asked the Prime Minister whether, in accordance with the practice followed in the case of earlier conferences, he will cause to be issued, for the information of the public, the statistical and other papers concerning the resources of the Empire which were submitted to the Imperial Conferences of 1917 and 1918 in so far as they are not deemed to be confidential?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to him by the Leader of the House on the 14th June. The statistical information laid before the Conferences of 1917 and 1918 could not properly be separated from, or published apart from, the confidential discussions with which it was connected?
In the case of some of the Conferences that is so, but the Conferences are assuming quite a different character. Each successive Conference is more in the form of Cabinet discussions on the policy of the Empire. That makes it increasingly difficult to publish part of the discussions without the whole, and to publish the whole would be destructive of the very object we have in view, which is to secure confidential discussion between the Dominions and the Mother Country as to the policy which the Empire is to pursue.
I do not see why essential facts should not be disclosed, but there is a great difference between that and publishing information which has been given in the course of confidential discussions.