ABSTRACT

Action in Whitehall switched back to amending OSA 1889, and to tightening up internal security. In Parliament, the Lord Chancellor, Loreburn,120 gave his opinion on the lack of protection afforded by the existing OSA to the secret correspondence of Ministers, the Viceroy of India, and HM Ambassadors.121 A new draft OSA was introduced in March 1908. It aimed not only to strengthen the law on espionage, but also to prohibit the unauthorised publication by any person of official information unless in the interests of the State, and to extend the application of the Bill beyond government employees and contractors to any member of the public. Despite assurances from the Lord Chancellor that ‘anyone in the Press conducting his duties honourably would be quite safe’, neither the press nor Parliament were convinced that reporting of governmental business would not be adversely affected by such amendments. In May 1908, the Second Reading of the Bill was abandoned, although the Government made clear it had no intention of dropping the subject.