HC Deb 18 March 1958 vol 584 cc1088-90
48. Mr. Zilliacus

asked the Prime Minister whether the speech of the Lord President of the Council at Leeds on 8th March referring to the undesirability, in time of great peril, of trial by by-election, agitation by private referendum, and government by undergraduate resolutions, represented the views of Her Majesty's Government.

54. Mrs. Castle

asked the Prime Minister whether the speech of the Lord President of the Council at Leeds on 8th March represents the views of Her Majesty's Government.

59. Mr. V. Yates

asked the Prime Minister if the statement made by the Lord President of the Council at Leeds on 8th March regarding the insufficiency of a solely military system of defence represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Zilliacus

While fully appreciating the Prime Minister's distaste for trial by by-election, may I ask whether he will dissociate the Government from the attacks made on democracy by his court jester, the Fairy Tinkerbell of the Tory Pantomime?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I have read the speech referred to. My noble Friend observed that we needed for the protection of our way of life not only military defence but an unshakable faith in the rightness of our philosophy of freedom. I am inclined to think that the whole House would agree with that. On the other point, I understand that my noble Friend said that he did not suggest that undergraduates might not freely express their opinion, but that it was the duty of the Government to take the action that they think is right and in accordance with their own convictions and principles.

Mr. Yates

Did not the Prime Minister also read that the Lord President of the Council said, according to The Times, The sword of the spirit is a more powerful weapon than the nuclear bomb"? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with that, and if so, what action does he propose to take to put it into effect?

The Prime Minister

I understood my noble Friend to say, putting it very much better than I could put it, and what would be fairly widely accepted by most people, that we need in the affairs of life not only material but spiritual strength.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the Prime Minister say why the Lord President of the Council regarded trial by by-election as so undesirable?

The Prime Minister

I answered that, in the Question of the right hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend, if I may so call him, the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus), sitting below the Gangway.

Mrs. Castle

Is the Prime Minister aware that students at Bristol University have written to the Lord President of the Council protesting at his description of serious undergraduate study of the H-bomb problem and that they have had a reply back from the Lord President which is totally meaningless? In view of that fact, would the right hon. Gentleman consider sending the Lord President back to university to study manners, history and the meaning of democracy?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that supplementary question was intended for a reply but was merely to make points that were prepared beforehand.

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