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Documents (Security Classification)

Volume 976: debated on Wednesday 16 January 1980

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asked the Minister for the Civil Service what the criteria are by which documents are currently classified as, respectively, restricted, confidential, secret and top secret.

a) RESTRICTED

Information the unauthorised disclosure of which would be undesirable in the interests of the nation;

( b) CONFIDENTIAL

Information the unauthorised disclosure of which would be prejudicial to the interests of the nation;

( c) SECRET

Information the unauthorised disclosure of which would cause serious injury to the interests of the nation;

( d) TOP SECRET

Information the unauthorised disclosure of which would cause exceptionally grave damage to the nation.

The "interests of the nation" are interpreted broadly, and are not confined to national security in the military sense.