|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Hamilton : I cannot comment on all those points. If Mr. Broderick has evidence about Kincora, he should take it to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which is the body to deal with these matters. If he finds that difficult and feels that this is covered by the Official Secrets Act 1911, he should take the matter up with the Director of Army Security, who certaintly will help him.
It is typical of all the allegations that we have heard that people are more than happy to make statements to newspapers about what should happen, but when they are given the opportunity to present the facts--we are looking for facts--to the authorities, we do not get them. That has been the history all the way. Massive assertions are made,
Column 120but people are not prepared to present the facts to the authorities, who would be more than happy to deal with them.
I should now like to turn to a number of serious allegations that were raised by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) in the Adjournment debate on Tuesday 6 February. Those allegations about the conduct of civil servants, members of the security and intelligence services and others suggest that they have been or may have been involved in the dissemination of false information about Members of Parliament. I remind the House of the points that I made last Tuesday. It is no part of the official duties of any Crown servant to disseminate false information about Members of Parliament in order to denigrate them in any way. All Governments and hon. Members on both sides of the House would regard any such action as unacceptable. Government servants are well aware of the conduct expected of them and of the severe consequences that they might suffer in any case where those standards of conduct were breached. I had hoped that the statement that I made in the debate on Tuesday would enable hon. Members to draw a clear distinction between disinformation aimed at hon. Members and cases in the early 1970s when disinformation was used to denigrate the Provisional IRA. As I said then, the Government judge that no useful purpose would be served by an inquiry now into disinformation designed to denigrate the Provisional IRA so many years ago, under previous Administrations, in a policy framework long since changed and amid all the operational stresses of the early and peak years of a very difficult emergency.
I repeat that the Government regard disinformation aimed at Members of Parliament or former Ministers as a quite different and special matter which was dealt with by the Prime Minister's statement in 1987. I must say again that no evidence of any substance has emerged from our review of papers to put that statement into question.
There seems to be misapprehension in some Members' minds that unattributable covert briefing represents an unacceptable practice and that use of classified information in that context is improper. There is nothing wrong in using classified information during unattributable briefing, provided that the briefing is for proper purposes and that the disclosure of classified information has been properly authorised. I know of no reason to believe that, contrary to normal practice, Mr. Wallace was given total discretion to release whatever classified information he wished to disclose.
Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South) : May I tell the Minister plainly that the inquiry by the former Prime Minister and myself into dirty tricks certainly did not include the disinformation against Members of Parliament between 1971 and 1975? That should be inquired into, because someone authorised that to be done.
Mr. Hamilton : I am sorry, but I think that the right hon. Gentleman misunderstood me. I was referring to the inquiry carried out by the head of the security services, under the auspices of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. That inquiry investigated that matter in great
Column 121depth and the head of the security services found no evidence that that campaign of disinformation had been carried out by his security services or even by a disaffected group within the security services.
As my right hon. Friend and I have assured the House, the papers that have come to light on the Colin Wallace case do not contain any evidence to support his allegations about a "smear" campaign about Members of Parliament. As I have described already, the only element of his claims about disinformation that has been confirmed is that an
Column 122operation known as Clockwork Orange was conceived. The documents found show that that operation was, I repeat, aimed at the Provisional IRA--not at Members of Parliament--and was not approved. The motion having been made after Ten o'clock and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. Speaker-- adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order. Adjourned at sixteen minutes to Eleven o'clock.
|Written Answers Section