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Personal Statement

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 28 July 1954

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I understood that it was the custom of the House, if any hon. Members wish to refer to another hon. Member personally in the course of the debate, to give notice of their intention to do so. Yesterday, during the consideration of the Lords Amendments to the Television Bill, the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) made certain statements about a firm with which I am connected. Had I had notice of the intention of the hon. Member, I would have corrected him immediately; although I was not in the Chamber at the time, I was attending a Committee upstairs. His remarks were as follows:

"I am told that the first six months of commercial television programmes for this country are already in the vaults of Messrs. J. Walter Thompson and Co., in London. I hope that the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. J. Rodgers) will be here later to deny that. Perhaps it is a little exaggerated, but it applies to a very large proportion of the programmes. They are already canned, they have been shown to American audiences and they are hiding in the vaults of that largely American-controlled advertising concern in London."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th July, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 278.]
The firm in question, first, has not brought a single programme from America for use on the I.T.A. stations when they start; secondly, it has not produced itself or through any other organisation any programme in this country for broadcasting through I.T.A. stations; and thirdly, it has no vaults in which to hide anything.

We are very glad to have that assurance that this American-controlled advertising agency has, in fact, had no control of programmes for commercial television in this country. As regards—

Order. This is a personal statement, and it is not debatable. I thought that, perhaps, the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) would wish to make some—s —

As I understand, the only personal element was the question whether I was in order or not in referring to the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. J. Rodgers) when he was not present in the House. I am prepared to be guided by you on that point, Mr. Speaker, but, as far as I am aware, there is no rule to say that one may not refer to an hon. Member who is not present.

Do we understand that it is out of order for any hon. Member to refer to a firm with which another hon. Member is associated?

The statement, which I have read in HANSARD, did mention the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. J. Rodgers) by name, and associated him with it. The hon. Member has denied it, and we ought to leave the matter there. There is no point of order in all this at all. It is customary if one hon. Member intends to refer to another to inform him. It is not a matter of order at all.