The Problem of Internal Security in Great Britain, 1948-1953

The Problem of Internal Security in Great Britain, 1948-1953

The Problem of Internal Security in Great Britain, 1948-1953

The Problem of Internal Security in Great Britain, 1948-1953

Excerpt

This study is designed to investigate the political and social effects of national security measures. It is an attempt to describe some of the problems faced by a democratic government in its efforts to maintain national security without jeopardizing democratic values, civil liberties, and the political freedoms of its citizens. All governments are, of course, required to tighten security measures in times of international tension. In a free society, however, it is essential that these measures not be permitted to inhibit normal political disagreement or create a climate of opinion in which controversy becomes suspect.

Only part of the problem is revealed by an examination of the pertinent laws, civil service regulations, or administrative orders. No attempt has been made to cover the whole field of civil liberties in Britain. We have tried to focus attention on the central problem of the government security program and its impact on the society. For this purpose we have briefly sketched the background against which the security program operates. An important element of the problem is the way in which formal procedures and pronouncements are interpreted by those concerned. The perception of the security situation may prove to be more significant than the specific program. Government officials, members of Parliament, trade union leaders, faculty members, university officials, officers of professional organizations, members of local school authorities have been interviewed to discover how these people view the security measures and how their behavior has been affected by them.

It is noteworthy that there is little published material specifically treating civil liberties in Britain. We have indicated some of the most useful publications in a selected bibliography. There have been no studies of the government security program, except for the excellent analysis by Miss Eleanor Bontecou which has been reprinted as an appendix in her book, The Federal Loyalty and Security Program.

Though certainly not definitive, we feel that our treatment of the security program in Britain represents an adequate appraisal; it is based on continuous observation of political developments in Britain since 1948. Between 1948 and 1953, we have made four visits to Britain and interviewed scores . . .

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