise when the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) speaks about the Communists, because I know his record. I will not say a word about Figgins, because he is alive, and can speak for himself as can Harry Pollitt, but Joe McMillan is dead, and he was one of the most open and honest Communists that ever trod the streets of Glasgow. He cannot speak for himself, and it is not right that statements of that kind should be made against him, when there is not a word of truth in them.
§ Mr. McGovern
I was not intending to cast any reflection on the dead, although I have heard the hon. Member cast a reflection on the dead many times. I wanted to show the line of conduct that could be carried on for political purposes. Harry Pollitt amazed us by saying: "Yes, I have instructed both members to deny that they were members of the Communist Party, although they were secret members." There is a great danger, because while Members may not be accepting money and may not be corrupt in the sense of the terms of this Motion, there could be the passing of information about this House, about meetings of the parties 1129 and about any political associations that have been formed in the House. The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) is the last person in the world, coming from a party of that description, to make general accusations and allegations against Members in other parts of the House.
I think the Government are justified in bringing in the people responsible for the newspapers—I thought that on the last occasion—because there could have been no corruption if people were not prepared to pay money. Individuals do not, unless there is money in the form of a weekly or monthly allowance, offer to divulge information. I think it is correct to try to show that one line is not to be drawn for any breach on the part of a Member, and another for the Press of the country. I do not take tremendous exception to the general line of conduct of the Press. After all, the Press is the first line of defence of the Tory Party. The industrialists and financiers own the Press from the wealth they have obtained from the process of unpaid labour. They have invested this money in the Press to bolster up their interest in the Conservative Party. So long as that is generally understood by the community, it does not much matter. I would prefer even the weaknesses of the Press and the freedom of certain expressions in this country to the methods adopted by either the Communist Party or the "Daily Worker," which deals with its opponents in a most brazen manner, and misrepresents and vilifies them in every way. I was amazed with what happened at a meeting last Sunday night in the West of Scotland. There is a new kind of question being asked, which is: "Are you a supporter of Ernest Bevin, or a supporter of Zilliacus"? If that is to be the test for the next General Election, it will not be very difficult. If we are to proceed against not only the corrupt publication of information, but giving information at all, it should be an offence, whether it is done for the acceptance of money or anything else.
I would say this of the journalists in the House. In my 17½ years' experience I have found them a very decent lot of men. They have carried out a difficult task in a very fine manner. We know that with the pressure and competition there is today there is always a desire to get advance information that may be available from certain sources. But there 1130 can be no recurrence of the kind of thing which happened in the House recently it Members are prepared to be honourable in their conduct, if they realise that they have a duty towards their party and towards this House, and that they should not give away information which they know their party and responsible leaders in the country do not desire them to give away. While I think it is deplorable that a Motion of this kind should require to be passed, I tend to treat the recent occurences as exceptions to the general rule.
§ 9.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
With the closing words of the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) I am in most complete agreement. They go to the root of my whole criticism of this Motion. After all, the remedy of Members of this House lies in their own hands. The remedy, as the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mallalieu) said, is that we should conduct ourselves as gentlemen in politics should conduct themselves. The same remedy lies in the hands of the journalists. As I see it, the fundamental mistake behind this Motion is that it is an attempt to codify what is not susceptible to codification. It is an attempt to codify methods, actions, and standards of conduct which are really questions of taste.
I believe—and I say this with all respect to the House—that we are in danger of making fools of ourselves if we try to codify standards of conduct in that way. That is what is wrong with this Motion. It is as if we were trying to make a law laying down in what terms a man should speak to his wife when angered. Such a law would be perfectly easy to evade. The more we try to define it the more scope there is for evasion. That is my main reason for opposing this Motion. There is another reason, which has been referred to in this Debate. It is that if this Motion means anything at all it is extending Parliamentary Privilege to matters which are brought up in party meetings. Otherwise, it is absolutely meaningless. It may be an ill-expressed Motion in other ways, but the great danger of the Motion is that it makes many confidential discussions, concerning events that are to take place in this House a matter of Privilege. It does not even refer only to party meetings upstairs. It may be privileged if it is a discussion by two or three Members in a railway 1131 carriage, or the Smoking Room, or anywhere else. I believe we are in danger of taking ourselves too seriously if we try to put into actual words matters which are questions of good taste. That, to put it briefly at this late hour, is my reason for hoping that the Government will not proceed with this Motion.
I have one other point. The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) introduced a new note into the Debate, which I do not think should pass unheeded. The hon. Member is not taken very seriously by this House. He is a popular and honourable individual, good natured, and his clowning is taken for what it is worth. But it should not go out from this House that any Member can, uncontradicted, rise in his place and say that Member after Member has been constantly offered bribes—not because that, by itself, is such a dangerous charge, but because there is an assumption that the Members offered bribes do not do anything about it. I deeply regret his speech. It was, I am sure, an attempt to discredit Parliament in the eyes of the people. 4 hope that the Leaders of this House on both sides will take the opportunity of emphasising that it is the duty of any hon. Member who is offered a bribe to call your attention to it, Mr. Speaker.
§ 10.1 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
On the first Order of the Day, I made a speech about which the general complaint was that it was too short. I hope that the same complaint may be made about this speech. It is due to the House that, when replying to the Debate, I should take notice of some of the things that have been said, and endeavour to place before the House the reply of the Government to them. I regret that the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) is not in his place. The right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) examined this Motion verbally in the most meticulous manner. This is not an effort at legislation. It is a purely declaratory Resolution, so that the difficulty in which the House found itself a few weeks ago shall not arise again, if we can help it.
Would the right hon. Gentleman explain how a purely declara- 1132 tory Resolution can contain the word "will," used in the phrasethis House will take such action."?
§ Mr. Ede
If the hon. Gentleman were to say to me, "I will pay you £5," not for the disclosure of confidential information, but for something for which I am entitled to receive £5, I should regard that as a declaration of intention. This is a declaration of the intention of the House if the circumstances should recur. Let me tell the House how the difficulty that was occasioned by the recent incident arose. It was not quite as the right hon. Member for Horsham said. This incident, which involved two hon. Members and two newspapers, arose on an issue of Privilege that was raised by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg), who quoted to the House certain passages from an article by Mr. Garry Allighan, in a rather obscure technical journal of the Press. The Committee of Privileges started to investigate that matter. The objectionable suggestion in the original article was that one could pick up information from Members of the House by standing them drinks in the bar, and when Members were in a somewhat fuddled condition they often said more than they realised. That is what the Committee of Privileges started out to deal with. In the course of their explorations, they discovered that certain other things had happened.
It was clearly stated by my right hon. Friend the Lord President and myself during the discussions that took place on the Motions that the Government submitted to the House arising from the Report of the Committee of Privileges that the actions which the House finally debated were questions of Privilege. There was, we said, dishonourable conduct, and hon. Members who were present during the Debate will recollect that when I was trying to explain that to the House, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) interrupted me more than once to point out how serious were the charges I was making and that they were of dishonour and not breach of Privilege.
We do not claim that the matters to be dealt with under this Motion are an extension of Privilege. It was laid down by a 1133 conference of the two Houses as long ago as 1704 that there could be no extension of Privilege, and although I sometimes think we might find there had been breaches of that declaration of intention, at any rate, by and large, it stands and there can be no increase or extension of the Privileges of this House. This evening it has been discussed as if the journalists should be dealt with apart from any offence by a Member of the House. The first thing that has to be established is that there has been an offence as described in the first part of the Motion, by a Member of the House. If an offence within the meaning of the first part of the Motion has been established, the second part of the Motion says that the House will proced totake such action as it may, in the circumstances, think fit.It is not a case of a breach of Privilege. The maximum penalty, I suggest, that can be inflicted in the circumstances would be that which was proposed in the first Motion that the Government submitted to the House. There would be a withdrawal of the right to use the Lobby, and other persons, who might be found to be associated with the act, or what were called in the Amendment the instigators of it, might also find themselves in the same jeopardy. At any rate, the person who actually paid the money would be liable to he dealt with by the House.
I was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) to give an assurance that before such action was taken against any journalist or other person who might come within the second part of the Motion, he should be given a chance of being heard. I am bound to say that I cannot imagine the House doing anything else. If it finds a Member guilty of accepting a bribe, and he says that the person who bribed him was So-and-So, I am quite sure that this Hotse would apply to such a man the general rule of English law—that before the House would find him guilty of the offence with which he is charged, it would give his a chance of stating his case. I have no hesitation at all in saying that, as far as the Government are concerned, they would intend that the person to be proceeded against under the second part of the Motion should have every chance of stating his case.
The noble Lord the Member for Horsham suggested that the proper thing to 1134 do in the kind of case with which we have been dealing is for hon. Members to be dealt with by their own party. Undoubtedly, that would be so when the offence is one that is discovered by the party and is confined to actions involved in that party; but that was not the case in the two recent instances. The Labour Party did not discover that Mr. Garry Allighan and the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walkden) had been guilty of the dishonourable conduct of which the House subsequently adjudged them guilty. The Committee of Privileges, of which the noble Lord is a distinguished Member, itself came upon that offence in the course of pursuing a charge of breach of Privilege which was brought against Mr. Garry Allighan by the hon. Member for Oxford.
It may very well be that had the Labour Party itself discovered who were the people who were giving the information, or selling the information, they could have dealt with it as a matter of party discipline, but this was a case where the Committee of Privileges reported the whole of its discoveries to the House, including the disclosure of information by the two hon. Members of subjects that had been discussed at the party meeting, and therefore it was not possible—it might not be possible in a future case—to deal with them within the range of party discipline. The noble Lord has deprecated what he regarded as the admonitory statements to the Press made by my right hon. Friend the Lord President. I have no doubt that the Press fully understands my right hon. Friend. I have sometimes thought that the noble Lord himself—
§ Earl Winterton
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will quote me correctly. I said I was particularly anxious not to make an attack on his right hon. Friend, but it seemed to me that his phrases were rather admonitory. Perhaps the Home Secretary will tell us that the Government do not intend to administer a rebuke to the Press?
§ Mr. Ede
I think that my right hon. Friend, if he feels inclined to give the Press a little good advice, is perfectly entitled to do so. I am quite sure that nothing he said was intended to be taken as patronising, and I would have thought that the Press would probably be quite able to put its proper assessment on the 1135 phraseology of the right hon. Gentleman. I have sometimes thought that the noble Lord himself has been rather admonitory in the attitude he has adopted towards this side of the House, but we know the noble Lord and we take it from whence it comes.
I suggest it is very desirable that there should be no doubt in the future as to what is to happen should there, unfortunately, be a recurrence of the incidents which gave rise to this chapter of events. There is, I think, among many Members of this House, if not among all hon. Members, the feeling that two men have been punished very severely for acts which were condemned by this House. Just as if there were no receivers, there would be no thieves, so if there were no bribers there would be no people taking bribes. It is not for me to assess in any given case who is the more blameworthy, the person who accepts the bribe, or the person who, being approached with the story that there is something confidential to sell, offers to buy it, or in fact buys it. I think it should be made quite clear in the future that if this House finds an hon. Member guilty of the offences of which these two were found guilty, it will also take appropriate action, and the Motion is purposely vaguely worded now so that it shall be open to the House to grade the punishment according to the magnitude of the offence as it judges it at the time. There should be no doubt that that further action will follow and that, after due hearing, the person offering the bribe will also he dealt with by the House.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
We have had in this Debate a very interesting discussion and a very full House, particularly during the last half hour or so. I would be the last to make any charge of corruption against the popular and beloved Patronage Secretary, but I cannot help feeling that some confidential information as to matters about to be proceeded with in the House must have reached him during the last half hour, for we have had the advantage of Members upon the Government Benches, especially upon the Government Front Bench, whom we would hardly have expected to see tonight if they had not been summoned at the appropriate moment by the appropriate methods. Whether the information 1136 was obtained in one way or another, I cannot tell, but here we are.
One thing in the Debate which impressed itself upon my mind was that no Member—with one exception—has supported this Motion, except the right hon. Gentleman who moved it and the last speaker. The hon. Member for West-Coventry (Mr. Edelman) made a very interesting speech with great knowledge, and I got the impression that he was broadly against the Motion, although he would probably support it; he was against it as a journalist, but would support it as a party man. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mallalieu) charmed and delighted the House with his speech, full of knowledge of the long tradition of the relations between the Lobby and Members and, if I may say so, with a broad spirit of goodwill and sense which impressed all Members. He was against the Motion. There was one unusual supporter for the right hon. Gentleman, the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). He was the sole, solitary man from amongst the Members to support the Government from their side, but of course he was quickly dealt with by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern). If I may say so, as a fairly impartial observer of this contest, the hon. Member for West Fife was completely shot down by the hon. Member for Shettleston.
The House, I am sure, wishes to come to a decision, but I would make this appeal to the Leader of the House, if I may have his attention for a moment. I was rather sorry that he ended his introductory speech by telling us—after all, it was the first speech of the day—that, unlike the other occasions upon which we have had to discuss these distressing matters—distressing to all Members of the House who love the House of Commons—he had decided not to listen to the arguments, not to let the House weigh them from the House of Commons point of view, but that the Whips would he put on whatever the character of the Debate. That was rather a pity, and rather contrary to the tradition of the House on a subject of this kind, where we are really not here making party speeches about each other—
§ Mr. Macmillan
The right hon. Gentleman might have said that he would at least wait until the end of the Debate 1137 before he decided whether to put on the Whips, but he said it at the very beginning, and it is contrary to the way in which we have normally discussed these matters. I make an appeal to him, even at this late hour, to reconsider that point.
I want to be fair over this matter, and I can see what are the arguments for a Motion of this kind in the minds of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. They feel, perhaps we all feel, that it is rather unfair that the two hon. Members should have been so cruelly and harshly punished—for it is a terrible punishment, nothing could be worse, and we can imagine what a terrible situation it is—and that there should be no broad censure on those who have been equally guilty in having tempted them to fall into this error. We dealt with that when you, Mr. Speaker, summoned to the Bar, admonished, and received an explanation and apology from the editor and the other person concerned, who were responsible. We have dealt with that incident—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."],—in the case of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walk-den), of which I am speaking.
§ Mr. Macmillan
The right hon. Gentleman accepted that refusal to give evidence, for which they apologised, and the Leader of the House did not proceed with any further case against them. The House did not take any further action in the matter and, therefore, it is thought we should make some public declaration now to mark our objection and our animadversion against anyone who puts these temptations in the way of hon. Members. That is the object of the declaration.
§ Mr. Cecil Poole (Lichfield) rose—
§ Mr. Macmillan
I will not be very long. There are one or two points I wish to put, because the right hon. Gentleman has not answered them. What does this Motion really mean? My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gains-borough (Captain Crookshank) went through it point by point, and I hoped 1138 that the Solicitor-General would give some meaning to the phrases in it. But the Home Secretary got out of it rather well. He said that as it is purely declaratory, and not legislative, in which case it would have to be precise, it can be obscure, and no one minds very much; so long as it has a vague general meaning that is good enough. But I do not think it is good enough that the House of Commons at a time like this, after all this discussion, should pass a Motion without it being clear to the House and the public what the Motion means.
What is the meaning of "corruptly accepting payment," and how does that differ fromcorruptly accepting payment for the disclosure … of confidential information.I am not a lawyer, but to anyone who studies the English language the meaning is that there are two ways of accepting payment for disclosing confidential information, a corrupt way and an incorrupt way. Can anyone tell me what is the incorrupt way, the proper way of disclosing confidential information? Does declaratory mean that, like Humpty-Dumpty, we make the word mean what we like? I see the object of that, but it is not suited to a declaration of the House of Commons, however suited it may be to a declaration of a dabating society, or some other less important body than ourselves.
What is "publication"? Is it publication in the legal sense? The Solicitor-General knows very well what publication means in the legal sense. It does not mean publication in a book or newspaper. Publication in a legal sense may be by a letter or postcard. That means a publication which amounts to libel or slander, or what does publication mean? Thirdly, what is the exact meaning of the expression:… matters to be proceeded with in Parliament…In the whole course of the Debate nobody has attempted to discuss or explain that. I give a very simple explanation. It is quite common for the newspapers to give some indication before a big Debate—a week before, or some days before—of what Members on both sides, especially what protagonists on both sides, are to conduct the Debate. They have no right to do so. It rests entirely with you, Mr. Speaker, what hon. Members will be called. But 1139 I have seen a fairly accurate prognostication about who are likely to be the speakers on the Government and Opposition sides. Those, of course, are proceedings likely to come before the House, and to be dealt with by Parliament. Would someone who gave out information in this way fall under censure if he was paid for doing so, or would that come within the incorrupt method of disclosing information, still for payment, but incorruptly?
§ Mr. George Porter (Leeds, Central)
On a point of Order. Is the right hon. Gentleman in Order in discussing matters that are relevant to a charge which was made against a Member, and not in regard to a person to whom the Motion refers, namely, the person responsible for offering payment?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am bound to say that I think the right hon. Gentleman is quite in Order. He is discussing the Motion which is before the House.
§ Mr. Macmillan
It seems to me, therefore, that that ought to be cleared up.
Then we come to the next point, what is "confidential"? Does a confidential meeting in this House mean a meeting consisting only of Members of Parliament, or does it mean a group of Members who meet, as we all do, to discuss matters in which we are interested—foreign, Colonial or home affairs—or the meeting of a whole party? Does it mean if it is a meeting at which there are only Members present, because we know from the reports of Debates and of the Select Committee, other persons than Members are commonly admitted. Curiously enough, these other people are not, as one might expect, professors of the London School of Economics, or worthy men who are there to give the benefit of their advice, but the editor of the "Daily Herald," that in-corrupt but still interested figure, who attends the weekly meeting of the party opposite. That poses a curious picture of what is supposed to be confidential.
Surely, the real truth is we cannot make rules about what are matters of ordinary decent behaviour. As has been said, we cannot tie down into a code how honourable men ought to behave. The more we try to do it, the more absurd it becomes. Alter all this talk, and after all these 1140 splendid expressions, what are we to do? At the end of this tremendous declaratory Motion, as the Home Secretary rightly called it, what are we to do? When one of these cases happens, we are to take such action as, in the circumstances, we may "think fit." What a terrible and what a formidable weapon. Never has such anathema been launched upon a wondering people as this terrifying thing "We will do what we think fit." It remindsme of the argument which my mother used when, at the last stage, none of us would do anything we were told. She said, "I will tell your father, and he will take very strong action." [An HON. MEMBER: "Did it work?"] No, he never did anything.
In all these circumstances what is the object of this Motion? What has been achieved today by the Leader of the House putting this Motion before us? All we have done, in the public mind and in the mind of foreign countries, has been to rake up all this dirt again. In the Debate about all these affairs, which most of us hoped would be past and forgotten, the only beneficiary and the only supporter of the Government was the Communist Party—people who do not like Parliamentary life, who want to cause it to be believed that all Parliamentary assemblies consist of a lot of crooks and rascals on both sides, and that the whole thing is pretty well in its decline and cannot be maintained. It was noticeable that Communist Member who spoke was the only Private Member to support the Government during the whole course of these proceedings.
The House will divide on this Motion if the Leader of the House insists on pressing it, and the Motion will be carried and it will he put on paper that we have solemnly told all sinners, if these things ever should happen, what we think we ought to do, and then we will certainly do it. I venture to ask the Leader of the House to think once more. Why is it really necessary? After all, we have got on pretty well since the Press first became powerful a hundred years ago, and there has been no trouble that I know of. I have been nearly 20 years in the House and I remember nothing of this kind happening and we hope and pray nothing ever will happen again. Surely, there is no object in raking it up again in the public eye. It would have 1141 been far better if the right hen. Gentleman, after the Debate, had withdrawn the Motion and not brought it back again, but left this code where it ought to lie, on the conscience and good conduct of all Members, and on the long tradition of our good relations with the reputable newspapers represented in this House.
§ 10.33 p.m.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. H. Morrison)
I imagine the House is now ready to come to a decision about this matter, but the right hon. Gentleman has asked me whether at the last moment I would be willing to take the Whips off. If I may say so, I thought the speech of the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) was to the point. I did not agree with him," but the speech was not a party political speech. I think if anybody was going to make that appeal, it would have come better from him than from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan), who has just made a partisan speech.
§ Earl Winterton
On a point of Order. May I point out that the right hon. Gentleman has already spoken. Surely he can only speak a second time by permission of the House.
§ Mr. Speaker
The noble lord is in error, I am afraid. The right hon. Gentleman has the right to make a second speech.
§ Mr. Morrison
The Father of the House should not lose his temper. Either it is amazing or it is not amazing, according to one's point of view. The right hon. Gentleman, having made this highly partisan speech—
§ Mr. Morrison
—has asked the Government to take the Whips off. The Opposition Whips have been on the doors for some hours. The whole party machine is ticking over as well as it is capable of ticking over, and I cannot see any reason to take the Whips off. If this 1142 was a matter of an individual case of a Member where the House was giving justice, I think that would have been a fair request. Indeed up to now in this Parliament the Whips have been off on such cases. They were off on the last occasion, but I am bound to say that, although they were off, the Opposition on certain Divisions had a remarkable degree of solidarity. But so far as the Government was concerned the Whips were off.
On this occasion, the issue is perfectly simple, and I do not see why it should be elevated into confusion, as the right hon. Member for Bromley has tried to elevate it. He is perfectly entitled to confuse himself, and to enjoy himself in the process. The Motion is perfectly simple. It is a declaration, and it need not be drafted in legal terms, that in certain circumstances the House will take serious account of an incident, if that incident is repeated, and will then pass judgment on the case, as it thinks fit in all the circumstances of the case. That is all the Motion means. What is it for? It is needed because on this last occasion the House found itself in the position of not being able to come to a conclusion about the cases to which I have referred—namely, the cases of the newspapers—because there was reason to feel that they could justly plead that they were not aware that a Parliamentary offence was being committed.
It really is right that the House should have a prima facie right to proceed in these cases, because it is intolerable that an hon. Member should be ruined as a result of actions jointly with other parties who then get off scot-free. Unless a Motion of this kind is carried tonight the Leader of the House on any future occasion will be in precisely the same situation as I was in. All we are establishing is that the House will be free to judge the matter, after fair consideration, and presumably with the help of a report from the Committee of Privileges.
The only other point I would mention is that there is a tendency in some quarters, even on this side of the House, to elevate any question with regard to the Press as if there was something terrible about it. I have as much respect and affection for the Press as any hon. Member, but I cannot think that, when two Members of Parliament have 1143 been politically ruined, the House cannot make a declaration of this kind as to its future intentions. If there is a tendency in some quarters to elevate the rights and privileges of the Press even beyond the privileges of Parliament, I suggest that is intolerable. I am, on the whole, proud of the upright record of the British Press and of the good relations between the Lobby and Members of the House; but the House has a right to lay down a principle and to give notice that in the future it must consider acting in the way which I have indicated, after fairly considering the matter in the light of the circumstances of the case. I hope that the House, having had a fair Debate about this matter, will be good enough to come to a decision, and I hope that it will see its way to pass this Motion.
§ 10.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
I do not want to delay the decision of the House at this late hour, but there were one or two observations by the right hon. Gentleman about which I would like to make the position of my hon. Friends and myself clear. I feel very much that this is not a party matter, but very deeply a Parliamentary matter. I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that the suggestion that the Whips should be taken off was made at the outset of the discussion by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank). So the right hon. Gentleman's strictures upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) were, I thought, undeserved. No one understands Parliamentary banter better than the Leader of the House. If he had heard himself earlier tonight he might have felt differently about my right hon. Friend's speech, which I felt was perfectly fair comment.
Let us try for a moment or two to see where we are going in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman said that the next occasion, should it ever arise—and must we visualise it will ever arise?—[Interruption.] Well, hon. Members must remember that we have gone on a long time without its ever having arisen before. But, let us take that supposition. The right hon. Gentleman says that Parliament must have the necessary guidance as to what it is to do; but this 1144 Motion is not going to make the slightest difference to what Parliament is to do, should the occasion arise. Without this Motion it is open to Parliament, in the light of what happened in the case of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walkden) and the case of Mr. Allighan, to pass any decisions against anybody who is party to affairs such as those recently before us.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
Would the right hon. Gentleman allow me? If that is the position in the future, without this Motion, then presumably it was so in the cases with which we are concerned, without any Motion. Will the right hon. Gentleman answer me this? If I had come forward with a Motion after the cases of the hon. Member for Doncaster and Mr. Allighan in favour of excluding from the Lobby the newspapers involved, would he have supported it on behalf of the Opposition?
§ Mr. Eden
I must remind the right. hon. Gentleman that there are two issues, and we must distinguish between them. First of all, is the House of Commons entitled to do something, and, secondly, if it is, is it prepared to do it? [Interruption.] Surely hon. Members can see that. What I am arguing is that, if the Leader of the House had wanted to bring forward a Motion it was absolutely within his power, as Leader of the House, to have done so.
§ Mr. Morrison
I want an answer to the question. If I had brought forward such a Motion to withdraw facilities to correspondents, would the right hon. Gentleman have supported it with the Opposition, or would he have voted against it? Would he have argued that as the newspapermen would not have known they had committed an offence which brought this penalty, they ought not to be punished?
§ Mr. Morrison
This is the test. The right hon. Gentleman knew, and knows, the merits of the case, and, therefore, it is only reasonable that he should give an answer, as he is fully competent to do.
§ Mr. Morrison
What is the matter with the House? The point which I put is that the right hon. Gentleman knew and knows the merits of the cases—they have been fully reported upon—and I want to know whether, if I had brought forward such a Motion, he would have supported it or not?
§ Mr. Eden
The right hon. Gentleman is, with respect, not entitled to ask that question—[Interruption.] Someone claps his hands, but when he has been here as long as I, he will know that we are still an assembly of free men. I am trying to deal seriously with what older Members of the House will realise is an important Parliamentary issue. It is no good hon. Members treating the matter in that derisory fashion. I ask the Prime Minister to consider this matter. Of course the Leader of the House in these matters—which are not party matters—which affect the conduct of hon. Members, is entitled to bring before us any Motion he likes about the conduct of hon. Members. We are still free men. I will vote and my hon. Friends will vote on the merits of the particular case. Why does the right hon. Gentleman gesticulate? Is not that the right basis to vote on?
What the right hon. Gentleman is now doing is to ask me to express an opinion as to what I would have done in a case already pronounced on by this House. Of course I am not prepared to do anything of the kind now. Does he think [...] should? After the whole business has been settled in this House he asks me to come down and say what I would do. I ask if anyone thinks that is the sort of thing I should do? I am amazed. I say this to the Prime Minister: This is really a Parliamentary matter and there is no power which this Motion gives him that does not exist already. If either the last or previous case should arise again, any Leader of the House—the right hon. Gentleman or anyone else—could come down to the House and say: this is the 1146 action which I, as Leader of the House, ask and advise the House to take. Then the House would judge the issue on the merits.
The right hon. Gentleman has no right to ask the House to judge an issue except on the merits of the individual case. That seems to me to be what he is trying to edge us into. If not, what is the use of this Motion, since we can do all these things without it? There is not the slightest part of it we cannot carry out. [HON. MEMBERS: "Then why object?"] I am trying to answer every question. If the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport feels I have not answered something, will he tell me?
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. James Callaghan)
I will, with great pleasure. I did not say a word.
§ Mr. Eden
I can only congratulate the hon. Gentleman on physical exercise on a soundless basis. His mouth was opening and shutting without anything coming out. I apologise. I must have misunderstood him.
I do reiterate the appeal which was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough. It would be a pity if we had to take a decision of this kind with the party Whips on. I can only say for my hon. Friends and myself that should a similar case arise again, we would judge any Motion which the Leader of the House brought before us on the merits of that Motion. We would not exclude, necessarily, action of the kind here suggested, but I do not think any valuable purpose is served by trying to define our future course in circumstances which no one can now foretell.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that there is some virtue in these declarations. At the beginning of every Parliament there is a Sessional Order which declares that in the event of certain action—I think it is in relation to bribery—the House will deal with the offenders.
§ 10.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Nally (Bilston)
I do not intend to keep the House unduly at this time of night, but I hope most Members of the House will not think it inappropriate if I have a word or two on this Motion. It 1147 was from a supplementary question—which I had to withdraw, and rightly to withdraw—alleging bribery against one of the "Express" newspapers groups that this great chain of events, culminating in this discussion tonight, arose. I, therefore, claim to have almost a proprietary interest in this Debate and what preceded it, considering that I initiated it. The Home Secretary was perfectly right when he said that this is a quite simple matter of the thief and the receiver. The party opposite can be congratulated on one thing, and that is that, so far in the Debate the name of the "Evening Standard" has been mentioned only once, and the name of the "Evening Standard" editor not at all.
By and large, the Debate has revolved around unrealities brought, typically, by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) and that dilapidated d'Artagnan the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) who sits next to him. These unrealities, this logic-chopping, this use of words does not alter the fact that my constituents at any rate will fully understand what the Motion means. This Motion says in effect that, although for varied reasons it was not possible or convenient in the two past cases so to act, in future this House decides, and is going to decide, that where there is a thief there is also a receiver to be dealt with. A good deal of talk was made on the other side about protecting Lobby correspondents. The "Evening Standard" has a first rate Lobby correspondent in Mr. William Alison who was accredited to the House on behalf of the "Evening Standard." What does the "evening Standard" do? The "Evening Standard" went behind that political correspondent's back secretly to secure the services of an M.P. to do what was part of Mr. Alison's work—
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not see what the "Evening Standard" has got to do with this Motion. Hon. Members are getting wide indeed.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member carefully said at the beginning that the "Evening Standard" was not mentioned except by reference, only once. Therefore it is a great mistake to bring in now extraneous matter which would prolong the Debate for I do not know how long.
§ Mr. Nally
May I put it in this way? If a newspaper bribes a Member of Parliament irrespective of party to take the place of the legitimate correspondent of that newspaper, that paper is guilty not only of an offence against the House, but of an offence against ail the rules of conduct governing relation between Press and Parliament.
§ Mr. Speaker
This is not a case in which individual papers can be named and charges made against them. This is a Motion of a general character.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, West)
On a point of Order. You are ruling, Mr. Speaker, that an individual newspaper must not be named in this Debate. Are you aware that during the Debate, the "Daily Worker" has been referred to several times?
§ Mr. Speaker
I hope I have made it clear that I think it is a great mistake to single out any individual newspaper to make an attack on it on this Motion which does not mention any particular newspaper. I heard what was said about the "Daily Worker." It was not a general attack on that paper.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Is it not the case that an attack was made on the "Daily Worker" that it was lying and slanderous and so on—a long-winded attack of a kind we are very much accustomed to, coming from an unreliable source.
§ Mr. Speaker
That just shows how dangerous it is to bring in the name of a single newspaper and introduce a note of controversy when the House is ready to come to a decision. I am quite sure it is in the best interests of the House to come to a decision now. I hope the hon. Member will take my hint.
§ Mr. Speaker
It is quite irrelevant to the present Motion and I therefore do say so.
Question put:That, if in any case hereafter a Member shall have been found guilty by this House of corruptly accepting payment for the disclosure and publication of confidential information about matters to be proceeded with in Parliament, any person responsible for offoring such payment shall incur the grave displeasure of this House; and this House will take such action as it may, in the circumstances, think fit:The house proceeded to a Division—
§ Mr. Nally
(seated and covered): On a point of Order. May I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker. I was on my feet and had resumed my seat when you rose. I was given no opportunity, so far as I could see, to phrase my speech to meet your requirements which I was perfectly prepared to do. I would be grateful, Sir, if you would explain why, therefore, I was not permitted to resume my speech when I was perfectly willing to make it
§ in accordance with what were, I thought, your rather severe strictures on the few words I said.
§ Mr. Speaker
There were various points of Order raised with which I thought I had dealt and then, as no one had risen to his feet, I put the Question as I was entitled to do, and I had collected the voices before any protest was raised. The voices having been collected, the matter had to proceed. I am sorry, but if I had known that the hon. Member was prepared to continue his speech and obey my Ruling, I might have been a little more lenient. But the matter was about to cause difficulty td arise, and I thought it best to get on with the proceedings. I hope the hon. Member will accept that point of view.
§ Mr. Speaker
I hope the hon. Member will realise that once I had collected the voices, there was no other opportunity for him to speak. I did think there was some discordant note arising which might cause us to have an irrelevant and not instructive Debate. Therefore, I used my discretion.
§ The House divided: Ayes. 287: Noes, 123.1153
|Division No. 46.]||AYES.||[10.56 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir R.||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Diamond, J.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Dodds, N. N.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Brown, George (Belper)||Donovan, T.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Buchanan, G.||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Anderson, A (Motherwell)||Burden, T. W.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitshaven)||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Dumpleton, C. W.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Callaghan, James||Durbin, E. F. M.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C R||Carmichael, James||Dye, S.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Champion, A. J.||Edelman, M.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Edwards, John (Blackburn)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Cobb, F. A.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Cocks, F. S.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)|
|Baird, J.||Coldrick, W.||Evans, John (Ogmore)|
|Baifour, A.||Collindridge, F.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)|
|Barstow, P G.||Collins, V. J.||Ewart, R.|
|Barton, C||Colman, Miss G. M.||Fairhurst, F.|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Farthing, W. J.|
|Benson, G||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W)||Fernyhough, E.|
|Berry, H.||Corlett, Dr. J.||Field, Capt. W. J.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Corvedale, Viscount||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)|
|Binns, J.||Cove, W. G||Follick, M.|
|Blenkinsop, A||Daggar, G||Forman, J. C.|
|Blyton, W. R||Daines, P.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Boardman, H||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Gallacher, W.|
|Bottomley A. G.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Gibbins, J.|
|Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)||Davies, S. O (Merthyr)||Gibson, C. W.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Deer, G.||Gilzean, A.|
|Braddock, T (Mitcham)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)|
|Bramall, E. A.||Delargy, H. J.||Goodrich, H. E.|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Maclean, N (Govan)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||McLeavy, F.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Grey, C. F.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Marquand, H. A.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||Snow, J. W.|
|Gunter, R. J.||Medland, H. M.||Solley, L. J.|
|Guy, W. H.||Mellish, R. J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F|
|Hale, Leslie||Mikardo, Ian.||Stamford, W.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Mitchison, G. R.||Steele, T.|
|Hannan, W. (MaryhilI)||Monslow, W.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Moody, A. S.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Harrison, J.||Morley, R.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Morrison, Rt. Hon H. (Lewisham, E.)||Symonds, A. L.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Mort, D. L.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Moyle, A.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Murray, J. D.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Bannet)|
|Holman, P.||Nally, W.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Naylor, T. E.||Thomas, I. O. (VVrekin)|
|House, G.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Hoy, J.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hubbard, T.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Hudson, J. H. (Eating, W.)||Oldfield, W. H.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Oliver, G. H.||Tiffany, S.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Timmons, J|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Pargiter, G. A.||Turner-Samuels, M|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Parker, J.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool, Edge Hill)||Parkin, B. T.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Pearson, A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Perrins, W.||Walker, G. H.|
|Janner, B.||Piratin, P||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Watkins, T. E.|
|John, W.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Price, M. Philips||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Proctor, W. T.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Pryde, D. J.||Wheatley, J. T. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Keenan, W.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Kendall, W. D.||Randall, H. E.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Kenyon, C.||Ranger, J.||Wilcook, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|King, E. M.||Rankin, J.||Wilkes, L.|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E.||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Kinley, J.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Lang, G.||Richards, R.||Willey, O. G (Cleveland)|
|Lawson, Rt. Hon. J, J.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Robens, A.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Leonard, W.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Williamson, T.|
|Levy, B. W.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Willis, E.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Royle, C.||Wills, Mrs, E. A.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Sargood, R.||Wise, Major F J|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Scollan, T.||Woodburn, A.|
|Longden, F.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Woods, G. S.|
|Lyne, A. W.||Segal, Dr. S.||Yates, V. F.|
|McAdam, W.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Zilliacus, K.|
|McEntee, V. La T||Sharp, Granville|
|McGhee, H. G.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|McGovern, J.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Mr. Popplewell and|
|Mack, J. D.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Mr. Richard Adams.|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Carson, E.||Drayson, G. B.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Challen, C.||Drewe, C.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Channon, H.||Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (City of Lond.)|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Clarke, Col. R. S.||Duthie, W. S.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Eccles, D. M.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Cole, T. L.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Birch, Nigel||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Fletcher, W. (Bury)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Crowder, Capt. John E.||Fox, Sir G.|
|Bowen, R.||Cuthbert, W. N.||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Davidson, Viscountess||Gage, C.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr J. G.||De la Bère, R.||Gammans, L. D.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Digby, S. W.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Gridley, Sir A.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Grimston, R. V.|
|Hannon, Sir P (Moseley)||Maude, J. C.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Haughton, S. G.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Spence, H. R.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Herbert, Sir A. P.||Nicholson, G.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Nield, B. (Chester)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd'tn. S.)|
|Howard, Hon. A.||Nutting, Anthony||Teeling, William|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Odey, G. W.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Touche, G. C.|
|Jarvis, Sir J.||Osborna, C.||Turton, R. H.|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Jennings, R.||Pickthorn, K.||Wakefleld, Sir W. W.|
|Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Pitman, I. J.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Prescott, Stanley||Wheatley, Col. M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Rayner, Brig. R.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Renton, D.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|McCallum, Maj. D.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Roberts, Major P. G. (Ecclesall)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)||York, C.|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Ropner, Col. L.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Sanderson, Sir F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Manningham-Butler, R. E.||Scott, Lord W.||Commander Agnew and|
|Marples, A. E.||Shephard, S. (Newark)||Major Conant.|
That, if in any case hereafter a Member shall have been found guilty by this House of corruptly accepting payment for the disclosure and publication of confidential information about matters to be proceeded with in Parliament, any person responsible for offering such payment shall incur the grave displeasure of this House; and this House will take such action as it may, in the circumstances, think fit.