HC Deb 01 December 1983 vol 49 cc981-2
15. Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to be able to release transcripts of the interrogation of Sir Oswald Mosley by Lord Birkett in July 1940 under the Defence of the Realm Act; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brittan

The review of these papers is now complete and I have decided to release for public inspection the complete transcripts of the Mosleys' hearings before the advisory committee, chaired by Lord Birkett. I have also decided to release all the other files on the detention and interrogation of Sir Oswald and Lady Mosley, with the exception of a very few files which will remain closed on security grounds. The files to be released will be made available from 12 December in the Public Record Office.

Mr. Madel

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply. Will the publication of the transcripts reveal Lord Birkett's recommendation as to whether Sir Oswald Mosley should or should not be detained under the Defence of the Realm Act?

Mr. Brittan

Yes. After a lengthy hearing in July 1940, the advisory committee concluded that the order for Sir Oswald Mosley's detention should continue. The committee's full report explaining why it came to that conclusion is to be found in one of the files which will be disclosed.

Mr. Mikardo

I thank the Home Secretary for the release of the papers, especially the Birkett papers. Does he really expect us to believe that there is anything in those papers, whose age is between 40 and 50 years, that can conceivably threaten security today? What are the real reasons for holding back those papers that he is holding back? Who is being covered up?

Mr. Brittan

The hon. Gentleman's capacity for believing in the conspiracy theory is almost unlimited. I assure him that the reason for the very small number of files being kept closed—six out of about 140—has nothing whatever to do with covering up any person. They are being kept closed simply because the information in them would reveal material about the methods of the security services' operations. It would not be in the public interest to disclose that.