HC Deb 19 March 1951 vol 485 cc2107-9
Mr. Mikardo

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for giving me permission to make a personal statement.

In a broadcast on Friday evening last I made reference to the speech of the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr. Boothby), which was the occasion of a number of references in the House last week. In the course of my remarks I said that whereas the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire, after making his speech at Banstead, was reported to have left the meeting hurriedly to return to the House, in fact he had not done so. "I do not know," I added, "whether he fell by the wayside on the way."

I am informed by the hon. Gentleman that he did in fact hurry back from the meeting to the House to vote in the Division which took place at 10 p.m. and, indeed, he is recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT as participating in that Division. He has also been good enough to inform me that, being paired from 10 p.m. onwards, he then immediately left the House. It was this latter circumstance which led me into the error which I made, and for which I now wish to tender to the hon. Gentleman my sincere apologies. He will recall that when late that night a report of the speech of the hon. Gentleman appeared on the tape, the matter was raised with Mr. Speaker as a complaint of Privilege, and there was some considerable comment from hon. Members that the hon. Gentleman was not present. Because of this I fell into the error of assuming that he had not been present at all.

It is, as many hon. Members will know, all too easy to fall into such an error when speaking from memory and, indeed, I was myself a victim of a similar misstatement and a reflection made by another hon. Gentleman opposite on Thursday night of last week. But, Sir, I am well aware of course that this explanation of the reason for an error does not condone it, and I wish to convey to the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire my deep regret that I should have said anything about him which was not true—a regret which I view all the more strongly in that, outside politics, the hon. Gentleman and I have always had, and I hope will continue to have, the friendliest personal relations.

Mr. Boothby

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for clearing this matter up. I was naturally disturbed, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, when his remarks over the wireless were reported to me because they implied either that I had lied to my audience at Banstead or had subsequently been incapable of reaching this House. So far as the rest of his statement is concerned, it is wholly accurate except in so far as he said that I told him that I immediately left the House after the Division. That I did not do. Still, I accept his apology in the spirit that it was given, and I am sure that our friendship, apart altogether from politics, will continue.