asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will introduce legislation to provide that communications intercepted via a microphone placed within the physical structure of a public telephone booth, but not within the telephone itself, require a ministerial warrant;(2) if he will introduce legislation to provide that communications intercepted via a microphone placed in the mouthpiece of a public telephone require a ministerial warrant.
The Government have introduced legislation on the interception of communications in the course of their transmission by means of a public telecommunications system. The legislation provides a system of ministerial authorisation for the interception of such communications by whatever means, and any interception outside the requirements of the Bill will be a criminal offence. Beyond that, as I explained during the Second Reading of the Bill, 12 March, column 156–57, the Government consider that the approach adopted by the Law Commission in its report on breach of confidence —October 1981, Cmnd. 8388—is the appropriate one, and I announced that the Government intend to introduce legislation based on its proposals, under which there would be a right of civil action against anyone who used or disclosed information obtained by "improper means", including the surreptitious use of a surveillance device. I also reminded the House that the Home Office guidelines on the use of equipment in police surveillance operations a copy of which was placed in the Library of 19 December 1984, rule out any attempt to use a listening devise as a means of circumventing the controls over authorised interception.