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Tony's UK not for Amar & Co

The British PM may give a green signal to security to intercept phone calls of MPs, reports Vijay Dutt.

world Updated: Jan 16, 2006 12:35 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt

What is big news in India may soon become an everyday affair in the UK. Despite opposition from his cabinet colleagues, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to give the green light to the security services to intercept calls received and made by MPs.

The 40-year-old Wilson Doctrine —named after Harold Wilson, who introduced it — is to be abandoned in an expansion of MI5 powers following the July 7 London bombings.

Blair reportedly wants MPs to be treated in the same way as other citizens and be given the same safeguards against wrongful tapping.

A 10, Downing Street spokesman said Blair received advice from the commissioner of the Interception of Communications “on the possible implications for the Wilson Doctrine”. The government, he said, was considering the advice. “The PM will inform Parliament of the outcome at the earliest,” said the spokesman.

But MPs are likely to bitterly oppose the proposal. Andrew Mackinlay, an MP from Blair’s own party, said it was the “hallmark of a civilised country” that its state did not spy on elected representatives. “This goes to the heart of what it’s to have a free Parliament,” he said. “Constituents, pressure groups and other organisations need to know for sure that they’re talking to their elected representatives in complete confidence,” he said.

Professor Peter Hennessy, a constitutional expert, has also prompted MPs to question Blair’s intentions.

It has been reported that there has been a “marked expansion of surveillance in Britain since 1997” and that the British are among the most spied-on citizens in the world.

First Published: Jan 16, 2006 01:46 IST