HL Deb 24 January 1963 vol 246 cc146-9

2.45 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will show cause why they should not follow the Government of the United States of America in issuing a deportation order against one Charles Doyle, alleged Communist leader of the Electrical Trades Union shop stewards, as an undesirable, on the grounds, inter alia, that he has imperilled and is continuing to imperil the country's electricity supply.]


My Lords, Mr. Doyle is a British subject, born in this country. No question of deporting him can therefore arise.


My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his reply, which, of course, is not altogether unexpected. My question was, in fact, a bow drawn at a venture, but it seemed a fair assumption that Mr. Doyle might conceivably be Irish, in which case no difficulty would have presented itself. The situation is extremely grave and, with your Lordships' indulgence for one moment, I should like to ask the noble Earl two very brief supplementaries.

In the first place would he not agree, after his long and distinguished service in Washington, that the United States Government are the last people to deport a man without the most excellent reasons for doing so and that they must undoubtedly have done so because this man is a well-known Communist who will stop at nothing? The second question I should like to ask the noble Earl is whether he can give any assurance to the House, and through the House to the country, that he and his Government colleagues, who I gather discussed the matter this morning, will watch the situation very carefully (they are always watching very carefully, of course) concerning, in particular, the National Power Workers' Shop Stewards' Committee? Finally, may I invite the attention to this matter, not so much of his right honourable friend, but of Her Majesty's Attorney General, so that, if necessary, action can be taken at the earliest possible moment to proscribe this body?


My Lords, does the noble Lord not think it would be better if, when a noble Lord puts a Question of this character on the Order Paper, he made some inquiries about the facts? If Mr. Doyle is a British citizen that is the end of it. The fact is that the United States deported him; and they were entirely within their rights because he is not an American citizen. Is it not the case that, in general, people of Irish origin are given the vote if resident with a qualify- ing period in this country? Does the noble Lord not think it bad to try to go back to the days of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, who were punished by deportation to Australia for being trade unionists? Is this not a matter for trade unionists to deal with (and I should be very pleased to support them if they did) rather than the Government's going, in for the purpose of managing the trade union's business.


My Lords, perhaps I should answer the two questions of the noble Lord, Lord Morris. The noble Lord, the former Home Secretary, who has just spoken, has, I think, answered the first question, and I also think that it would be wrong for me to comment on the reasons which led the American authorities to take the action they did. As regards his second question, I feel that I should confine myself to saying that it will receive, as it has always received, the very close attention of Her Majesty's Government.


My Lords, would it not be well for us all in either House of Parliament to remember that we are jealous of our privileges and that we are pretty free to draw attention to any breach of our privileges? Ought we not therefore—as I hope the Government will agree—to be very careful what Questions we put on the Paper to present to this House without the Member who is putting a Question down knowing exactly what the situation is with regard to the person he names personally before the House?


My Lords, I think it is generally recognised in both Houses of Parliament that the Member who puts down a Question on the Paper is responsible for any statements which it contains. And I, of course, agree also—and it is generally agreed in both Houses—that it is the duty of Members of both Houses to take reasonable care to ascertain the facts before stating them in a Parliamentary Question.


My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that if the mere Possession of Gaelic name were grounds for deportation he himself might be deemed liable to be sent back to Scotland?


My Lords, I believe that there are more Gaelic names in the London telephone directory than in most Scottish towns.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl, in the light of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, whether it is not the function of a Government to govern? And if an unofficial body of men disrupt the country and the people, surely it is up to the Government to govern?


My Lords, that might well be so, but it is not the duty of the Government to correct the Questions which are placed on the Paper by private Members.