On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. After the Leader of the House had received on Thursday night an application from the right hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Stonehouse) to appear at this House to give a personal explanation, I asked you, Mr. Speaker, on Friday morning, whether the Leader of the House had given you any intimation that he wished to make a statement about allowing me to move the motion or move it himself. Your answer, Mr. Speaker, was:
Now that the Leader of the House has had the weekend in which to consider it, may I ask you whether he has given you, Mr. Speaker, any intimation that he wishes to make a statement to the House or to allow me to move that motion?"No, I have had no such request, nor do I think that the Leader of House has had time to consider the letter. Now that I have informed the House of the letter, the matter will be considered."
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the absence of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House I have been asked to reply. As you, Mr. Speaker, explained last Monday, it would in present circumstances require an order of the House to secure the attendance of the right hon. Member for Walsall, North. I think it is unlikely that time can be found before the recess to debate the necessary motion, and it may be better in any event to review the matter when the House resumes.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is a great pity, because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Walsall, North cannot now make his statement for two or three months. Is it possible for my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary to give an assurance that a statement will be made as soon as the House resumes?
Order. This has nothing to do with the Chair. The right hon. Gentleman has said something. I really cannot permit the matter to be debated now. The Chair has no power of initiative in the matter; therefore, it is not a matter for the Chair. The hon. Member must pursue the matter with his right hon. Friend in other ways.
Could it be made quite clear that if a statement by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Walsall, North is to be allowed, it will have to be submitted to you first, Mr. Speaker, for your approval, and that the right hon. Gentleman cannot say whatever he likes? It is very important to get this on record, because the debate on this matter was prevented in this House on the ground that it would be prejudging court proceedings. If a statement were to be allowed, unabridged, before you saw it, Mr. Speaker, that too, presumably, would be prejudging court proceedings, so it is very important to establish that before any such statement is made it is seen by you.
The hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), a very experienced parliamentarian, is now asking me to rule on a hypothetical matter. If the House decides to allow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Walsall, North to make a statement, I shall have to consider my position in regard to the nature of the statement. I shall wait until the House has passed the resolution before I go any further into that matter. There are difficulties, but I have been giving it some consideration.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As I understand it, there is nothing to stop a motion being moved forthwith that the right hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Stonehouse) do attend the House. I propose to move that.
I think that it will be for me to say whether I can accept such a motion. Objection has been taken and I must tell the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) that I cannot accept it.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As various statements have been made about the rights of the right hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Stonehouse), is it not the case that if the right hon. Gentleman so desires he can now issue a written statement to every right hon. and hon. Member of this House—and, indeed, could have done so at any time during the past six months? The right hon. Gentleman could spend his time doing it now, and any right hon. or hon. Member who wished to read it could do so.
After that useful intervention, the Clerk will now proceed to read the Orders of the Day.