HC Deb 05 June 1919 vol 116 cc2198-9
47. Brigadier-General CROFT

asked the Prime Minister whether Field-Marshal Lord French has published various confidential documents which he learned of in his official capacity, including his original instructions from Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener and a memorandum which he addressed to the War Cabinet; and, if so, what action it is proposed to take?


I have now had the articles referred to examined in the War Office. The publication of certain of these documents was unauthorised. On the other hand, had permission been sought, it is probable that it would have been accorded, as I am informed that they do not make anything public which is detrimental to the national interest. The whole subject is now in the region of public controversy, and the Government does not contemplate any special action in regard to it.

Brigadier-General CROFT

In view of the fact that proceedings were taken against the "Morning Post" and Colonel Repington and other journals during the War, will the Government make it perfectly clear that in the case of any future disclosures of secrets of this description drastic action will be taken?


I am sure the hon. and gallant Member will not expect me to give expression to any opinions on this subject in answer to a question. The case to which he referred was very different. The War was going on, and it was the view of the Government that harm was being done to the public service.

Commander BELLAIRS

May I take it that just as great liberty will be accordeo to junior officers in these matters as has been accorded to Lord French and Lord Jellicoe?


I cannot make any statement on that subject. The Secretary of State for War explained, and I think in that sense the House agreed, that the position of the field-marshal, though on active service, is quite different, from the War Office point of view, from that of anyone who is really on active service.


Will General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien be allowed to reply to the attacks made on him in these articles by Lord French?


I think the answer I have just given is all that I can say on that subject.