HC Deb 28 March 1995 vol 257 c819
10. Mr. Madden

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will arrange for right hon. and hon. Members to visit Menwith Hill station in north Yorkshire. [14635]

Mr. Soames

No, I shall not, for the very good operational and security reasons given by my predecessor in the House on 25 March 1994.

Mr. Madden

Is it not disgraceful that Ministers refuse to allow Members of Parliament, who are elected public representatives, and all of whom take an oath of allegiance, to visit that American spy base in north Yorkshire? Is not that disgrace equalled only by the gagging order recently issued by the Secretary of State for Defence, stopping the courts and the public from hearing that the National Security Agency of America, which controls the base, is engaged in industrial and commercial espionage to the disadvantage of the United Kingdom, and that GCHQ staff also based there are illegally tapping telephones?

Mr. Soames

I must invite the hon. Gentleman to contain his entirely pathetic paranoia and to understand that the function of that important site is regarded by Her Majesty's Government as being of the highest importance to the United Kingdom's defence strategy. The work carried out there is extremely sensitive and valuable.

Mr. John Greenway

Will my hon. Friend disregard the outburst by the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) and recognise that the great majority of people in north Yorkshire welcome the presence of Menwith Hill, and also of RAF Fylingdales in my constituency, and that they appreciate the important part that those two installations play in upholding peace throughout the world?

Mr. Soames

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for underlining so well the great importance of those sites to the strategic security of the United Kingdom and to our allies. I know that they are valued by all who live near them and I am grateful, as those who work in them will be, for my hon. Friend's clarion support.