Previous Section Home Page

Column 1181

Livingstone, Ken

Loyden, Eddie

McAllion, John

McAvoy, Thomas

Macdonald, Calum A.

McKelvey, William

Maclennan, Robert

McNamara, Kevin

McWilliam, John

Mahon, Mrs Alice

Marek, Dr John

Meale, Alan

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)

Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)

Mowlam, Marjorie

Mullin, Chris

Murphy, Paul

Nellist, Dave

Pendry, Tom

Pike, Peter L.

Quin, Ms Joyce

Randall, Stuart

Redmond, Martin

Rooker, Jeff

Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)

Sedgemore, Brian

Sheerman, Barry

Sillars, Jim

Skinner, Dennis

Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)

Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)

Soley, Clive

Spearing, Nigel

Straw, Jack

Vaz, Keith

Wall, Pat

Wallace, James

Wareing, Robert N.

Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)

Wigley, Dafydd

Williams, Rt Hon Alan

Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)

Wilson, Brian

Winnick, David

Wise, Mrs Audrey

Worthington, Tony

Tellers for the Noes :

Mr. Frank Haynes and

Mr. Allen McKay.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House-- [Mr. Maclean.] Committee tomorrow.



That, at this day's sitting, the Petroleum Royalties (Relief) and Continental Shelf Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.-- [Mr. Maclean.]

Column 1182

Security Service Bill [Money]

Queen's Recommendation having been signified--

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Security Service Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any expenses incurred by the Secretary of State under that Act.-- [Mr. Maclean.]

10.12 pm

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : The money resolution should not go by without my making a few comments, as there are some issues to raise. The money resolution is broadly based. [Interruption.] In spite of Tory Members shouting for me to sit down, we should carry on with our investigation. Threats should not be uttered in Parliament. Free speech should be allowed.

Clause 6 of the Bill deals with money. According to the explanation at the top of the Bill, the amount involved will be about £360,000. I shall ask the Minister a few questions, because the money resolution provides for any Act arising out of the Bill to be financed by Parliament. Naturally, one must look at all the consequences flowing from the legislation. It behoves us to undertake such scrutiny. First of all, there is the question of a commissioner, because he will undertake the task of reviewing the warrants. He will peer over the Minister's shoulder metaphorically, and possibly in some cases literally, to see whether the Minister is exercising the powers under this legislation correctly. Therefore, when he reviews the warrants that are being issued for burglaring and bugging--as Peter Wright explained in his much-read book--the commissioner will be undertaking an important task.

Because we are authorising payment to the commissioner under clause 4(2), it is worth while studying the amount of money that the commissioner will receive. The Minister should tell us, because there is a line between a very good salary and what people in the street might think of as bribery to keep his mouth shut. I say to the Minister that if he raises his eyebrows and says, "Tut, tut, what a thing to suggest"--

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. John Patten) : I did not say that.

Mr. Cryer : I could see something flashing across the hon. Gentleman's face, and I thought that that might be going through his mind.

People on ordinary wages, supplementary benefit or other low incomes, when they hear about some of these salaries--£50,000, or £60, 000 or whatever the range is, and it has not been mentioned so far--

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : Egg producers are going bust.

Mr. Cryer : As my hon. Friend has said, egg producers are going bust.

Mr. Skinner : In Buxton, Derbyshire.

Mr. Cryer : I wonder whether £360,000 is enough, because the Government will spend £500,000 remedying the damage done by the Under- Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) in her attack on the poultry industry.

Column 1183

However, I shall come back to the salary of the commissioner. What range will it be in, because we do not necessarily want someone who will be a pillar of the establishment? Indeed, I believe that we would want someone who is not. It does not reassure me when I read in clause 4(1) :

"The Prime Minister shall appoint a Commissioner for the purposes of this Act a person who holds or has held high judicial office within the meaning of the Appelate Jurisdiction Act 1876." It does not reassure me because those people come from a privileged educational position. The majority of judges were barristers--although there are some qualifications to that--and the education of barristers has been designed by the establishment to keep the sons and daughters of the working class out. [Laughter.] The hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Sir H. Miller) laughs, but how does he suppose that the bricklayer's son or daughter can afford to take their dinners for a number of years before taking their Bar final examination? How can he or she afford the expensive monopolist charges for wig and gown? The realities of ordinary working-class life is that this money must be found. By and large, the people who get onto the judicial bench are not the sons and daughters of the working class. I ask the Minister to tell us first of all the salary range of the commissioner.

Mr. Skinner : My hon. Friend is right that the people who get the jobs with the kinky clothes come from the belly of the establishment, just like those who finish up spying. Nearly every spy who has been caught in the past 30 to 40 years has come straight out of the belly of the establishment. That is important in relation to this Bill and the money involved in it. I must say that what is even worse is that 500 people have just been thrown out of work because of that chicken farm at Buxton going bust.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker) : Order. What has this to do with the money resolution?

Mr. Skinner : Five hundred jobs have been lost and not one of those people who have lost his job will get the job to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) has referred.

Mr. Cryer : My hon. Friend has a point, and it arises from the money resolution. By and large, people in the poultry industry are poorly paid and have not been well organised. They would wish to be satisfied that the commissioner will exercise proper scrutiny. When they see the sort of salary that I believe the Minister has in mind, they will wonder whether this is not just another job for a public schoolboy.

Another area of expenditure covered by the money resolution is the tribunal which, under clause 5(1), will be established

"for the purpose of investigating complaints about the Service in the manner specified in Schedule 1 to this Act."

The expenses and salaries of the tribunal's members will be paid by the Home Secretary, with the consent of the Treasury, as he determines. What sort of salaries and expenses will they receive? The job is so important that we should not gauge it by the amount of money being paid. We must always ask whether the salary and expenses are

Column 1184

so large that they would represent to the ordinary man and woman in the street not so much a salary as a way of keeping people's mouths shut.

The Minister said that the Bill is designed to create confidence in the operation of the security services. If the salaries are as astronomic as they usually are for such jobs, many people will believe that the tribunal is not scrutinising the Security Service properly.

It would be much more radical and interesting if the Government included on the tribunal people who are not barristers, advocates or solicitors of 10 years' standing. They should have an ordinary citizen or two on the tribunal instead of trawling the legal profession, as they always do to fill such positions.

When dealing with investigations, the tribunal may have to undertake extensive investigations. Under clause 1(3),

"it shall also be the function of the Service to safeguard the economic well-being of the United Kingdom against threats posed by the actions or intentions of persons outside the British Islands." Such acts or intentions may arise from the French water companies wishing to buy the British water industry, which the Tories are putting on the market. If MI5 decided that the French water companies represented a threat as defined in clause 1(3) it could investigate the activities of any British citizen who was employed by a French company. If that citizen complained to the tribunal, it would have to investigate not only activities here but the link with the French water companies.

The total cost of establishing and staffing the tribunal and assisting the commissioner is envisaged to be about £360,000 a year, with an additional public service manpower requirement of about 12 officers. The cost and manpower requirements, obviously, will depend on the volume and nature of the tribunal's work. Let me give the Minister a concrete example.

The old firm is at it again. MI5 is leaking secrets to the Sunday Express. It did it when Chapman Pincher was the paper's defence correspondent and, with the authority of the Prime Minister, MI5 poured out secrets, so that Chapman Pincher--

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. It is difficult to see what that has to do with the money resolution.

Mr. Cryer : I am merely pointing out, by way of example, that the Sunday Express appears to have a monopoly--perhaps it has been granted a royal warrant by MI5--to leak secrets, as it did for Chapman Pincher's book "Their Trade is Treachery". My comments relate to the money resolution. The tribunal will investigate complaints and the money resolution will provide the finance for that.

I have here a photocopy of the Sunday Express of 14 February 1988. It contains a picture of John Diamond and somebody else. The picture could provide a perfectly legitimate basis for a complaint that MI5 had taken this picture and had leaked it to the Sunday Express for its use. The picture is of a citizen who has nothing to do with the claims of MI5. That is precisely what the Bill concerns. The citizen sees the picture--

Mr. Roger King (Birmingham, Northfield) : The money resolution.

Mr. Cryer : I am speaking about the money resolution.

Column 1185

The photograph was published in the Sunday Express , so that citizen would have the right to go to the tribunal. MI5 is up to that sort of dirty trick. It is precisely because of its dirty tricks that the Minister is promoting the Bill--and the Bill will not function without the money. I know that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) does not understand such matters, although if he is here for another 25 years--which is unlikely--he might eventually grasp a few basic simplicities. My example illustrates the sort of complaint that the tribunal will investigate.

Does the Minister agree that I have sketched such a complaint? It will be no good for the Minister to say that the Government have little idea because the matter is dealt with in the Bill. The Minister complained earlier that the Opposition have not been putting forward positive or constructive suggestions. I have given a positive example of the way in which such a complaint might arise.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : The hon. Gentleman has illustrated his point well with one example. I hope that he will not give too many examples.

Mr. Cryer : I know that my comments have been rather drawn out, but may I tell you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I have been subjected to continuous harassment from the hon. Members for Northfield and for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) and I know that you would want to draw their attention to the rules of order--and the Minister's attention as well. He has been making snide little comments all the time. I do not mind, but I am interested in the rules of good conduct in the House and I do not want to see the rules broken while you are in the Chair. I try to help you to bring a bit of order on these occasions. Unfortunately, in trying to help you, it sometimes reflects on me in carrying out my duty as a Member of the House.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. It is fair enough for the hon. Gentleman to illustrate and sharpen his point by one example, but it is not necessary for him to give too many examples to make his point.

Mr. Cryer : I entirely agree. I am making the point that such an investigation would involve the Sunday Express and the reporter. The photograph was taken, I believe, in Vienna in Austria, so it might involve investigations in other countries where the complaint was based. Those investigations would be, potentially, expensive. So I hope that the Minister will assure us that the £360,000 will be sufficient. Indeed, will it be sufficient to prevent him having to return to Parliament, as did the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, with two further money resolutions.

We need a response from the Minister which will enable us to assess the importance of the points mentioned in the explanatory and financial memorandum, remembering that such comments will aid the whole House when the Bill is considered in Committee. We have an opportunity on this resolution to have a mini-debate about money. The Minister now has sufficient time in which to give a reasoned response to the points that I have raised.

I appreciate that, because the Bill represents a new venture for the Government, we cannot have concrete assurances about expenditure. For example, the complaints about which we are talking have not before had a legitimate channel through which to be raised. Having

Column 1186

asked about the fees to be paid to the commissioner and members of the tribunal, I trust that the Minister will make at least an attempt to answer those questions.

10.32 pm

Next Section

  Home Page