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 Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Bethnal Green and Stepney 12:00 am, 6th June 1984

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that the House is grateful to you for that amplification of yesterday's ruling in response to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton). A distinction has been drawn about context. Although the whole House accepts that you have the ultimate and proper authority for deciding whether the context rules out the use of a particular word, other hon. Members have the right to disagree with you. Nevertheless, hon. Members accept your authority on that matter.

Yesterday, hon. Members, especially Labour Members, were greatly and genuinely disturbed by the apparent, though now amended, statement from the Chair that the use of the word Fascist was initially unparliamentary. We were concerned because, in the whole of the 40 years since we found ourselves at war with the Fascist states, during which time unparliamentary words were listed in "Erskine May", the word Fascist was never ruled unparliamentary.

There are occasions—this is an important point—when the use of the word Fascist is not an attack on the honour of a Member of Parliament. There may be occasions when it is a reasonable description of an hon. Member's beliefs and values. I am sure that, although we fully understand that the context is all, you have drawn a distinction that will go a long way towards satisfying the doubts that were expressed yesterday.