19 JULY 1957, Page 43

Question Time

ce'oP d'e'tat having established in office a 'Government of all the talents,' a tiresome Fraser c"cus challenges• the authority by which telephone conversations between Sir Robert r iaserBaBnc.

Sidney Bernstein have been intercepted by the police and transcripts furnished to t te usual prize was offered for a statement to be made after Questions by the Home Secretary (Mr. John Gordon, Mr. Tom Driberg, Mr. Noel Coward or Mr. Malcolm Muggeridge).

M°st popular candidate was Mr. Coward, Muggeridge. Perha- tun. Ps because he gave competitors an oppor- so„,'Y to break into verse, an opportunity which per cent. of his sponsors took. This triloadstel their task a good deal harder when it came nor' gg. esting a statement in the House. I am in ,,Oing to deny that speeches have been made nn'ue House in verse; Sir Alan Herbert has made (be; but a routine parody of 'Sigh No More' Et• Peddy) or 'Any Little Fish' (James S. to"getl), though it may conceivably be adequate la express the competitor's ideas about telephone- )ial)13,,i118, can hardly hope to suggest the colli- de Ruing figure of Mr. Coward at the Treasury sPateh-box. David Butler, however, with original verse of Cowardesque stamp, gets somewhere, in 'Ile gets my recommendation for a prize. To... Ir. • the _"1 Driberg and John Gordon exactly split h remaining votes. John Gordon's Sunday Es- ,ress eau lanner is not hard to imitate. V. Langton jls nuances beautifully, Sir I almost dis- as if "A.' him for speaking of Sir Robert Fraser time .1,1e Were Sir Fancis Richard Fraser, one- chii,,nouse Physician to the Hospital for Sick mnro. Almost : but then there stirred in my Cjor,, some recollection of the occasion when Mr. that'„uo was wrongly advised by his researcher Pete Commander Peter Agnew, MP (now Sir cidedr)' was the proprietor of Punch, and I de- insjeadt° recommend V. Langton for a prize Hardly Y anyone was able to reproduce the tre40,41°Ils qualitwith, oing like a stream of black prat': Perfumed incense, of Tom Driberg's pape..rY. Perhaps it is because his personality on Rent.' iiI1nd his personality on his feet are so diver- tried; • W- R. Foot was the best of those that

to him and to his fellows I apologise for

fa„a,gine, lies in the combination of the various My recommendations for prizes are: three se"°rs involved, the blending, as it were, of Home guineas to V. Langton for his John Gordon; two Driberg-ness with Noel Coward-ncss or Tom guineas to David Butler for his Noel Coward, t. u.er8-ness, while making a comment on wire- even though he forgot the dixresis on the e; and ppinsa guinea to J. Aitken for his Malcolm PRIZES (v. LANGTON)

Mr. John Gordon Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Opposition is indulging in one of its periodic emotional whip-ups, this time over an innocent, though certainly ill-advised, 'listen-in' by the police, who, I imagine, had the wrong num- bers anyway, but, oh dear, how Hon. Members opposite do squeal! I cock my ear for a word of protest from either of the gentlemen who held the telephonic conversation in question, but the only sound I hear is that of distant laughter. For what are the facts?

The gentlemen concerned are Mr. Sidney Bern- stein and Sir Robert Fraser, both well-known per- sonalities in totally different spheres. Sir Robert Fraser. distinguished in all branches of Medicine, was at one time House Physician of the Sick Children's Hospital. Mr. Bernstein was, in 1940. -Film Adviser to the Ministry of Information and became Chairman of Granada Theatres, Limited. And that word 'Theatres' is their only conceivable point of common interest. I would respectfully sug- gest to Hon. Members opposite that the overhearing by the police of a conversation, presumably on the respective merits of 'theatres' as known to hospitals and as understood by film-goers, is merely an ill- advised action of no interest to anyone.


(Enter the Home Secretary, Mr. Noel Coward)

My dears, You've no idea what qualms, What agonies and fears, What panics and alarms Beset me When I discovered that these chaps were out to get me.

If you'd listen I should like To monopolise the mike

And tell you everything— Yes, everything, . . .

In the Lobby with a razor (So I'm told) is Bobby Fraser, While a bullet's marked for me With regards from Sidney B. . . And it isn't complimentary On one's debut Parliamentary To face such an opposition, You'll agree.

From my constitutional smattering I find it most unflattering To see myself so neatly, So calmly and completely Beleaguered, so I'll do What l'm supposed to do, I'll hid you all adieu And resign!

(To cheers, he is shouldered and made Prime Minister.) ArricEN) Mr. Malcolm Muggeridge As many of you know, I am an anarchist. I react to such an order as 'Cross here' by walking on a few yards and crossing there. But the world is not ready for anarchy, when no external code of law will be needed, because men's hearts guide them in the right direction. Until we reach this Utopia, the State must have power to judge and restrain those whose ac- tivities are harmful to the community.

The question before us today is into what cup- boards can it demand the right of entry if it suspects them of concealing skeletons; and what means can it use to enforce its rights. We have all grown up with prep. school ideas about tale-telling and eaves- dropping. Such things are 'not done' by decent people. But it is worth considering that disaster could in many cases have been avoided if someone had sneaked on a sneak, and revealed his dishonourable intentions. In the case with which we are dealing I have authorised the police to sneak, and to reveal to the BBC the intrigues of their rivals. Without shame or apology I acknowledge my responsibility.