asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the outline of the Government coal proposals appeared in the morning newspapers on 3rd June, though the White Paper was not published until 5.15 p.m. that day; and if inquiries are being made as to the source of the disclosure?
Yes, Sir. I have looked into this matter and have reached the conclusion that the varying forecasts published by the newspapers were based on a general knowledge of the proposals which had been under discussion and intelligent anticipation of the Government's decisions, rather than on any premature disclosure of the White Paper. None of the articles published on the morning of 3rd June purported to give a comprehensive account of the Government scheme; and I would remind my hon. Friend that some of the matters dealt with in the White Paper had previously been debated in Parliament, that certain of the proposals submitted to the Government had already been published and that Ministers had necessarily held consultations with representatives of the industry.
As the proposals were not in any way known to representatives of the various industries concerned, and as the Press showed almost complete unanimity in their very accurate picture, is it not time that steps were taken to stop this leakage from the Board of Trade?
I have looked into this matter very carefully and have studied the various forecasts in the Press. They differed widely among themselves, and nearly all were wrong in one important particular. If the hon. Gentleman would like to go through the Press cuttings with me, I think I should be able to convince him.