§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Government have had under consideration the question whether the proceedings of the Commission of
† See 505.
920 Inquiry into the conduct of the late war should be held in secret or should be open to the public; and whether, in view of the dissatisfaction at the withholding from public knowledge the proceedings of that Commission, he will take any, and, if so, what steps to secure the immediate publicity of the evidence produced before this Commission.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
The hon. Member knows that the Royal Commission is not under the control of the Government; but I have referred the Question of the hon. Member to the Secretary of the Commission, and from him I have received the following report—The note as to evidence is not officially prepared by the Commission or reviewed by the witnesses. It is furnished to the Press by the Secretary to the Commission, who is responsible for its contents. The Commission accept full responsibility for the procedure adopted by them, and would be prepared to show cause for it in their Report. They have, however, considered it inadvisable to present the evidence until the whole case is complete, but they recognise the natural anxiety for fuller information and the desirability of completing the inquiry as soon as practicable. They cannot as yet state definite dates, but they are using every endeavour to prevent undue delay.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I cannot go behind the backs of the Commissioners, and I am sure the House would not wish me to do so. The Commission is absolutely responsible for its own proceedings; and if the hon. Member asks me whether the procedure is wise or unwise, I may say that I think it is extremely wise.