§ MR. D. A. THOMAS
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he will now consider the desirability of making public the document relating to a programme which included preferential tariffs and taxation of food, and which was submitted to the Cabinet in August last, when the document, since published, and entitled Economic Notes on Insular Free Trade, was also under consideration.
§ MR. LAMBERT
At the same time may I ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, in view of the fact that reference has been made and apparent misunderstanding arisen as to the purport of a statement circulated to Cabinet Ministers by the Prime Minister last autumn, he will lay that expression of his views upon the Table of the House.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I do not think any misconception with regard to this Paper has been fallen into by any Gentleman who has read it, and if such misconception exists it can, I am convinced, be completely removed by a second perusal. But with regard to the propriety of publishing it, I would remind the House—those Members who have sat in Cabinets will not require to be reminded—that Cabinet memoranda are as much part of ordinary Cabinet proceedings as are the conversations round the Table. They are, in fact, fragments of that conversation, and are, indeed, of a private character. I do not think that, in the interests of Cabinet government, I could on this occasion, or on any other, assent to the publication 996 of what are part of our confidential intercommunications.
§ MR. JOHN ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that one of his colleagues in another place has referred specifically to this document?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No colleague of mine has communicated the Paper to the public. If it was referred to it was as I have referred to it, being compelled to do so by the fact of the matter being touched upon by a noble friend.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are several precedents for the production of Cabinet memoranda when those Cabinet memoranda have become the subject of controversial discussion in both Houses or in either House of Parliament.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It is new to me if there are. Perhaps the hon. Member will give me the reference.