§ 52 and 53. Sir A. MARKHAM
asked the Prime Minister (1) whether he is aware that in August, 1914, the Chancellor of the Duchy, on his own responsibility and initiative, ordered for the use of the Army the heavy howitzers now being used by the Army in France; whether, when the design of these guns had previously been submitted by the manufacturers to the War Office, they were rejected on the ground that very heavy guns were unsuitable for service in the field; whether any repeat orders have been placed other than given by the Chancellor of the Duchy last year; and (2) whether, seeing the operations not only of our Army but of our Allies are crippled, or at any rate hampered, by the failure of the War Office to provide the necessary ammunition for the New Armies, he will say, in view of the loss of life due to this neglect, whether the best possible authority whom he consulted on this question was directly or indirectly responsible for this state of affairs; and whether he can give an assurance that all persons who have proved incompetent and failed in their duty will be dismissed from the public service?
§ 54 and 55. Mr. LYNCH
asked the Prime Minister (1) whether he will give the House 643 an early opportunity of discussing the conduct of the War; and (2) whether he will take steps to appoint a Commissioner to examine into the causes which made it necessary to appoint a Minister of Munitions more than ten months after the beginning of the War?
56 and 57. Sir H. DALZIEL
asked the Prime Minister (1) whether he will give a day to discuss the causes which are responsible for the shortage of munitions of war; and (2) whether Lord Haldane's disclosures in regard to the proceedings of a confidential committee of the Cabinet were made with his authority?
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
In regard to the inquiries contained in these questions, I am of opinion that it is not in the public interest that I should say more than that there is no public information that I can at the moment properly give, and that I am satisfied that, in existing circumstances, any such discussion as is suggested would serve no good purpose, and would be detrimental to the best interests of the nation.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House how the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir H. Dalziel) comes into possession of information not accessible to all Members of the House?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am not sure that that is a question that I could in any circumstances answer; certainly not without notice.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
Are we to understand from the Prime Minister that all people who fail in their office in the public service are to be still retained in that office, whether efficient or not?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The hon. Gentleman is to understand what I have said, which is the considered determination of the Government, and which, I believe, accords with the overwhelming sense of this House and of the country.
Sir H. DALZIEL
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, having regard to 644 the fact that Members of this House are as much interested in the matter raised in my question as the members of the National Liberal Club, he agrees with his colleague that Lord Haldane's statement was inaccurate and incomplete?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider it well that this discussion should be continued in the Press while it is not allowed in Parliament?