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First Schedule—(Provisions As To The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority)

Volume 526: debated on Thursday 29 April 1954

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

7.15 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 13, line 6, at the end, to insert:

(4) Except with the consent of the Lord President of the Council, the Authority shall not dismiss any officer or other person employed by them on the ground that his political associations render his continued employment undesirable in the interests of national security.
I am moving this, the main Amendment on security, in response to the very interesting debate that we had on this subject at an earlier stage. Before I come to the words in the Amendment, perhaps I may deal shortly with two other security points which we were asked to consider and which we have not been able to put into this Amendment.

The first point is one which I mentioned earlier, on which we have not reached agreement in our discussions with the Staff Side. The Staff Side would like alternative employment in the Civil Service to be offered to a man who becomes redundant, or who is dismissed on security grounds. As I have said already, we accept in principle that such an offer of alternative employment is desirable if a man becomes redundant and is an ex-established civil servant We accept in that case because redundancy usually is not of a man's own making. He cannot help it. It therefore seems right that we should do our very best for him.

We cannot, however, carry over that concession to the man who is dismissed on security grounds. There are two reasons for that. First, in nearly every case the reason for the man's dismissal is of his own making. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Certainly. The man knows when he is offered a transfer to the staff of the Authority that if he is, or is likely to become, a bad security risk he is liable to dismissal. I take the view that if a man feels that he is a bad security risk he should not accept the offer. It is far better that he should not join the staff.

I am not quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman is right there. Surely a man can suffer because, in his own genuine opinion, he thought that he was no security risk at all, and had no reason to think that anyone else thought otherwise; but nevertheless, on inquiry he finds himself in the position that, without his own consent at all, the Authority has come to the conclusion that he is a security risk. It cannot fairly be said that that is a situation of his own making. It obviously is not.

I think it very rare that a man will find that he is a Communist without knowing it. I myself think that, though the point mentioned may arise, it is very unlikely to arise. The Government have looked at this carefully. We feel that we cannot undertake to try to find posts in the Civil Service for men who have joined the Authority's staff, have been found to be bad security risks and have been dismissed on that account.

The second request put to us—which is relevant to this particular problem—was that the man who is being dismissed should be paid for a rather longer time than usual after the decision is taken. That is put forward on the quite understandable ground that for some time to come—though I hope not for ever—the Authority will not have very many sections of its work where there will be no classified information, to which a man could be transferred. It was therefore argued in Committee that we should do something special for the man who is dismissed from the Authority because of his opinions.

We are prepared to double the time of notice. That means that the man will get six months' instead of three months' pay. I think it goes some way to meeting the case and shows that we wish to be no more strict than is absolutely necessary.

Does the notice start from the time when he is finally decided to be a bad security risk or from the time of his suspension? Presumably, it is the former.

I must ask for notice to answer that question. I do not know. I will make inquiries. I should think the answer would be, from the time he is suspended. I will let the right hon. Gentleman know.

For reasons beyond anybody's control there may be three or four months between the time of suspicion that a man is a bad security risk and the time when he is dismissed. It seems only proper that this extended period in which a man will get pay should start from the time when the final decision is taken that a man is a bad security risk and is sacked. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the concession he has already made on the length of time of pay.

The right hon. Gentleman seems to have made out a good case, and I will look into it and let him know.

I turn to the Amendment itself. It provides a very important safeguard. I do feel very deeply that we have to protect liberty of thought to the maximum possible degree. Still there does come a point at which there is a conflict of loyalty, and then we must act. This Amendment gives to every man who becomes suspect and whose case is decided against him by the "Three wise men" who are going to act as they have been acting for the Civil Service—

a final court of appeal. That is, the Lord President himself must look at the case, and only if he is satisfied will the man be dismissed. We must limit this appeal to the Minister to cases in which the dismissal is because of the man's political associations.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) has put down two Amendments to my Amendment, to leave out "his political associations render" and after "employment" to insert "is." Suppose we accepted them and gave that right of appeal in all cases in which security is involved. Some very queer results would follow. I will give the House three examples.

There may be cases of moral turpitude. What, in short, that includes is that if a man is a homosexual he is much more easily blackmailed, owing to the law being what it is at present, than almost anybody else. There are cases in which the price which the blackmailer exacts is not money but secrets. It does not seem right that a case of that sort, that concerns an individual's character or behaviour, should be put to the Lord President. The second example is that of a man who is a careless talker. He may be a careless talker by habit, or he may be only in his cups. We all know that the alcoholic babbler is a nuisance, and he must not be employed on work of a secret nature. That also is a case of the character or of the habits of an employee, and it is really not reasonable that that sort of case should go to the Lord President.

The third example, of which, I think, there are likely to be more instances than of the others, is that of a man who may be inefficient in carrying out specific security duties. We may have a night watchman who from time to time is caught snoozing on the job. [HON. MEMBERS: "He would be dismissed."] He would be dismissed on security grounds and his case would have to go to the Lord President if we accepted the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment to my Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We may have a special constable inefficient in one way or another, who took down garbled reports, and who ought to be dismissed, but if he were dismissed because of inefficiency on security duties he would have to go to the Lord President.

I follow the right hon. Gentleman's argument on at least one of the three instances, but how does moral failing of the kind he described affect national security?

I thought I described it clearly enough. If a man is subject to blackmail he is a bad security risk.

It is not a point on which one would want a long debate, and I am trying to follow the right hon. Gentleman's argument, and I began with some sympathy for him. However, let us consider one of these cases he has described, the moral turpitude one. Suppose the man says, "It is not true at all. I am not that kind of man. I am not subject to these temptations. I am not subject to this kind of blackmail." Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that in such a case the Authority may dismiss that man, with his having no right of appeal, without the facts being investigated by anybody? The Authority might be wrong.

If the Authority were wrong, the man might have some rights against the Authority.

If one accuses someone of moral turpitude and is not correct that someone would have some rights, I think—if an ordinary employer got rid of a man for that reason. I cannot include men who are bad security risks because of their character in the right to have their cases taken to the Lord President.

I am quite certain that these sorts of cases, of moral turpitude, of careless talking, of inefficiency in the performance of specific security duties, are not cases about which the public is anxious. The public is anxious, I think quite rightly, about cases in which a man may be dismissed because of his political views or political associations. That is the heart of the matter, and that is what we have to deal with.

Apart from the general contention, the Minister has just made a statement which is serious. Is he saying that a homosexual is automatically now considered to be a security risk? That is what he said. I should like him to confirm it, because it is a serious thing to say that in this country we now consider all those people to be security risks, and so ought to be discharged.

I should like to take advice on that, but my impression is that the answer is "Yes." It certainly is in America. It is the result of the law as it is now.

However, the anxiety is about political treatment, and, therefore, I have brought forward this Amendment, which means that those men who are under suspicion as bad security risks because they are Communists or have associated with Communists cannot be dismissed without the Lord President's examining their cases. That is as far as the Government can go. It fulfils the assurances I gave in Committee.

7.30 p.m.

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out "his political associations render."

While I feel sure that my right hon. and hon. Friends are grateful for the Minister's good intentions, I certainly do not think they go nearly far enough. The point has been made by his comments on this Amendment which I move to his Amendment. The question is whether these rights ought to be limited to political associations and, as a further question, whether we ought to introduce, for the first time as far as I know in any Act of Parliament, reference to political associations. It seems to me to have rather dangerous implications, but I shall come to that in a moment.

Let me take the right hon. Gentleman's own cases, and I will start, if I may, with the weakest of them—by far the weakest of them, which was that of the babbler, the man who talks too much. I should have thought that he was just the kind of person who stood in need of special protection of this type by reference to the Lord President instead of having to deal only with the Authority. I should have thought he stood in need of that sort of protection at least as much as anyone involved simply in a matter of political associations.

When we come to distinguish between the one kind of case and the other, I believe we may find it extraordinarily difficult to draw a line. We might have a man who babbles too much and, on the other hand, a man who keeps his mouth shut but whose political associations are disliked; but in between we might easily have a man who babbles a bit but who babbles to the kind of folk to whom it is thought dangerous that he should babble. We cannot draw a line of that sort at all properly.

As for the blackmailee, if I may coin a word, it seems to me a remarkable notion that a man becomes a security risk in this kind of work because he is subject to blackmail, whether the risk of blackmail is the particular one which the right hon. Gentleman gave or whether, as one would logically have to do, one said that it applied to anybody who can be blackmailed. I should have thought that the man who could be blackmailed was certainly entitled to the protection—because it is a protection—of the need for the Lord President's consent.

The last case, which the right hon. Gentleman thought was his strongest case, seemed to me to be simply a muddle of language. The night watchman who guards a place, whether it is a private warehouse of some sort or one of these establishments, is commonly said to be there in the interests of security, but it seems to me to be a confusion to say that because what he happens to guard is national property, he is therefore there in the interests of national security. No doubt in one sense of the word he is, but it is not the usual sense of the word, and if there is any question of making it clear, then it ought to be possible quite easily to draw the distinction between the man who looks after national property and the man who is something quite different—something which we all recognise; that is, a national security risk. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that from the point of view of protecting people who ought to be protected and of not being unfair to one class of person and tolerably fair to another, he should look again at this question of retaining the words "political associations."

It seems to me that there is another very serious objection to retaining those words. After all, not so long ago my own party was a highly suspect organisation in many circles. If we go back far enough, the same thing applies to the Tory Party. It has applied at one time or another to every political party or political organisation in this country, and I do not like the idea of putting into an Act of Parliament that people are a risk to national security because of their political associations. I do not like the introduction of those words, and I do not think it right to place upon people who are concerned in administering the Bill, whether they are concerned as the Authority or as something of that sort or Whether they are concerned in the interpretation of the Ball in the courts, the question of deciding what is and what is not a political association.

This is a particularly bad context in which to do it. We shall have people who may have all shades of associations and opinions, and who is to draw the line between what is political and what is not? This is, as it were, the notional side of the point which the Minister seeks to make as between the babbler and—I was about to say the deliberate traitor but I will say the double loyalist. I think it is a distinction as unreal when we try to put it in terms of language as we should find unreal if we sought to draw it between one type of human being and another. Surely the simplest thing in an Act of Parliament, as anywhere else, is to say what we want to do in the shortest, fewest and simplest words we can find. What we want to do is to eliminate national security risks. All this introduction of political associations and over-long words seems simply to confuse the issue and to make it harder to treat with fairness those whom we want to treat with fairness.

I therefore hope that the Minister will reconsider the matter and will either accept the Amendment to his Amendment—as I hope he will—or will give an assurance that he will look at the matter again, that he will eliminate these words "political associations" and that he will very carefully consider whether he ought not to go through the other types of case, including those which seem to him to be obvious exceptions.

I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has made a very strong case for the Amendment to the proposed Amendment, but I hope he will allow me to say that in my opinion the Minister has made an even stronger case. When this Amendment was drafted I was not aware that it is possible for people to be dismissed on security grounds because it is thought that they might conceivably have some moral practices with which society for the time being does not agree. It seems to me that we are getting into an extraordinary situation, and I believe that such people should have the extra protection which will be afforded if the Amendment to the proposed Amendment is accepted.

May I ask the Minister a question about his remarks on alternative employment? He has not accepted one of the most significant points which was made. How genuine is his offer to make available alternative employment if the Civil Service is to be excluded from the ground in which alternatives can be sought? Does he think it is feasible? Are there likely to be many cases within the employment of the Atomic Energy Authority where the person who is considered a security risk in one job is found new employment with that Authority?

Great point was made in the earlier debate that it was proposed to apply to the Authority all the provisions and safeguards which apply in the Civil Service, but in the Civil Service, as far as my knowledge goes, it was found possible in many cases, when persons in one type of job were considered to be security risks, to place them in other posts where they were not considered so dangerous to national security. That was a safeguard and protection which met with general satisfaction. Will the Minister be good enough to indicate whether he does not think that by offering this safeguard without including the old Departmental posts in the Civil Service as a whole, he is offering the shadow without the substance?

May I ask the Minister this further question. If a scientist is dismissed or an employee is dismissed from the Atomic Energy Authority on grounds of being a national security risk, does that mean that he or she will be debarred from employment? Does that mean that the employee will be prevented from making application for employment in the Civil Service because he or she will automatically be considered to be a security risk? If that is so, it is narrowing the field of possible employment considerably for some of these people, and I hope that the Minister will reconsider his attitude to this matter.

I hope that the Minister may find himself, as the result of the considerations now advanced, able to reconsider this matter. I confess that when I looked at the Amendments on the Order Paper, I was inclined at first to think that my hon. Friends were wrong and 'that the Minister was right. I thought that he would say to us: "If you found a man who was actually selling or giving away the secrets of the establishment, either to a foreign power or to anyone else, it would be absurd to suggest that you could not sack him without going to the Lord President of the Council." If that had been his case, I would have thought that there might have been something in it for my hon. Friends to consider. But the Minister has not made that case at all. He has made a totally different case which, I suggest to him in all seriousness, means that the protection he is really offering might in some circumstances be a completely illusory protection.

We might find, in a given case, the Authority being doubtful of a man's security status for political reasons, but we nevertheless might feel very doubtful about its ability to establish the validity of those grounds before a tribunal. What the right hon. Gentleman is doing is giving that Authority several very wide ways of escape. It has only to give a notice terminating the employment on security grounds and not give any reasons in order to deprive the man or woman concerned of any right of appeal of any kind. It is only, as I understand it, if the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is carried, if we say to a man, "You can no longer be employed here because you are a bad security risk by reason of your political associations" that the man will have any right of appeal, and the Authority can take away from the person concerned all right of appeal by merely omitting the words, "Because of political associations" from the form of notice which it serves upon him. If that is right—and I feel sure that it is—the protection offered would be a completely illusory one and the right hon. Gentleman's intentions, which I am sure are of the best, would not in the least be carrying out the undertaking which he gave on the Committee stage.

The second point which I should like to make is that, even if one were to accept the distinction which the Minister wishes to draw between security risks because of political associations and security risks because a man might, for some reason or another, make himself liable to be blackmailed by someone, his argument would be a bad one. That is precisely the kind of thing which depends on whispering, on rumours and on a complete absence of evidence; but which, nevertheless can create, by small talk and hints in obscure corners, an atmosphere under which a very great injustice may be committed.

7.45 p.m.

It is very easy to work up an atmosphere of this kind if there are people who wish to do so. It is quite clear that that kind of charge might be made in circumstances in which it was not true at all. If the right hon. Gentleman is right, the man would have no remedy of any kind. The right hon. Gentleman did say, when I intervened on this point, that if the Authority accused a man of practices of any kind and that accusation was untrue, the man would have some other kind of remedy. With all respect, I do not think that he would. The Authority, in making the accusation, would be privileged, and unless it could be shown that the Authority was acting maliciously or for some other improper reason, the man would certainly have no remedy at all of any value to him in the courts under the law relating to defamation. Neither in the notice given to him terminating his contract nor under this Clause would he have any right of appeal because of wrongful dismissal.

If there were any such reasons, the Authority does not need to use these words in its dismissal at all—and it would not—and the man again would have no remedy and no right of appeal. It is a great temptation to the Authority, if we do this, never to say if it were dismissing a man on security grounds that it was because of political associations. The Authority would merely think: "If we say 'political associations' he has the right of appeal; if we do not say 'political associations' he has no right of appeal. It is, therefore, better for us not to say 'political associations' whatever our reasons are." If, in fact, the grounds of dismissal were because of political associations the man would be deprived of his right of appeal, and the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is an empty form of words offering no protection to anyone.

My third point is that the Minister used the vague phrase "political associations" for this purpose. There was a case the other day in an institution where a young woman was employed as a cashier in a canteen. It turned out that her husband, who had nothing whatever to do with the establishment, was a member of the Communist Party or a member of the Young Communists League, and she was sacked. Is that "political associations" within the meaning of this Amendment? I assure the right hon. Gentleman that if that is regarded as the kind of reason for which a man or woman may be sacked, it will not carry the consent of the House and it will not carry the consent of the country. To do the right hon. Gentleman justice, I think that he would be very unhappy about it himself.

The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but I imagine that he feels that he has to stick to his point. I have listened to him with very great interest, as I usually do, today, and to the speeches which he made on this matter in Committee. I doubt very much whether he would think that kind of thing right.

My final point is that he seems to have accepted for the purpose of this Amendment the very outlook on this matter which was pressed upon him from this side of the House on the Committee stage and which he then rejected. What was the argument then? The argument was, "You should not accept my right hon. Friend's Amendment and his Schedule because you do not want to write this kind of thing into our legislation for the first time in our history." I thought that was a good argument, and, indeed, I made it before he did. I was delighted to find that he accepted it, and I think that my right hon. Friend at the end of the debate had strong sympathy with it, too.

Having converted my right hon. Friend, the Minister has lost the faith himself. Now, to move an Amendment which includes the words,

"on the ground that his political associations,"
is to make nonsense of the argument which he used so successfully to persuade my right hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment in Committee.

As my right hon. Friend said in moving his Amendment, surely the simple and the right thing to do is to say that if a man is being dismissed, not for a provable charge of misconduct or a definite act which can be established beyond argument, but on security grounds which do not amount to any kind of offence or misconduct in themselves, in every such case the man shall be entitled to his appeal to a tribunal, like everybody else. Let the Authority make its case and let the man make his defence, and everybody, or most people, at any rate, will be happy enough at the end of it. If it is done in the way that the Minister proposes, nobody has any protection of any kind.

Earlier this evening I put down an Amendment about the discussions that were taking place with the trade unions in the Civil Service for proper protection of employees in the matter of transfers. The right hon. Gentleman gave an assurance, which I accepted—it underlined what I knew already from other information—that in the main, except for a reservation relating to security, the discussions with the unions were going well and would be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. The Minister has now confessed that there is what appears to me a major point of difference between what the unions are asking for in this matter of security and his own point of view.

As I understand it, the unions are asking that where a man is removed from the service of the new Authority because he is a bad security risk, there should be the provision of transfer back to the Civil Service in appropriate cases. I also understand from my information that the unions want the provision of adequate compensation where the provision of transfer proves impracticable.

If I followed the right hon. Gentleman correctly, however, he said—he was firm about this—that the Government were not prepared to concede this right of transfer back to the Civil Service when a man was removed from the employment of the Authority on security grounds. If that be the case, it is idle for the Government to claim that they are now operating what was the practice of the Labour Government in this matter.

It could have been said about our practice that when my right hon. Friend was responsible for these affairs, the glory of our system was that in this way we avoided anything which seemed like McCarthyism. If a man had to be removed on security grounds from work involving national safety, he was found alternative employment. In other words, he was not penalised individually in any way on account of his political opinions but at the same time the security of the State was protected. For the future, apparently, that will not be the case, and no real attempt will be made to find alternative work for a man who on security grounds is removed from his work in the service of the new Authority.

The only reason that the Minister has given for this was that it was mainly a man's own fault if he held certain political opinions. That is an extraordinary point of view. I should have thought it was assumed that in a democratic society people were entitled to hold any opinions they liked; that is the assumption normally observed in a democratic society. If that assumption is no longer to be made, the unions have grave cause for complaint about the right hon. Gentleman's attitude.

Turning to the other points that have been made in relation to the Amendment and my hon. Friends' Amendments to it, it is extraordinary if it is to be said that a homosexual is a danger to security because it is assumed that he is automatically the victim of blackmail. If any concrete information is available about the individual, surely the law would be involved and it would be a matter for the courts and not for any kind of action by the employing Authority?

I agree with my hon. Friends who object most strongly to the words "political associations" in the Amendment. I like the principle of the appeal to the Lord President of the Council, but it is very undersirable that, for the first time in British constitutional history, it should be proposed to put words of this kind into an Act of Parliament. As my hon. Friends have said, these words have widespread implications. There have been times for instance when I have been of opinion that the continued employment of Conservative Ministers of the Crown was undesirable in the interests of real national security.

It is impossible to obtain a proper definition of what is meant by "political associations." The grounds for leaving out these words are, therefore, extremely strong. As my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) said, if any stronger support in that point of view was needed, one had only to listen at an earlier stage to the complicated remarks of the Minister himself.

I should like to try to make the matter a little clearer. I admit that I did not do so on the first occasion. What we are trying to do—it is for the first time—is to put into the legislation what actually happens in regard to this security procedure in the Civil Service as it goes on at present on that aspect of it which concerns the appeal to the Minister.

What is it that the "Three wise men" sit upon in the Civil Service? It is only people who are suspected of being security risks on account of their political associations. I agree that the words are objectionable, and I do not like them, but suppose that we were to leave out the words and do what the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment would do and say that all cases of dismissal on grounds of national security must go to the Lord President. We should be embracing a whole series of cases which do not go to the "Three wise men" in the Civil Service and which would not go to them under the Authority. [Interruption.] It depends what the words "dismissal on grounds of national security" cover.

It may be that we could find better words to describe the kind of cases that should go to the tribunal. If the House wishes, I am ready to take away the Amendment and look at the thing again and see whether in another place we can find words that do what we all want to do and write into the Bill what is the practice in the Civil Service. I do not think that any hon. Member is asking us to institute a different machinery. The Government's view is that if we give the staff of the Authority the same rights of final decision by the Minister as they enjoy in, say, the Ministry of Supply, we are doing what we should do, and we Should not do any more. If that meets with the wishes of the House we will look at these words again and try to discover what is the most appropriate means of locating cases that go to the "Three wise men."

8.0 p.m.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider covering the case of the gabbler because it seems to me that in some cases he is indistinguishable from the political risk and, secondly, surely he ought to cover the black-mailee whether he is a homosexual, a bigamist or a confirmed burglar. Surely it does not make any difference.

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for emphasising these three cases, but they will have to be looked at to carry out the undertaking I have just given. There are possibilities whereby a man is dismissed under the ordinary terms of his contract because, as the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has said, he has misconducted himself. We should like to exclude those, but the question is how to define the cases which are over and above the accepted charges of misconduct. We will try to do it.

One other point was raised by the non. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) about alternative employment. It is true that for the time being there are not a great many places inside the Authority in which a man, suspect for his political associations, or however we might define it, might go. We have looked at this very carefully, and it is felt that the furthest we can go is to say that to the best of our ability the Civil Service should provide a job for a man when he becomes redundant.

I think there is a distinction between those who have been in the Civil Service some time and those who go now to the Authority. The distinction arises because, when a man joins the Authority, one of the terms on which he joins is that he says he is not a Communist and he knows perfectly well that it is one of the conditions of his contract that if he is found afterwards to be a bad security risk he will be dismissed. That creates a difference between that man and the man who joined the Civil Service and only after some time is transferred to work on classified secrets.

But what about the man who has been in the Civil Service and has transferred over to the Authority in the general transfer and is eventually found to be a security risk? The same man has been there all the time, but this is a new instruction about him. Will no opportunity be given to him to go back to the Service?

As we have decided at present, no. We find we cannot extend this concession to men who are dismissed for their political associations. I am sorry about that, but that is the limit to which we can go.

I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman has agreed to look at one of the matters about which we are complaining, and I would beg him to look at the other. Naturally he has not had any experience of this. I had for some time, and if he had I believe he would see that the conclusion which he has announced as being that of the Government is in fact, exceedingly unfair.

May I put this point to the right hon. Gentleman? I am dealing now with the case of the man who is employed by the Authority and found to be a security risk and though it may not be his own fault that he is a security risk, he will not, the right hon. Gentleman says, be offered a job in the Civil Service. The man may be a bad security risk primarily through factors for which he is in no way responsible.

One of the things which we have to bear in mind and to which we have to give careful consideration when we are dealing with such a man is whether he is not a good security risk because of the position of his relatives, particularly those who happen to be living on the other side of the Iron Curtain. We know from experience that it frequently happens that people who have relatives on the other side of the Iron Curtain have serious pressure put upon them and are threatened with all sorts of things if they do not take a certain line. One has to take note of such matters.

We have to bear in mind if such a man possesses security secrets which could be given away, it may be necessary to transfer him because he might be induced to do something he ought not to do if he knew that otherwise his parents or children, who were living in Rumania or in Russia, would suffer seriously. That sort of man has to be told to leave his job because of the pressure which might be put on him.

There are many cases—I can think of several—where the authorities would be justified in saying that this man was a bad security risk though he was not responsible for it. It may be, too, that some action which he took five or 10 years ago and which he had forgotten about could be used to force him to get this information. It may be that in the interval he had changed his views, and now considers himself a sound security risk. The authorities may take a different view and they would be justified in saying, "You have got to leave this particular job where, you are doing secret work. We are sorry, but that is the position."

I say that man ought to be offered a job in the Civil Service if it is at all possible. Why should he not? Why should he be punished? It is not his fault. It is an entirely different matter if the right hon. Gentleman is dealing with someone who has not disclosed the full facts or has misled the Authority by giving false information when he first joined. But I say that the Government ought to reconsider their decision about completely barring a man from work in the Civil Service who is found to be a bad security risk through no fault of his own.

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman is going to reconsider the wording of his own Amendment. That wording may lead to all sorts of difficulties, and I think my hon. Friends, on the undertaking which the Minister has given to reconsider this matter, will be prepared to let the Amendment pass without further discussion, because we do not want to keep the House longer than is necessary.

However, I must express my surprise and opposition to the policy announced this evening by the right hon. Gentleman that all homosexuals are considered a bad security risk and will not be employed at Harwell or other such places. I think that is as serious as it is wrong. I know it is general in the United States, but that does not make it any better. It is a matter which I do not want to discuss further this evening. If the right hon. Gentleman undertakes to reconsider the wording of the present Amendment and, I hope, the other point that was raised then we can let the matter go.

Does the right hon. Gentleman ask leave to withdraw the Amendment to the proposed Amendment?

I understood the Minister to say that he would take the Amendment back to reconsider it. Is not that what he said?

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, may I say that I think it would be more satisfactory if we insert the Amendment and I undertake to have the Bill amended in another place, because the Bill is ready to go forward at once to another place if the House gives it a Third Reading. However, I greatly appreciate the arguments made and I will convey to my right hon. Friend that we in this House have clearly showed that we think the words "political associations" are not satisfactory.

I should like to get in on this subject, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, because it is important from the medical point of view. Many of the individuals concerned come under medical diagnosis. If, however, you wish the debate to end now, I will obey your Ruling.

I do not think that medical diagnosis has anything to do with this Amendment.

But that does not mean that it has not an important aspect on many of the cases. A man's whole life and reputation, and also the reputation of the employing Government authority, may be involved.

That may well be true, but it is not related to this Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment negatived.

Amendment agreed to.

8.12 p.m.

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

I should like to thank hon. Gentlemen who have taken part in this debate for their kindness to me in handling the Bill. I am sure that it is better for our discussions, because we have put in some good Amendments. I am particularly glad that today we have inserted the Amendment about consultation on efficiency of work. It is difficult to draft a Bill which covers such a curious halfway house between a Government Department and an ordinary industry. The atomic energy project is becoming more and more a major industry, yet it does not earn an appreciable income, and therefore, as we have seen in Clause 4, it has to be treated very much like a Government Department. On the other hand, the project will not expand as it would if it were serving the public, like the British Electricity Authority. It will remain more or less an incubator which will hatch the ideas of the research people and those will be followed up by industry.

Therefore, the relations between the project which we are setting up and industry are of the utmost importance. I should like to tell the House that the conversations with private industry and with the B.E.A. are going well, and if the House gives the Bill the Third Reading it may be that in another place my noble Friend will be able to give more details of what is a fascinating outlook, namely, that we should be able to establish in this country a new major industry as a result of the discoveries on the industrial side of atomic energy.

I may have made a mistake in conveying to the House—though I do not think I did—that all homosexuals are necessarily suspect risks. If I conveyed that, I am sorry. I hope the House will now give us the Third Reading of a Bill which has great prospects.

8.16 p.m.

In view of the length of the important discussions we have had on this Bill on Report, I need not detain the House any longer than the right hon. Gentleman has done in moving its Third Reading.

The Bill emerges from consideration in Committee and on Report essentially the same as it entered those stages. It contains a proposal with which we disagree strongly and which has in no way been modified. On the other hand, it is only fair to say that the right hon. Gentleman has been unfailingly courteous and willing to consider our Amendments carefully and, indeed, we also were willing to accept arguments which he put forward where we thought he had a reasonable case, even if we did not agree fully with him. I want to thank the Minister, therefore, on behalf of my hon. Friends for his co-operation during the Committee and Report stages and for his willingness to accept Amendments which have undoubtedly improved the Bill considerably.

As I have said, the main objective of this Bill remains unchanged. We think that objective is foolish and unwise. The Government think differently and, as they have a majority in the House, it is right that their views should prevail. We hope we are wrong in our view that the separation of the atomic energy enterprise from the Ministry of Supply, with its immense knowledge, skill and experience in developing new things, its contacts and knowledge of industrial matters in the engineering field, its great expertise in all matters of scientific research, will be harmful.

Unfortunately, this is one of the matters where nobody will ever be able to prove who is right. I have not the slightest doubt that this great project will continue to make rapid progress, so nobody will be able to say whether it would have made more progress more rapidly if the change had not taken place. Therefore, although we believe it is a mistake, at this stage at any rate, to separate the atomic energy activities of the Government from a Government Department and to set up this new Authority, we wish that those who will now guide and control it will be successful, and we shall give them all the help we can to ensure that their activities serve the nation increasingly and as speedily as possible. We shall do this because we realise that on their shoulders lies an enormous responsibility, and that on the success of their activities will depend more perhaps than on the politicians and statesmen who guide this country on economic matters the prosperity of the people of this country in 50 years' time.

Therefore, while we shall oppose this Bill because we think it is unwise and foolish, because we think it is based largely on political prejudice against the Civil Service and all their works, and in favour of industrialists who are considered by the party opposite to be the only people who can do things properly on a large scale, we nevertheless hope that the new Authority to be set up will be successful in every way, particularly in the development of new power for civilian purposes, and that it will be able to contribute substantially to the economic prosperity of this country and of its people in generations to come.

8.20 p.m.

The Minister referred to this Bill as an incubator, but it depends on what is

Division No. 80.]

AYES

[8.22 p.m.

Aitken, W. T.Douglas-Hamilton, Lord MalcolmHyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.
Alport, C. J. M.Drayson, G. B.Hylton-Foster, H. B. H
Anstruther-Gray Major W. J.Drewe, Sir C.Iremonger, T. L.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Baldwin, A. E.Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Barlow, Sir JohnEcdes, Rtl. Hon. Sir D. M.Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Beach, Maj. HicksEden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Jones, A. (Halt Green)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Kaberry, D.
Bed, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Fell, A.Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Finlay, GraemeKerr, H. W.
Bishop, F. P.Fisher, NigelLancaster, Col. C. G.
Black, C. W.Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. FLangford-Holt, J. A.
Bossom, Sir A. C.Fletcher-Cooke, C.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Bowen, E. R.Foster, JohnLegh, Hon, Peter (Petersfield)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. AFraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Linstead, Sir H. N.
Boyle, Sir EdwardFraser, Sir Ian (Moreoambe & Lonsdale)Lloyd, Maj, Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Braithwaite, Sir GurneyGalbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Brooks, Henry (Hampstead)Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Brooman-While, R. C.Garner-Evans, E. H.Luoas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Browne, Jack (Govan)George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydLucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Bushan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Gower, H. R.Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bullard, D. G.Graham, Sir FergusMcAddan, S. J.
Burden, F. F. A.Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)MoCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S
Campbell, Sir DavidHall, John (Wycombe)MoKibbin, A. J.
Carr, RobertHarrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Channon, H.Harvey, Air Cdre, A. V. (Maoolesfield)Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Harvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMaitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Herneastle)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Hay, JohnMaitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Cole, NormanHeald, Rt- Hon. Sir LionelMarkham, Major Sir Frank
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Heath, EdwardMarlowe, A. A. H.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertHiggs, J. M. C.Maude, Angus
Cooper-Key, E. M.Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Maydon, Lt. Comdr. S. L. C.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Hirst, GeoffreyMedlicott, Brig. F.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Hope, Lord JohnMellor, Sir John
crostwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Molson, A. H. E.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Horobin, I. M.Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Darting, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)Moore, Sir Thomas
Davidson, ViscountessHudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Nabarro, G. D. N.
Deedes, W. F.Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.Neave, Array
Digby, S. WingfieldHutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)Nicholls, Harmar
Doughty, C. J. A.Hutchison, James (Sootstoun)Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)

likely to come out of the incubator. While the Minister is being given power to utilise atomic energy for civilian purposes, he is also being given a blank cheque to manufacture atom bombs and hydrogen bombs. In those circumstances, we must look upon this Bill with a certain amount of misgiving.

While we cordially agree with the development of atomic energy for useful peace-time purposes, for relieving the burden and toil of mankind, we must register a protest that under this Bill, under a cloak of secrecy, a great deal of scientific brain and energy will be devoted to manufacturing weapons for atomic warfare. If there had been no such possibility we could have given the Bill an even more cordial welcome. If this Bill is used for the development of atomic energy for war purposes, for the development of bombs with which to blast other countries—even in the sacred name of defence—it will be found to be a curse and not a blessing.

Question put.

The House divided: Noes,167.

Nield, Basil (Chester)Ryder, Capt. R. E. DThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Nugent, G. R. H.Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Odey, G. W.Savory, Prof. Sir DouglasThornton-Kemsley, Col. C N
O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.Tilney, John
Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Scott, R. DonaldTouche, Sir Gordon
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Shepherd, WilliamVane, W. M. F.
Page, R. G.Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Perkins, Sir RobertSmithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)Vosper, D. F.
Pickthorn, K. W. M.Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)Wakenfield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Pilkington, Capt. R. A.Spearman, A. C. M.Walker-Smith, D. C.
Powell, J. EnochSpens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensinglon, S.)Wall, P. H. B.
Raikes, Sir VictorStanley, Capt. Hon. RichardWard, Hon. George (Worcester)
Rayner, Brig. R.Stevens, G. P.Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Redmayne, M.Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C
Rees-Davies, W. R.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)Watkinson, H. A.
Remnant, Hon. P.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Renton, D. L. M.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)Wellwood, W.
Ridsdate, J. E.Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Robertson, Sir DavidStud holme, H. G.Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)Summers, G. S.Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Sutcliffe, Sir HaroldWills, Gerald
Roper, Sir HaroldTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Ropner, Col. Sir LeonardTaylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Russell, R. S.Teeling, W.

TELLERS FOR THE AYES:

Mr. Oakshott and Mr. Allan

NOES

Adams, RichardHealey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Proctor, W. T.
Albu, A. H.Herbison, Miss M.Pryde, D. J.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Hewitson, Capt. MRankin, John
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Hobson, C. R.Reeves, J.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Holman, P.Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Bacon, Miss AliceHough Ion, DouglasReid, William (Camlachie)
Baird, J.Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Rhodes, H.
Bartley, P.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Richards, R.
Benn, Hon. WedgwoodHugnes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Robens, Rt. Hon. A
Benson, G.Hynd, H. (Accrington)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Beswick, F.Hynd, J. B. (Atteroliffe)Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Blackburn, F.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Blenkinsop, A.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)Ross, William
Blyton, W. R.Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Short, E. W.
Boardman, H.Jeger, George (Goole)Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Bowden, H. W.Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethJohnson, James (Rugby)Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Brockway, A. F.Jones, David (Hartlepool)Skeffington, A. M.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. DJones, Jack (Rotherham)Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Brown, Thomas (lnce)Keenan, W.Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)
Burton, Miss F. E.Key, Rt. Hon. C. WSnow, J. W.
Chapman, W. D.King, Dr. H. M.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Chetwynd, G. R.Lawson, G. M.Sparks, J. A.
Clunie, J.Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Collick, P. H.Lindgren, G. S.Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall
Corbet, Mrs. FredaLipton, Lt.-Col. M.Swingler, S. T.
Cove, W. G.MacColl, J. E.Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)McGovern, J.Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Crossman, R. H. S.McKay, John (Wallsend)Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Daines, p.McLeavy, F.Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Darling, George (Hillsborough)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Tomney, F.
Davies, Harold (Leek)Mann, Mrs. JeanUngoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Delargy, H. J.Manuel, A. C.Viant, S. P.
Dodds, N. N.Mason, RoyWallace, H. W.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Mellish, R. JWarbey, W. N.
Edelman, M.Messer, Sir F.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)Mitchison, G. R.Wells, Percy (Faverham)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Moody, A. S.Wells, William (Walsall)
Evans, Edward (Lowesloft)Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.Wheeldon, W. E.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Morley, R.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E)
Fienburgh, W.Morris, Percy (Swansea, w.)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)Wigg, George
Follick, M.Moyle, A.Wilkins, W. A.
Forman, J. C.Mulley, F. W.Willey, F. T.
Gibson, C. W.Neal, Harold (Bolsover)Williams, David (Neath)
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Oliver, G. HWilliams, Ronald (Wigan)
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)Orbaoh, M.Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Grey, C. F.Osweld, T.Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Palmer, A. M. FWilliams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Pannell, CharlesWillis, E. G.
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Parker, J.Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, S.)
Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)Parkin, B. TWyatt, W. L.
Hamilton, W. W.Pearson, A.Yates, V. F.
Hannan, W.Perter, T. F.
Hargreaves, A.Popplewell, E.

TELLERS FOR THE NOES:

Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Porter, G.Mr. Royle and Mr. Arthur Allen
Hayman, F. H.Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.