HC Deb 06 December 1979 vol 975 c614
Mr. Freud

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I reminded the House yesterday that I prefer to take points of order at the end of statements. I understand that the hon. Gentleman's point of order is likely to arise out of what happened at Question Time and therefore I will take it now. Mr. Freud.

Mr. Freud

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I believe that the House has always cared deeply about the honour and the integrity of individual Members of Parliament. I know that you, Mr. Speaker, have always upheld this. During Question Time, I pointed out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the disparity between the interest rate for premium bonds and the minimum lending rate was now 12 per cent. and asked whether it was not immoral to go on advertising premium bonds to the public without advising the public of the dangers, or certainly of the poor investment prospects. The Chancellor replied "I do not wish to cross swords with the hon. Gentleman on the subject of immorality."

You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that I asked the Chancellor to explain what he meant. He said that he was surprised and astonished that anyone should be sensitive to that accusation.

Mr. Skinner

He is so dull himself, he does not realise that other people are sensitive.

Mr. Freud

I believe that it was a personal slur. I should be happy, Mr. Speaker, to accept an apology or to cross swords with the Chancellor.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Geoffrey Howe)

The hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) has a reputation for integrity which stands very high—at least as high as his reputation as a humorist. If any light-hearted political observation of mine cast any kind of doubt or shadow whatever on his personal integrity, I am as happy to withdraw that as I am to pay tribute to him in every other respect.