HC Deb 17 March 1955 vol 538 cc1446-8

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

35. Mr. J. R. H. HUTCHISON

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the treasonable activities of certain British nationals as revealed in the Ministry of Defence Paper on the treatment of British prisoners of war in Korea; what legislation he proposes to prevent a repetition; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Hutchison.

Mr. S. Silverman

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, with regard to Question No. 35, which you have just called. There have been statements by the Attorney-General and other Ministers to the effect that in the case of two of the persons mentioned there was no evidence of any treasonable activity—

Mr. K. Thompson

On a point of order—

Mr. Silverman

I am addressing Mr. Speaker on a point of order—and that with regard to the other two persons, the question of prosecution was still under consideration. In those circumstances may I ask whether it is in order for this Question to appear upon the Order Paper?

Mr. Thompson

On that point of order, Mr. Speaker, may I with great respect ask, is it not a fact that this Question has not been put?

Mr. Silverman

That does not matter.

Mr. Thompson

Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman to refer to it at all?

Mr. Silverman

It is on the Order Paper.

Mr. Speaker

We are getting too many points of order. The last point of order is not correct because, if an hon. Member thinks a Question is out of order, he is entitled to raise the matter. My own view of the matter is that this Question was probably put down before the recent statements. It was in order when it was put down, and there was no reason to take it off. Mr. Hutchison. Mr. Teeling—Question No. 37. [Laughter.]

Mr. Silverman

Further to that point of order. In view of the way in which your answer was so disrespectfully received on the other side of the House, Mr. Speaker, can it be made perfectly clear that, now we have had these statements from Ministers, it would, in the light of those answers, be out of order to put down Questions in these terms?

Mr. Speaker

I should like to see any particular question before I can state whether it is out of order. I was conscious of no disrespect in the way in which my previous answer was received. Mr. Teeling.

The Prime Minister (Sir Winston Churchill)

There seem to have been a lot of casualties. [Laughter.]

Mr. Brockway

Is not the House entitled to know the cause of this hilarity?

An Hon. Member

Look round.

Mr. Speaker

Order. There seem to me to be too many points of order. I was congratulating myself, rather prematurely, on making rapid progress with Questions, but that has been frustrated. Mr. Teeling—Question No. 37.