asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, further to his reply to the hon. Member, for Ealing, Acton, Official Report, 16 January, c. 713–4, if he will publish the letter which he sent to the general secretary of ASTMS.
The text of the letter sent with the pre-publication copies of the Shooter Report was as follows:21 December 1978"The Secretary of State has now received the Report of the team, under the chairmanship of Professor R A Shooter, which has been investigating the smallpox outbreak at Birmingham this year. He has instructed me to send you for your information and use a pre-publication copy of the Report, and I am enclosing it with this letter. I also enclose a copy of a Press Notice on the matter which Mr Ennals has authorised for issue.The Secretary of State has asked me to explain that, although it is his wish and intention to publish the Report as soon as possible, his legal advice is that it cannot be published at this time because of the pending prosecution of Birmingham University by the Health and Safety Executive under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. That was, of course, provisional advice given before receipt of the Report on the basis of what it was expected that the Report might contain. Now that it is available he is obtaining definitive advice based upon the actual content of the Report; in the light of that advice it will be decided what is the earliest permissible time for publication of the report and whether publication of any part or parts of it can properly and usefully take place in advance of full publication. You will be informed of that decision as soon as possible.I am writing in similar terms to the organisations set out on the attached list".