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Security (Romer Committee's Report)

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1961

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asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty why the authorities at Portland were not informed of the reason for Houghton's recall from Poland.

This omission was partly due to the method of keeping the personal records of Admiralty civil staff. But in 1952, prior to the Report of the Privy Councillors, character defects such as excessive drinking habits, which would not have barred Houghton from employment in a non-secret job, would not necessarily have been reported.


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if he will set out the security criteria of 1952 refered to in paragraph 2 of the Summary of the main findings of the Romer Committee.

I could not undertake to set out all the security criteria applied in 1952, or now, but the main change which has taken place is the greater emphasis given to the relationship between defects of character and security following the report in 1956 of the Committee of Privy Councillors in Command 9715.


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether disciplinary action is being taken against any one in the Admiralty for failing to press the inquiry with regard to Houghton to a positive conclusion in 1956.

Paragraph 6 of the summary of the Committee's findings states that the report forwarded to the Admiralty was incomplete and misleading. The summary did not attribute blame to any particular individual in the Admiralty for the failure to press the matter to a positive conclusion. My noble Friend has, however, instituted a review of the Admiralty's internal organisation for security.


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what inconsistency has been found to exist between the Government security policy and the security rules issued by the Admiralty.

The inconsistency referred to in the Report related to certain administrative arrangements for the handling of secret documents. Instructions have been issued for the removal of this inconsistency.

55. and 56.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty (1) who informed a junior official that Houghton was taking secret documents out of the Underwater Detection Establishment; and what were the circumstances in which such information was given;(2) whether the informant of the junior official at the Underwater Detection Establishment reported to the security officer that Houghton was taking secret papers out of the establishment.

57 and 58.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty (1) if he will state the circumstances in which Houghton was twice brought to the attention of the authorities at the Underwater Detection Establishment as a probable security risk;(2) if he will state the particulars in which the report made by the security officer at Portland, referred to in the Romer Report, was misleading.

Evidence was taken by the Romer Committee in camera and witnesses were given to understand that it would be treated as confidential. Moreover, some of the matters referred to in these Questions are relevant to disciplinary action at present in train.In these circumstances I do not feel that it would be right or fair to elaborate on the summary of the Committee's main findings which has been circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.