HC Deb 01 March 1944 vol 397 cc1414-5
31. Mr. Sloan

asked the Minister of Information why the two broadcasts on the Prestwick aerodrome were permitted; is he aware that the most intimate details were given; and that indignation has been aroused amongst the inhabitants against these broadcasts, in view of the breach of security involved.

33. Mr. McKinlay

asked the Minister of Information if his attention has been drawn to a broadcast on 21st February entitled "Scottish Airport"; and why intimate details were allowed to be given of the war-time activities at Prestwick thus creating considerable alarm in the West of Scotland.

The Minister of Information (Mr. Brendan Bracken)

Both these broadcasts were scrutinised by the authorities responsible for security in these matters, and they contained only such information about the aerodrome as was known before the war or had already appeared in the British, Canadian and United States Press.

Mr. Sloan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the exact location of this aerodrome was given, as well as the number of miles from the Continent, an estimate of the number of machines arriving each day, and all the information necessary for an enemy who wanted to bomb the aerodrome? How can he say that, as he now says, that that was information that was given before the war?

Mr. Bracken

As I have already told the hon. Member, these broadcasts were scrutinised by the security officer. Let me point out to him that the Germans possess snaps of Scotland, and that it is quite easy to calculate the time it takes to come from some point in Germany or France to Prestwick, without these broadcasts.

Sir T. Moore

In view of the fact that Prestwick is one of the brightest jewels in my constituency, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the people of Prestwick are perfectly prepared to bear the same burden in war as London and elsewhere?

Mr. Bracken

I will bear in mind the hon. and gallant Member's tribute to his constituency. That sort of Moore's Elegy will certainly be read with interest.

Mr. McKinlay

Is it the intention to cease prosecuting persons in the West of Scotland for careless talk, or, as an alternative, is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to proceed against the security officers who sanctioned these broadcasts?

Mr. Bracken

First of all, I would have nothing to do with the prosecution of those most eminent people called the Scots. Secondly, the security officer who read these two broadcasts is a highly experienced man, and he knows perfectly well, for instance, that, in General Marshall's report on American Army activities in Britain, there is a long passage dealing with Prestwick, which has also been published throughout the United States.

Mr. Sloan

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible date.