Leader of the House (British Parliament) asked 4 times about 1984


Ms Eagle: (Shadow Leader of House)

The publication of papers from the National Archives under the 30-year rule has suggested that Mrs Thatcher’s Government may have played a role in the devastating attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar. I welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s investigation, but I would like the Leader of the House to give an assurance to the House that no documents will be withheld from the inquiry and that the Foreign Secretary will give a prompt and full statement to the House and make the conclusions of the report public.

Mr Lansley: (Leader of the House)

The hon. Lady asked about the inquiries into matters back in 1984 relating to the Golden Temple at Amritsar. I do not think I can add anything to what the Prime Minister said yesterday. He has asked the Cabinet Secretary to undertake an immediate review, which will look at all the documents. The Prime Minister was clear yesterday that he would consider whether it was appropriate to make a statement, or for somebody to make a statement, but one cannot really determine what one should say to the House until one has understood the review’s findings.

Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab): 

I listened to the Leader of the House’s answer on the revelations about the Golden Temple in Amritsar. This issue has caused much shock and upset for many of my constituents of all faiths. The Prime Minister indicated yesterday that he thought that a statement might be in order. I hope that we get that statement; many of my constituents will be disappointed if we do not. I also impress on the Leader of the House the need for the inquiry to report quickly, rather than being kicked into the long grass, as some of my constituents fear.

Mr Lansley: (Leader of the House)

Let me say to the hon. Gentleman what I said to the shadow Leader of the House. As soon as the Prime Minister was aware of the issue, he took action and asked for a review, which is fair enough, but it is not our practice to say that we are going to make a statement until we are in possession of all the facts. It is reasonable for us to operate on that basis. Rather than the hon. Gentleman and others trying to decide what happened, it would be better to wait and find out what happened.

Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab): 

Any attack on a place of worship must be condemned so, on behalf of my constituents and those of other Members, may I ask that all the documents in respect of what happened at Amritsar in 1984 that are in the custody and control of the Government are released so that we have full transparency?

Mr Lansley: (Leader of the House)

Without wishing to repeat myself, let me say that I completely understand and share the concern the hon. Lady raises, but I urge Members not to prejudge the circumstances then until we know more.

Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West) (Con): 

As the only Sikh Member of the House of Commons, and as a Sikh who was 16 when the attack on the Golden Temple happened, I would like to advise hon. Members that, 30 years after that event, what Sikhs actually want is an end of rumour, suspicion and speculation. What they all want is the truth, and I ask all Members of this House to avoid politicising this because it is much more important than that.

Turning to my substantive question to the Leader of the House, Wolverhampton council is seeking to close Wolverhampton central baths. A petition has been signed by 6,000 people including myself. May we have a debate on safeguarding valuable facilities such as Wolverhampton baths?

Mr Lansley: (Leader of the House)

I completely agree with my hon. Friend, and I hope that Members throughout the House will take on board and follow his prescription in relation to the events in Amritsar. He is quite right to say that the truth needs to be established.

I also completely agree with my hon. Friend’s point about swimming pools. Local authorities have the ability to use their public health resources to look at a wide range of issues, not least because of the reforms brought in by this Government, and I hope that they will consider access to swimming pools as a significant source of support for public health. For example, I recall a scheme—in Birmingham, I think—that provided free swimming opportunities for older people as part of the local authority’s public health measures.

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