HC Deb 23 November 1950 vol 481 cc526-8
Mr. Leslie Hale

I apologise, Mr. Speaker, for raising without adequate notice—indeed, without any due consideration by myself—a matter which under the Rules of the House must be raised today if it is to be raised at all. I understood that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) was travelling back from Ireland in the hope of calling your attention to a matter which may very well affect the question of the Privileges of this House. I observe that there is some report of the matter in today's issue of the "Manchester Guardian." Therefore, it becomes obligatory upon somebody to mention the matter at the earliest possible moment. If I remember aright, on some previous occasion, when once a matter of this kind had been briefly raised, you mentioned that once it had been briefly raised it could be referred to more fully when more facts were available on the following day. I think that it was the former hon. Member for Oxford who raised the matter in those terms.

The "Manchester Guardian" reports from their correspondent in Belfast: A charge that Northern Ireland Attorney-General Mr. Edmond Warnock, K.C., had been guilty of a 'breach of privilege' of the British Parliament by accusing the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of 'political corruption' was made by Mr. Jack Beattie, Irish Labour candidate, addressing a meeting in the West Belfast by-election campaign tonight. He said that the Unionist press today had reported the Attorney-General as saying at an election meeting in Belfast last night: 'One thing stands out crystal clear. If Mr. MacManaway had been elected as a Socialist he would still be a member of the Imperial Parliament.' Mr. Warnock had also stated at the same meeting that Mr. MacManaway's ejection from the Imperial Parliament was 'a dirty political trick' and that he had not been put out because he was a clergyman but because, the Socialist Party saw a way of using an old Act of Parliament to increase their slender majority from six to eight. Mr. Warnock had said that he wanted the people of West Belfast to 'burn with indignation at this treatment.' The concluding paragraph is mere comment by the speaker at the meeting and I think therefore, subject to your approval, that it would not be appropriate to read that which is not relevant to the issue and is prejudice. I therefore respectfully ask you, Mr. Speaker, to rule whether a prima facie case of a breach of a Privilege of this House is made out.

Mr. Speaker

I only heard towards the end of Question time that this case was to be raised, and I have only heard the details of it as they have been read out by the hon. Member. Therefore, I cannot form a judgment at present, and I think it is only right that I should adopt a course which has been adopted before. Let me have time to look at the matter. It can be raised again tomorrow, and then I shall be prepared to say whether there is a prima facie case or not.