HC Deb 06 August 1976 vol 916 cc2293-4
Mr. du Cann

May I raise with you, Mr. Speaker, a point of order of which I have given you notice, as I have given notice to the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton)? I raise it at the earliest possible opportunity. I refer to the remarks made by the hon. Gentleman in the House yesterday. I must quote them: They are a bunch of crooks who run Lonrho and every one of them ought to be in Brixton Prison."—[Official Report, 5th August 1976; Vol. 916, c. 2165.] Had I had notice from the hon. Gentleman yesterday that he was proposing to refer to me in the debate, I would have been in my place in the Chamber and dealt with the matter there and then. As it is, I raise this matter with you, Mr. Speaker, at the earliest opportunity.

By implication, the hon. Gentleman's remarks must refer to the board of directors. They plainly refer to me. As a Member of this House and as a Privy Councillor, I cannot allow an unwarranted attack on my personal integrity to go unchallenged. I invite you, Mr. Speaker, to rule that those remarks were unparliamentary and should not have been made and should be withdrawn.

Mr. William Hamilton

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman may have given me notice—I accept that he has—but I have not yet received it. That might be my fault because my mail has not been opened this morning. I presume that the right hon. Gentleman put the notice on the board this morning and it is purely fortuitous that I have the first debate this morning and am therefore present. I leave the rest of the matter with you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I understand that the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) said—he will correct me if I am wrong, because I am speaking without looking atHansard—that the directors of Lonrho were crooks, and he went further. Any reflection on the personal honour of a Member of this House is entirely out of order and should not be made. We can conduct our affairs in this place only if we treat each other as honourable and right honourable Members.

I deprecate any reflection on the honour of anyone in this Chamber. Indeed, I would go a little further and say that I think we ought to be careful about the language we use in respect of people who are not Members of this House because, although we have the privilege of free speech, that imposes a discipline upon us which we ought at all times to exercise.

Mr. William Hamilton

I accept your ruling at once, Mr. Speaker, and I regret very much what I said. I understand that the matters are in the hands of the Public Prosecutor. I unreservedly withdraw my remarks and leave the matter to him.

Mr. du Cann

I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, for your general remarks and also to the hon. Gentleman. Of course, I accept his apology.

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