Wilson Doctrine

The Wilson Doctrine is a ban on the tapping of MPs' telephones introduced in the 1966 and named after Harold Wilson, the Labour Prime Minister who established the rule.

In 2006 Sir Swinton Thomas recommended that the Wilson Doctrine should not be sustained but this proposal was eventually rejected.

There have also been several attempts to seek clarification from the government on whether the doctrine applies to:

There was a private members bill in 2006 Tapping of hon. members' telephones signed by 90 MPs that said

That this House believes there should be no change to the Wilson doctrine on tapping hon. Members' telephones without a full debate and vote in the House.



2006-12-29 - The Independent - PM's aide interviewed in peerage inquiry
Author: Colin Brown
Summary: The Metropolitan Police follow a Downing Street e-mail trail in the "cash for peerages" inquiry.
2006-12-29 - Spy Blog - "Wilson Doctrine" does apply to Members of the House of Lords
Summary: So it appears that in the year 2000 Members of the House of Lords were also covered by the "Wilson Doctrine". The term "electronic surveillance" is very vague...
2006-12-21 - Spy Blog - "Wilson Doctrine" - Prime Minister Harold Wilson answers Oral Questions in the House of Commons 17th November 1966 - transcript
Summary: Since we admit to being slightly obsessed with the "Wilson Doctrine" and phone tapping surveillance of politicians and of the rest of us, we have tracked down a paper copy of Hansard, for 17th November 1966.
2006-12-19 - Spy Blog - "loans for peerages" scandal, non-publication of RIPA Commissioners' Annual Reports and the "Wilson Doctrine"
Summary: We should not have to make a formal Freedom of Information Act request for Reports which should already have been published, but, that is what we will probably do this Tuesday afternoon.
2006-12-19 - Spy Blog - FOIA Decision Notice about the "Wilson Doctrine"
Summary: Commenting on a Freedom of Information Act Decision Notice, regarding a request to the Cabinet Office about the "Wilson Doctrine", published in July.
2006-12-09 - Spy Blog - Where are the missing RIPA Commissioners' annual reports for 2005?
Summary: Will the Labour Government manage to publish the missing Annual Reports of the Interception of Communications Commissioner and the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2005, before then end of 2006, as required by law?
2006-07-03 - Spy Blog - Intelligence and Security Committee Report 2006
Summary: The Intelligence and Security Committee did manage to mention the "Wilson Doctrine", but, shamefully they appear not to have even bothered to ask the simple questions about whether it applies to technologies like mobile phones, to the internet or to elected institutions such as the European Parliament or the Scottish Parliament etc. which did not exist back in 1966, when the "Wilson Doctrine" was promulgated.
2006-01-15 - The Independent - The politics of paranoia
Author: Francis Elliott
Summary: Nobody is off limits in the Prime Minister's war on terror. Now he wants to dispose of the 'Wilson Doctrine' and bug his own MPs. But does the state need more power to spy on us?