Welsh Economic Council Members (Official Secrets Acts)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1967.

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Mr. Alan Williams:

asked the Secretary of State for Wales to what extent members of the Welsh Economic Council are required to adhere to the provisions of the Official Secrets Acts; and if he is satisfied that the Members of the Council have observed these limitations.

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

There is an obligation in that on joining Economic Planning Councils, including the Welsh Economic Council, members sign a declaration acknowledging that their attention has been drawn to the relevant provisions of the Official Secrets Acts. This obligation remains on ceasing to be a member of the Council.

There was recently an unauthorised disclosure by a former member of the Welsh Economic Council. Although this was regrettable, my right hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General, does not consider it was of a nature to call for legal proceedings.

Mr. Williams:

Is my right hon. Friend aware that most hon. Members on this side of the House will be glad that he is not considering action because the writer's manifest lack of responsibility will be more embarrassing to him in the long run than to the Government, but does he not realise that it is invidious that appointed unrepresentative members of committees can apparently make uninformed statements about documents which hon. Members of this House have not seen?

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

I note what my hon. Friend has said, but members of the Welsh Economic Council are in exactly the same position as members of the English and Scottish Economic Councils.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

That surely is no argument? Is there not a lot of unnecessary secrecy? Could we not sweep it away and get back to the position when an economic Council, or whatever Council is concerned, says what it does in public?

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

I must ask the hon. Member to read the White Paper, for that is exactly what it proposed.