HC Deb 25 May 1978 vol 950 cc1741-2
Q1. Mr. Blaker

asked the Prime Minister what security vetting procedures are applied to hon. Members as a consequence of the nature of their public duties.

The Prime Minister (Mr. James Callaghan)


Mr. Blaker

Will the Prime Minister confirm that on his instructions, or with his approval, the security services are maintaining regular surveillance over more than a dozen Labour hon. Members?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman knows better than that from his past experience. He also knows that it is not customary to comment on these security matters. But as Opposition Members are determined to make a continual smear of this I shall on this occasion make an exception and say that the report in The Sunday Express was entirely untrue.

Mr. Michael Stewart

Is any special watch kept on hon. Members who have persistently encouraged and given aid and comfort to the rebel Government in Rhodesia?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. No surveillance is kept on them or on other Members.

Mr. Beith

Does the right hon. Gentleman see any sense in the kind of security policy apparently advocated by Opposition Members, in which one reveals on the Floor of the House at whom security inquiries are directed?

The Prime Minister

There is no sense of national security about it, but I find that when the Conservative Party is in Opposition it rarely lets that trouble it.

Mr. Heffer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we should be delighted with the reply he has given? But if there were ever to be any surveillance of any hon. Member on the Back Benches on either side of the House would he also look at those who might be representative of the CIA, BOSS, SAVAK and other security organisations, other than those referred to by Opposition Members?

The Prime Minister

The Security Commission—the Diplock Commission—looked into this matter following the events of 1973, of which I dare say I need not remind the Conservative Party. It came to the conclusion that we could not and should not alter the existing practices. If ever there were, or should be, or has been, a case under which hon. Members are subject to any kind of surveillance, I would follow the procedure affirmed to the House by my predecessor and the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), namely, of taking an appropriate moment when national security is not involved to report the matter to the House.

Mr. Blaker

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.