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Security

Volume 12: debated on Thursday 5 November 1981

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I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the lack of public confidence in the British security service, in view of recent revelations about the espionage activities of Mr. Leo Long".
I promise, Mr. Speaker, that I shall be brief. It goes without saying that the matter is specific. I submit that the degree of public confidence in the security service is important enough to merit urgent consideration.

The House last debated these matters in November 1979 and was assured by the Attorney-General, and confirmed in a subsequent reply to me by the Prime Minister, that since the Second World War only one case of immunity from prosecution had been granted to a self-confessed traitor. That was in the case of Anthony Blunt. But now another self-confessed traitor, Mr. Leo Long, has appeared on the scene, and for some reason or other he has not been prosecuted.

It is important to debate these matters, because it would bring the law into disrepute if the public gained the impression that there was one law for the old boy network of traitors and another law for the rest of us. It is also important to realise that in one of his public statements Mr. Long said that some of his former contacts could still hold important positions. It could well be that some of them could still be employed in the security service in positions where they could betray the trust bestowed upon them.

It is important that the House allay the suspicions of people outside who may be afraid of a massive establishment cover-up. People are asking how many more traitors will come crawling out of the woodwork of the British establishment. This is causing considerable damage to our credibility both at home and overseas, to such an extent that our security system must be the laughing stock of the world.

In view of the unsatisfactory responses that the House received the last time that it discussed these matters, it is important to discuss them again so that we can hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General.

The hon. Gentleman gave me notice before 12 o'clock midday that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the lack of public confidence in the British security service, in view of recent revelations about the espionage activities of Mr. Leo Long".
I listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman. As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9 I am directed to take into account the several factors set out in that order but to give no reasons for my decision.

I have given careful consideration to the hon. Gentleman's representations, but I must rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order, and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.