HC Deb 11 March 1926 vol 192 cc2570-2
45 and 46. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Prime Minister (1) how many meetings of the Committee of Imperial Defence have taken place during the present year;

(2) whether any Member of His Majesty's Government is present at the joint meetings of the chiefs of staff of the Royal Navy, His Majesty's Army, and the Royal Air Force; if so, who is the Minister or Ministers; and how many joint meetings have been held during the present year?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

I shall answer these questions together. The proceedings of the Committee of Im- perial Defence are part of the ordinary consultative machinery of Cabinet administration. Cabinets and their policy, of course, depend upon this House; but I do not think anything is gained by supplying such fragments of information as those asked for by the hon. and gallant Member with regard to details of their procedure.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider the phrase "fragments of information" to apply to my Question 46, which I shall be glad if he will look at again? This is a constitutional matter. Is he not aware—


I should be very pleased to give all the information in process of Debate, but—

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I want it before the Debate.


but the difficulty in giving what I call "fragments of information" is that, in the absence of the knowledge which I think it is necessary to have about the constitution of these bodies and their working, such information is apt to be misleading, unless the system is understood. The matter in question, as I have said, has not been discussed in this House for 14 years. I think a Debate on the whole matter is overdue, and I should be only too pleased to make a full statement to explain the number of times' meetings take place, and the circumstances in which they take place.


May I ask whether any Cabinet Ministers are earmarked for work on the Committee of Imperial Defence, as in the case of the War Cabinet during the War?


Perhaps, without anticipating what I may say in the course of the Debate, I may state that the only Cabinet Minister that I know of who is earmarked for that, as for everything else, is the Prime Minister.


Can the Prime Minister indicate to the House when we are likely to have the Debate?


I have said, in answer to that question, that I think it would be most conveniently raised on my Vote, and if either section of the Opposition will put it down in the course of the Session on a Supply Day, we can have a full day's Debate on this matter.