HC Deb 15 December 1958 vol 597 cc757-8
21. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make arrangements for information contained in the files of the Special Operations Executive to be made available to those interested in them.

Mr. Profumo

Although for security reasons it is not possible to allow members of the public to have direct access to the archives of the Special Operations Executive. my right hon. and learned Friend considers that grounds exist for adopting a less restrictive attitude than hitherto in regard to the release of information.

Arrangements are accordingly being made in the Foreign Office to assign a former officer with war-time experience of the Executive to advise and assist inquirers and in general to deal with questions regarding the release of information on the Special Operations Executive.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

Does not my hon. Friend agree that this latest suggestion by my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) has really gone beyond a joke, in view of the harm already done by these amateur spies cashing in on their war experiences by turning amateur authors? Will he ensure that what has not yet been disclosed of Services technique and practice remains secret from now on? Will he deny access to these files to all historians, professional or amateur, or other unauthorised persons?

Mr. Profumo

The operations of S.O.E. have been subjected on several occasions to criticism, much of it damaging and irresponsible. The arrangements that I now envisage will, I hope, assist in disposing of these charges.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my hon. Friend point out to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Nottingham, Central (Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux) that this new suggestion emanated from the Foreign Office. I thank my hon. Friend for trying to find some way of ensuring that wild statements and rumours are not spread all over the world without some distinction between what should properly be disclosed and what should not.

Mr. Profumo

I am grateful to have been of help to my hon. Friend, but I should prefer not to get between her and my hon. and gallant Friend.

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