HC Deb 16 April 1956 vol 551 cc693-4
Mr. Wigg

I beg to ask you, Mr. Speaker, a Question of which I have given you Private Notice, whether you are aware that last Wednesday important papers were stolen from a Member's bag in the precincts of the House; and, if so, what steps you are taking to investigate this matter, and what precautions are being taken for the future?

Mr. Speaker

In answer to the first part of the Question, I have made inquiries and am informed that no report has been made of papers having been stolen. The remainder of the hon. Member's Question, therefore, does not arise.

Mr. Dodds

As I am the Member concerned, Mr. Speaker, may I ask whether you have ascertained from the Serjeant at Arms' office that papers have been lost and that I, as the Member concerned with those papers, would welcome any investigation which would encourage their return?

Mr. Speaker

In the course of my inquiries I found out that the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) said at the Serjeant at Arms' office that he had mislaid or lost certain papers, and had asked whether they had been returned. That sort of thing is happening constantly in that office; hon. Members are constantly mislaying articles and property. There was no suggestion that anything had been stolen, as far as I understand. If the hon. Member has lost some papers, I am quite certain that the staff, who always do their best to help hon. Members, will do their very best to find them for him. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] But I was asked about stolen papers and I have answered accordingly.

Mr. Drayson

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Are you not aware that the word "stolen" makes a much better headline than "mislaid"?

Mrs. Braddock

I should like to ask your advice, Mr. Speaker. I have been in this House for many weeks when certain Questions have appeared on the Order Paper with reference to the sale or use of surplus goods. I understand that the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) relates to papers appertaining to that subject. Would you make inquiries into the fact that the Questions that have been on the Order Paper have never been answered satisfactorily; that up to the moment the Member responsible, for some reason or other, has been unable to obtain the Adjournment to discuss the matter; that the whole of these proceedings, both inside the House and in the country, as well as internationally, are surrounded by very suspicious factors indeed; that there is a suggestion that, arising out of this matter, already one man has been murdered. [Laughter.] I am serious; this is a very serious matter indeed.

Many people seem to have been intimidated about the question of the sale of surplus materials. Do you not think, Sir, that in the interests of the House, of the country and of the officials as well, steps ought to be taken immediately to have the whole matter discussed and all the facts brought to the Floor of the House?

Mr. Wigg

If the hon. Lady has any evidence to support the point which she has put forward, ought this question not to be considered by the Committee of Privileges, since it involves murder, which must involve the privileges of this House?

Mr. Speaker

I have not heard anything about murder before. I understood that this question of surplus stores has been made the subject of an inquiry. I thought that was a Question answered either by the Prime Minister or the Minister of Supply the other day in which it was stated that an inquiry was proceeding. There again, if hon. Members are not satisfied with the inquiry, there are several courses open to them. It is a matter between hon. Members on both sides of the House, and not for me at all.

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