HC Deb 22 May 1950 vol 475 cc1654-5
78. Mr. Profumo

asked the Minister of Supply when it is expected that permission will be given for the sale of Canberra bombers to Dominion and foreign Governments.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Any overseas requirements for the Canberra would be considered on their merits, with due regard to the strategic and security aspects and to the possibility of supply without detriment to the R.A.F.

Mr. Profumo

Does not the Minister's answer indicate that the very detailed information about the Canberra, which has already been released to the Press was premature, and could have been of no value except to a potential enemy of our country? In view of that will the Minister endeavour to speed up reconsideration of the whole problem of giving this sort of information to the Press, which was raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan)?

Mr. Strauss

I think the matter is well under control. No information about this or any other plane has been given away which, in our opinion, would be of value to a potential enemy.

Mr. H. Macmillan

Is it not the case that a very hostile view as to the desirability of the details published in the case of this machine was published in the very Press which published the information?

Mr. Strauss

Yes, but I still maintain that what I said just now is correct.

Mr. Macmillan

If that is so why is it necessary to take six months to discuss this very point?

Mr. Strauss

I thought I had made it plain that the situation as it developed allowed rather more information being published than we had intended. Nevertheless, we do not believe that any information which has been published has involved any security information of any value whatever.