Privileges.

– in the House of Commons on 9th June 1942.

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Report from the Committee of Privileges (on the matter of the Complaint made on 7th May), brought up, and read; Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 93.]

Special Report from the Committee of Privileges brought up and read as follows:

1. Your Committee have considered the matter of the complaint made upon the 5th May of an alleged disclosure by a Member of a portion of the proceedings in the Secret Session of the 23rd April, and have come to the conclusion that they cannot discharge the duty imposed upon them by the House properly without alluding in their Report to some of the things said, or alleged to have been said in Secret Session.

2. If the secrecy of the proceedings at these sessions is to be preserved it will, in the opinion of Your Committee, be necessary to except their Report from the operation of the Resolution of the House of the 13th August, 1835, which provides that all parliamentary papers and reports printed for the use of the House shall be accessible to the public by purchase, and requires a sufficient number of extra copies to be printed for the purpose. Your Committee therefore suggest that their Report, together with the Minutes of the Evidence taken before them, should be ordered to be printed for the use of Members only, that an order to this effect should be made before it is presented, and that not more than six hundred and fifteen copies should be printed.

3. Moreover, as it is by no means clear that once the Report had been presented to the House the disclosure of the contents of the Report or of the Evidence or of any portion or summary thereof, would constitute a breach of privilege—on the contrary, as the Speaker stated on the 4th July, 1893, there has been a prevalent impression that when a Committee's report is laid upon the Table of the House it at once becomes public property—it would be advisable that, before the Report is presented, the House should resolve that the disclosure of any of its contents or of the evidence will constitute a breach of Privilege.

4. In order to obviate as far as possible the risk of the contents of the Report and the Evidence being inadvertently dis- closed Your Committee suggest that the following procedure should be adopted:—

  1. (a) The Report should be printed by those who are entrusted with the printing of secret documents. The printed copies of the Report should be numbered and placed in envelopes bearing a corresponding number, which should be sealed and delivered to the Vote Office.
  2. (b) Every Member should be entitled to obtain a copy of the Report on applying personally at the Vote Office. He should be required to give a receipt for his copy.
  3. (c) When the consideration of the Report by the House is concluded, or, if the Report is not taken into consideration within whatever may be considered a reasonable time, then as soon as the period has elapsed Members should be required to return their copies of the Report under cover to the Vote Office, such cover to bear the number of the copy it contains. The Clerk of the House should be directed to preserve one copy (or two copies) and cause the remainder to be destroyed.

5. Your Committee propose to defer making any Report upon the subject matter of their reference until the House has had an opportunity of considering the suggestions which they now offer.

Report to lie upon the Table.