HC Deb 18 December 1952 vol 509 cc1777-9

10.53 p.m.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

I wish to raise a matter of Privilege. My complaint arises from a message—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)

I think that Mr. Speaker will be here in a moment. He no doubt has been advised. He knows about this matter and I do not. The hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Erroll) who has the Adjournment might carry on until Mr. Speaker arrives. It would be much more satisfactory.

Mr. F. J. Erroll (Altrincham and Sale)


Mr. Wigg

On a point of order. As long as I am assured that my rights are fully protected and that I can raise this matter before the House, with respect, I agree, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member is not prejudicing his chance of raising it at the first opportunity. It would be better to wait until Mr. Speaker comes because he understands this matter and I do not.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

If my hon. Friend wishes, and feels it is his duty, to raise a question of Privilege or a point of order with the Chair, is he not entitled—indeed, is it not his duty—to raise it at the first convenient opportunity? If he desires to raise it now, is there any reason why the whole House should wait until the end of the Adjournment debate, so that it is discussed under the worst possible conditions? I understand that my hon. Friend has a most important point to raise.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Mr. Speaker will be here in one moment. It would be much better if he dealt with this matter. He knows about it. I knew there was a point of great importance to be dealt with, but I am not prepared to deal with it because I have not been briefed. If the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale begins his speech and gives way when Mr. Speaker arrives, it would be more satisfactory to everybody.

Mr. Wigg

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise a matter of Privilege. My complaint arises from a message from Nairobi which has appeared in part in London newspapers this afternoon and which was printed on the tape at 3.8 p.m. The message read as follows: Kenya Supreme Court considers alleged contempt and the date is "Nairobi, Thursday." The question of whether Mr. D. N. Pritt, Q.C. should be committed for contempt of court was today being considered by Kenya's Supreme Court under the Presidency of Sir Richard Hearne, Chief Justice. A record of the proceedings of the Kapenguria Court, which is trying Jomo Kenyatta and five other defendants on charges of managing Mau Mau, was handed to Sir Richard today. Mr. Pritt is leading defence counsel in the case. At Kapenguria on Tuesday Mr. Thacker, the magistrate, adjourned the hearing for 15 days on the ground that Mr. Pritt had used words in a cable to four British Labour M.Ps. which the magistrate regarded as contempt of court. I would add that the cable which Mr. Pritt sent was in answer to a cable signed by my hon. Friends the Members for Cannock (Miss Lee), Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), and myself, which referred to a Question put by the hon. Member for Gravesend and answered by the Secretary of State for the Colonies on 10th December.

Our cable read as follows: Lyttelton says 'apart from application about the venue Pritt made only one protest about facilities and said he was satisfied with arrangements made as a result.' Please confirm. I bring this matter to your attention now as being the earliest possible opportunity of submitting that a breach of Privilege has occurred, and I shall be glad if you will indicate whether it would be convenient for me, and in order, to make a detailed submission to you when the House meets tomorrow, when I respectfully request that you will rule that a prima facie case of breach of Privilege has been made out.

Mr. Speaker

I rule that the hon. Gentleman has raised this matter at the first available opportunity. He had better raise it again tomorrow and we will deal with the matter then.