With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a personal statement.
At col. 1146 of yesterday's OFFICIAL REPORT, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade quoted a statement as coming from a speech by me. The speech in question was delivered on 25th May last at Hanwell, and the full text was issued to the Press at the time.
The quotation given to the House yesterday consists of a combination of three distinct passages. The first two were separated in the original by three sentences not quoted. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The third passage occurred about 350 words later—
Mr. Speaker, with permission I should also like to make a statement, because it has been implied that I distorted what the right hon. Gentleman said.
I quoted from a report, which I had in front of me, from the Daily Telegraph. This report, as far as I know, has not been challenged or disputed. I did not wish to weary the House by quoting it in full, but I quoted a continuous passage about "that great national totem, the pound sterling".
I did not then quote the next three sentences, although they strongly supported my argument and were concerned with the £ sterling and economic policy nor, indeed, the succeeding sentence about "rushing hither and thither containing Communism".
I quoted a concluding sentence which, to any objective reader, appeared to be a summary of the entire argument. No one who reads the whole report can possibly believe that I in any way distorted the right hon. Gentleman.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If I may venture to say so, during my long experience in this House I cannot recall any occasion when an hon. or right hon. Member had the right from the Dispatch Box on the Opposition side to seek the permission of the House to have any statement made by him in a speech corrected. If that is to be the position in future, may I ask for your permission so that many speeches that I have made in the past which have been distorted by the Opposition can be corrected?
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman, like every other right hon. and hon. Gentleman in the House, has made speeches which he wished to be corrected. This was not the issue. Personal statements are not debatable.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As personal statements, as you have ruled, are not debatable, has not the situation been changed by the fact that when a personal statement has been made it is then followed by another statement in reference to the original personal statement?
With respect, the hon. Gentleman must read his Erskine May. The Ruling in Erskine May is that if another Member is involved in the personal statement he is generally allowed to give his own view of the matter and say whether he accepts it or not. There is no new order today.