HC Deb 14 February 1911 vol 21 cc863-4

asked whether the book entitled "Compulsory Service," written by General Sir Ian Hamilton and prefaced by an introduction by the Secretary of State for War, is in any sense an official work, or whether it is to be considered as merely expressing the personal views of the writers; and whether the permission granted to General Sir Ian Hamilton to publicly express his opinions upon controversial questions of military organisation will be extended to other officers on the active list who may hold views divergent from his and who may also wish to lay them before the country?


The work in question is not an official publication. It was originally prepared by Sir Ian Hamilton as a memorandum containing his personal views for my private information, and subsequently I decided, with his concurrence, that it would be in the public interest to have the document published. As regards the last part of the question, this matter is governed by the King's Regulations, by which sanction may be given to an officer on the active list to make a communication to the Press if he previously submits the manuscript to the War Office for approval.


Is it in the public interest to take exceptional steps to publish ex parte statements on a highly controversial question while making it practically impossible for the other side of the case to be stated by officers of equal rank?


I am absolutely certain that the amount of fiction abroad and in various works on this subject makes it enormously desirable that the facts should be placed before the public.


Do the other officers on the Army Council hold the same view as the late Adjutant-General?


Even if I knew I should not answer the question unless with their consent, but I have abstained from endeavouring to interrogate the consciences of the people in their private capacity.