HC Deb 21 December 1967 vol 756 cc1470-2
38. Mr. Rankin

asked the Postmaster-General if he will issue a special stamp to mark the 800th century of the auld alliance between France and Scotland.

39. Mrs. Ewing

asked the Postmaster-General if he will issue a stamp to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the auld alliance.

Mr. Edward Short

No, Sir. I have already announced my special stamp programme for 1968. In any case, I am advised that not all Scottish historians regard the alliance as dating from 1168.

Mr. Rankin

May I ask my right hon. Friend not to take his advice just from some historians? Is he not aware that, despite what he has said, that was a most disappointing answer to one who has always admired his approach to the issue of these special stamps? Will he not reconsider his answer as we are now in the season of giving, and could he not try to think of the Christmas spirit at this moment?

Mr. Short

I have looked at a lot of spirits since seeing this Question. Both Mackie and Hume-Brown date the alliance from 1295 when John Balliol signed a treaty with the King of France against Edward I of England. However, at this season of good will I should like to hold out a compromise to my hon. Friend. If his friends wish it, I am quite willing to arrange for a special franking on letters to celebrate this alliance, provided that somebody in Scotland will pay for it.

Mr. Brooks

On a point of order. Is there not a mistake in Question No. 38 as printed, or is my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) referring to some prehistoric alliance, some antediluvian alliance from 800 centuries ago?

Mr. Speaker

It is an obvious misprint.

Mrs. Ewing

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the two historians he has named are the only two to take that view and that other historians take the view that 1168 was indeed the year? In view of the Government's present difficulties with France, should not the right, hon. Gentleman be anxious to seek to emphasise one respect, albeit a historical one, in which the relationship is good? Would he not reconsider?

Mr. Short

It is not for me to arbitrate between Scottish historians. I have said that I have looked at the opinions of a number of them and that there is no agreement. However, I have tried to meet this point of view half way by saying that I am willing to arrange franking.

Mr. Rankin

On a point of order. Obviously the word "century" is the wrong word and ought not to be there. It is a misprint.

Mr. Speaker

I thought that the House was aware of that.

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