I desire to raise a matter of Privilege, Mr. Speaker. The Sunday Telegraph dated yesterday, carries on its front page a story which it heads:
In the course of the article reference is made to the activities of a number of hon. Members of this House and with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to quote four brief extracts to illustrate my contention that this may be a matter of breach of Privilege. The first extract reads:"Firms' Anger at Leipzig muddle M.P.s Criticised in Trade and Politics Mix-up"
The article goes on:"It was the presence of the M.P.s and the activities of some that caused most resentment among British exhibitors. It was certainly degrading to hear a British M.P. touting for business orders and to see the sycophantic attitude some adopted towards the East Germans. I know of one concrete case, and there are certainly others, of a British firm agreeing to pay a quarter per cent. commission to an M.P. if he could arrange an order."
I submit that while this article is critical of those hon. Members who attended the Leipzig Fair it is, in its sense and essence, derogatory to the whole House and I therefore submit it to you as a breach of Privilege."Equally, I have no doubt that the reason Mr. Sternberg and Mr. Drayson are so anxious to bring M.P.s out is to build up a pressure group at Westminster sympathetic to East Germany…. One big steel company has refused to show at Leipzig because of the undue influence they feel was exerted by some M.P.s in previous years…. There is no doubt that the collective presence of a group of M.P.s creates the impression of an official delegation."
Copy of newspaper handed in.
I am obliged to the hon. Member. I will take the 24 hours which I am allowed for consideration and will rule upon his point tomorrow.