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John Lilburne

Volume 645: debated on Tuesday 25 July 1961

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asked the Minister of Works whether, in view of recent historical evidence of the part played by the Levellers in the establishment of Parliamentary freedom and democracy in this country, he will make arrangements for the establishment of a suitable memorial to John Lilburne and his associates within the Palace of Westminster.

Does not the Minister appreciate that the minorities of today, even the very small minorities, very often become the majorities of tomorrow? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would induce a healthy respect for this excellent truth if we paid proper tribute to the first Englishman who dared preach the doctrine of democratic Parliament?

As far as I am aware, the Levellers were primarily an extra-Parliamentary group, and I am not sure that it would be a good thing to go too wide.

The Minister is absolutely misinformed on the subject. There were quite a number of spokesmen for the view of the Levellers in Parliament at that time. When the right hon. Gentleman has examined his history and read, say, the recent book of Mr. H. N. Brailsford and got his history more accurate, would he reconsider the matter?

However accurate or inaccurate my history may be, the Answer which I have given to the House must be my answer.

The right hon. Gentleman says that he will be guided by the wishes of the House. Will he ask his right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to give us an opportunity to express our views, because I think that if he were so guided he would reach a conclusion such as is urged upon him by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot)?