HL Deb 13 November 1962 vol 244 cc540-1

3.18 p.m.


My Lords, I think the House will be aware that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister was to answer during Question Time in another place a series of Questions arising out of the Vassall case. I think it would be in accordance with the convenience and, indeed, the wishes of the House that I should repeat to your Lordships what he has said in answer to various Questions. My Lords, these are my right honourable friend's words: "I told the House on Thursday why I was satisfied that the Committee of senior experienced civil servants whom I had appointed were the appropriate body to investigate the facts of this case and report on them to me. Right honourable gentlemen opposite have argued that what is needed is an Inquiry undertaken by an independent person, such as a High Court Judge. In my view, an Inquiry of the kind asked for by right honourable Gentlemen opposite is wholly inadequate to meet a changed situation, which has arisen since I answered Questions arising out of the Vassall case last Thursday.

"There have been a number of developments which have led me to decide that it is now appropriate to set up a Tribunal of Inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act of 1921.

"A Motion asking the House to set up a Tribunal of Inquiry will be tabled tonight and moved as first Order to-morrow. I shall tell the House then why I believe it necessary that the Tribunal inquiring into this should be armed with all the powers conferred upon it by the 1921 Act."

That is the conclusion of my right honourable friend's words. I have only to add, of course, that the Act requires that a similar Motion be put upon the Order Paper of this House, and I shall accordingly be putting down such a Motion here and moving it to-morrow at an early stage in our proceedings.


My Lords, we are grateful to the noble and learned Viscount Leader of the House for giving us the Prime Minister's statement. I think that the Prime Minister has come to a right decision, and our only comment is that perhaps it might have been better if he had come to that decision earlier in the proceedings and discussions and not left it until now. However, when we come to deal with the Motion, if we have any further comment to make, we can make it then. I welcome the announcement.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount for his welcome for the announcement, but, of course, I do not accept the comment with which it was accompanied.