With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to make a personal statement.
Yesterday, in Committee, I allowed the hon. and learned Member for Crewe (Mr. Scholefield Allen) to make a personal statement. I ought to have known that personal statements are made in the House only, and only after being submitted to you, Sir. I wish, therefore, to express my very sincere regret to the House for having allowed what was entirely out of order.
May I ask for your help and advice, Mr. Speaker? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I wonder whether, on this occasion, Her Majesty's Government will hear me in silence. I do not think that any other hon. Member within living memory has been placed in the position in which I am placed today. Ten minutes before I entered the Chamber yesterday, the hon. and learned Member for Crewe (Mr. Scholefield Allen) came to me and said that he would be making a personal statement which affected me. He did not give me a copy, and, when he came in, he delivered a personal—
Order. I hear what the hon. and gallant Gentleman says. I realise the difficulty, and I have been think- ing about it. But, with respect, he must not now, in asking for my guidance, contrive to get into criticism of another Member. That really must not be done.
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I do not want to criticise him. I am just putting my position. I am in a very unhappy position. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] Yes. What was said by the hon. and learned Gentleman—this is the point—will be in all the local newspapers in Cheshire. The statement which he made, which affected me, was not true, and, on top of that, the whole truth was carefully omitted.
Order. The hon. and gallant Gentleman must remember my warning; otherwise, we shall get into a position more complicated than the one we are in now. I do not know whether I can help him. I have been thinking about possible remedies in these circumstances. I can think of only two. One would be that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should, if he wished it, table a further Motion. The other would be that he would submit to me a personal statement of his, and I should consider it. I should have to see what was in it before I could consider what I could allow. But beyond those two, I have not been able to devise any method which would help the hon. and gallant Gentleman in these circumstances.
Would not this be a solution to the problem, Mr. Speaker? The personal statement made by the hon. and learned Member for Crewe (Mr. Scholefield Allen) having now been stated to have been out of order, would it not be right for it to be expunged from the record? If that is correct, what steps are open to the House to expunge it from the record?
The noble Lord will understand at once if he will contemplate the difficulties attached to expunging words from HANSARD, which is widely distributed already in all sorts of places. In fact, the process is not known to the practice of the House. It is different, of course, in relation to the Journal, but there is no machinery for doing what the noble Lord has in mind.