375 Shedden to Chifley
Letter, [LONDON], 1 July 1949
The United Kingdom Defence Research Policy Committee through its representative in Washington, has been in consultation with the United States Authorities on the general question of disclosure of United States technical information. This subject relates both to Western Union countries and members of the British Commonwealth, and, in the latter respect, Australia's special position is linked with it.
2. The following United Kingdom proposal is under discussion between the United Kingdom and United States Authorities:-
'Defence information should be divided into three categories, A, B and C. Information in category A would be divulged to a third party only by special agreement between the two Governments in each case; information in category B would be divulged only after clearance with the United States through standing machinery which would be set up for the purpose; and all information in category C would be disclosed entirely at our discretion.'
The crux of this proposal is the list of matters which would appear under each category, especially 'C' and the countries in whose favour the United Kingdom would exercise its discretion. This may lead the Americans to propose the transfer of a considerable number of subjects from category 'C' to category 'B'.
3. In regard to what is described as 'the special difficulty about the transmission of information to Australia', it is stated that Dr. Compton, Chairman of the United States Research and Development Board, has asked the United Kingdom Authorities informally for assurances on the following five points relating to the security of the Long Range Weapons Organisation in Australia:-
'(1) Are we (i.e. the United Kingdom) satisfied as to the security of the Australian personnel employed on the project?
(2) Are we satisfied as to the security governing the transmission of information and material in either direction between England and the Long Range Weapons Organisation in Australia?
(3) Are we satisfied as to the security arrangements within the Long Range Weapons Organisation in Australia?
(4) Can it be arranged for access to technical information to be denied to anyone in Australia, no matter who he may be, who is not actually working within the Long Range Weapons Organisation?
(5) Are we prepared to agree to the appointment of an American liaison officer to the staff of the Long Range Weapons Organisation?'
4. In regard to the answers, it will be recalled that I passed to the United States Authorities in Washington copies of :-
(a) the brief on Security Measures in Australia;
(b) the brief on the Security Plan of the Long Range Weapons Organisation;
(c) the Security Review to November 1948, showing the action taken to implement the Plan for the Long Range Weapons Organisation.
The United Kingdom Authorities have copies of (b) and (c) which should enable them to give satisfactory assurances to questions (1) and (3) and the Australian end of (2).
5. The answer to question (4) hinges on what precisely is meant by 'technical information'. If this relates purely to scientific and technological information and data incidental to trials and tests, assurance could be given. However, in Australia, responsibility for advice on Research and Development Policy is vested in the Defence Research and Development Policy Committee, and the Defence Committee is responsible to the Minister for Defence for advice on over-all Defence Policy. The responsibility for executive action on the Research and Development Policy is vested in the Minister for Supply and Development in whose Department there is a Long Range Weapons Board of Administration. If the restriction on disclosure of 'technical information' does not debar the Minister for Defence, the Defence Committee and the Defence Research and Development Policy Committee from information which is essential for discharging their functions and responsibilities in relation to Long Range Weapons Policy, and the Minister for Supply and Development his functions and responsibilities in relation to executive action, a satisfactory assurance could be given to question (4).
8. I have expressed the opinion in London that the Australian Government will be satisfied with nothing less than a total settlement of the whole question of classified information, and said that we are not importunate bankrupts who would be content with a certificate of discharge for ten shillings in the pound, when we know that we are entitled to a full discharge based on our past record of defence co-operation in war and peace, the commitments assumed under the present programme, and the measures taken for the protection of defence information. Accordingly any approach to a partial settlement relating only to the Long Range Weapons Organisation must be governed by the condition that its ultimate acceptance is dependent on a settlement over the whole field. In this connection I would refer to the following passage in minute No. 7/1949 by the Australian Defence Research and Development Policy Committee relating to the Long Range Weapons Programme:-
'A further example of the effects of restrictions on the use of information of United States origin concerns the V.T. Fuze trials which are to be carried out at Woomera under a special provision that certain information should be available only to officers of the Ministry of Supply and not to Australian officers of the Long Range Weapons Organisation, thus departing from the provisions of the Memorandum of Arrangements.' (See Appendix for relative provisions).
I would submit that distinctions of this nature between the reliability of Australian and United Kingdom officers working in an Australian Department are unacceptable to the Australian Government, and would not be countenanced in any partial settlement relating to the Long Range Weapons Organisation which may be arrived at.
9. I shall be glad to be informed as soon as possible:-
(i) Whether the views expressed by me in paragraph 5 on the answer to question (4) meet with your approval.
(ii) Whether the views expressed by me in paragraph 8 meet with your approval that a settlement over the whole field of classified information is imperative, and that any approach to a partial settlement must be governed by the condition that its ultimate acceptance is dependent on the over-all settlement.
10. A cabled reply would be much appreciated, as I have stated that, as questions of principle at the Government level are involved, I would submit my views to you to ascertain if you agreed with them.
[AA : A5954, 1795/3]