HC Deb 15 April 1948 vol 449 cc1171-2
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Hardman)

May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to an inaccuracy in today's HANSARD? A Division took place last night—

Hon. Members

Stand at the Box.

Mr. Hardman

I did not think the occasion was worthy of a statement from the Despatch Box. I merely wish to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to an inaccuracy in today's HANSARD. A Division took place last night on the death penalty, and I am recorded as having voted in favour of the Government, when I obeyed instructions and abstained.

Mr. Churchill

May we have this uncertainty cleared up? The hon. Gentleman says he is recorded as having voted in favour of the Government, but the Government had no opinion on this matter, except that expressed personally by the Home Secretary. Could he assure us whether we should be misrepresenting him if we said that he was voting for or against the Government?

Mr. Speaker

I think the hon. Gentleman made it clear that, in the official record, he is not down as voting, but, in HANSARD, he is put down as having voted. It was, I understand, a mistake of his name for that of an hon. Member who sits for an Ulster Division.

Earl Winterton

Are we not entitled, when we have a personal explanation, to ask what it is all about? The hon. Gentleman made use of a most extraordinary phrase in which he solemnly informed you, Mr. Speaker, and the House that he "obeyed instructions." Whose instructions? Surely, we are entitled to ask what that means? Here we have a Member of the Government, on a first-class subject, abstaining from supporting his Government and saying that he did so because he was obeying instructions. What does he mean by that?

Mr. Speaker

It is not my business to answer the questions of the noble Lord. That is the hon. Member's affair.

Mr. Churchill

With very great respect, may I say when an hon. Member asks for the indulgence of the House, as he is quite entitled to do, to make a personal explanation, surely the House should also claim some indulgence in asking that that explanation should be clear?