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Naval Security

Volume 234: debated on Wednesday 2 August 1961

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My Lords, may I ask the Question of which I have given Private Notice: To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any further statement to make about the action being taken as a result of the Report of the Romer Committee?

My Lords, as I announced to the House in the course of the Navy Estimates debate, I have decided to set up a single Department of Security in the Admiralty. After considering a number of different candidates I have decided to appoint Colonel J. L. A. Macafee, Royal Marines, as the first Director of this new Department. Colonel Macafee has the necessary background and experience far this post. He has served as a Provost Marshal, as a Staff Officer, Intelligence, and, for the last seven months, as a Deputy Director of the Naval Intelligence Department directly concerned with security. He has also commanded two different Royal Marine Commandos.

Further, as a result of disciplinary proceedings following the Romer Report, I have now decided to terminate the appointment of the security officer who was criticised by the Committee. Disciplinary proceedings in the other two cases are still in progress.

My Lords, I am much obliged to the First Lord of the Admiralty for his Answer. I am quite sure that he has probably made a good choice in this experienced Colonel of the Royal Marines, but may I ask him whether he had under review, at the time of making the appointment, any civilian persons who were suitable for the post?

Yes, my Lords. I did consider whether or not I should appoint anybody from outside, and I had a number of names which were suggested to me. But on balance I thought it would be better to have somebody from within the Admiralty itself, because it seemed to me that the best way of engendering a sense of security is from within rather than by imposing it from outside. Also, any newcomer would inevitably need time to get to know the Department, which is a large one, its out-stations and the Fleet, as well as the Admiralty's security procedures and rules. I was also anxious to maintain the momentum of the measures I instituted before the Romer Committee was appointed. At the same time, I have obtained somebody from outside who is knowledgeable about security to help Colonel Macafee.

My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord. May I ask him whether I am right in assuming that the two remaining further inquiries on a disciplinary basis are the executive officer of the post and the civil servant?

No, my Lords—the civil servant and the Captain of the establishment at the time.

My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he is making arrangements to have proper contact with other security services in the Government, because as I understand it that was one of the breakdowns in the old arrangement.

My Lords. I am doing that, though I would not entirely agree with the noble Lord that that was the trouble before. But certainly I am arranging that.