March 12, 1948 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)


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


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, in view of
some of the doubts expressed and implications made, which are recorded in Hansard, as to statements of mine concerning communications between the Canadian government and the United Kingdom government respecting publication of the letter known as the Drew letter and the refusal of the United Kingdom government to allow the publication of certain telegrams exchanged between the United Kingdom and Canadian governments in 1941, I am sure lion, members will wish to have the following information on an exchange of question and answer which took place yesterday in the United Kingdom House of Commons. Injustice to myself I feel this question and answer should also be recorded in Hansard.
The question appeared in the name of Mr. Quintin Hogg, Conservative M.P. for Oxford City. The text of the exchange is as follows:
Question: "Mir. Hogg to ask the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what communications have passed between the Canadian and British governments relative to the publication of letters known as the Drew (Premier Drew of Ontario) letters concerning Canadian troops at Hong Kong and if he now agreed to their publication."
Answer: "There has been no correspondence
between His Majesty's government in Canada and the United Kingdom about publication of letters from Colonel Drew to which the honourable member (Hogg) refers.
"The Canadian government inquired whether they might publish certain telegrams exchanged between the United Kingdom and the Canadian government in 1941 relating to the dispatch of Canadian forces to Hong Kong and to the situation in the Far East at that time.
"We replied agreeing to the publication of those telegrams which related to the dispatch of troops but we said that we felt unable to agree to the publication of telegrams relating to the international situation.
"Such telegrams are framed on the basis that they wull not be published and the whole system of full and frank communication between His Majesty's governments would be prejudiced
if telegrams of this nature had to be prepared on the basis that this rule might not eventually be observed.
"The question was very carefully examined at the highest level and the United Kingdom regret that they cannot reconsider their decision."

Topic:   HONG KONG
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