Orders of the Day — European Communities Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th May 1972.

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Photo of Mr Michael Foot Mr Michael Foot , Ebbw Vale 12:00 am, 24th May 1972

The Committee cannot be satisfied with the statement the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just made. I hope he will undertake to make a statement, either later in our proceedings today, although we are under great difficulties because of the guillotine and the time that is taken up, or in the House after the business tomorrow, on this subject of the documents and the alterations. It appears that a very serious matter has arisen on which the Government must make a statement.

Erskine May, on page 138, which deals with abstracting or altering documents presented to the House, quoting a case some years ago, states: 'That it is highly criminal, and a breach of the privilege of this House for any person whatever to make any alterations in papers or accounts presented to this House, without the special order of the House'. Very serious questions are raised. I trust that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, now that he has heard the facts and realises the seriousness of the matter, will not dismiss it by saying that the matters dealt with in these alterations are of small importance, or, as I think he corrected himself, that some of the matters are of small importance, presuming to indicate that others were important. I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman will give an undertaking that he will make a statement to the House on this matter tomorrow. We cannot deal with the matter now as we are under the guillotine, but I hope he will undertake to make a statement about the production of these documents and the questions which have been raised when he has had an opportunity to look at the matter.