§ Sir Herbert Williams
Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise with you a question of Privilege which, although it affects-only one hon. Member in detail, may, in principle, affect all hon. Members. I have not been able to get into touch with the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. W. A. Robinson) but, last night, the "Evening Standard" contained the following statementEconomic sanctions are being imposed by the National Union of Distributive and Allied Workers upon one of the union's M.P.s. Mr. W. A. Robinson, who sits for St. Helens, receives, in addition to his Parliamentary £600 a year, an allowance of £200 a year from the union for expenses and a pension of £450 a year as a retired official of the union. He also gets an allowance for postage and free secretarial assistance. Mr. Robinson has refused the union's request to resign his seat. The union has now informed him of its intention to withdraw the £200 a year allowance and the postage and secretarial expenses. His pension, as a former official of the union, will continue.It seems to me, Sir, that an attempt to coerce a Member of Parliament to take action in his capacity as a Member of Parliament by financial pressure is a breach of the Privilege of this House.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member has raised what obviously, on the face of it, is a somewhat important point which affects us all. Of course, one need not 440 necessarily believe what one reads in the newspaper, and I would not declare that a prima facie case has been made out, unless the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. W. A. Robinson) himself can confirm whether the statement is accurate or not. What I would state is that the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) has raised it at the first opportunity, and therefore, he will not be prejudiced if he raises it again at the earliest possible moment on the fact that it is verified.
§ Earl Winterton
Mr. Speaker, may I ask for a precise clarification of your Ruling? You said, if the hon. Member for St. Helens confirmed it. I imagine that means the hon. Member for St. Helens will merely be asked whether he can confirm it or not, and not whether he agrees with the action taken by my hon. Friend?
§ Mr. Speaker
I would only repeat that we must first wait and see what the hon. Member for St. Helens says. Presumably, whether he agrees or whether he does not, it does not affect the principle.