Personal Statement

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Walthamstow West 12:00 am, 31st July 1952

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

In the course of his speech yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), no doubt through inadvertence, made statements purporting to describe actions taken by himself in discussing matters of policy with myself and others during the period when he was a member of the Labour Government.

There is, of course, a well established rule inhibiting members of a Government from revealing what passes either in Cabinet or in confidential discussion. The reason for this is obvious. Unless it is observed, confidence between colleagues is impossible. If I were to affirm or deny the accuracy of my right hon. Friend's statements, I should commit precisely the same error to which I am now drawing attention. This I am not prepared to do. I make this statement lest my silence should be misconstrued.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Order. I would call attention to the fact that this is a personal statement by the right hon. Gentleman and it cannot be debated or discussed.

Photo of Mr Ellis Smith Mr Ellis Smith , Stoke-on-Trent South

I recognise that, Sir, and I appreciate it. But there are the rights of others. I wish to ask whether my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was informed that the statement was to be made?

Hon. Members:

Why is he not here?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Order. We cannot have a discussion on this matter.

Later

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I understand that the Leader of the Opposition has made a statement relating to statements I made yesterday, and has told the House that I received an intimation from him that he was going to make this statement. I am quite certain that my right hon. Friend was convinced he had done so, but no intimation has reached me.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Walthamstow West

As soon as I decided to raise the matter, I sent a note to my right hon. Friend telling him that I intended to do so.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

All I can say is—and I am certain that my right hon. Friend will accept this statement in as good faith as I am quite certain he is making his statement—that no such intimation has yet reached me.