Surveillance: Members

Home Department written question – answered on 30th April 2008.

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Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions hon. Members who have taken the Oath have been the subject of (a) surveillance, (b) intercept since 1997; on how many occasions hon. Members have been party to conversations or meetings while the other person has been the subject of (a) surveillance and (b) intercept since 1997; and what the terms of the Wilson doctrine are.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing), Home Office

holding answer 26 February 2008

It has been the longstanding practice for successive Governments not to comment on surveillance or interception operations. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair's written answer to Norman Baker MP on the terms of the Wilson Doctrine on 19 December 2001, Hansard, column 367W, and his subsequent confirmation that it continues to apply 30 March 2006, Hansard, columns 95 and 96WS. His earlier written reply to a question by Norman Baker on 4 December 1997, Hansard, column 321W, made it clear that the Wilson Doctrine applied to telephone interception and to the use of electronic surveillance by any of the three security and intelligence agencies. This is still the position.

As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced to the House on 21 February 2008, Hansard, column 539, conversations between Members of Parliament doing their constituency business with their constituents should be considered as "confidential information", and treated in the same way as other confidential information, such as conversations between a person and their lawyer or Minister of Religion. The relevant Codes of Practice will be amended.

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