HC Deb 05 June 1980 vol 985 cc1662-3
10. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in the light of the evidence supplied to him, he will investigate the security of the police computer network.

Mr. Whitelaw

No information has come to light to bear out speculation in a newspaper report that safeguards in the system have been evaded.

Mr. Roberts

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, however, that in recent years equipment has become available at the cost of a few hundred pounds which could be used to decode the coding system? If that is so, would it not be possible for criminal information to be extracted from the central bank or even for false information to be put into it?

Mr. Whitelaw

I appreciate the expertise of the hon. Gentleman in this context and I am grateful to him for raising the matter. It is important that we should always be on the lookout for any security evasions of this kind. We are making certain procedural changes, which I believe is right but I think that it would be counter-productive to disclose them to the House.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Does the Home Secretary agree that there is a general problem here and not just a particular one? Would it not now be a good idea if we were to discuss the Lindop committee report? It is not a matter of reaching decisions on it but the House, at times, should discuss the general issue before Governments proceed with legislation.

Mr. Whitelaw

I can only say that I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. It would be helpful. However, it is not in his hands, or mine, to decide when that should be.