HC Deb 21 October 1971 vol 823 cc904-5
Mr. William Hamilton

I apologise for taking up further time of the House, but I wish to raise what I think is a matter concerning a breach of Parliamentary privilege, namely, the article which appears on the front page of today's issue of the Daily Mail under the heading, "The Million Pound Queen "by a Mr. Gordon Greig.

It is not my intention to read the whole or even part of the article, or to request that the Clerk read it into the record. Nor is it for me or anyone else in this House or outside it to comment on the accuracy of the figures referred to in the article. However, the matter has the effect of casting suspicion on every member of the Select Committee and, therefore, respectfully I ask you to say whether you think it appropriate to rule that the article in question represents prima facie a case of breach of privilege.

Mr. C. Pannell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Before you rule, if you do not mind—[Interruption.] This is not a flippant matter. I am a member of the Committee concerned, and I am also a member of the Committee of Privileges.

My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) is in a peculiarly sensitive position. On his appointment to the Select Committee, the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) suggested that my hon. Friend was not a Member who could be trusted. In view of that, and in view of what has occurred now, bearing in mind the respect that we all have for senior Members of the House, I hope that you will feel able to rule that there has been prima facie a breach of privilege.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Further to that point of order. In view of what was said a minute ago, perhaps I might point out that, if my speech is re-read, it will be clear that I did not suggest that the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) was not to be trusted, although it is true that, for various reasons, I objected to the hon. Gentleman's appointment to the Select Committee.

Incidentally, the hon. Gentleman should know whether a matter of privilege is involved in this case, since he must be aware whether what is in the paper is accurate.

Mr. Speaker

However all that may be, I am grateful to the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) for giving me notice of his intention to raise this matter. In accordance with recent practice, I shall rule upon it tomorrow.