Oral Answers to Questions — Question of Privilege

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th December 1975.

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Photo of Sir John Langford-Holt Sir John Langford-Holt , Shrewsbury 12:00 am, 17th December 1975

I would draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, and ask you as coolly as one can to consider a report which has appeared in The Times and the Daily Mail today of some remarks attributed to Mr. Sidney Weighell. The report talks at the outset about Mr. Weighell's accusing one right hon. Gentleman of being a "bloody liar". This is a matter not for the House—

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman deal with the mattter as shortly as he can? I have a letter which I propose to read to the House.

Photo of Sir John Langford-Holt Sir John Langford-Holt , Shrewsbury

I shall read briefly from the report in the Daily Mail, which says: Mr. Weighell countered by telling a rail-waymen's rally …" He is a bloody liar'.Then Mr. Weighell, in an angry outburst, said that the union's ten sponsored MPs would be told to vote against the Government unless it changed its direction in the rail industry.He said: We shall not hesitate to say to our ten NUR MPs that you will no longer support this Government no matter how critical the situation is.' …Afterwards, Mr. Weighell said his remarks should be taken only to include voting on rail matters and no other aspects of Government policy.They know that when I am talking about railways there is no area in which they can deviate from what we are expecting from them,' he said. In my submission, that is at most a threat and at least an unwarranted intrusion into the rights of hon. Members.

Copy of publication handed in.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I have received today a letter from the General Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen, saying: Regarding the newspaper reports of the meeting at Central Hall held yesterday in which I was quoted as stating that I would 'instruct' NUR sponsored MPs to withhold support from Her Majesty's Government in certain circumstances, I wish to state that no such instructions would ever be issued by myself or any other Officer of this Union.Although I do accept that I used the words quoted, I would wish you to know that I sincerely regret any such inference and I am conscious that the freedom of action of individual Members of Parliament must be respected by all sections of British society. I would wish you to place on record my humble apologies for this discourtesy to the House of Commons and I give an undertaking that Members of Parliament sponsored by this Union are free to act in the traditions of British democracy. I hope that in view of that letter the hon. Gentleman will not pursue the matter.

Photo of Sir John Langford-Holt Sir John Langford-Holt , Shrewsbury

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, in those circumstances and in the light of that letter, I do not seek to proceed with the matter.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman.