HC Deb 14 July 1881 vol 263 cc856-7

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs a Question of which he had given private Notice. It was, Why the Servian Commercial Papers delivered to Members that day were commented upon yesterday in a morning paper, and appeared in full in The Times of that morning? A complaint of the kind had been made more than once, and an assurance given that such a thing should not recur. He would further ask, Whether the hon. Baronet intended to give a translation of the Paper, which was in French, or whether he would follow the example of the President of the Board of Trade, and refuse to give it?


, in reply, said, with regard to the first part of the Question, his hon. Friend was perfectly justified in raising the matter. There was no doubt whatever that an irregularity had occurred; but the Foreign Office was in no sense responsible for the irregularity. The Papers were sent to the Foreign Office on Tuesday night by the printers, and communicated to the newspapers in the usual way. A promise, which was almost invariably observed on these occasions, was given that there would be a distribution in full on Wednesday morning; but that did not take place. When he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) found that the distribution had not taken place, he directed that some of the Foreign Office copies should be sent to the Library, and an ample supply was at the Vote Office at 2 o'clock yesterday. What had occurred had been in violation of a distinct understanding previously arrived at. It had been the subject of full inquiry, and the blame was entirely with the printers. With respect to the second portion of the Question, his hon. Friend himself pressed for an immediate publication of these Papers; and if a translation had taken place there would have been a delay of several days, and, consequently, he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) thought it best to lay them at once on the Table without translation. If, however, there was any document among the Papers which his hon. Friend thought was of general interest to the House, and worth the expense of translation, there would be no objection to do so.


I think it is worth while to have a translation.