March 2, 1948 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I have noticed that hon. gentlemen opposite, including the hon. gentleman who has just spoken, have tried to have it appear that the reason I gave for not agreeing to table the letter addressed by Mr. Drew to myself was the secrecy of certain ciphers or some decision that the British government had taken, apart from the usual reservation that the British government makes with respect to the publication of documents to which it possesses a certain right. The reason I gave to the house, and hon. members have only to look up Hansard to see it, as to -why I was unwilling to table

Mr. Drew's letter to me is that that letter contains references to certain communications that were produced before the commission and were produced only on the undertaking that those communications would not be made public, and because the British government is still unwilling that they should be made public. I communicated with the British government not to ask whether Mr. Drew's letter might be tabled; the government takes the full responsibility for not tabling Mr. Drew's letter. In taking that responsibility, I wished to be perfectly sure that I would not be breaking any pledge given to the British government at the time the secret telegrams were made available to the commission. The British government declines to allow publication of certain telegrams that were placed before the commission and were kept entirely secret, and to which no reference was to have been made. In a second request I asked if the British government would review their decision in that regard. I have received a reply that they have reconsidered it and they still decline to allow publication of those secret telegrams. Having regard to the obligation which this government is under to the British government, I am not going to break faith with the British government by tabling a letter which contains references to a communication to which no reference should have been made by anyone who was appearing before or with the commission.

Topic:   HONG KONG
Subtopic:   LETTER FROM MR. DREW TO PRIME MINISTER- REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT OF MARCH 1
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