HC Deb 15 May 1950 vol 475 cc836-8

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Sir W. SMITHERS:

24. To ask the Attorney-General if he will state the results of the inquiries made by Scotland Yard into corrupt practices involving his Department's disposal boards.

Sir W. Smithers

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Before asking this Question, may I point out that it was originally put down to the Minister of Supply? The complaint is not against the officials of the Attorney-General's office, but against the Ministry of Supply. If I shall embarrass the right hon. and learned Gentleman and he would like me to postpone the Question for a week, I will gladly do so.

The Attorney-General

I am obliged to the hon. Member. I think it right to preface my answer by pointing out that the Question does not involve my Department, which has no disposal boards, but involves the Ministry of Supply. I have, however, been asked to reply to it.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to a matter which has been the subject of unauthorised statements in the Press recently. In the course of police inquiries into allegations of various criminal offences which were brought to my notice some considerable time ago, further allegations were made that several persons who were formerly but are not now officials of the Ministry of Supply had been guilty of corrupt practices in the years 1946 and 1947. Police inquiries into those allegations are still proceeding.

Sir W. Smithers

May I ask whether the principle of Government retrospective legislation would apply to these people, and also has the right hon. and learned Gentleman seen a report of the remarks of a certain magistrate in a court of summary jurisdiction in London?

Mr. Mikardo

Is it not obvious from the original answer that the amount of publicity and fuss there has been over this is totally disproportionate to the matter; and does not my right hon. and learned Friend think that there would have been no such publicity and no Question from any hon. Gentleman opposite in any case—and there are many—in which this sort of thing happens in private industry.

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