HC Deb 05 February 1957 vol 564 cc243-4

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Minister of Defence, if he will make a statement on the circumstances under which a portion of a written reply to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough on 28th January was deleted before transmission for publication in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

With permission, I should like to answer Question No. 87.

I am glad of this opportunity to explain how it was that the Answer circulated in the HANSARD of 28th January, Column 128, was different from the one which was sent direct to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway).

The text approved by me is the one which appeared in HANSARD. Inadvertently, my office sent the text of an earlier draft to the hon. Member and to the Editor of HANSARD. When the mistake was noticed, my Private Secretary asked the Editor to make the necessary correction, and wrote to the hon. Member informing him of what had been done.

Owing to my absence in America, it was not possible for me to be consulted.

I wish to express my regret for any confusion or inconvenience caused.

Mr. Brockway

I accept that apology at once, but is the Minister aware that the letter sent from his Department to me expressing regret was received by me only after I had given Private Notice of this Question. Mr. Speaker had agreed to it, and I had indicated to the right hon. Gentleman's Department that I intended to put the Private Notice Question?

May I further ask him about the sentence which has been deleted? That stated that the total defence expenditure would be £1,620 million, before taking into account United States aid and German support costs. Is it the fact that that sentence shows that the amount to come from the United States and from German support is £20 million less than had been indicated by the Government, and will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that that discrepancy is not the reason why this sentence has not appeared?

Mr. Sandys

I think that it would be out of order for me to answer that Question, because the hon. Member himself has on the Order Paper a further Question on precisely that subject.