HC Deb 08 April 1914 vol 60 cc1971-2W

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the international character of some of the great armament firms, the Board of Admiralty are in a position to assure the country that adequate safeguards are employed to prevent British inventions, designs, and improvements relating to warcraft of all kinds being used for the benefit of foreign Powers?


The armament firms employed by the Admiralty are British firms, having their domicile and register in the United Kingdom. Their directorate and main shareholders are British. The fact that some of these firms may have branches in foreign countries, or undertake work in the United Kingdom for foreign countries, does not affect the fact that the companies are under British control and amenable to British law, including the Official Secrets Act. All contracts that in any way comprise confidential matters contain strict stipulations in regard to the observance of the Official Secrets Act, and other necessary precautions. The Admiralty have no reason to doubt the adequacy of the steps taken in all matters that admit of being treated as Government secrets or of being kept confidential in national interests. The Government does not interfere with the construction of armaments of contractors' design for foreign Powers, and cannot, any more than any other Government, necessarily monopolise all inventions and improvements, many of which from their nature could either not be kept confidential at all or only for a very limited period.

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