HC Deb 31 March 1983 vol 40 cc450-1
5. Mr. Cryer

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress of the work of the judicial monitor on telephone tapping.

Mr. Whitelaw

The judicial monitor of the arrangements for the interception of communications set out in Cmnd. 7873, currently Lord Bridge of Harwich, continues to undertake his task in accordance with the terms of reference set out in my statement of 1 April 1980.

Mr. Cryer

Does the Home Secretary accept that the position on telephone tapping is unsatisfactory and, as he acknowledges, a serious intrusion into an individual's privacy? In the interests of public accountability and acceptance, will he arrange that telephone tapping is warrantable only in cases of serious crime? Will he arrange for the judicial monitor's report to be published, to ensure full and proper accountability to the House and to remove any fears that there is any abuse of telephone tapping?

Mr. Whitelaw

I do not accept that there are abuses. When the judicial monitor system was introduced it was made clear that the first report would be published and that if any subsequent report proposed significant changes they would be reported to the House. That remains the position.

Mr. Richard Shepherd

Will my right hon. Friend give further consideration to what seemed a reasonable amendment tabled by Opposition Members in Committee on the Telecommunications Bill, to give legislative form and protection to individuals on phone tapping?

Mr. Whitelaw

The Government's position has been set out for a number of years. I set it out the last time the subject was debated, in April 1981. We have no proposals to change it.