HC Deb 11 May 1925 vol 183 cc1454-6
Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD (by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to a. memorandum published in an American newspaper, purporting to have been written by him and to give an official outline of the British policy in Europe; and whether he has any statement to make on the subject?


This memorandum appears to be a copy of a document of which another American newspaper gave an account a couple of months ago. On that occasion I said, in answer to a question put to me by the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. J. H. Hudson) that I hoped the hon. Member would excuse me from giving any answer, affirmative or negative, to this question. It is not in the public interest that I should give information as to what memoranda are prepared in the Foreign Office, for my consideration or use, of confidential communications with my colleagues here, or with the other Governments of the Empire. I would add that the policy of His Majesty's Government was explained by me in my speech in this House on the 24th March, on my return from Geneva, and it remains unchanged by subsequent events


I do not want to press the question, but are we to take it that, in so far as this document, published in America, is not in accordance with what the Foreign Secretary announced in this House on the day mentioned, it is inaccurate?


The right hon. Gentleman has put his question in such form that I should have to say how far this document is accurate or not. I deprecate doing that, because I do not think it is in the public interest that any Government should be called upon to explain whether what purports to be a confidential document, and what, if it he such, must have been improperly obtained, is or is not correctly reported; but no statement of the policy of His Majesty's Government which is in contradiction to that which I made in this House has any authority whatever


May I ask whether it is a custom in the Foreign Office for there to be such a leakage of confidential documents? This is the second time within a few months. The Zinovieff letter was the first. No one knows how that got out, or how it came into anyone's possession. Now we are told about a confidential document, which the Foreign Secretary does not dispute, or does not think it in the public interest to dispute, and I should like to ask whether he is satisfied with the good faith of the men in his Department?


Yes, Sir, undoubtedly I am, and 1 am sorry that any aspersion should be even suggested against them

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I also had down a question to the right hon. Gentleman, but I was forestalled. I should like to ask him whether the original document, published, I believe, in the Paris edition of the "Chicago Tribune" about the 6th March, was only a summary, and not a complete document, and whether the complete document which appears in the "New York World" was not circulated by the right hon. Gentleman's Department at about the time of the publication in the "Chicago Tribune" to certain Conservative papers published in London?


It was not circulated by my Department

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

May I ask what was the document that. was circulated in very similar terms by a department of His Majesty's Government to Conservative newspapers?


I am not aware that any document has been circulated to Conservative or other papers