HC Deb 06 April 1950 vol 473 cc1342-3
25. Mr. Higgs

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now consider the desirability of laying an Order before Parliament under Section 9 (3) of the Statistics of Trade Act, 1947, to impose more rigorous conditions regarding the confidential treatment of information received under the Census of Production and, in particular, to clarify conditions under which such information will be passed on by him to other Government Departments.

Mr. H. Wilson

No, Sir. I am satisfied that in practice the confidential treatment of information received under a Census of Production is ensured by the provisions of Section 9 (i) of the Statistics of Trade Act, 1947. I realise the importance of safeguarding the position of individual businesses. Particulars relating to them have not on any occasion been disclosed to other Departments, and would not, in fact, be disclosed, save in a very exceptional case where summary figures for a group of firms would not serve the purpose.

Mr. Higgs

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is those exceptional cases which trouble people, and would he not derive great advantage if he could outline in black and white, so that everybody could see it, the circumstances in which he would be persuaded to take such action?

Mr. Wilson

I am prepared to give this assurance to the hon. Gentleman, that permission for such additional work in such exceptional cases could only be given if I were satisfied that the information disclosed could not be used to the firm's disadvantage.

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