HL Deb 02 July 1908 vol 191 cc929-30

My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government if they will lay on the Table the evidence taken before the Departmental Committee of the Treasury on the Finance of the Land Act (Ireland) 1903.


My Lords, this same Question was recently put in another place and answered there by the Prime Minister, and all I can do is to give a similar reply to that which Mr. Asquith gave in the House of Commons. He stated that it would not be to the public interest to publish the evidence which was given before the Departmental Committee, and he also added that a good deal of that evidence was confidential. That being the case, it would obviously be a breach of faith on the part of the Department concerned were they to publish the evidence given before the Committee. I should only like to add that we have no wish to keep back any information we are able to give as to the manner in which the Land Purchase Act has worked. That, I think, was clear from the reply furnished by the Irish Office the other day to Lord Donoughmore, and I think noble Lords from Ireland who are interested in this matter will concede that we have given all the information which, in the circumstances, it is possible to make public, As to the particular request of the noble Earl, I hope he will not press for the publication of this evidence.


I will, with the leave of the House, merely ask one question. The noble Lord stated that a good deal of the evidence was confidential. I believe it is the case that, with regard to some of the witnesses, the evidence was taken under agreement that it was to be confidential. But might we not have published such part of the evidence as was not confidential?


I have no doubt that my noble friend will look into that matter; but, speaking generally, I should have thought it very undesirable to publish only part of the evidence given before a Departmental Committee. I therefore hope the noble Lord will not press for it.