Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:32 pm on 19th June 1995.

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Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 4:32 pm, 19th June 1995

No. I am not giving way again.

Similar assurances were given about the return of documents withheld by the Ministry of Defence. On 30 March this year, I wrote to the Prime Minister about the withholding of documents, asking him three specific questions. In his reply of 5 April, he said of the papers: These were in the temporary possession of the Ministry of Defence Police after they had been taken from Astra and BMARC during an investigation into corruption. These were sent to the receivers in mid-1993 when the investigations were completed. As we now know, that statement is completely false, as has again been revealed apparently by accident and not through any desire for openness.

Similarly, on 4 April this year, my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Mr. Byers) was given the same answer by the Leader of the House. We now know that those answers were untrue.

We have established that the right hon. Members for Huntingdon (Mr. Major), for Witney, for Thanet, South for St. Albans and for Braintree (Mr. Newton) have all given answers that now cannot withstand examination because they are untrue. I am sure that, given time, many more untrue answers to questions and interventions will emerge from the records of the past few years.

The matters have come to light only because of the persistence of my hon. Friends the Members for Rhondda, for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cousins), for Wallsend, for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) for Clackmannan, for Kirkcaldy and others, and not because the Government have been open.

The President of the Board of Trade was obliged to lift the veil on the real state of affairs in his statement to the House last week because he could not answer the questions from my hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, North, although a plethora of his predecessors had willy-nilly answered similar questions—wrongly, as it turns out.

Many questions, however, remain unanswered. In the circumstances, how can anyone accept that we know all there is to know? We have learnt by experience that the Government cannot be trusted on such issues, any more than they can be trusted on their promises on taxation.