Oral Answers to Questions — Tribunals of Inquiry (Report)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1966.

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Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury 12:00 am, 24th November 1966

asked the Prime Minister what action he proposes to take on the report of the Royal Commission on Tribunals of Inquiry.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I have as yet nothing to add to the Answer I gave on 10th November to a similar Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton).—[Vol. 735, c. 353.]

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

I recognise that the Government must have time to consider these recommendations, but would the Prime Minister consider whether he might not expedite those recommendations which relate to the production of witnesses at these tribunals, particularly in relation to the Mountbatten Inquiry on the escape of George Blake, because this arose in the Bossard case?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

As the hon. Member recalls, hon. Members in all parts of the House had some anxieties about the way in which these tribunals were run. That was why the Government appointed the Royal Commission. It is a very valuable Report. We are considering it. I certainly agree that, in view of what is currently going on, urgency should be given to looking at the question of witnesses, though the hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Mount-batten Inquiry is not a tribunal under the 1921 Act.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

In view of the very important issues involved, which affect the liberty of the subject, will the Prime Minister do everything in his power to expedite some kind of decision by the Government on the findings of this Inquiry?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Yes; I will certainly do it as quickly as possible. It may be that we could reach a conclusion on some of these ahead of others. For example, in the case of the Aberfan Inquiry, the Government announced in advance, instead of waiting for a report by the tribunal after the tribunal ended, that we were prepared to provide public money to ensure that relatives of those who had been killed could be collectively represented. This was a big change from previous practice. We have studied the Report in the light of the Aberfan Inquiry which is now sitting. As I explained to the House when I moved the Resolution setting up the Aberfan Inquiry, we must take the law as it is and not as it might be when the House has had time to digest the Royal Commission's Report.