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Volume 977: debated on Wednesday 30 January 1980

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I wish to correct a mistake. The House will recall that on Monday I gave my understanding of the reason why the judgments in the case then under discussion had not been typed more speedily. I was wrong. I have apologised to the shorthand writers and I wish to apologise to the House and to the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English), in response to whose point of order I made this mistake.

It is ironic that I should have made this mistake in the context of advising others always to check the facts before commenting. What has happened to me is perhaps the best evidence of the soundness of that advice. I wish that I had followed it more carefully myself on this occasion.

I am glad to see that I made it clear that I was not criticising anybody. Now that I have had the chance to learn the details of what has to be done from the man in charge, I would like to tell the House that I think that those concerned, who were faced with a task for which they are simply not geared—taking at short notice the judgments of a court given late on a Saturday afternoon—did remarkably well, and deserve our thanks.

Lastly, I thank the hon. Member for Nottingham, West—whose home town I have the honour to represent—for his courtesy yesterday. As soon as I had made my inquiries I telephoned him, told him that I would come to the House immediately to correct the mistake if he wished, but that I would prefer to do so today, so that I might be absolutely sure of my facts this time. With that generosity typically shown by Members of this House to colleagues who have made a mistake, he readily agreed. I am most grateful to him.

:I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I thank him for his statement, which completely covers the point. I think that he will agree that the people to whom he was referring were not merely not affected by union rules; they were not even members of a trade union. In fact, they were shareholders in a private company.