HC Deb 16 February 1956 vol 548 cc2527-8
46. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister what recommendations for economies in the cost of the security departments of the Foreign Office and other Government Departments have been made by the Conference of Privy Councillors that has been inquiring into security matters.

The Prime Minister

As I told the House on Monday, we are now considering the steps to be taken on this Report. If any of these can be made known consistently with the public interest, they will be reported to the House.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Prime Minister aware that the latest reports of the Secret Service accounts show that last year we voted£5 million, and that the Secret Service was so embarrassed by our generosity that they gave£190,000 back; and does he not think it is time for a scrutiny of the activities of this department by the Committee on Public Accounts?

The Prime Minister

Not by the Committee on Public Accounts. The practice to which the hon. Gentleman refers is by no means unique in history.

Mr. F. J. Bellenger

Can the Prime Minister say how much of this Privy Councillors' Report concerns security matters—which obviously cannot be dealt with in the House—and other matters which are really affecting public opinion in this country, as, for example, the recent statements of the two gentlemen who disappeared from the Foreign Office, which seems to indicate that the Civil Service, or at any rate the Foreign Service part of it, is not being operated to the benefit of the public interest?

The Prime Minister

I am told by my right hon. Friend that this Report is being studied; it is being examined. It is an important document, and when I have myself had an opportunity to examine the recommendations of the Report I should like to make a statement to the House; but the right hon. Gentleman will understand that I could not anticipate that now.