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Security (Romer Committee's Report)

Volume 644: debated on Wednesday 12 July 1961

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asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether the allegation made in 1954 that Henry Houghton was taking secret papers out of the Underwater Detection Establishment at Portland, as stated in paragraph 4 of the summary of the Romer Committee's findings, was true.

As I said on 5th July, I cannot elaborate on the summary of the Romer Committee's main findings which has been circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Does the Civil Lord recollect telling me on 20th June that in fact Houghton never had any access to secret information? Must not that fact have been perfectly well known to his immediate superior, to whom this allegation was made? In that case, does it not render that person very much more culpable than if in fact Houghton had had such access, because in that case he might merely have been taking the stuff home to do a little homework? In those circumstances, can my hon. Friend say whether this junior official has been suspended from duty prior to the disciplinary action which no doubt it is intended to bring against him?

As my hon. and gallant Friend knows, all these three persons are the subject of disciplinary proceedings at the moment and it would be wrong to anticipate the outcome of those proceedings.


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what disciplinary measures have been taken arising from the Report of the Romer Committee.

In view of the scathing comments made by the Romer Committee, why is it taking the Admiralty so long to decide what it is to do? Is there any reason for the delay? Surely, all the facts are known by now—or I should hope so.

I think it only right that people who have been accused should be given a proper opportunity to defend themselves, and make counter-statements. We are looking into the matter, and hope in due course to make a statement of our reply.

What does the hon. Gentleman mean by the words "due course"? When does he expect to be able to make a statement?

I imagine, probably two or three weeks—something of that sort of period.