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Amnesty International

Volume 897: debated on Saturday 16 August 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give full access to British prisons to representatives of Amnesty International.

We have had no request for any such facilities from Amnesty International.

Will the Minister accept that Amnesty International is an organisation of the highest probity and has recently been extended by taking into membership the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph)? Will the Government assist Amnesty International's inquiries into the Des Warren case by holding a public inquiry into the whole judicial attack on the Shrewsbury pickets? Will my hon. Friend give some assurance that the conspiracy laws, which have been used so savagely against trade unionists in the ordinary course of picketing, will be brought to a speedy end and will allow those acting in contemplation of or furtherance of a trade union dispute properly to organise?

I do not know whether my hon. Friend realises that we have been told by Amnesty International that it will not be adopting Mr. Des Warren as one of its prisoners of conscience. As far as we are aware, the organisation has not asked to visit him in prison.

Does the Minister agree that the special review committee which looked at the case of Mr. Des Warren did so at the instigation of my right hon. Friend and that otherwise there would have been no special review? Will the Minister take note that many Government supporters and other Members of Parliament will continue to resist any attempt to interfere with the due process of law?

I am aware of that, but the fact remains that we are informed that Amnesty International has not accepted the case of Mr. Des Warren as one which it will further.