Hon. J. L. RALSTON (Minister of National Defence):
My colleague, the Minister of
National Defence for Naval Services (Mr. Macdonald) is not in the house at the moment, but perhaps I should not let this opportunity pass without pointing out to the hon. member who has just sat down what has been intimated to him already by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), namely, the great gravity of his or any one else communicating information of this kind prior to the time that the censors or the department or the intelligence branch of the department consider it advisable to do so. I am only pointing out to him that what he does in that respect is to oblige the submarine commander by reporting for that commander to his base that successful action has been taken. A submarine commander might not be in position to do that himself without being detected. My hon. friend, or anyone else who publishes a statement of this kind, does it-unwittingly of course-for the submarine commander. In that respect I submit he is doing something which is bound to assist the enemy, something which cannot be in the public interest. I do suggest that the course which was suggested to him on Friday, namely, that he communicate with the
Minister of National Defence for Naval Services and ascertain from him whether it was thought to be in the public interest to refer publicly to this matter, would have been a much wiser course.
Subtopic: PRIVILEGE, MR. ROT-SINKING OF SHIPS AS A RESULT OF ENEMY ACTION-REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION