HC Deb 01 March 1956 vol 549 cc1340-1
4. Mr. W. Yates

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if Her Majesty's Government will introduce legislation to outlaw those who are deemed to have committed a hostile act against the security of the State outside and in addition to the Official Secrets Acts.

Major Lloyd-George

I am not sure what my hon. Friend has in mind, but I do not think that the revival of this ancient procedure would serve a useful purpose today.

Mr. Yates

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that if Burgess or Maclean claimed political asylum, and returned to this country, the law provides three months' imprisonment or a fine and nothing else? Is this satisfactory, in view of the cold war competition?

Major Lloyd-George

I think my hon. Friend will agree that this is an extraordinarily complicated matter to be dealt with by Question and Answer. Cases have been raised with regard to two other people. The whole question is under consideration, but it is not an easy matter.

Mr. Younger

Can we have an assurance from the Home Secretary that irrespective of any particular case which may happen to be of current interest, he will think carefully before introducing any new, and rather vaguely expressed, criminal offences, particularly if they have political implications?

Major Lloyd-George

I think I can do that easily because, although the crime of outlawry was abolished in 1938, the last case was in 1855.