HC Deb 22 March 1961 vol 637 cc389-90
Mr. C. Pannell

I gave you notice, Mr. Speaker, that I wanted to raise a matter with you today. I do not ask for any Ruling now, but I asked you to consider the point bearing in mind that the matter of the Committee of Privileges and its Report on Mr. Wedgwood Benn may shortly be before the House.

I assume that there must be some question about this, otherwise the House would not have referred the matter to the Committee of Privileges. I assume from that that the Report must be accepted by the House itself. I want to inquire what are the rights of Mr. Benn if and when the House considers that Report. I do not know whether he is in the same category as Mr. MacManaway, who addressed the House, prior to withdrawing, on his case. His is the case that I can remember in my time.

I do not think that Mr. Benn could address the House in that way, but I want to know whether he could speak from the Bar of the House and, assuming that he could, whether it would be by your leave, Mr. Speaker, by leave of the House, or by summons or Resolution of the House.

I would ask you to look at the precedent of 23rd June, 1880, when the House resolved: That Mr. Bradlaugh be now heard at the Bar. His case, of course, had been referred to a Select Committee. It was brought back and the House resolved that he could be heard in his own case at the Bar.

I would ask you to bear in mind, Mr. Speaker, that this is a rare occasion and that everyone in the House, irrespective of party, would wish to do justice to a Member who served the House for so many years, and would wish that there should be no procedural snags in seeing that one whom some of us consider to be an hon. Member gets his rights. I should like your guidance, Mr. Speaker, in your own good time.

Mr. Speaker

I am obliged to the hon. Member for allowing me to know about this. I will rule on it tomorrow, unless it turns out to be an inconvenient time. The hon. Member ought not to have been allowed to address me at this moment, but the reason why I expected that the House would allow me to receive his communication now was that it was entirely my fault that I had forgotten about it in a certain moment of entertainment during the presentation of a Bill.