HC Deb 26 February 1919 vol 112 cc1736-8
53. Commander BELLAIRS

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that Mr. Asquith, in the Debate on the Second Reading of the Commissions (Dardanelles and Mesopotamia) Bill, on 26th July, 1916, agreed to the proposal that it should be left to the Commissioners to decide whether or not, after the War, the evidence should be published; and whether he will ask the Commissioners to meet and decide what evidence can be published?


I regret that I can add nothing to the reply which I gave to similar questions on the 13th February.

Commander BELLAIRS

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Prime Minister gave a definite undertaking that the Commission should decide what evidence should be published?


Would the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to the publication of the Second Report of the Dardanelles Commission relating to the military operations?


The answer which I gave on 13th February applies to both. We have only decided that it is not in the public interest to publish the evidence just now, but we shall reconsider the matter. With regard to what my hon. and gallant Friend has said as to the Asquith declaration, I have looked up the Official Report, and I find that all that is said is that the Prime Minister nodded his head. The suggestion was that the Commissioners at the time they were working should have the authority to recommend its publication. There was no suggestion that the Commission should be brought together again long afterwards.

Commander BELLAIRS

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there was a definite question, and that the Official Report, as corrected, says that the Prime Minister assented?


It was suggested that while they were engaged upon their work they should recommend that it should be published after the War, but there was no suggestion that they should be called together again.


Does the right hon. Gentleman imply that when Mr. Asquith nodded his head there was nothing in it?

54. Commander BELLAIRS

asked the Prime Minister whether the reason given of the public interest for the refusal to publish any of the evidence given in the Dardanelles Inquiry also applies to the sets of documents comprising the dispatches dealing with the escape of the "Goeben," the proceedings and evidence of the Troubridge court-martial, and the naval dispatches dealing with the bombardments of the Dardanelles forts in March, 1915?


I shall ask the Departments concerned to consider whether the time has yet come when these documents can be published without detriment to the public interest.