HC Deb 03 February 1977 vol 925 cc723-4
7. Mr. Hoyle

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure that people who are under threat of deportation are given such information in relation to allegations against them as will not entail disclosure of sources of evidence.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

This is already the case.

Mr. Hoyle

Does my right hon. Friend agree that an assurance was given by his predecessor, the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling), and that failure to fulfil it in the two cases at present before us means that it is impossible not only to prepare a defence to the charges but also to know their nature or, indeed, the length of time covered by the charges? Is not this totally against the concept of justice as we know it in this country?

Mr. Rees

I say to my hon. Friend, so that the record is clear, that with regard to deportation I deport in the following cases—following a court recommendation; for breach of a condition of entry or over-staying; if I deem it to be conducive to the public good; and when the person concerned is a member of the family of a person already ordered to be deported—and in all those four cases there are appeals. What my predecessor was concerned with was the question whether it was conducive to the public good on security grounds. I have his statement before me. What is quite clear is that neither the source of evidence nor evidence that can lead to disclosure of sources can be revealed to the person concerned. That is what I have to work on, and if anybody can suggest a better system of working, given that basic fact, I shall of course listen to him.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Is it not correct that in the Agee case it has manifestly not been the case that the deportee has been given the details of what is alleged against him, consistent with the proviso contained in this Question? All that he knows is that an allegation has been made that he consorted with foreign agents. He does not even know which country the agents are alleged to have represented. He does not know in what circumstances it is alleged. He does not know what the information is that he is supposed to have communicated. Surely the principle is clear, but in this case the details have not been adhered to, as the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) indicated, in 1971, they would be.

Mr. Rees

My hon. Friend did not listen to the three strands or aspects of the information that I gave to the House concerning Mr. Agee. As I am sure my hon. Friend accepts, there is not an acceptable way in which security service information can be tested in public. I know of no way by which this can be done. It is a judgment that I made in the first instance, and anybody who looks at the case will know that there were ways in which I could have done this without its being made public. I felt it right to make it public. I am not so silly as not to have imagined all the implications that would follow from what I have done in public and what is said. I thought it right for the State that it be done in this way. There is no acceptable way in which security confirmation can be tested in public.