HC Deb 21 June 1949 vol 466 cc9-10
17. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Secretary of State for War what were his reasons for the cancellation of the gun salute for his visit to Edinburgh.

Mr. Shinwell

Although King's Regulations provide that salutes will be fired for the Secretary of State for War at certain stations, I am advised that the practice of the last 40 years has been for these salutes to be dispensed with at stations at home, though they have on occasion been fired at stations abroad. There was accordingly no intention on the part of the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Scottish Command to have a salute fired, and neither he nor I knew anything of the matter until we saw the evening papers on Monday, 13th June. The announcement that the salute would be fired which was issued to the Press that day was due to a misunderstanding: the staff of Edinburgh Castle immediately concerned with ceremonial matters, acting in all good faith, issued the announcement in the belief that the salute would be fired as a matter of routine in accordance with King's Regulations. The matter was rectified when the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief returned to Edinburgh that night from Glasgow, where he had spent the day with me visiting units in the area.

Mr. Blackburn

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that these ancient and picturesque ceremonials, although characteristically allowed to fall into desuetude under Conservative Governments, would provide colour in these necessarily austere times? Is my right hon. Friend aware that he will be not unpopular in the title rôle of "Mannie get your gun"?

Mr. Quintin Hogg

Is not the appropriate salute for the right hon. Gentleman "Two hoots"?

Mr. Shinwell

It is amazing to me that nobody in Scotland thought of that. If it had been for the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) it would have been a collection of rude noises.

Mr. Gallacher

May I ask the Minister if it is not the case that the cancellation was brought about through a suspicion that a Communist might get at one of the guns?