HC Deb 14 March 1907 vol 171 cc217-8
MR. BRIDGEMAN (Shropshire, Owestry)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that correspondence between this country and Canada in reference to the Colonial Conference was published in Canada on 18th February, but was not ciculated to Members of this House till after the debate on the Colonial Office Vote on Account on 11th March, and that a despatch from Mr. Deak in to Lord Elgin of 4th December, relative to the New Hebrides Convention, was published in Australia on 8th March, and has not yet been published in England; and if there is any reason why such correspondence should not be published as soon in this country as in the Colonies; and if there was any sufficient reason for withholding the correspondence above referred to until after the debate on 11th March.


The publication in the Colonies of any correspondence with the Secretary of State not of a confidential character rests entirely with the Colonial Governments concerned. The Secretary of State was not aware until a few days ago when his attention was drawn to statements which appeared in the Press that the two despatches referred to by the hon. Member had been published in Canada and Australia respectively. The delay in publishing here the Canadian despatch arose from the necessity of consulting the Colonial Governments, as I explained in the Answer which I gave on the 20th February to a Question by the honss Member for Leicester,†before including in the Paper the final despatch of the Secretary of State. The Australian despatch can be published as soon as I receive a communication which is on its way from the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, and which should form part of any published correspondence.

In reply to a further Question,

THE SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Edward Grey, Northumberland, Berwick) said

It is always the desire of the Secretary of State to give the House the earliest possible information.