§ 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 518 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. 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.