HC Deb 21 July 1952 vol 504 cc3-4
3. Brigadier Medlicott

asked the Attorney-General if he is aware that the penalties for certain breaches of the Official Secrets Acts appear to be unduly lenient having regard to the close association between offences under those Acts and offences against the law of treason; and if he will consider this aspect of the matter in his general examination of the laws relating to treason.

4. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Attorney-General whether he has considered the inquiries made by his predecessor into the laws of treason; and if it is proposed to introduce legislation.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)

I have been asked to reply.

Her Majesty's Government, in view of their responsibilities for the security of the realm, must clearly keep under review the adequacy of the laws in this particular field. They are not satisfied that the present circumstances require any amendment of the existing law, but should the necessity arise they would not hesitate to submit proposals for an alteration in the law for the approval of Parliament.

Brigadier Medlicott

Is not it quite inconsistent that while a man who kills one person is almost automatically executed, the Official Secrets Acts allow only a term of imprisonment to be imposed upon those who, by the betrayal of our vital secrets, may be the means of causing the death of thousands of their fellow countrymen in the event of a future war?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

The point adumbrated by my hon. and gallant Friend shows how careful the consideration of this matter must be.

Sir W. Smithers

Would my right hon. and learned Friend publish, so that the public may be aware of the extent and number of fellow travellers, the names of those who dined with and had intimate relations with Mr. Kuznetsov, whose name appeared in the Marshall case?