HC Deb 04 August 1888 vol 329 cc1559-61
SIR HENRY JAMES (Lancashire, Bury)

I have to ask the permission of the House to allow me to make a short statement with regard to a subject affecting the Rules and practice of the House. In several newspapers this morning, and especially in The Times newspaper, there appears a statement as to the contents of the Report of the Committee on the Hyderabad-Deccan Mining Company. That Report has not yet been laid upon the Table of the House; but, still, the paragraphs to which I have referred state with some detail what the contents of that Report are. As far as I can judge, the writer who communicated the contents of these paragraphs to the newspapers, who is said to be a person connected with a Press Agency, must have obtained a copy—probably the original draft copy of the Indian. Report—at a stage and time when that Report had not approached completion, scarcely had been considered, and was simply a tentative draft Report. While I cannot, for a moment, say what that Report is, or may be likely to be, it is, I think, my duty to say that the statements as to the contents of that Report which appears in the newspapers are not only insufficient, but are misleading, fallacious, and in many respects entirely erroneous. I do not think that at this stage I ought to suggest any course that should be taken to meet the evil which has been so flagrantly displayed, as I have not yet had an opportunity of consulting with my Colleagues; but I am sure they will share with me the great regret that I feel that such a course should have been taken in regard to the Report to which I am referring. I wish to say, as distinctly and as emphatically as I can, that the statements connected with the Company are false and erroneous; because it happens in this particular instance that the duties of the Committee were to inquire into the affairs of a Company, the shares of which have been largely dealt with—speculatively dealt with—and, I believe, are still being largely dealt with on the Stock Exchange; and it appears to me that if the Report I refer to is not at once contradicted, the result will be—and it may be that is the result which is desired—that the credulous and the unwary will suffer, and that those who do not possess those qualities will benefit.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

said, he hoped the Government would avail themselves of the opportunity that would be afforded them in the Bill that had come down from the Lords with regard to the Newspaper Law of Libel to insert a clause that would in the future put a stop to such practices as had been brought before the House by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.


took the earliest opportunity of asking whether, in regard to the Official Secrets Bill, the Government would take into consideration the question of dealing with not only with those who stole public information, but with the receivers of that stolen information?

MR. T. D. SULLIVAN (Dublin, College Green)

asked, whether offences of this sort were not constantly being committed by The Times newspaper; and whether it was not the habit of that journal to get information of this kind which was the result of thefts and forgeries?


It is not possible for me to give a direct answer to the Question of the hon. and learned Member for Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy); but I at once take the opportunity of saying that these occurrences have been of late so frequent that it will be the bounden duty of the Government to consider what measures should be adopted to put a stop to them.