19 MARCH 1943, Page 13


SIR,—I am obliged to Mr. Weinstein for calling my attention to the official report of the incident in the House of Commons on February loth to which I made reference in my letter to The Spectator of March 5th. If Mr. Weinstein will be good enough to refer to the Daily Telegraph of February nth he will read the following account of the incident by the usually scrupulously fair Parliamentary reporter of that paper:

Mr. Pickthorn (Cons.) the senior member for Cambridge University, was arguing that powers such as those in Regulation 18b should he used with a minimum of danger to constitutional liberties and human happiness, when he was interrupted from the Socialist benches. This led him to complain of " farmyard noisemongers opposite," which drew the retort from a Socialist, " Get away, you dirty monkey." "He is an ignorant upstart," chimed in Mr. Gallacher (Corn.).

I agree that the two accounts differ. It would appear that Mr. Pickthorn was gentlemanly enough to apologise for a remark made under provocation, but that no apology was forthcoming from the unnamed member whose paiticularly offensive interruption was apparently too bad to find its way into Hansard.

I do not wish to magnify the incident, but I have myself witnessed similar scenes, which have caused me to deplore a tendency on the part of some of our representatives to forget that the British Houses of Parlia- ment should be the model of a democratic and deliberative Assembly ; and that such exhibitions are not merely " bad form," but are calculated to make the Nazis laugh.

Of course, " interruptions " are as old as the House itself and are not confined to the Socialist benches ; but I suggest that there are limits, which it would appear were plainly transgressed in the incident to which

I ventured to call attention.—Yours sincerely, REGINALD L. SWABY. 7 Huddlestone Road, Willesden Green, N.W. 2.