New Clause. — (Amendment of form of Certificate.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Ministers of the Crown and House of Commons Disquali Fication Bill. – in the House of Commons on 18th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

But it was also a part of that speech that, although my right hon. Friend realised that some Members took a different view, in his view the vast majority of the House did not feel there was any inconsistency in Members accepting during war time appointments of this kind. Naturally, every Member would consider the position vis-vis his constituents. It was pointed out that many Members of the House are serving in the Armed Forces, and that many of them may be abroad for the whole period of the war, and that they might become prisoners of war, and so be cut off from their constituencies. All that has been sanctioned quite apart from this Bill. I do not think that on that occasion my right hon. Friend said anything inconsistent with what I am now saying. It must be a matter for the Member. A Member is approached, because the Government or some Department think that he could do some useful work. It is for the Member, in the first instance, to consider whether he will take the appointment or not, and then, if the appointment is abroad, he has to consider whether he can reconcile it with his duty to his constituents, just as every Member who joins the Forces has to consider whether it is consistent with his duty to his constituents to do so. These are matters that can be dealt with, and have to be dealt with in other connections.

Then, following up the procedure, the Prime Minister expresses his willingness to give the certificate—and that may be of value to the Member in reinforcing his own judgment in the matter—that this is a case in which he considers the Member should be free to accept the position without being forced to resign. When one goes further and asks the Prime Minister to certify that it is in the public interest—which, in effect, is what the new Clause proposes—that the Member should remain a Member of the House, it goes beyond the proper function as between the Government on the one hand and the Member on the other. I thought that the picture which my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) drew underlined every objection I have put forward. He imagined the Prime Minister to be considering the Member for Treorchy, and saying, "I do not think he is very much good as a Member of the House."