HC Deb 25 March 1887 vol 312 cc1473-4

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether he will consider the expression of Australian opinion contained in Reuter's telegram from Melbourne, published in yesterday's Times, and make public the proceedings of the Colonial Conference, thus taking the public into its confidence from the outset; and, whether any other Members of the Government, beside the Colonial Minister, will take part in the Conference?


I am glad that the hon. Baronet has asked this Question, as there seems to be some misunderstanding as to the matters referred to. It was clearly explained in my Predecessor's Circular Despatch inviting the Conference that Secrecy must continue to be observed with regard to many of the defensive measures, the consideration of which is one of the principal objects of the meeting of Colonial Representatives in this country. Further, it is not desirable that proposals and tenders for mail services and telegraphic communications and the discussion of them should be prematurely made public. And it is no less important that questions bearing upon the relations of this country with Foreign Powers should, if they are to be freely discussed, be considered without the necessary publication of all the observations that may be made and all the information that may be given. It is intended to admit reporters on the opening day of the Conference; but on subsequent days two official reporters only will be present. But it is proposed to furnish the papers with a précis of the proceedings of each day. As I have before stated, the Prime Minister and other Members of the Government will be present at the opening; and Mem- bers of the Government will attend when the Conference have under discussion matters affecting their Departments.