§ 9. Mr. Flannery
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the inquiry by the Devon and Cornwall police into the Birmingham pub bombings case to be completed; and if he will make a statement.
§ 13. Mr. Madden
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider establishing a public inquiry into the convictions of the six men convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings.
§ Mr. John Patten
Important aspects of this case are now being investigated by the Devon and Cornwall police. It is not possible at this stage to say when the Devon and Cornwall constabulary will be able to report on the results of their inquiries, but I know that the police are fully aware of the need to complete the inquiries as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. My right hon. and learned Friend will decide, in the light of the outcome of those inquiries, whether any further action is called for on his part.
§ Mr. Flannery
Is not it a fact that the report will go only to the chief constable of the West Midlands, and that it will not be published or made available to the solicitors for the Birmingham Six? What kind of democracy is that? In view of this melancholy and sordid business, can we have an independent public inquiry into this case which has gone wildly astray in the same way as many others?
§ Mr. Patten
About 45 police officers in the Devon and Cornwall force are working as fast and as thoroughly as they can to conduct their inquiries. I am sure that no hon. Member would wish to hinder that. The hon. Gentleman 448 was right when he said that the report will go to the chief constable of the West Midlands. Of course, the information will then be made available to my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary so that he can take it into account in deciding whether he needs to take any more action in respect of this case.
§ Mr. Madden
If 45 officers have been seconded to this inquiry why on earth is it taking so long? When is the inquiry due to be completed, how many people have so far been interviewed and how many have still to be interviewed?
§ Mr. Patten
I entirely appreciate the hon. Gentleman's impatience and his desire to know when the inquiry will be completed and the report returned. It is important for the police to be allowed to conduct their in-depth inquiries at their own pace and to look into everything. A number of people, including his eminence Cardinal Hume, have pressed my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to ensure that the investigation is not hurried and is properly carried out.