HL Deb 20 March 1985 vol 461 c640WA
Lord Chelwood

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether it is the case that Members of both Houses of Parliament are now treated exactly the same as other citizens in regard to the interception of communications, and for what period and why MPs and Peers in receipt of a writ of summons were exempt from surveillance without the specific authority of the Prime Minister.

The Lord President of the Council (Viscount Whitelaw)

There has been no change in the policy stated in 1966 by the then Prime Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Rievaulx, and to which successive governments since then have adhered. In answers to Questions in another place on 17th November 1966 (Official Report, Vol. 736; cols. 634–41), he said that he had given instructions that there was to be no tapping of the telephones of Members of Parliament; that that remained the policy of the Government and that, if there was any development which required a change in the general policy, he would, at such moment as seemed compatible with the security of the country, on his own initiative make a statement in the House about it.

In answer to a Question in your Lordships' House on 22nd November 1966 (HL Debates, Vol. 278; col. 122) the noble Earl, Lord Longford, indicated on behalf of the Government that the foregoing statement extended to your Lordships' House. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has made it clear, in answer to a Question in another place on 11th December 1984 (Official Report, Vol. 69; col. 406) that the policy remains as stated by the noble Lord, Lord Wilson, and that the Government regard it as applying to both postal and telephone interception.