HC Deb 20 July 1960 vol 627 cc467-8
10. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for War what inquiry has been made into the arrest of three civilians in Lewes during the Big Brother exercise of the Intelligence Corps on 13th July; and what action is being taken to avoid similar errors in future.

Mr. H. Fraser

A board of inquiry has been held. The mistake occurred because orders given when the exercise was planned were not fully obeyed. Disciplinary action is being taken and the general precautions required in an exercise of this kind are being re-examined.

Mr. Lipton

While thanking the hon. Member for that reply, may I ask him to ask his right hon. Friend to remind those guilty of this unfortunate error of what the Secretary of State himself told the Army League Council on the very day that this blunder was committed—namely, that internal security jobs for which the Army must be prepared demand delicacy of touch and responsibility?

Colonel Beamish

While not wishing to spoil the fun of the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Linton), who did not tell me that he was putting down this Question about my constituency, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he is aware that this unfortunate incident—which should not be exaggerated—has caused a great deal of upset? Would it not be easier in cases of this kind to make the real prey carry some simple means of identification?

Mr. Fraser

There would not be much point in the exercise if the prey was obvious. I am sorry that this has happened. We will try to see that there is no recurrence.

Forward to