HC Deb 12 July 1955 vol 543 cc1748-50
The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

I have to inform the House that it has come to notice that the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Holland-Martin) was at the time of his election to the House a local director in London of the Bank of New Zealand. I am advised that this appointment may be an office of profit under the Crown and, consequently, that the hon. Member may have been disqualified from being elected.

In accordance with the precedents, I will as soon as possible move for the appointment of a Select Committee to consider the position of the hon. Member.

Directly he was informed of the position, the hon. Member took steps to resign his directorship and, pending the consideration of his case, he is not, of course, taking any part in the proceedings of the House. Beyond that, I do not think there is anything I can usefully or properly add at this stage.

Mr. H. Morrison

This would appear to be becoming a regular weekly event. One appreciates, of course, in view of the various private financial interests of hon. Members opposite, that this sort of thing is liable to happen for one reason or another, but as it would appear that we are to be involved in this sort of matter from week to week with a certain degree of regularity, does not the Leader of the House think that there is something to be said for having a standing Select Committee on this matter so that these things can be dealt with more systematically and promptly?

Mr. Crookshank

No, Sir. I do not think anything of the kind. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the Order Paper, he will see that notice of the presentation of a Bill dealing with this difficult problem is down for today. That is the right way of dealing with these very difficult points.

As to the hon. Gentleman to whom I made reference in my statement, I think that the right hon. Gentleman's remarks were completely uncalled for. I should add that this is a very difficult case which has not arisen before because it is an open question as to whether, under the Statute of Westminster, office held under the Crown in respect of a Commonwealth country comes within our existing legislation. That is why this matter is going to a Select Committee. I hope that in the future, if the House will accept the Bill and hasten its passage into law, a great many of these most difficult problems will not arise. They are always apt to arise after an Election, whatever Government is in office.

Mr. Morrison

May we take it that it is intended, under the proposed legislation, to deal with the matter in such a way that this problem will be solved and there will be no further difficulty?

Mr. Crookshank

I think that one must wait and see how the Bill emerges on to the Statute Book. The Bill, of which notice of presentation appears on the Order Paper today, will be in the hands of hon. Members shortly, and we hope to proceed with it.

Mr. Lindgren

Would it not assist the House in these difficult problems if remuneration of Members of Parliament were adequate and, therefore, hon. Members were not required to get outside employment?

Mr. Crookshank

That is nothing to do with it. The hon. Gentleman had better await the Report of the Select Committee, which has reported on the two previous cases, to see whether there was, in fact, any remuneration attached.

Mr. Jay

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Government still have a majority in the House?

Mr. Crookshank

It is a great deal larger than the right hon. Gentleman's party enjoyed in 1950.