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Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent) : Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman reconsider his derisory reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) a few minutes ago about what form of inquiry or debate the House will hold on matters that are causing widespread anxiety throughout the country and the House? Is it not absurd that the Leader of the House should suggest that the whole matter could be dealt with in an Adjournment debate? Surely he should consider what form of general inquiry should be held. That is what the Government will be forced to do eventually, so why does he not use his authority to initiate an inquiry sooner rather than later? In the meantime will he make sure that a sufficient number of copies of Paul Foot's book on Colin Wallace are placed in the Library so that the misinformed members of his party can catch up with the rest of us?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I am not sure that I am in the business of promoting the business of the Foot family. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary made a statement and produced a document on Tuesday dealing fully with that matter. That is an exemplar of the way in which the Government have sought to respond to any legitimate cause of anxiety about the matters raised in the book. There have been a range of inquiries. The outcome of the most recent investigations was fully reported to the

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House in the answers given on Tuesday. There is no case for further inquiries such as the right hon. Gentleman requests.

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West) : Will my right hon. and learned Friend make an early announcement about the way in which the Government propose to deal with the legislation on immigration from Hong Kong? Does he agree that the proposals are clearly a flagrant breach of the promises that were made by the Conservative party and that they involve a permanent change in the nature and composition of the British people? As there is no urgent need for the proposals, would it not be better to debate the matter on the Floor of the House so that the Government have a full opportunity to persuade the British people, against the wishes of some of us, to approve of the proposals rather than sending them for more private and disciplined consideration in Committee?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : My hon. Friend will know that procedures designed for the passage of legislation through the House include its consideration in the ordinary way by Standing Committee. This legislation will be brought before and debated by the House in the ordinary way and it will receive the consideration that it deserves. I must repudiate absolutely the suggestion that the legislation, when it comes forward, will represent a breach of any kind of breach, let alone a flagrant breach, by the Government.

Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar) : I recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Social Security asking how many people in my constituency are in receipt of invalid care allowance and I received the answer that that figure was not available. Will the Leader of the House please look into that and try to discover why that figure is not available since the local DSS office must surely know who is in receipt of that benefit?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I cannot answer for the statistical pattern of information available, but I shall bring the hon. Lady's point to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone) : Will my right hon. and learned Friend find time, additional to that allocated on the Order Paper today, to discuss the five important motions that will affect the rights that Back- Bench Members have enjoyed for decades? As we are to have an important statement this afternoon, which will inevitably eat into the time allowed for that debate, and as that debate must finish at 7 o'clock, not much more than an hour and a half will be available. Given the importance of the motions to be considered, does my right hon. and learned Friend consider that that is sufficient?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : My hon. Friend will understand that that is one reason why you, Mr. Speaker, have said that this is a case for a shorter than usual time to be allotted to business questions. My hon. Friend will also understand that the motions are the result of recommendations from the Select Committee on Procedure and that they have been before the House for consideration for a long time.

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) : May we have an urgent statement on the issue of compensation for Christmas

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island veterans? The Leader of the House is aware of the case of my constituent, John Hall, which was highlighted in early-day motion 37.

[That this House condemns the Government's policy towards compensation for ex-servicemen, like Mr. John Hall of Belgrave, Leicester, who served on Christmas Island during the nuclear tests in the 1950's and who as a result of this are suffering from the effects of exposure to radiation ; and calls upon the Government to seize this opportunity to show compassion and justice by awarding substantial compensation to our Christmas Island veterans without further delay.]

Mr. Hall is dying of leukaemia and he has five separate medical reports which connect his serious illness to the events on Christmas Island. Today, with all-party support, he began legal proceedings against the Government because of their failure to pay compensation. Does not the Leader of the House believe that it would be fair and just in all the circumstances of these cases if the Government were to save Mr. Hall the agony of High Court proceedings and pay the compensation that those veterans so richly deserve?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : The hon. Gentleman is more than familiar with the background to the topic. He knows that, despite our sympathy with any particular case, we see no reason to make special compensation arrangements for test veterans. On the other hand, we are ready to pay appropriate compensation wherever the Crown's legal liability is established and where there is firm evidence to show that, on a balance of probabilities, ex- service men have suffered ill health as a result of exposure to radiation during the course of their duties. Despite my sympathy with the point raised by the hon. Gentleman, there has been no change in the position.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South) : Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept that, whatever my hon. Friends the Members for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) and for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) might say, there is strong support on the Conservative Benches for what many of us consider to be an honourable recognition of national responsibilities which is in no sense a repudiation of any manifesto commitment, and that even if it were necessary to adjust a manifesto commitment, circumstances can sometimes demand such a change?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his support for the point of view that I have tried to express. The purpose of the Government's approach to the question is to take what steps are sensible and necessary to sustain the confidence of the people in Hong Kong and at the same time to reach conclusions acceptable to the British people. There will be ample opportunity to debate that matter.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) : May I press the Leader of the House on the need for a wider debate on the security services and for him as the Leader of the House to recognise that there is support on both sides of the House, certainly on the Labour Benches, for adequate parliamentary scrutinising of the security services which, to a large extent, remain a law unto themselves? With respect, Adjournment debates can be no substitute for a full-length debate. When shall we debate that matter, which has become all the more important as a result of the scandal,

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the disinformation and the rest, that have now been revealed, on which we are to have a statement in a few minutes?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : On that aspect, the hon. Gentleman will have to await the statement later this afternoon. The wider question has been the subject of debate in the House on a number of occasions over the years. It remains open to the Opposition to select one of their own days for debating that issue.

Mr. Stephen Day (Cheadle) : Will my right hon. and learned Friend find time next week to consider giving the House an opportunity to debate sentencing policy? Is he aware that my constituent, Mrs. Noone, was brutally murdered last year and the man accused of her murder recently committed suicide, unfortunately before he could be brought to trial. Is he further aware that the man accused of the crime had previously been sentenced to life which, in practice, turned out to be 12 years? Does not this unhappy incident eloquently and strongly put the case that a life sentence should mean just that--life.

Sir Geoffrey Howe : My hon. Friend understandably draws the attention of the House to the particular case with which he is rightly concerned. I shall bring it to the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, who is considering the preparation of a White Paper dealing with such matters and will be making a statement about it shortly.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Mo n) : I am sure that the Leader of the House and the House will be aware that the Sealink ship, the St. Columba, was badly damaged by fire in the Irish sea yesterday. The emergency services undertook excellent work ; of the 294 people on board, only one received minor injuries. Will he and the House join me in thanking the emergency services which included the coastguards, the fire service, the RAF at Valley, the social services department, the Women's Royal Voluntary Service, trauma counsellors, the Samaritans, police and all the others who worked so hard to minimise the injuries? He will also be aware that Sealink is conducting its own inquiry to discover the cause of the fire. Will he assure us that, if necessary, the Department of Transport will also undertake an inquiry to find out whether regulations need to be tightened to prevent such incidents? Will he pass on that message, and the congratulations of the House on the work done by the emergency services, to the appropriate Secretary of State?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I am sure that the whole House would wish me to join the hon. Gentleman in expressing our appreciation of the work carried out by the emergency services which he identified so comprehensively. I shall bring the other matter that he raised to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. There are virtually routine arrangements to ensure that such matters are considered as a matter of course.

Mr. John Bowis (Battersea) : Will my right hon. and learned Friend have another look at the possibility of a debate on the traffic and transport options for London, preferably this week but certainly before the end of this month? That will enable hon. Members to contribute to the consultative process and guide my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport along the paths of

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righteousness, which happen to be public transport paths not the publicly unwanted and environmentally damaging route of new highways.

Sir Geoffrey Howe : My hon. Friend is assiduous in drawing attention to the importance of this issue to his constituents. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport is equally assiduous in his preparation of a balanced policy to address the issue.

Mr. Ken Livingstone (Brent, East) : Will the Leader of the House find time to debate the terms of reference of the Calcutt inquiry and in a form that allows us to move amendments so that we can ensure that the inquiry investigates why it was that when Colin Wallace drew the attention of child abuse in Kincora to the attention of his superior in 1974 no action was taken and six further years of child abuse ensued? That inquiry should also investigate the links between the late Airey Neave--in writing- -with Colin Wallace, commissioning work from Colin Wallace to continue his disinformation activities. It should also investigate the information passed by Airey Neave to Peter Wright, in Peter Wright's capacity as an MI5 officer, about figures in public life. It should investigate the meeting held between Peter Wright and the late Airey Neave in the period immediately before the decision of Airey Neave to offer his campaign services to the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher). It should investigate the meeting that took place in the Cumberland hotel a week before the murder of Airey Neave, when Airey Neave sought to recruit a former officer of MI6 to set up a small group to involve itself in the internal struggles of the Labour party.

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I do not think that the House will have any enthusiasm for the way in which the hon. Gentleman has sought, through an extended intervention, to make as many allegations as possible, and many of them against a late and respected Member of this House. The matters upon which he touched have been largely the subject of fully conducted investigations, including two full reports on the allegations in respect of the Kincora boys' home. There is no case to make any special arrangements in relation to that matter.

Mr. Cecil Franks (Barrow and Furness) : My question has no association with the question asked by the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone). Has my right hon. and learned Friend noticed the remarkable similarities and parallels between the Colin Wallace case and the Stalker affair? Does he accept that in the view of many, one reason why Mr. Stalker was removed from his inquiry was that he had blundered, or was about to blunder, into the circumstances concerning the Colin Wallace case?

In those circumstances, and bearing in mind that throughout the whole of Northern Ireland questions, Prime Minister's questions and business questions there were numerous requests for various debates on various matters related either to the Colin Wallace or to the Stalker affairs, will my right hon. and learned Friend give consideration to an early debate at a suitable and convenient time?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : Obviously, I give consideration to any request made to me in the House. However, as I already said, all those matters have been the subject of full investigation in a whole range of different forums. There

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will be further opportunities to put the points raised to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence later this afternoon. Several Hon. Members rose--

Mr. Speaker : Order. We must now move on. I will ensure that those hon. Members who have not been called during business questions are called early next Thursday.

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Mr. Colin Wallace

4.1 pm

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Tom King) : With permission, I should like to make a statement about the case of Mr. Colin Wallace.

In a written answer on Tuesday to my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel (Mr. Marshall), my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces said that records had been found that brought to light information of material significance to the case of Mr. Wallace. Because those records had been overlooked, some misleading information had unwittingly been given to Members of this House by Ministers.

As regards Mr. Wallace's employment in the Civil Service, the papers revealed no evidence that the decision to terminate it in 1975 was taken for reasons other than the offence with which he was charged--namely, disclosing classified information to the media without proper authority and at a time when he had already relinquished his post at Headquarters Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, in the light of the new information about his duties that has now come to light, the Government have decided to ask Mr. David Calcutt QC to examine the papers relating to Mr. Wallace's case so that he can consider whether its presentation to the Civil Service Appeal Board may have resulted in any injustices to Mr. Wallace, and if so whether compensation should be paid.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, in a long written answer in Hansard on 30 January at column 110 set out the position that has now emerged over Mr. Wallace's case. He set out also the distinct issues as they emerge from a special re-examination of departmental records by senior officials. That re-examination showed, first, that papers previously overlooked showed that their earlier statements and letters needed to be corrected. The Government have therefore come to the House on this matter as early as possible and an inquiry is in hand within my Department into how the papers were overlooked.

Secondly, the re-examination showed that the newly found information raised a question mark over the presentation of Mr. Wallace's case to the Civil Service Appeal Board, and Mr. Calcutt will review those matters.

Thirdly, it showed that no information has been found to substantiate Mr. Wallace's allegations of a cover-up relating to the Kincora boys' home in Belfast, or to call in question the thoroughness of the major inquiries already made into that affair, including those of Sir George Terry and Judge Hughes.

Fourthly, it showed that no information was found to call into question Mr. Wallace's conviction for manslaughter, on which my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary advised the House on Tuesday.

Fifthly, it showed that none of it calls into question the conclusion stated to the House by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 6 May 1987, following a special report to her by the director-general of the Security Service, that there is no evidence to support suggestions of attempts to undermine or discredit Ministers or former Ministers.

My statement follows the detailed answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces and my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary and the published letters to right hon. and hon. Members to whom the previous incorrect answers were given. In

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their actions, which relate to events some 15 years ago and to the Administrations of that time, the Government have sought to respond promptly and candidly to meet the responsibilities that fall to them as a result of the new information, and in particular to tackle the question of possible injustice to Mr. Wallace in his Civil Service appeal.

Mr. Martin O'Neill (Clackmannan) : I thank the Secretary of State for Defence for coming to the House to make that statement, because a written answer, no matter how long, is a poor substitute for an opportunity to put questions on an issue of such

importance--especially when so many right hon. and hon. Members have been besmirched by the dirty tricks campaign, and when the very democracy that the House represents has been subject to subversion. Will the Secretary of State confirm that all Governments in the early 1970s were subject to such attacks? Why is it that it is only now, 11 years after the election of the present Government, that the information has come to light? Can the right hon. Gentleman be more explicit as to how it became available? Will he say who was responsible for granting permission to Colin Wallace to dispose of the documents? Are any of the people engaged in those activities still working in the MOD, and in positions of responsibility? Does the Secretary of State not concede that the Kincora inquiries were hampered in the past by Mr. Wallace's refusal to give evidence unless guaranteed immunity from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act? Will he consider that part of his statement, now that Mr. Wallace's status has been changed?

Does the Secretary of State agree that the latest revelations show that the questions asked over the years by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House were not the product of bizarre conspiracy theories but had substance in fact, and that what were once considered rumours are now accepted as facts? Does he agree also that the nature and scale of the allegations go far beyond the Ministry of Defence and that the inquiry announced today will be hampered by Mr. Calcutt's own admission that he can neither compel witnesses to testify nor afford protection for witnesses and their immunity from prosecution?

Does the Secretary of State not accept that an internal inquiry by the MOD, with no guarantee that its findings will be published or made available to the House, will fail to satisfy the House? Does he not recognise that the Attorney-General, the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Prime Minister herself are all involved, and that the House demands a wider and deeper inquiry than that offered today?

If the House is to clear its name, and if those who have been besmirched in the past are to keep their heads held high, the House has a responsibility to provide the means whereby the fullest and fairest inquiry can be held.

Mr. King : I would not have thought from the contribution of the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) that my statement included the information that we have made full investigations and that we were concerned as to whether the whole truth had been given. I have reported to the House--as did my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces --the outcome of those inquiries, which we took very seriously.

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We are concerned that an injustice may have been done to Mr. Colin Wallace in respect of his handling by the Civil Service Appeal Board. We are anxious that justice should be done. I am concerned that at no time did the hon. Gentleman recognise the fact that we volunteered the information. We sought to bring the information before the House and to ensure that justice is done. Although the hon. Gentleman has sought to widen the matter into a broader range of innuendo and allegation, I have absolute confidence--as will anyone who knows him--that Mr. Calcutt will seek to discharge his responsibilities in a thorough way, and certainly will not turn aside if he is not able to do it within the terms of reference that he has been given. We are certainly anxious to ensure that Mr. Calcutt's conclusions are published.

Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne) : If the Government are engaged in a cover- up, why did my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces give that detailed answer in the Official Report on Tuesday? Is it not wholly inconsistent with the allegations of a cover-up that that answer was given in the Official Report and this statement is being made today?

Mr. King : I am grateful to my hon. Friend, as that is precisely the point. We found that there were errors. We were not responding to any direct inquiry but to concern in the Ministry of Defence about matters that were being raised to see whether the information was correct. We had to refer to documents that are 15 years old which were found to be relevant.

A further extremely thorough investigation was made by a senior civil servant. As soon as the matter was brought to the attention of my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, he gave immediate instructions that all documents were to be examined to see whether any further information that might have been overlooked had come to light.

No further information was found, but I should make it absolutely clear to the House that we shall take every step necessary to ensure that any information is brought to the House. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the firm way in which he has recognised that.

Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale) : May I first acknowledge that the Secretary of State is concerned about possible injustice to Mr. Colin Wallace? But what about the injustice to the rest of us whose names have appeared on these blacklists? Is the Secretary of State aware that it is highly significant that in 1974 among the names on the blacklist were those of a former leader of my party, the then leader in the House of Lords, the late Lord Byers, myself as Chief Whip and my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Sir C. Smith)? The reason was that in 1974, between the two elections, the parliamentary Liberal party was pivotal to the parliamentary arithmetic. There could be no other reason.

Therefore, the Secretary of State must recognise that the only possible reason for the inclusion of our names was a direct attempt to interfere with the processes of parliamentary democracy. For that reason, he and the Prime Minister should recognise that it is no disrespect to them to say that it has gone beyond a matter just for Ministers ; it is a matter for the House of Commons and a senior committee of Privy Councillors should be set up to inquire into it.

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Mr. King : The right hon. Gentleman is addressing issues about which I have no direct information-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order.

Mr. King : All I do know is that the matters were specifically investigated, first, by the right hon. Lord Callaghan, the previous Prime Minister, who made a statement to the House, and then by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who asked the director-general of the Security Service to investigate the matter. The

director-general advised her, as she said in her statement in 1987, that there was no evidence of any truth in the allegations. The right hon. Gentleman talks very glibly about blacklists. I have been on more blacklists in Northern Ireland than I care to count. The authors of some of those blacklists are proscribed organisations in any case. If the right hon. Gentleman has evidence that somehow the Government service was involved in those blacklists, he should bring that evidence forward. He certainly has not been able to impress the director-general of the Security Service.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North) : Can the Secretary of State explain to us how anybody can be satisfied that this dirty tricks department is not still in operation when, at the Dispatch Box over and over again, Ministers are--giving them the benefit of the doubt--to the best of their knowledge, denying that it ever existed? How can we, without a full public, sworn inquiry, be satisfied that this matter is not continuing?

Mr. King : The hon. Gentleman will have seen Hansard and will know that my hon. Friend made it very clear--I think that it was made clear also by the right hon. Gentleman--that when this matter came to his attention the policy was changed. I can confirm to the hon. Gentleman certainly from my own experience that there is no question of such a policy being pursued.

Mr. James Molyneaux (Lagan Valley) : Does the Secretary of State fully understand that our criticism is not directed at the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Defence, the Army or the earlier Labour Government? I cannot quite understand, then, why the Government should feel the need to be on the defensive.

Does the Secretary of State not accept that all those named ought to have their integrity confirmed by an investigation much wider than anything that has so far been proposed?

In defence of the late Airey Neave, is the Secretary of State really aware of the need to identify that element in what I call the governmental machine that guided the black propaganda and has guided it for a good many years and which may have been the same element that warned the late Airey Neave, in the very week of his murder, that he would not be permitted to carry out Conservative policies?

Mr. King : I find it very distressing to hear continual references to a former, much-respected colleague, a man who has now been dead for 10 years and who is not, sadly, able to speak up and answer some of the points and comments that are made. I know nothing about the points that have been made.

Now, for the second time, we have these allegations about lots of names. I do not know what lists they were on

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-- [Interruption.] --or what the authorship of the lists might be. I know very well, from my own experience, that there are organisations on both sides of the terrorist paramilitary extreme who are very good at producing lists and at black propaganda of that kind. If the right hon. Gentleman has evidence, he should produce it. Quite clearly, it was not evidence that impressed the director-general of the Security Services or the previous Prime Minister, Lord Callaghan.

Mr. Michael Marshall (Arundel) : Will my right hon. Friend accept that, after seven years of detailed inquiries affecting my constituent Mr. Colin Wallace, I naturally warmly welcome the Government's initiative of the Calcutt inquiry? I look forward to hearing the outcome of that inquiry.

Will my right hon. Friend also reflect on two problems that have emerged in the past seven years? The first is the genuine difficulty of looking into security matters, particularly matters reflecting on a previous Administration, when conventions make it difficult for Ministers, let alone a Back Bencher, to establish facts.

Secondly, with regard to the inquiry into mishandling of documents, to which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred, will my right hon. Friend accept that when I came to see Ministers in his Department in 1986, one of my concerns was about the then problem of six missing files referred to by my constituent? Will he therefore please ensure that in the inquiry these matters, and not just the documents referred to by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, are looked at in the widest sense?

Mr. King : It is precisely because of the seriousness that we attach to this matter that both my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces and I have made the statements that we have--my hon. Friend in the answer that he gave on Tuesday and I here today. Exactly the same thoroughness as has marked this investigation will be carried over, under our very specific instructions, into the question of how this matter occurred and the handling of documents of this kind. I take note of what my hon. Friend says about the other files, and I will certainly look at that matter.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South) : May I refer the Secretary of State to the answer that was given by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces a couple of days ago? The first paragraph states :

"Ministers have not, of course, been told what advice was given to former Labour Ministers, nor what views they expressed, with the exception of the then Attorney-General."--[ Official Report, 30 January 1990 ; Vol. 40, c. 110. ]

May I fill in that gap? What happened was this : I did not know that Mr. Colin Wallace existed. I was never informed that he would be given wide discretion to give documents of high classification--higher than senior civil servants in my own Department--and that he could use them for briefing purposes in all parts of the Province. I did not know that.

The first that I heard, in February 1975, was someone coming into Stormont house and saying that a document had been dropped in the door of a Times journalist, and it happened that the lady who looked after the house was the wife of a policeman. She had seen the classification and took the document to the police station. [An Hon. Member :-- "What is the question?"] Well, Mr. Speaker

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Mr. Speaker : Order. Mr. Merlyn Rees.

Mr. Rees : This document was found, and as a result the police took it in hand. The hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder) asked a question in the House, and I recall the answer was that it was a matter for the police.

After that, the Attorney-General, and I am referring to the document, consulted us--my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme) will recall this--and said to me, as he was bound to, was this a matter for prosecution under the Official Secrets Act? My view was no, that the document was not important enough, and no prosecution took place.

I say to the Secretary of State, what a position! Here was a high officer of state, an Attorney-General, considering whether to prosecute, but somebody else had given the man permission to use these documents without telling the Ministers of the day. That is the situation that we are investigating.

The question is--I will ask the Secretary of State, who has the great advantage of knowing Northern Ireland--who gave this authorisation?

The documents that the Prime Minister's office--I believe that it may have been the Minister of Defence--gave the Library, give evidence that was given by Peter Broderick, the chief information officer, at the time of the inquiry into Wallace, when he lost his job. I am astonished. How much more does one not know? It says that Mr. Wallace was

"The advisor on Irish matters to the whole Headquarters"-- he might have been a bit of use in the Northern Ireland Office, perhaps--

"In order to do his job he had constant and free access"-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order. I know that this is a very important matter. The right hon. Gentleman was intimately involved at the time, but he must bear in mind the fact that other hon. Members wish to ask questions.

Mr. Rees : Is it correct--it needs to be looked at--what Mr. Broderick says :

"I was instructed by my Generals there to use public relations and information policy techniques in direct support of their military objectives"?

In the same statement, it says, "We knew better than Whitehall." This was a small group not of intelligence officers but the information staff, with Army intelligence, which includes the replies that we have had, taking over the job of the elected Minister of the day. I believe that this ought to be investigated. [ Hon. Members :-- "Come on."] Some Tory Members might not like this, but our names have been impugned. Some of them-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order. I am sure that the whole House appreciates what the right hon. Gentleman is saying. He was involved in these matters, and it is right that we should hear him.

Mr. Rees : In the reply that came, the Prime Minister refers to the inquiry into the security services carried out by the noble Lord Callaghan and myself. The Prime Minister does not know what was in it, but that has not prevented her ever since from saying that everything was covered.

I make it abundantly clear that these dirty tricks in Northern Ireland were not covered in that inquiry. I am

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the only one who knows ; the Secretary of State cannot deny it. I simply say that this will not go away. There is no hiding place. The next Labour Government will look at it, and those who are hiding things for this Government had better remember that.

Mr. King : The House has listened with respect to the right hon. Gentleman's recounting of events when he was in office and his personal recollections of those matters. He will recall--because he referred to the Minister of State's written answer and the question of who authorised these activities--that one point that is uncertain at the present time is whether Mr. Wallace was ever given this specific job.

The written answer--the House will have read it--stated that the case for establishing the post, when it was considered that an additional information officer was needed in Northern Ireland, included the suggestion that this was the sort of work that he should do. There is no information or documentary evidence indicating that he may have been given the specification orally. There is no evidence whether it was actually authorised.

It is also stated in the written answer that, even before he was appointed to the post, whether or not he was briefed orally. "it would appear that he had already been undertaking unattributable briefing activities of this kind, which may have included disinformation".--[ Official Report, 30 January 1990 ; Vol. 166, column 111.]

The point that the right hon. Gentleman missed about the activities of Mr. Wallace was that the date on which the document was lodged was after Mr. Wallace had relinquished his post in Headquarters Northern Ireland.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : One day after.

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