HC Deb 08 November 1954 vol 532 cc859-60
48. Mr. Finlay

asked the Minister of Supply if the investigations are complete concerning the leakage of security information in a recent publication by Lieut.-Commander Lithgow; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Yes, Sir. Lieut.-Commander Lithgow's book "Mach 1" contained several items of information about classified military aircraft which would not have been given security clearance had the book been submitted to the security authorities before publication. The breaches of security in this particular case do not appear to be serious, but it should be remembered that the intelligence picture of a potential enemy may be built up from a large number of apparently small items of new information. Therefore security rules are necessary. They were not observed in this case.

I am satisfied, however, that everyone concerned acted in good faith. Lieut.-Commander Lithgow believed that his employers, Messrs. Vickers-Armstrong, were getting security clearance. They and the publishers of the book each thought that the other was submitting the book to the security authorities. I believe that there was a genuine misunderstanding. Messrs. Vickers-Armstrong have expressed their regret and have undertaken to take steps which will preclude a similar event happening again.

Mr. Finlay

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply, but will he say what are the standing orders to manufacturers of aircraft and other security weapons about the clearance of books of this character?

Mr. Lloyd

The position is that those concerned with the manufacture of aircraft on the secret list are under a contractual obligation not to disclose information without the approval of the Ministry.

Mr. Edelman

Would the Minister say who, in fact, is responsible for obtaining security clearance in cases of this kind, in order to avoid a repetition of similar incidents?

Mr. Lloyd

The firms concerned are under a contractual obligation to get security clearance from the Ministry, and they are also responsible for all their employees.

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