HC Deb 12 October 1943 vol 392 c705
5 Mr. Martin

asked the Prime Minister whether, when statements of a secret or confidential nature are made by Ministers of the Crown to non-official bodies outside Parliament, the members of these bodies are under the same obligations of secrecy as Members of Parliament in relation to Secret Sessions; what is their position with regard to the Official Secrets Act; and under what circumstances they may divulge the information so received?

The Prime Minister

I cannot give authoritative interpretations of the law, but I am advised, firstly, that the rules of Privilege and the law relating to Secret Sessions would not apply to the circumstances set out in the Question; secondly, that under the Official Secrets Act if it is made clear that the information is entrusted to the persons concerned in confidence by a person holding office under His Majesty, for example, a Minister of the Crown, its unauthorised communication by them to others, when of a character hurtful to public interest or safety, would be an offence. With regard to the last part of the Question, such information should not be divulged except with the authority of the Minister.

Sir H. Williams

Is it intended to prosecute any of the ladies who went to the Albert Hall for the secret meeting?

The Prime Minister

I hope not.