HC Deb 08 April 1970 vol 799 cc517-8
1. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement outlining the extent to which the manufacturers of military aircraft are free to disclose information about those aircraft to the Press; and what action is taken against those firms which reveal information which is subject to security restrictions.

The Minister of Defence for Equipment (Mr. John Morris)

United Kingdom manufacturers of military aircraft are prohibited from disclosing information without the consent of the contracting authority. The action which would be taken against a firm for disclosing information without such authorisation would have to be considered in the light of all the circumstances.

Mr. Marten

Is it not true that the management of Panavia, being in full possession of all the details on the M.R.C.A., then gave information on costs to the Press based on that knowledge? If the House cannot, partly for security reasons, be given the facts on the costs, is it not time that we seriously looked at the Panavia leak in terms of the Official Secrets Act?

Mr. Morris

We have canvassed this matter on a number of occasions. The statement made by the manager of Panavia is quite a different matter and one for which I have no direct responsibility.

Mr. Robert Howarth

Is the procedure on this any different from what it always has been, or is there something special because of the nature of this project?

Mr. Morris

The arrangements are the normal ones made in every collaborative project.

Mr. Onslow

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) does not seek to raise it on the Adjournment, I shall seek to do so.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Notice must be given in the conventional form.

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