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Jet Fighter (Swiss Press Article)

Volume 497: debated on Monday 10 March 1952

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asked the Minister of Supply if he will inquire into and report to the House the circumstances in which information about the Super-marine Swift was made available for publication in Switzerland, in view of the fact that this jet fighter is still on the secret list in this country.

I would refer the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the reply given to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) on 27th February.

I would not expect the right hon. Gentleman to be responsible for newspaper articles based on surmise, but would he not consider it desirable to have a further review of the procedure which governs the partial publication by his Department and the Air Ministry of information relating to types of aircraft still on the secret list?

We are following the procedure which was agreed under the right hon. and learned Gentleman's administration. On the whole, I think it is satisfactory, but the problem is to decide how much and how little to give. If we give too little, then it is very difficult to restrain the Press. If, on the other hand, we give too much, then obviously that is a danger. I do not think there has been any leakage whatsoever in the present case.

Would the right hon. Gentleman look at the problem, having regard to the publication of this article? I must not make any criticism, but might it not be desirable to have a look at the procedure again?

I do not think that this article raises any issue. The photographs were published in agreement with the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Supply, and the particulars contained in the article are extremely inaccurate and obviously based upon surmise.