HC Deb 09 November 1981 vol 12 cc305-6
49. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Attorney-General if he will prosecute Mr. Leo Long for treason.

The Attorney-General


Mr. Price

The Attorney-General will be aware that the Prime Minister has today issued a long and comprehensive written answer on this issue to my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan), which confirms what he said on this matter. Does not the history of the Blunt revelations, and now the Long revelations, together with the Prime Minister's refusal to name any further names, mean that there should be greater supervision over the operation of the security services than we have had so far? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman raise with the Prime Minister the possibility mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) during the Blunt debate, namely, that a committee of Members of Parliament could well oversee the security services to ensure that this sort of thing does not happen again?

Mr. English

One does so already.

The Attorney-General

We must look at the present position. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in her wrtten answer, the present procedures of the security service do not permit a person suspected of an espionage offence to be interviewed on the basis that he need not fear prosecution unless the case has first been referred to me and permission given for the interview to be conducted on that basis. That, and the other safeguards set out by the Prime Minister in her speech on 21 November 1979, now make the situation quite safe.

Mr. Stokes

Am I not right in my recollection that the Attorney-General said in his statement on the Blunt affair that there were a few cases where inducements had been given to particular individuals, which would have made subsequent prosecution inappropriate?

The Attorney-General

In answer to a question from the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) on 20 November 1979 I maintained that in only on case had immunity been granted. I told the House—it appears to have been forgotten by the press and in other comment over the last 10 days: I understand that in a few cases in interviews with other persons inducements were offered which might have rendered any statements made as a result of the inducements inadmissible in any subsequent criminal proceedings."—[Official Report, 20 November 1979; Vol. 974, c. 99.] The interview with Mr. Long was one of those to which I was referring.

Mr. John Morris

I am grateful to the Attorney-General, because I wanted to remind him of his statement that there was only one case. Is he making it clear that Mr. Long's case was the only one, or were there others where inducements were offered? If so, how many? How far was the Attorney-General briefed on the matter when he took office, because he told the House on 21 November 1979 that when he was briefed, within a month of entering office, he was told of all the matters about which the security service felt he should know? Is that position not unlike Mr. Macmillan's famous complaint that nobody told him anything?

The Attorney-General

It is not the case that I was told nothing. I was told everything of importance relating to the existing and future position in May 1979. In the few cases where inducements were offered, there was no question of the Attorney-General of the day either being told or giving his consent.