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Personal Statement

Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 14 December 1965

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Mr. Speaker, with permission, I wish to make a personal statement.

During the Committee stage of the Coal Industry Bill on Thursday, 2nd December, 1965, the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Swain) made the following statement regarding myself:
"I wonder if his constituents are aware that his attendance record in this House is only 60 per cent.—if he challenges that I will prove it to him—and his absenteesism in this House is 40 per cent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December, 1965; Vol. 721, c. 1694.]
Mr. Speaker, since that statement I have checked my Division record. In the 1964–65 Session of Parliament I voted 225 times out of a total, which included non-Government free votes, of 276, with normal pairing arrangements, where appropriate, accounting for the balance. In the current Session of Parliament I have voted 11 times out of 11 votes. I can also provide evidence to prove that my attendance in the House is consistently frequent, very considerably in excess of that indicated by the hon. Gentleman's remarks.

Order. The Chair is on a point of order at the moment. Personal statements are usually heard in silence and without any comment. Point of order—Sir Rolf Dudley Williams.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I must apologise to you for drawing attention to a point of order while you were standing. May I draw your attention to what I suggest, subject to your views, Mr. Speaker, is an abuse or breach of privilege? The hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Swain)——

Order. I will not hear any more. The hon. Gentleman is beginning to comment on the issues raised in the personal statement. He cannot do that.

Further to that point of order. Could you tell us, Mr. Speaker, what are the precedents for statements being made in the House by Members on their general Division records, including statements about pairs that they may have had or not, which presumably are a quite unofficial matter and not concerned with the rules of the House?

The hon. Gentleman would not expect me to give at a moment's notice the number of precedents in which hon. Members defending, if one likes, their character have produced their Division records. I make no comment on the personal statement. I am bound by the same rules as the rest of the House.

Further to that point of order. When my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Swain) attacked the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box), he did so because of the hon. Member's persistent attack——

Order. I know that this is difficult. The rule about personal statements is absolute. They are heard and no observations can be made on them.