HC Deb 26 March 1900 vol 81 cc309-10

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Ad- miralty can he explain what are the regulations or customs affecting the publication of despatches from naval officers describing the proceedings of naval brigades when acting ashore under the orders and as part of the force of a military general; is the permission of such general required before the Admiralty is at liberty to publish such despatches; is the permission of the Secretary of State for War also required; and, in the case of the naval despatches describing the part taken by the Naval Brigade in the Battle of Graspan, was it necessary to obtain the permission to publish those despatches of General Lord Methuen alone or any other permission besides; and if so, will he state when the necessary permission was applied for by the Admiralty, and why it has been so long delayed, seeing that the military despatches were published nearly two months ago.

The FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square

There are no regulations that affect the publication of naval despatches from naval officers describing the proceedings of naval brigades when acting ashore with military forces. The custom has been that reports from naval officers under such circumstances have been sent in duplicate, one to the officer in chief command of the army with which the naval brigade was serving, the other to the Commander-in-Chief on the station to which the ship from which the naval brigade was taken was attached. The permission of the general to publish such reports is not required, but clearly he ought to see them, and to have the opportunity of commenting on them if he saw occasion to do so. In reply to the third question, the term "permission" should not apply to the case. But the Admiralty would not publish reports relating to the conduct of the war, for which the Secretary of State is responsible, without giving him the opportunity of expressing his opinion. In the case of the report describing the Battle of Graspan it appeared doubtful whether a duplicate had been sent to Lord Methuen, as ought to have been done, and I am still uncertain whether Lord Methuen has seen it; but I have now arranged, after consultation with the Secretary of State for War, that these reports shall be published in the next Gazette.