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State Security

Volume 116: debated on Wednesday 13 May 1987

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3.31 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the need for the Prime Minister to set up an inquiry into the role of the late Airey Neave, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in relation to attempts to destabilise the elected Government in the 1970s."
The matter is [Interruption.]

The matter is definite in that the authors of "The Pencourt File" which, as the Prime Minister rightly said, sparked off the 1977 inquiry into the security services, have been reported as having been interrogated by the right hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Sir P. Blaker) and the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), the late Airey Neave and the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I refer to the article by Anthony Cheesewright which is in your possession, Mr. Speaker. That article is headed

"Tebbit's joy at Wilson's plight."
The information has come to light since the Prime Minister turned down the call for an inquiry. I have to persuade you, Mr. Speaker, that the matter is important, because it raises the issue of obligations of hon. Members of this House in condoning trouble made for the elected Head of Government of this country by the security services.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Bad taste."] I hear it said that this is in bad taste. I will openly say that the late Airey Neave was a friend of mine—[Interruption.] It is important also because a beneficiary of so much of the late Airey Neave's activity is the present Prime Minister —[HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."] It is unbecoming for such a beneficiary to turn down an inquiry demanded by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Sir J. Callagham).

The matter is urgent because the then hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit), who seemed—and I put it politely—to acquiesce in the daily tricks of the 1970s, is now in charge of the Conservative party. In advance of the general election, could time be found for a statement as to whether the right hon. Member for Chingford is a reformed character in this matter? Has he changed his spots? A great deal has been written about this matter in the public prints. Before the House goes to the polls, we should have an answer one way or the other. There is a powerful lead letter in The Guardian today stating that there is an obligation of the kind for which I asked last Thursday for the clearance of the late Airey Neave. As the Leader of the House is present, there is an obligation for the clearance of the late Sir Maurice Oldfield.

The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration.

I have listened with great attention to what the hon. Gentleman has said, but I regret that I do not consider that the matter which he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20. I therefore cannot submit his application to the House.

Not at this moment. I have received four further applications for debates under Standing Order No. 20 on the proposed poll tax in England and Wales. I propose to call only one—that of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) which is in broad terms. According to "Erskine May", page 350,

"A further application on the same subject on the same day … will not normally be accepted by the Chair."
I cannot therefore accept further applications on the subject of a poll tax in England and Wales, but I will hear the hon. Member for Blackburn.