HC Deb 20 January 1992 vol 202 c14
26. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Attorney-General what progress he has made in identifying the total cost of the "Spycatcher" litigation.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Nicholas Lyell)

The total cost to the Government to date, excluding the contempt proceedings and officials' time, is calculated at £2,221,503.

Mr. Banks

As the Solicitor-General said, that excludes officials' time, so the figure must be that much higher. Is it not outrageous that so much British taxpayers' money should have been spent trying to suppress a book which in part told us about the treacherous activities of the security services in trying to undermine the democratically elected Government of Harold Wilson? Will the Solicitor-General assure the House that similar treacherous activities will not take place when the next Labour Government are democratically elected under my right hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock)?

The Solicitor-General

Whatever one thinks about the activities of the author, he was a former member of the security services. These cases have the very valuable result of getting a clear decision from the House of Lords, upheld in this respect by the European Court of Human Rights which took nothing from that decision, that such former members owe a lifelong duty of confidentiality.