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Volume 930: debated on Thursday 21 April 1977

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asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Tarporley.

Is the Prime Minister aware that Tarporley, where he would be most welcome, is in a rural area, where people are very dependent on motor transport? Will he tell the House whether the Government have any proposals for an alternative to the proposed increased tax on petrol in the Budget and, if so, what it might be?

The Cabinet has not considered this matter recently—certainly not since the Easter Recess—so I have no information to give to the House. The matter will be discussed during the course of the debate on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, but it does come a little odd, after the pressure now being exerted on us to follow President Carter's advice and the steps that he is taking in the United States, to find that the Opposition voted as a whole against this increase in duty. As the Chancellor said in his speech, it was intended partially to help conserve fuel. Perhaps the Opposition would care to reconsider their views on this matter.

Whether my right hon. Friend goes to Tarporley or anywhere else, will he find time to study the statement made in another place yesterday by the noble Lord who is Master of the Rolls of the realm to the effect that certain records relating to the Profumo inquiry have been destroyed, and that only one copy was made? Can my right hon. Friend say on whose authority the records have been destroyed?

I am not aware that this is a matter of great moment in Tarporley, but it may be of interest to the House, as the question has been raised, to know that I checked on this matter this morning. It is true that Lord Denning suggested at one stage some time ago that the records should be destroyed. It was agreed that they should not be handed over as public records, but they have not been destroyed. They are still kept in the Cabinet Office. Lord Denning has been informed about this and I understand that he will make a statement later.