HC Deb 05 July 1949 vol 466 cc1969-70
Mr. Buchan-Hepburn

Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to make a personal statement.

You will have noticed in yesterday's HANSARD, in column 1919, that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health is reported to have said, and I quote the words: In fact I have informed, through the usual channels, the Chief Whip of the Opposition that, because of their discourtesy on Friday morning in insisting that a Parliamentary Secretary is not good enough for them, and in Committee upstairs that a Parliamentary Secretary is not good enough for them, I shall not in such circumstances accept the obligation of being on the Bench to listen to a back bencher."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th July, 1949; Vol. 466, c. 1919.] Mr. Speaker, as there was a certain amount of noise in the Chamber at the time, I did not clearly understand that I was being referred to, and therefore, the remarks in question went unchallenged.

I think it proper, therefore, to inform the House that, in fact, I received no such message, either from the right hon. Gentleman himself or through the usual channels.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Aneurin Bevan)

With the permission of the House, I would like to make my position on this matter quite clear. I have never taken the slightest exception to any back bencher being selected by the Opposition——

Mr. Speaker

We may not Debate this matter. The hon. Gentleman has merely said that he did not have notice, and that is where it must end.

Mr. Bevan

I was about to state the circumstances in which this arose. I asked my right hon. Friend the Government Chief Whip to convey to the Opposition Chief Whip my attitude with respect to this matter, arising out of the circumstances. I understand from my right hon. Friend that, in fact, he did not convey to the Opposition Chief Whip the message which I asked him to convey. In these circumstances, I apologise for having given rise to a misunderstanding last night, I assure the House that I am perfectly sincere. I understood that my right hon. Friend had done so; as he has not done so, I express my regret.