Unparliamentary Expressions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th June 1984.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife 12:00 am, 6th June 1984

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall yesterday, Mr. Speaker, the exchanges on the use of the word Fascist by Opposition Members to describe certain Government supporters. It would be improper for me and out of order to challenge your ruling or rulings on that issue, but I think that there was an element of confusion in the rulings which you gave. In column 166 you said: we all know that the word Fascist has a connotation here which is not pleasing. The presumption of that remark is that there might be another connotation where it would be pleasing.

Later, in column 167, Mr. Speaker, you said: I hope that we shall not hear this phrase"— I presume that you meant "this word"— used in this House. There was an air of finality about that. That suggested that in no connotation would we be able to use the word.

In column 168, in response to a representation from my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short), you conceded that there are Fascist parties that contest elections but they have not been elected to this House. It is true that they have not been elected under that name.

It seems that in the three exchanges to which I have referred there was an element of confusion. At one stage there was an element of rigidity and at another an element of flexibility. There was the concession that Fascist is a serious political term." —[Official Report, 5 June 1984; Vol. 61, c.166–68.]— that was the expression used by my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood—and that Fascists stand for Parliament. I have looked up the word "Fascist" in the Oxford English Dictionary. It describes a Fascist as a person of right-wing authoritarian views. That seems to be an accurate description of a large majority of Conservative Members. I looked up further the definition in Webster's Third New International Dictionary. It describes Fascism, which I presume is the philosophy that is supported by Fascists, as any program for setting up a centralized autocratic national regime". That fits this Government's programme like a glove.

I have been in this place for a fairly long time, and in my view the House is in danger of becoming far too sensitive in its use of the English language. Compared with earlier days we are like a namby-pamby church tea party. It is time that we stopped that. There should be, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday, a degree of flexibility and much greater liberality in the use of our rich language in the House.