HC Deb 25 July 1949 vol 467 cc1821-3
Mr. Blackburn

May I raise a point of Privilege, Mr. Speaker, and submit a Motion, "That the report in the 'Daily Worker' of 22nd July of the speech of the hon. Member for King's Norton is a gross misrepresentation of his speech and a breach of the Privileges of the House"?

The matters to which I refer are contained in two sentences, and two only, of which the second is the important one. The first reads as follows: Mr. Blackburn … went so far as to accuse the Communists of retaining Buchenwald as a concentration camp. I do not complain about that, Sir, but it is the case, as reported in column 1677 of HANSARD, that what I did was to ask the Minister of State: Is it not a fact that Buchenwald today is being used as a concentration camp by the Communists? To which the Minister of State replied: Yes, it is. It is on the newspaper's second sentence that my complaint arises, and it reads as follows: He"— that is, myself— demanded that the Greek Fascists be given the right to invade Albania. Now, Mr. Speaker, what I said is contained in column 1679 of HANSARD, and so far as the word "Fascist" is used, I used it on one occasion and one occasion only. I said: It is pathetic that we do not remember more often than we do in the House that in 1940, when we stood absolutely alone, the Greeks were the first people to put up a successful resistance to Fascist aggression. Later on I said—and this is the passage which is misrepresented— … I think we should recognise, in view of the continual aggression against Greece, the right of Greece, with ourselves, in collective self-defence, to go into Albania. If the Greeks desire to counter-attack any rebels who attack from Albania, we should recognise their right to track the rebels down to their lair."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1949; Vol. 467, c. 1677–79.] I did not for one moment suggest that there should be any unprovoked aggression by Greece; I merely suggested the right of Greece, in collective self-defence, to track the bandits down to their lair. Therefore, I strongly resent the suggestion, first, that I suggested that anybody be given the right to invade as an act of aggression; and secondly, and far more seriously, that I for one moment suggested that the Greek Fascists, whoever they may be, should be given any rights whatsoever. On the contrary, I have consistently declared in this House my equal detestation of both Fascists and Communists.

On the point of raising this matter at the first available opportunity, I did not read the "Daily Worker" on Friday morning. It is not among the papers which I take for breakfast. It was brought to my attention at 3.30 on Friday afternoon, which was after the House had risen. On that occasion I went to the Speaker's Secretary. Unfortunately, of course, it was too late at that time to raise the matter in the House. But I would draw your attention, Sir, to column 1317 of Volume 334 of HANSARD—I understand that you know the passage, so I will not weary you with it—where it is clearly stated that an article published on a Wednesday morning was allowed to be raised on the Thursday in 1938. Therefore, with great deference, may I submit to you that this matter is a breach of Privilege?

Mr. Speaker

Will the hon. Member bring the newspaper to the Table?

Mr. Gallacher

Mr. Speaker, is there anything to be said—

Mr. Speaker

There is nothing to be said at present.

Copy of newspaper delivered in.

The CLERK (Sir FREDERIC METCALFE) read the passage complained of.

Mr. Speaker

The Ruling that a matter of Privilege, to secure precedence, must be raised at the earliest opportunity, is well known. The newspaper containing the paragraph of which the hon. Member complains, was published on Friday last. On that day the House rose at 3.16 p.m. There was, therefore, very little time for the hon. Member to raise the case before the House rose on Friday. As he did bring his complaint to my office shortly after the rising of the House, I propose in this case to allow him to raise it as a matter of Privilege. But I have had very little time to consider the matter and I will ask the hon. Member, therefore, if he so chooses, to raise it tomorrow, having given notice today of his desire to do so.