National Security

– in the House of Commons at 11:18 am on 16th November 1979.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife 11:18 am, 16th November 1979

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the newspapers this morning, there are further references and revelations concerning the espionage scandal involving Professor Blunt. It is clear from those revelations that for many years this amazing story has been kept under wraps by what I loosely call a conspiracy of the Establishment.

Had today not been a Friday, I would have sought to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9. As I cannot do that, I should like to give notice that I shall do so on Monday. It is clear that the Government do not intend to allow us a debate on the matter. That was made clear in exchanges yesterday, and the course that I propose seems to be the only immediate alternative open to me. I give you notice, Mr. Speaker, that I shall raise the matter under Standing Order No. 9 on Monday.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Further to that point of of order, Mr. Speaker. I concur with the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), but I go further and say that, in the light of the revelations in the past 24 hours, the absence of a statement by any of the Ministers concerned, the fact that we hear that ex-Prime Ministers such as Lord Home knew nothing about the affair and that Rab Butler has said the same thing on the wireless this morning, questions are being asked outside the House by thousands, maybe millions, of people as to who is running the country and whether there is a network over and above the democratically elected Government.

Ex-Prime Ministers apparently did not understand what was taking place. It is high time that this squalid Tory Government got someone to the Dispatch Box in order to answer some very important questions.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. I have taken the hon. Gentleman's point of order and note that he supports the application made by the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton).

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Keighley

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I attempted to raise a point of order last Friday, but you said that the matter had been concluded and I accepted your ruling.

The country is greatly concerned about the startling revelations that have been made. It is not good enough for hon. Members to be given information in a written answer. It is a convention that only minor matters are dealt with by way of written exchange, and that is not good enough on a scandal of national proportions.

As the Leader of the House is present, and as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) invited him last Friday to state whether the Government would consider a debate or whether they would continue with what appears to have been an Establishment cover-up, may I ask, through you, Mr. Speaker, that the Leader of the House tells us whether the Government are prepared to consider that this matter should be debated and that an authoritative statement should be made on whether there are other "moles"—whether it is one or, as has been alleged, 20—so that it can be brought out into the open, with the wraps lifted, and so that people may know precisely where they stand on this issue and whether there is an inner Government or whether we have a democratically elected Government operating?

Photo of Mr Chris Price Mr Chris Price , Lewisham West

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. While associating myself with the points that have been made, I would, on a point of order, put it, through you, to the Leader of the House

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. I am not a messenger boy. The hon. Gentleman makes his point of order to me, and requests to the Government, which I overlooked in the case of the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer)—because I thought that the longest way round was the shortest way home—should not be made on a point of order. The hon. Gentleman will have his opportunity, but I must ask him to address his point of order to me.

Photo of Mr Chris Price Mr Chris Price , Lewisham West

I apologise, Mr. Speaker, for going the wrong way round.

In your long experience of this House, Mr. Speaker, you have seen the odd security scandal in your time, other than this one. May I ask you to confirm that there are precedents, in the Burgess and Maclean case, for bringing this subject to the Floor of the House for a full debate? I ask you to confirm that you have studied all the precedents—I am sure you have—and that there is no absolute ban on discussing very grave and important matters of this kind in a full debate on the Floor of the House.

Photo of Mr Tom McNally Mr Tom McNally , Stockport South

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You quite rightly said yesterday that you were not responsible for security. However, I put it to you that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) said, millions of people in this country cannot understand why their House of Commons cannot discuss this matter. I think that your position as defender of the rights of the House of Commons now comes into play in the matter.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

The hon. Member for Stockport, South (Mr. McNally) overlooked the fact that I was answering a specific question yesterday as to whether I was responsible. I undertake to the House that I shall give very serious consideration to the matters that have been raised. As the application by the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) will come before me on Monday, the House would not expect me to go further at this point.