HC Deb 26 January 1953 vol 510 cc75-6W
79. Mr. Renton

asked the Attorney-General whether his attention has been drawn to the remarks made at Winchester Assizes on Friday, 5th December, 1952, by Mr. Justice Devlin, with regard to the privilege of the Crown from disclosure of documents; and whether he will consider advising Government Departments to adopt a less rigid attitude with regard to such disclosure.

81. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Attorney-General, in view of the recent judicial criticism at Winchester Assizes of the method of exercising Crown privilege regarding disclosure of documents, if he will advise Government Departments to relax their practice in such cases in the interests of justice.

The Attorney-General

I have seen a report of the remarks made by Mr. Justice Devlin to which the hon. Members refer. The question whether in any particular case privilege from disclosure should be claimed by the Crown in respect of any particular document is one of policy to be determined by the Minister of the Department concerned. That being so, it would not be proper for me to give advice of the kind suggested in my hon. Friends' Questions. The principles to be applied, which were laid down long ago, were reformulated by the then Lord Chancellor in the case of Duncanv. Cammell Laird in 1942, and great care is taken by Ministers in applying those principles in each case.