§ Mr. Foulkes
asked the Prime Minister, pursuant to her reply of 17 April, Official Report, column 173, if she will explain the nature of the documents withheld from the Australian Royal commission on grounds of (a) international relations and (b) personal sensitivity; and how many documents were withheld in each case.
§ The Prime Minister
The Australian Royal commission is well aware that a very small amount of material involving the interests of third countries has been withheld where disclosure would damage the United Kingdom's international relations. Other material has been provided to the Royal Commission after consultation with the countries concerned.
Considerations of personal sensitivity apply mainly to medical or radiation dose information, which in the United Kingdom may not be published without the consent of the individual concerned. By deleting names in many cases it has been possible to supply relevant information without infringing personal sensitivity. The number of documents relevant to the terms of reference of the Australian Royal Commission withheld on these grounds is small, compared with the several thousand already supplied.
The Australian authorities are well aware of the position; Senator Evans, Australian Minister for Resources and Energy, in answer to a question in the Australian Senate on 19 April, stated that it was his understanding that the United Kingdom Government had been co-operating with the Royal Commission and that there was no belief in the Commission that it had now been denied access to documents of significance for its inquiry and its conclusions. Senator Evans went on to say that he had no reason to believe that there was any degree of concern at all in the Commission about the level of cooperation by the United Kingdom Government.