HC Deb 20 December 1961 vol 651 cc1338-9
15. Dr. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for War by what authority a spokesman for the Army Southern Command made a public statement, communicated to the Press, that there would be no Parliamentary inquiry into the disturbances caused by the military in the early hours of Sunday, 3rd December, on Portsdown Hill, about which the hon. Member for Gosport and Fareham has written to him; and if he will instruct his officers not to make statements which impinge on the authority of Parliament.

Mr. Profumo

No such statement was made. The spokesman was asked to make a statement about this incident. Before doing so he quite properly ascertained that no letter or notice of a Question had been received from any hon. Member. He told the newspaper that no Parliamentary inquiry had been received. He did not say that there would be none.

Dr. Bennett

I am relieved to hear that, but does my right hon. Friend know that the statement reached the public in an extremely large-scale way, in the local newspapers, on the basis that there will be no Parliamentary inquiry into the Portsdown Hill "war"? This was stated by a War Office spokesman. Does not my right hon. Friend feel that it would be wise if his spokesmen did not make statements which might be wrongly interpreted?

Mr. Profumo

As I have told my hon. Friend, our spokesman did not make that statement. What he said may have been garbled before it reached the Press. The answer is that there has been a Parliamentary inquiry.