HC Deb 20 February 1969 vol 778 cc763-4
Q6. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Prime Minister how many instances have been reported to him of former Members of Parliament violating the Official Secrets Acts; and what action has been taken.

The Prime Minister

Any question of a violation of the Official Secrets Acts is a matter for consideration by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General. He has not in fact instituted proceedings under the Acts in respect of any former Member of Parliament.

Mr. Shinwell

Will my right hon. Friend advise the Attorney-General to watch television more carefully and to read the newspapers—or has he ceased reading autobiographies and the like and looking at television—in order to get the necessary information?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure of my right hon. and learned Friend's television habits. I am well aware of a recent programme, which I think my right hon. Friend may have in mind. Certainly I think that the whole House will agree that any former Ambassador, be he a former Member of this House or not, who wishes to raise the veil on secret matters which occurred during his ambassadorship, has the duty of requesting the permission of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs before he does so, whether it is done in writing or on television.

Mr. Eyre

Can the Prime Minister say on what date the inquiry which he has promised into the workings of the Official Secrets Act will begin?

The Prime Minister

I said during the Fulton Debate, and I repeated it on Tuesday, that we have taken our own internal inquiries a considerable way forward, and that I hope in the near future to be able to make a statement to the House about our position in this matter. I cannot add to that.

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