HC Deb 18 December 1986 vol 107 cc1344-5
13. Dr. McDonald

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any plans to amend the law so as to provide for a statutory definition of subversion.

Mr. Hurd

No, Sir.

Dr. McDonald

If the Home Secretary does not intend to amend the law, will he at least confirm that subversion means unlawful activity that is directed at the overthrow of a parliamentary Government and does not mean views that are unacceptable to a particular Government?

Mr. Hurd

The definition was given for the first time by the Minister of State in the previous Labour Government, Lord Harris, on 26 February 1975. That definition of subversion is activities … which threaten the safety or wellbeing of the State, and which are intended to undermine or overthrow Parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 26 February 1975; Vol. 357, c. 947.]

Mr. Soames

Does subversion include the undermining of the Crown's case in a court overseas?

Mr. Hurd

I think that I had better rely on the text that I have read out, which has held since 1975.

Mr. Heffer

Has the right hon. Gentleman yet had a chance to read Mr. Hugo Young's comments in The Guardian today, suggesting that people in the Conservative party, including the Prime Minister and just about every member of the Cabinet, believe that members of the Labour party are subversive—[Interruption.]—agents for the Soviet Union and traitors? Why do Conservative Members not cheer, as that is exactly what they think? Is it not about time that they recognised what every organisation in Europe recognises, which is that the Socialist movement in Britain is rooted in the British people and is less subversive than are Conservative Members, because they want to sell our country and our people to the United States of America?

Mr. Hurd

I have read the article, and I thought it was a wild article by a usually reasonable journalist. I am not surprised that it has inflamed the hon. Gentleman.