On Tuesday 19th January I led a Westminster Hall debate on the release of historical Cabinet Papers, questioning the Government on why for the first time in 50 years, a Government have not released official files in full.
Although long-standing convention has seen some 500 files released simultaneously from the Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister’s office at the turn of the year, this year just 58 files were released.
I expressed concern that current Cabinet Office Ministers in David Cameron's Government, responsible for the release of such files, were advisers to the Thatcher Government, a fact which may impact on the limited release.
In the debate I said,
'these questions matter because the period covered was one of profound political sensitivity and because Ministers responsible for the release of these files were in the thick of it at that time as advisers to senior politicians. In 2014—the last time there was a comprehensive release of Cabinet papers—we learnt that the former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had lied to the public about the extent of the pit closure plan, her attempt to influence police tactics and the involvement of MI5 in spying on officials of the National Union of Mineworkers. That information demonstrated the extent to which the Government can use the institutions of the state against ordinary people. It is good for our democracy that the information was released, and it helps the ongoing fight for justice in the coalfield communities. This year, however, with such a small selection of files released, issues of political importance such as the discussions on the poll tax and the black Monday stock market crash have remained secret. Those were decisions that senior Ministers in the current Government were directly involved in.'
The discussion lasted around 30 minutes.