Validation of Elections' Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 25 Gorffennaf 1955.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham 12:00, 25 Gorffennaf 1955

It was not my good fortune to be present when my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) made the speech on Second Reading to which he has just referred, and that was why he was not also criticised by myself for having made it. I entirely agree with him that it is still in the power of the House to make any criticism it wishes of the work of a Select Committee. I merely suggest that the work of the House itself is facilitated if criticisms are based on an appreciation of what the Select Committee was intended to do and what, in fact, it did. The criticisms of my hon. and gallant Friend on this occasion were not so based.

It was the purpose of this Select Committee, as we understood it, to ascertain whether the persons referred to in this Bill were holding offices of profit at the time of their election, and, when it had ascertained that matter, also to decide whether it ought to make any recommendations to the House with regard to the validation of their election or indemnifying them against any penalties which they might have incurred. That was the purpose of the Select Committee, and I submit that it was important that it should fulfil that purpose as speedily as possible, because it would be most inconvenient to the hon. Members concerned and to the House itself if there were any unnecessary delay. Had that not been so, and had there been plenty of time, we should have been very happy to inquire into many other matters in which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brixton expressed interest.

There was the fascinating point which came up in evidence about the lunch between Mr. George and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works. I must confess, after what we have heard about that, that it seems to me that an invitation to luncheon from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works will be regarded with as much alarm in future as in the past was an invitation to take wine with Lucrezia Borgia.

All these matters, fascinating as they might have been, would not have helped the Select Committee to decide the questions which it was required by this House to decide, and I invite my hon. and gallant Friend to consider that if we had done those things which he regretted we had not done, we should, in fact, have come no nearer at all by a fraction of an inch towards deciding the question which this House asked us to decide, and we should not have obtained any more information that was in any way relevant to that purpose. I submit that we should not have done so. We should have been inflicting upon the gentlemen concerned and upon this House an unnecessary delay if we had adopted any of the advice which my hon. and gallant Friend wished to give us.

It seems to me, therefore, that the House may properly conclude that the Report of the Select Committee on which this Bill is based was a report of the kind which the House wished to have when it set up the Select Committee, and that we can, without hesitation, proceed with the Third Reading of the Bill.