asked the Secretary of State for War why he has now decided not to publish information about the numbers and proportion of men of the Army intake posted to each arm of the Service.
I have come to the conclusion that to continue to give these particulars periodically in reply to Questions might enable deductions to be made as to the detailed composition of the Army from time to time which it would be contrary to our present policy to divulge.
In view of the importance to the Army, may I ask first how, in view of the complete blackout on information about the use of manpower in the Army, my right hon. Friend reconciles this step with Parliamentary control over the Army? In the second place, may I ask whether this information will be given, if requested, to the Select Committee on Estimates?
As regards the last part of the question, that is another matter. In regard to the first part, I think we discussed the matter fully on the Army Estimates, and I do not think I can go any further at the moment in question and answer.
Is my might hon. Friend aware that he sends a free copy of the Army Estimates to every embassy in London, from which this could be worked out, and also that we are going to have less information in the Army Estimates next year than this year?
I do not know how my hon. Friend knows that. I have not heard that he has been at the War Office and knows what the policy will be. If he is correct in the first part of his question, perhaps he will have a talk with my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Swingler) who wants the information.
May I ask why it has been considered necessary two years after the war ended to keep these matters practically secret? Why should we not publish them?
As I have said, we discussed this at length on the Army Estimates, and I then said that for next year's Estimates I would look into the matter to see if we could have a change of policy.
Am I to understand that the Secretary of State has not decided yet whether he will give the information to the Select Committee on Estimates, or not?
My hon. Friend asked if I would give it to him, to which my answer is, "No, Sir."