Parliamentary Debate on Piltdown

House of Commons Official Report Session 1953-54

[527] Brigadier Clarke: Has the attention of my right hon. Friend been drawn to the Motion standing in the name of myself and other of my hon. Friends relating to the Piltdown Man hoax?

Mr. Crookshank: Yes, Sir–

Mr. Bowles: On a point of order. The terms of this Motion are:

"That this House has no confidence in the trustees of the British Museum, other than the Speaker of the House of Commons, because of the tardiness of their discovery that the skull of the Piltdown Man is a partial fake."

I can understand your name being left out of this Motion, Mr. Speaker, but surely it is not in order to attack Members of another House. I understand that the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop of Canterbury are both trustees of this Museum.

Mr. Speaker: My attention has recently been drawn to this matter. I am not sure how serious the Motion is. I should like to consider it. Speaking for my statutory co-trustees, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chancellor, I [528] am sure that they, like myself, have many other things to do besides examining the authenticity of a lot of old bones.

Mr. Crookshank: Perhaps I may now reply to my hon. and gallant Friend's question. I was going to say that it is a very awkward question, because my predecessor, the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) is a trustee and I am, myself, ex officio. As I told the House two years ago, we had quite enough skeletons to examine when we came into office without my yet having found time to extend my researches into skulls.

Mr. Beswick: May I ask the Leader of the House what has happened to the Dentists' Bill?

Mr. Crookshank: I have no announcement to make beyond the fact that it is not a fake.

Brigadier Clarke: I beg to ask leave to withdraw my name from the Motion relating to the Piltdown Man, in view of the excellent answer which I have received.