Oral Answers to Questions — Missing Diplomats (MR. Petrov's Information)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd May 1954.

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Photo of Mr Tom Iremonger Mr Tom Iremonger , Ilford North 12:00 am, 3rd May 1954

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what light has been shed upon the disappearance of two Foreign Office officials in 1951 by information recently made available by Her Majesty's Government in Australia as a result of disclosures by the Soviet diplomat Petrov.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Tradeston

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is now prepared to make a further statement on the disappearance of Mr. Donald Maclean and Mr. Guy Burgess.

Photo of Mr David Llewellyn Mr David Llewellyn , Cardiff North

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now make a further statement concerning the missing diplomats, Burgess and Maclean.

Photo of Sir Stephen McAdden Sir Stephen McAdden , Southend East

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now in possession of further information regarding Mr. Guy Burgess and Mr. Donald Maclean; and whether he will request the Australian Government to supply any information regarding these persons which they have received from Mr. Petrov.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

We are in close touch with the Australian Government, who have appointed a Royal Commission to investigate the case of Mr. Petrov. The interrogation is at present in progress, but such information about Messrs. Burgess and Maclean which has so far been elicited is of a limited and general character, and it is not yet certain whether it is based on Petrov's personal knowledge or on hearsay. I will consider making a further statement in due course.

Photo of Mr Tom Iremonger Mr Tom Iremonger , Ilford North

Would my right hon. and learned Friend assure the House that the results of such inquiry as is made are made available to the public in the United Kingdom? Further, will he consider endeavouring to arrange that Mr. Petrov is made available for interrogation by the officials of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I will certainly bear that in mind. So far as the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question is concerned, I have said that I will consider making a further statement in due course. But it should be remembered that in these security matters it is important not to let the other side know how much we know.

Photo of Sir Stephen McAdden Sir Stephen McAdden , Southend East

Will my right hon. and learned Friend assure the House that there will be no complacency in this matter, that we shall not adopt the attitude that, as Burgess and Maclean have gone, it is best to forget all about it? Will he bear in mind that the revelations that have been made so far by diplomats who have defected from the Soviet Union have revealed spy rings in Canada, the U.S.A. and Australia and that it would be gratifying but none the less surprising if there were not similar opportunities of revelations in regard to this country?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I can assure the House most emphatically that there is no complacency about this matter.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that a man who confesses that he has for years been conducting a system of threats and spying and, at the end of it, betrays his own side is not necessarily the most reliable witness?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

We shall certainly attribute to each piece of evidence the appropriate value.