Security Information

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th June 1993.

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Photo of Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes , Wimbledon 12:00 am, 24th June 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultation he has had about the co-ordination of security information between police forces.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My Department keeps closely in touch with police forces and the Security Service about these arrangements. Lead responsibility for intelligence work against Irish Republican terrorism in Great Britain was transferred to the Security Service in October and I am not persuaded that further changes are necessary.

Photo of Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes , Wimbledon

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, at a time when crime is becoming ever more sophisticated, it is ridiculous that there is not one proper centre to co-ordinate intelligence between the 43 police forces in England and Wales? Can he give the House an undertaking that he will overhaul and streamline the system so that drug trafficking, terrorism and other vicious crimes do not flourish?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am as keen as my hon. Friend to make sure that such crimes do not flourish, but I am not satisfied that the present arrangements need to be changed in the way that he suggests. As I said a few moments ago, lead responsibility for intelligence work in terrorism has been transferred to the Security Service. The head of the anti-terrorist branch has a co-ordinating responsibility in relation to police work in this area. I am not satisfied that a case has been made for any change in those arrangements.,

Photo of Rt Hon David Trimble Rt Hon David Trimble , Upper Bann

May I urge the Home Secretary to reconsider what he has just said and to look again seriously at suggestions recently made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath)? It is clear that there is a need for more to be done. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that it is also clear that on both sides of the Irish sea the security services are not having the desired success? Consequently, there is merit in the suggestion that a senior Minister with authority throughout the United Kingdom should be appointed to tackle this issue.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am not persuaded that the hon. Gentleman's case has been made out. It would, for example, be very odd if we were to remove responsibility for security operations in the Province from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I am not satisfied that what the hon. Gentleman suggests would constitute an improvement in the arrangements.

Photo of Mr Rupert Allason Mr Rupert Allason , Torbay

Is my right hon. and learned Friend satisfied by the exchange of information between the Security Service and West Mercia police force in relation to the murder of Miss Hilda Murrell? Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the author of a recent book, who has raised allegedly new evidence on this case, is in fact a dog handler for the RAF police, with Security Service experience of some 20 years ago, who has been misrepresented by the publishers of the hook as a serving member of the Security Service?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I note my hon. Friend's comments. I have nothing further to add to what was said by my hon. Friend a few moments ago on this question.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

What happened to the co-ordination between the security forces and the police force at the time that Asil Nadir decided to flee the country? Is it a fact that the British establishment and the Tory Government aided and abetted Asil Nadir to get out of the country, because he would have spilled the beans about all the Tory Ministers and Tory MPs if he had got into court?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I shall leave others to comment upon the paranoia of the hon. Gentleman's conspiracy theories. I am perfectly satisfied with the arrangements for co-ordination that have been in existence for some time, including during the period to which the hon. Gentleman refers.