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D Notices

Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence having regard to his observations upon the third report from the Defence Committee for Session 1979–80 Cmnd. 8129, whether the defence press and broadcasting committee has now reached a conclusion on its review of the D notice system.

The defence press and broadcasting committee has now completed its review of the D notice system and has informed the Government of its conclusions.The D notices themselves have been revised and reduced in number from 12 to 8. They have been kept in general terms in the belief that advice on details of application or interpretation can best be conveyed in consultation with the D notice secretary. D notices will continue to be advisory and the system will remain entirely voluntary with no legal sanction. The final responsibility for the decision whether or not to publish will continue to lie solely with the editor or publisher concerned.

The committee is convinced of the continuing need for a system which seeks to protect information on national security matters whose publication would be harmful to the nation. It considers that many of the difficulties and misconceptions concerning the D notice system which have arisen in the past have been the result of a lack of general understanding of its purpose and how it works, and that it would be of benefit if these were more widely known. To this end, a description of the system has been included in a general introduction to the D notices and this introduction is being widely circulated.

The Government have considered the conclusions of the defence press and broadcasting committee's review and give them their full support.

A copy of the new D notices together with the general introduction has been placed in the Library.