HC Deb 31 May 1849 vol 105 cc1008-9

, seeing the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonics in his place, wished to put a question to him. The papers relating to Canada which were placed in the hands of hon. Members only in the course of yesterday, had appeared in the Times newspaper of Saturday last. His question was, whether any person connected with the Colonial Office had received permission to communicate the documents in question to the Times, before they were placed in the hands of Members of this House? He was induced to put this question also by the fact that on a previous occasion papers of a similar character had appeared in the Times newspaper before they were presented to Members of the House.


was much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for putting the question. The papers relating to Canada—he spoke now of the first set—had been laid before the House in a printed state, and had been delivered to hon. Members next morning. On the second occasion it was intended that the same course should be pursued; but, upon inquiry, he found that the papers had not the next day been delivered to hon. Members, wholly and solely on account of the intervention of the holidays. Hon. Members knew that after any papers had been laid by the Colonial Office before the House, all control over them was lost by by the department in question. He had only to add, that no instructions had been given to favour any particular newspaper. On the first occasion several applications had been made to him after the papers had been laid before the House by parties representing the press for copies. It was of essential importance that the contents of the documents should be made known to the public as soon as possible, and therefore the request was in every instance granted. One application only had not been complied with, simply because it had been made at so late an hour of the evening that it was out of his (Mr. Hawes') power to comply with the request. On occasions of this kind in question, he believed that it was greatly for the advantage of any Government that the public should be made acquainted, through the press, with the contents of official despatches. Subject dropped.

Subject dropped.

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