§ Mr. Arnold
asked the Prime Minister if she will estimate the number of people who have access to material covered by the provisions of the Official Secret Acts; and of these, how many have signed a formal declaration of secrecy.
§ The Prime Minister
The provisions of the Official Secrets Acts exist for the protection of all "official" information, whether classified or unclassified, written or otherwise. It is impossible to estimate the number of persons with access to such a wide range of material, but the following groups can be expected to have accessCrown servants (including Ministers, civil servants, members of the armed forces and police force);Members of other public bodies to whom the Government have entrusted official information;Persons employed by or serving under the control of any of the preceding groups to whom access is authorised.
The Acts' provisions will apply whether or not a formal declaration is signed. Nevertheless, many of those listed above, including Ministers, all members of the non-industrial Civil Service and the armed forces, are required to sign a form of declaration certifying that they are aware of the provisions of the Acts and of the serious consequences which may follow any breach of them.