HC Deb 20 April 1948 vol 449 cc1628-30
Mr. Eden

Is the Leader of the House yet in a position to make a statement about the Motion appearing on the Order Paper in the names of the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) and other hon. Members: [That a Select Committee be appointed to investigate into and report on the circumstances in which a number of names of Members of this House were allegedly appended without their approval to a telegram sent on 16th April to Signor Nenni wishing him "outstanding success" in the forthcoming Italian elections.] I understand that yesterday the right hon. Gentleman undertook to give consideration to that Motion.

Mr. H. Morrison

Yes, Sir. I have given careful consideration to the points raised in the Motion, and to the points that were raised yesterday by hon. and right hon. Members. Yesterday, I thought it would not be right to express a view straight off, before I had seen the Motion on the Order Paper. I have studied the Motion, and I am bound to say that the more I think about it, the less I am inclined to think that this is a matter which warrants the appointment of a Select Committee. I think it is a matter which is best dealt with otherwise, in a way which is customary in Parliamentary parties.

Mr. Eden

I hesitate to intervene in this matter, as I was not present when it was dealt with yesterday. It is true to say, of course, that certain aspects of this question are entirely domestic but there is one aspect which, certainly in my experience, has never arisen in this House before: that is the accusation by one Member of Parliament that other Members of this House have had their names attached wrongfully to a document sent abroad. That seems to me to be hardly a matter which concerns only one party, but rather a matter which concerns the House. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has considered that aspect of the question.

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir. I did. By the way, I ought to have said before, that I am sure hon. Members in all quarters of the House are very glad to see the right hon. Gentleman back after his illness, and would wish me to express our pleasure that he looks so well. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I quite see the borderline point—if I may so describe it—which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned; but I still think that this was a matter which arose from a certain political angle and in certain political circumstances; and I think on balance that, if it is to be dealt with, it had better be dealt with domestically by the political party concerned. I do not think that it warrants the appointment of a Select Committee.

Mr. Eden

I thank the Leader of the House for what he has said about me personally. I should only like to add that on the particular aspect of the question which I mentioned, we on this side of the House would desire to reserve our position.

Sir W. Smithers

Might I ask you, Mr. Speaker, what is the difference between an hon. Member putting down without authority names to, say, a Motion on the Order Paper, and an hon. Member putting down without authority names to a document sent to a foreign Power antagonistic to this country?

Mr. Speaker

That is a quite hypothetical question which I am unable to answer.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, I would venture to put this point before you. The reputation of this House and the honour of every individual Member are, in some measure, prejudiced and attacked by the forgery of Members' names to important documents. Should not this be a matter for discussion by the whole House?

Mr. Speaker

That is not my affair. I cannot order the House to discuss anything one way or the other. I am the servant, not the master of the House.