HC Deb 22 February 1977 vol 926 cc1229-30
Mr. Bagier

I apologise, Mr. Speaker, for not drawing your attention earlier to the matter about which I complain but I received only 15 minutes ago a copy of today's The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne, on which my complaint is based. Today's The Journal contains a report which is headed: Jobs hints may swing vital vote. The article reads: Hints of Government jobs for North-East Labour MPs who back down and support a Scottish assembly in the Commons tonight have put the outcome of the vital vote on a knife edge. Premier Jim Callaghan is understood to have dropped broad hints about ministerial posts … confidential talks with some of the potential rebels he has called in for drinks. As one of the northern hon. Members who attended a meeting with the Prime Minister last Thursday—to which I assume the article refers—I can absolutely refute that there is any possible truth in that statement. I should like you to rule, Mr. Speaker, that saying what is patently untrue could possibly be intended to exert pressure on northern hon. Members of Parliament in their areas. Stating something that is absolutely untrue is an indirect way of putting pressure on Members as to how they should vote. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, will you consider the possibility that that article, printed as it is, in the present circumstances, is a breach of privilege of the rules of the House?

Copy of newspaper handed in.

Mr. Speaker

Following recent custom, I shall give my ruling on this question of privilege tomorrow.