Telephone Tapping

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th February 1981.

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Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Keighley 12:00 am, 5th February 1981

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the review by Lord Diplock on telephone tapping has yet been completed.

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has received Lord Diplock's first report on the interception of communications in Great Britain.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Keighley

Will the Home Secretary agree that telephone tapping is an interference with the freedom of the individual in a democratic society? To that end will he accept that the first report should be published as a matter of urgency, as it is 10 months since the review was first announced, in order to avoid charges of a cover-up? Will he give serious consideration to publishing subsequent Diplock reviews so that the matter may be brought under public scrutiny in the House and those suspicions about telephone tapping may be eradicated by proper and full public scrutiny?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made it clear that Lord Diplock's first report will be published shortly. Thereafter, we shall consider what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Photo of Mr Percy Grieve Mr Percy Grieve , Solihull

Bearing in mind the value which will undoubtedly attach to the dispassionate review by Lord Diplock, will my right hon. Friend also bear in mind that his first function is the protection of the State and that some measure of telephone tapping will remain essential to that end, whatever Government are in power and under whatever circumstances?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I agree with my hon. and learned Friend.

Photo of Mr George Cunningham Mr George Cunningham , Islington South and Finsbury

Does the Secretary of State remember that this report and the White Paper published last April related only to the police, Customs and Excise and the security service, which is under his own authority? In view of recent public allegations, can he assure the House that there is no trespassing on the Home Secretary's preserve by any surveillance conducted by a service answerable to the Foreign Secretary?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I set out the position in my previous statements. I have nothing to add.