HC Deb 16 May 1957 vol 570 cc572-3
52. Mrs. Castle

asked the Prime Minister whether he will reconvene the Privy Councillors' Conference on Security in order that it may consider the setting up of appeal machinery for British citizens on whom adverse reports have been made to Commonwealth Governments through the Commonwealth Relations Office.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mrs. Castle

Is not the Prime Minister aware that the attention of hon. Members of this House is being increasingly drawn in correspondence to the abuse of the security procedure which is now taking place in regard to the secret reporting on British citizens who want to travel or emigrate to the Commonwealth, or otherwise exercise their rights as citizens of the Commonwealth? Is he further aware that hon. Members are deeply concerned? Ought not the safeguards which the Privy Councillors' Conference laid down against the abuse of the security procedure to apply to these people?

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Lady will recall the circumstances in which the Conference of Privy Councillors was set up, I would remind her that it took place after a debate upon certain incidents where there had been a tremendous anxiety on both sides of the House that our security regulations were not sufficiently tight or effective. As Foreign Secretary it was then my duty to deal with the debate, and I purposely arranged with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition of the day—and that was the purpose of the Conference of Privy Councillors—to try to see how we should strengthen security and deal with this alarming situation, with due regard to the rights of the individual. I think that on the whole the work done by that Conference has been very valuable.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I appreciate that this, perhaps, is not a matter purely of our own internal security, but there was deep concern on the part of Members on both sides of the House at a recent case ventilated here in regard to our relations with another Commonwealth country. Will the Prime Minister consult the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations about that, because of the desire of this House not to have a repetition of such matters?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I will certainly do that.