HC Deb 03 March 1955 vol 537 cc2213-4
2. Mr. Marlowe

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what authority Metropolitan Police officers recently entered and searched the residence of Colonel A. P. Scotland; what evidence there was of any suspected intention to commit an offence; and whether he is satisfied that the Official Secrets Acts give power to seize documents before any offence has been committed under such Acts.

3. Mr. Anthony Greenwood

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what purpose officers of the Special Branch visited the home of Colonel Scotland.

Major Lloyd-George

Section 9 of the Official Secrets Act, 1911, empowers a justice of the peace to grant a search warrant if satisfied that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence under the Act has been or is about to be committed. A warrant was issued under this section for the search of Colonel Scotland's residence because he had declared his intention of publishing a book containing unauthorised disclosures of confidential information entrusted to him while in the service of the Crown. It was not, however, executed, as Colonel Scotland voluntarily handed over certain documents to the police officers who visited his flat

Mr. Marlowe

As Colonel Scotland is a man who has served the country well and is very experienced in security matters, will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give an assurance that these powers are not in such a case as this being used merely as an instrument to enforce Foreign Office policy? Can he give an assurance that this was not done merely at the request of the Foreign Office because the book which Colonel Scotland intended to publish might give offence to the Germans?

Major Lloyd-George

I have no information on that aspect. I have just stated the facts, which seem to be perfectly normal. I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend will realise that I can make no further comment on the matter as the question of taking proceedings is under consideration.

Mr. Greenwood

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that responsible newspaper editors with considerable wartime experience of security are of opinion that there is no breach of security in the book, and that Colonel Scotland's only offence is that he has questioned the efficiency of the War Office during the war? Does he not think it is a little unfortunate that this 73-year-old soldier should be hounded in this way while more influential people, like Field Marshal Montgomery and the Prime Minister, have got away with publishing their memoirs based largely on official information?

Major Lloyd-George

I cannot add to what I have said in reply to my hon. and learned Friend. The question of taking proceedings is being discussed at the moment. As to the procedure under the Act, it was, as I have explained, in order and perfectly normal.

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