Building Workers: Shrewsbury

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 25th March 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Anderson David Anderson Labour, Blaydon 11:30 am, 25th March 2015

If he will expedite the review of papers held on people convicted in 1973 in relation to alleged incidents during the national building workers’ strike at building sites in the Shrewsbury area so that the review is completed as soon as possible.

Photo of David Anderson David Anderson Labour, Blaydon

I am very grateful for that answer, and I wish I believed it. Sadly, it was confirmed in a debate yesterday afternoon that despite this House overwhelmingly agreeing on 23 January last year that the papers would be released—and that Ministers would assist in getting the papers released—they have not been. The campaign has consistently met blockages. I am calling on the Minister to bring forward the release of these papers as quickly as possible and to stop the 43-year cover-up, which will see innocent men going to their graves as convicted criminals to protect the Tory Ministers of 40 years ago. It is a disgrace.

Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Minister for Government Policy

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is unaware of the actual situation. The review of which he speaks is under way at present, but the papers—and the particular parts of those papers that were kept back on security grounds—have all been given to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which has looked at them and is using them in the course of its review. There is no question of any injustice of the kind he describes occurring as a result of the lack of those papers being present. I, however, assure the hon. Gentleman that if I find myself in my current post after the election, I shall seek to expedite the review.

Photo of Bob Russell Bob Russell Liberal Democrat, Colchester

Mr Anderson asked a serious question. This was an establishment stitch-up 42 years ago, and for 42 years it has been an establishment cover-up. Does the Minister not realise that there cannot possibly be any state security reasons why the records of an industrial dispute should not be made public?

Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Minister for Government Policy

My hon. Friend is also suffering from a misconception. The bulk of the papers involved were released. The bits that were not released relate to security and make specific references to the security services and their activities. Those are being reviewed, and a decision will be made. He is absolutely right that the crucial point is that the people involved deserve justice, so the CCRC needs to see the unexpurgated version, and it has. It has been given full sight of all the papers.

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

It is increasingly clear that there is simply no justification for the delay in the review or for the refusal to release the full papers about the case. The Minister may refuse to act, but a Labour Government will act. We will release those papers with the urgency that the situation demands. Justice delayed is justice denied. Why is he so determined to ignore the will of Parliament, ignore the public and ignore the urgency of the situation, and why will he not release the papers now?

Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Minister for Government Policy

I am sorry that the shadow Minister wrote that question before she heard my previous answers. If, as I hope she will not, she finds herself a Minister after the election and has to make this decision—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] If she finds herself in that position, I hope that she will discover the truth, which I have already told the House—that the CCRC has already seen the papers, so there is no question of justice being either delayed or denied.