The Report has been received, but I do not feel able at this moment to make any detailed statement upon the episode referred to. To be of any value, the statement would have to be a very full one, and this would be of much interest to the enemy. These reasons also make it impossible to publish Mr. Justice Bucknill's Report, which would reveal so much technical detail about our arrangements as to be of great convenience to the enemy, who gives us no corresponding information about his affairs.
Every effort will be made to profit by the facts and the conclusions which the Report contains, but the House should, I think, be made aware, that apart from a few points which need some attention to secure improvement, the general findings of the Board of Inquiry do not reveal that there were any serious deficiencies, either in foresight, co-operation or organisation.
May I ask whether, in coming to that decision, the Government gave full consideration to what occurred in the last war in regard to the Mesopotamian campaign and the Commission which was appointed to investigate it, and other Commissions whose findings were published, when it was not held that it was against the public interest to state whether there had been defects in policy or otherwise?
I am sure the Noble Lord will realise that a discussion of the campaign in Mesopotamia and its details was very different from discussing the detailed arrangements made by air and sea for dealing with ships, and it is quite impossible to give away details like that without conveying information to the enemy.
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that this answer will leave the public in a most unsatisfied condition, and that it is not good enough, after every reverse, to be told that there is no lesson whatever to be learned?
I have already stated that it is impossible to give details in public. Obviously, it is a matter for consideration as to whether these matters can be given, ever in Secret Session. I am not prepared to answer that now.
While I agree with what. my right hon. Friend said about the necessity of concealing certain facts, would it be possible to disclose whether the Report shows that any of the trouble was due to deficiencies in material?
Is the House to understand by the right hon. Gentleman's original reply that to all intents and purposes this grave incident is closed, so far as the public and this House are concerned?