HC Deb 19 March 1951 vol 485 cc2110-1
Mr. Sydney Silverman

I regret once more to have to invite the attention of the Chair to a matter which may raise a question of Privilege. I have here a letter with a document attached to it, but I shall read the relevant parts only to the House:

The heading is: "Clan-Briton." It is addressed from: Secretarial Offices: 220, Ellerdine Road, Hounslow, Middlesex. General Secretary: L. M. Tomlinson, M.C. And on the other side from the County Branch Office: North West Area Office, 6, Riversleigh Avenue, Lytham, Lancs. It is addressed to the Rev. Fielding Clarke, the Vicar of Crockham Hill, Edenbridge, Kent. The letter is dated 14th March, 1951, and reads as follows:


I note with the most intense interest that you chose Mr. Sydney Silverman, M.P., to raise the question of privilege in the House of Commons, and wonder what particular qualification that distinguished politician has to cause him to be elected as the spokesman for a professional Minister of the Christian Church, indeed, the English Church. When you made your choice of advocate, you would without the slightest doubt be aware that Mr. Silverman is: —"

This next sentence is typewritten in capitals—

"Not a Christian, not a Briton, and certainly not a patriotic British subject interested in the Church of England, nor its ministers.

"You apparently considered that Mr. Silverman possessed qualities superior to those other eminent Sons of Britain, Messrs. Shin-well, Strauss, Mikardo, Stross, Zilliacus, etc., etc., who have all, of course? fought at all times with gallantry and valour on the side of this Christian Britain of ours but at the same time avoided getting on to any field of battle in the cause to which they should be so devoted, the cause of the Land which has given them sanctuary and protection from those who would oppress them. You are certainly deserving of great praise for your lack of prejudice regarding the creed and breed of your protector.

Yours in wonderment"—

signed, and also typewritten underneath—


Copies to: Mr. S. Silverman, M.P. Mr. J. Rodgers, M.P. The Editor, The 'Daily Dispatch '.

From the accompanying document, which has the same kind of letter heading as that which I have already read, and with which, therefore, I need not trouble the House a second time, I have to extract one paragraph which, obviously, must be read with the body of the letter: Today our public life is impregnated with the breeders of greed, jealousy, corruption and self glorification, who are too often non-Christians, of alien blood, interested only very superficially indeed in the well being of Britain and Britons. Their loyalties are to themselves alone and the parasite occupations which find them wealth at the expense of the British people who gave them sanctuary.

Letter and document handed in.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I understand that the hon. Member has read all the passages complained of, and in that event I shall not direct the Clerk to read them again.

Mr. Silverman

I therefore ask you, Sir, to rule whether a prima facie case of breach of Privilege is disclosed.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

In my opinion, the letter complained of constitutes a prima facie case of breach of Privilege, which calls for the immediate interposition of the House. If, therefore, the hon. Member desires to move a Motion I am prepared to receive it.

Mr. Silverman

In view of your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I desire formally to move without comment, "That the matter of the complaint be referred to the Committee of Privileges."

Mr. Eric Fletcher

I beg to second the Motion.

Question put, and agreed to.