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Column 1094amendment if he does not feel that the motion reflects the view on which he would like the House to come to a decision.
Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion) : In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), my right hon. Friend suggested that the review of the Hillsborough agreement might go on for some months. Of course we accept the monopoly of wisdom of the Government and their omniscience in all these matters, but I hope that my right hon. Friend is not suggesting that we should wait until that review is concluded. We believe that it may be a help to Ministers to have some idea what the House thinks about these matters before decisions are taken.
Mr. Wakeham : I fully agree with that. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is also anxious to hear any views that right hon. and hon. Members and others may wish to express. We accept that the House should have an opportunity to express its views. All I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) was that it is a matter of judgment as to when will be the most helpful time for the debate.
Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East) : Am I correct in understanding that the Ministerial and Other Salaries Order does not include the proposal of the Top Salaries Review Body that Ministers who are sacked or resign should continue to receive their ministerial salary for three months to allow them to adjust to the much lower income of a Back Bencher? If that is not in the order, has the Leader of the House abandoned all thought of bringing that proposal before the House?
Mr. Wakeham : The order that I lay will be in accordance with the answers that I gave to Parliament, which briefly contained the terms on which the order will be based. The order will be laid in good time for the debate.
Mr. Roger Knapman (Stroud) : Will my right hon. Friend find time for an early debate on the National Health Service, bearing in mind that the Gloucester health authority appears to wish to close the Berkeley and Tetbury community hospitals in my constituency? Such a debate would give me the opportunity to observe that it is the Gloucester health authority that is in need of deep-cut surgery and not community hospitals in my constituency. Mr. Wakeham : I do not know whether my hon. Friend has tried his luck with an Adjournment debate, but that would appear to be a suitable opportunity to voice his concern.
Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West) : Will the Leader of the House ask the Home Secretary to make a statement concerning the recent decision of the Association of Chief Police Officers that there should be a national register of missing persons? Is he aware that the present system is completely unsatisfactory, that the computer at Scotland Yard is a disaster and that the Salvation Army is doing a wonderful job--and will do so over Christmas--in trying to reunite families? However, thousands of families will spend a thoroughly miserable Christmas because they cannot find missing relatives.
Mr. Wakeham : My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has heard what the hon. and learned Gentleman
Column 1095has said, but I suspect that he does not accept everything that he said. However, it is an important issue, and my right hon. Friend will consider how best to communicate with the hon. and learned Gentleman.
Mr. Tim Devlin (Stockton, South) : Before the Bill on identity cards in football grounds is introduced, may we have an early debate on a national scheme of voluntary identity cards so that football clubs, pubs and other places of entertainment can control their entry requirements?
Mr. Wakeham : I cannot promise my hon. Friend an early debate, but, reading the press this morning, I felt that the subject of identity cards may be before the House in one form or another in the not too distant future.
Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill) : Has the Leader of the House had the opportunity to consider early-day motion 176, which has been signed by hon. Members on both sides of the House?
[That this House condemns the decision of the South African courts to jail for six years, 18 year old Charles Bester following his conscienscious objection to serving in the South African armed forces ; notes his statement in court after hearing his sentence, you shall know that truth and the truth shall set you free' ; and calls upon the South African government to immediately release Mr. Bester.] It concerns the case of Charles Bester, an 18-year-old African who last week was sentenced to six years' imprisonment by the South African courts, because of his refusal to be conscripted into the South African armed forces. Does he not believe that it would be appropriate for the Government to make representations to the South African Government to seek clemency?
Mr. Wakeham : No, we reject the motion. Such decisions are for the individuals concerned. However, we understand why some young South Africans refuse to do military service, and we respect the sincerity of their views.
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West) : May I wish the Leader of the House a happy Christmas? I shall be more than ready to help him out with any sticky comestibles that he may have in his hamper. Will the Leader of the House give time for an early debate on endangered species? I was not referring to the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) ; I was referring to, for example, black rhinos, gorillas and elephants. The right hon. Gentleman must have read recent newspaper stories and will know that there is great concern for such animals. It would be much appreciated if we could have an early debate on endangered species.
Mr. Wakeham : When the hon. Gentleman was talking about endangered species, I thought that he was talking about himself. I see that today he is in his winter plumage, and I look forward to seeing him in brighter attire when the spring comes. He has raised a serious matter in which he takes a serious interest and for which the House respects him. I cannot promise him an early debate, but it is certainly a matter that I shall bear in mind.
Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West) : Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Foreign Secretary next week to make a statement to the House about the policy for issuing visas to those who wish to visit the United Kingdom? Is he
Column 1096aware that, on 5 December, Mr. Narinder Singh applied to a British post in India for a visit visa to visit his brother-in-law who was seriously ill in a Leeds hospital? Mr. Singh was asked to produce a doctor's letter confirming that his brother-in-law was in hospital, which he did last Monday. Unfortunately, his brother-in-law died on Saturday.
On Monday, he asked for a visa to attend the funeral and to help his sister and her young family to settle his brother-in-law's affairs. He has still not been granted a visa, despite several hours of discussion and telexes this week between London and India. It appears that this decision, and many others like it, are in direct contradiction of assurances given by Home Office and Foreign Office Ministers that visas would be quickly granted in urgent medical cases.
Mr. Wakeham : Obviously I cannot comment on the case that the hon. Gentleman has raised, but I shall make inquiries when I leave the Chamber and I shall contact him.
Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East) : Before the publication of the football Bill, will the Leader of the House talk to the Department of the Environment to ensure that I receive an answer to a question that I put down on the Order Paper a fortnight ago suggesting that the league table should be studied in terms of football violence? The table may show that, when considered against the numbers attending football matches, the number of incidents of violence may be insignificant. Or is he worried that Luton Town may finish at the top?
Mr. Wakeham : I am not worried in the least about such matters, but I shall speak to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to ensure that the hon. Gentleman receives an answer to his question.
Mr. Alan Meale (Mansfield) : Will the Leader of the House inform the House why he has decided to delay debate on cold weather payments until mid -January? Will he review that decision, because many tens of thousands of pensioners are facing illness and death this winter? Can we not for once tackle the matter before the winter is halfway through and there are catastrophic effects for pensioners?
Mr. Wakeham : We had discussions about changing the time of the debate, and the Government felt that it would be more convenient to have the debate on the date that I have recently announced.
Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde) : Will the Leader of the House confirm or deny that it is not his intention to set up a Select Committee on Scottish affairs? What is so complex about doing so? The Opposition will gladly man a Select Committee on Scottish affairs. We desperately need it.
Mr. Wakeham : As the hon. Gentleman will know, the tradition of the House is that Select Committees are set up by agreement with Members in all parts of the House. I have tried for a long time to obtain agreement. Unfortunately, the proposals that I presented to the Opposition were not acceptable, and I make no complaint about that. That will be the subject of the debate, and no doubt we can discuss it next week.
Column 1097Adjournment Motion
Mr. Speaker : I remind hon. Members that on the motion for the Adjournment of the House on Thursday 22 December, up to nine hon. Members may raise with Ministers subjects of their own choice. Applications should reach my office by 10 pm on Monday next. A ballot will be held on Tuesday morning and the result made known as soon as possible thereafter.
Column 1098Points of Order
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that during Question Time the Home Secretary reached question No. 7, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling), regarding a national identity scheme after 1992. The question was quite specific. It was in no way allied to the scheme for football that is proposed by the Minister with responsibility for sport. Question No. 73 on the Order Paper relates specifically to the football identity card scheme. It is a well-known practice--indeed, a rule--in the House that when a Minister is answering questions, so as not to cause embarrassment to anyone or to cause difficulties to the House, he shall not answer questions further down the Order Paper. On question No. 7, at the end of his last answer to the supplementary questions that had been asked, the Home Secretary referred to the football membership scheme. I drew that to your attention immediately, Mr. Speaker, for the very good reason that that practice must be stopped. It should not be allowed because it would provide much more room for manoeuvre for any Government, irrespective of colour.
It is important to raise the matter now as a point of order as it should be drawn to the attention of the Home Secretary, who may not have been aware of the mistake that he was committing. When such occasions arise, there is a perfectly reasonable and proper practice for doing what the Home Secretary might have wished to do, and that is to approach Mr. Speaker earlier in the day saying, "I wish to answer question No. 73 about a matter which I regard as important." The Home Secretary did not use that procedure. He thought that he could get away with it without anyone noticing, but we have caught him out.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hurd) rose--
Mr. Speaker : Order. I think that I can deal with the matter, although of course I shall call the Home Secretary if he so wishes. If that did occur--I shall look carefully at Hansard --perhaps I should have drawn the attention of the House to it. But I must say that it had escaped me. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I go through the Order Paper carefully and try to ensure that those with questions lower down the Order Paper have an opportunity to be called. I had not linked that question on the Order Paper. I had linked question No. 37 with question No. 7. The hon. Gentleman is quite right. Perhaps I should in future be stricter in listening to supplementary questions. The hon. Gentleman is frequently very close to the mark.
Mr. Hurd : Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I entirely accept the principle to which the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) has drawn attention. I understand its importance, and I would not have tried anything out either on him or on you, Mr. Speaker, but I say emphatically that I was not trying to answer question No. 73. I am ashamed to say that my reading of the Order Paper had not got that far. Now that I have studied question No. 73, I see that it is about legal disqualification under the football membership scheme. It does not
Column 1099mention identity cards. The answers that I was giving to a series of supplementary questions were all about identity cards, and I believe that tomorrow Hansard will show that there is only a glancing relationship between the answers that I gave and the answer that I would have given to question No. 73 had it been reached.
Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you give me guidance on how we can, within the rules of order, raise the matter of the hon. Member for Erewash (Mr. Rost) who, according to a report today, works for a company appropriately known as Grafton Interaction and has offered his services for the sum of £2,900 a month to a Danish company.
"in the run-up to privatisation of electricity"?
It is reported that the hon. Gentleman used his position as a member of the Select Committee on Energy to offer his services to the Danish Board of District Heating, an organisation representing about 30 communal central heating firms. The letter from Grafton stated : "We can supply confidential reports of political activities, discussions with UK Government Ministers and the thinking of the specialist groups in Parliament."
Is it in order for a Member of the House to prostitute himself and to try to sell, for personal gain, specialist knowledge obtained through his membership of the House and through dealings with Ministers?
Mr. Speaker : I understand that the position described by the hon. Gentleman remains hypothetical at present. Should the hon. Member for Erewash (Mr. Rost) acquire a declarable interest, I am sure that he will declare it. Wider matters to do with the registering and declaring of interests are within the terms of reference of the Select Committee on Members' Interests. I cannot rule on an individual case in response to a point of order.
Mr. David Ashby (Leicestershire, North-East) : Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Normally we inform hon. Members if points of order relating to them are to be raised in the House. Did the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) inform my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Mr. Rost) that he intended to raise this point of order? If not--
Mr. Speaker : Order. As the House knows, the Chair can impose the rules--there are not very many of them--but convention is a matter of honour between Members on both sides of the House. It is certainly a convention that we do that.
Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. For some time now there has been a change in the way in which points of order are raised. There was a time when a point of order could be raised immediately on an issue that might have been of great interest to the House and it would be taken at that time. Now we are always told that points of order must be taken after questions or statements, when the impact of the issue has usually gone. It may serve to calm the atmosphere, but that is not the point. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to reconsider the convention that has grown up. Perhaps it is an old-fashioned view, but I believe that when someone wishes to make a point of order, it should be taken there and then. May we return to the former practice?
Mr. Speaker : I do not need to reconsider the matter because I agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said. If a matter of order arises at any time, it should be raised immediately with the Chair. If the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) had raised that matter immediately, I would have dealt with it at the time. That would have been the correct way of dealing with it. He sought to raise it at the end of Question Time as arising out of questions. That is a practice upon which I ruled on 12 February 1987. Matters that need immediate attention from the Chair may be raised at once.
Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My point of order is much more domestic and in search of guidance. Hon. Members on both sides of the House are becoming increasingly worried about the lack of taxis coming into the House during the day and especially at night. Will you use any influence that you have to ensure either a greater supply of taxis or that alternative arrangements are made? On some nights, hon. Members may stand for 50 minutes waiting to go home.
Mr. Speaker : I have no authority for dealing with taxis. That matter should be raised with the Services Committee.
Several Hon. Members rose--
Mr. Speaker : Of course I shall hear points of order now, but there is a long list of speakers for the subsequent debate. I fear I shall have to place a limit on speeches between 7 o'clock and 9 o'clock. I do not like doing that, but in the circumstances I shall have to do it.
Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether I could have your advice. Some time ago, as you will recollect, you said that a debate about the sale of old people's homes in Bradford was sub judice as a result of a High Court case. Strangely, that did not stop Bradford council deciding, on Tuesday, to hire private management consultants to negotiate the sale of those homes on the basis of the life expectancy of old people living in them. I attended the High Court case in London this morning and the High Court has reserved judgment. It is not known when the judgment will be made.
Mr. Speaker : In that case, perhaps the hon. Gentleman should not pursue his point of order. As the matter is sub judice, I cannot deal with it.
Mr. Madden : That is precisely the point, Mr. Speaker. In view of the present situation, will it be permissible for myself and other hon. Members who are anxious about it to raise the matter? It has been debated extensively in our own council chamber whereas we are denied the opportunity to debate it in Parliament. Would we be in order next week to raise this matter, which is important to our constituents, in view of the fact that the High Court has reserved judgment and it may be weeks before its judgment is delivered?
Mr. Speaker : In view of what the hon. Gentleman has said, I shall look into the matter and communicate with him. I repeat that we have a heavy day ahead of us.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : Further to an earlier point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I revert to the point of order that was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson)? Will you confirm that, if the allegations about the hon. Member for
Column 1101Erewash (Mr. Rost) are true, he has complied with the rules of the House? He is entitled to act in that way under our rules because they do not preclude people from doing so, if they register. They can then do what they want.
Mr. Speaker : That is not a matter for me. I am not prepared to rule on a hypothetical matter.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : The key issue is the position of the Chairman of the Committee of Selection. A general principle is involved here. When the interests of a Member change after that Member has been appointed to a Select Committee of the House, the responsibility is placed on the Chairman of the Committee of Selection to reconsider that selection. If the hon. Member for Erewash, or any hon. Member had declared an interest prior to his selection, he might not have been selected.
Mr. Speaker : I have already said to the hon. Gentleman that issue is hypothetical. He has abused the time of the House. The matter should be drawn to the attention of the Chairman of the Committee of Selection, if the hon. Gentleman feels strongly about it. I have aleady made that point.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will have heard earlier in exchanges with the Leader of the House of his regret that he has removed three hours of opportunity for hon. Members to debate matters on the Consolidated Fund Bill on Monday. Will you confirm that the Standing Orders of the House require the Consolidated Fund Bill debate to be completed at 9 am, on Tuesday, but that there is nothing to stop the Government tabling a motion to extend the debate by three hours, thereby restoring to Back Benchers the opportunity of further debate? Perhaps, as guardian of Back Benchers' rights, you would at least consider using your influence to press the Government to consider that.
Mr. Speaker : That is a matter for the Leader of the House. However, I do not disagree with what the hon. Gentleman has said.
Mr. Martin M. Brandon-Bravo (Nottingham, South) : Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honour of one of our colleagues has been most disgracefully impugned this afternoon and he is not present to defend himself. I merely seek guidance about whether we can seek information about whether our colleague was informed, in accordance with the conventions of the House, before the statement was made.
Mr. Speaker : The matter has been raised previously. I imagine that the hon. Gentleman was not so informed, or he would probably have been here. I believe the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) quoted from a report in a newspaper. But I hope that all of us will always stick to the conventions of the House, which have served us well over the decades.
Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South) : Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson). May I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, with respect, that the matter is not hypothetical. I agree that whether money has changed hands is hypothetical- -clearly it has not in this case. What is not hypothetical is that a letter has been written. In view
Column 1102of that, may I put it to you that the hon. Member for Erewash (Mr. Rost) should be asked to explain himself to the House. Such activity brings the House into disrepute?
Mr. Speaker : If the hon. Gentleman is alleging a contempt of the House, he must draw my attention to it by letter, in the proper way.
Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East) : I am sorry to press the point, but in view of the, I imagine, legitimate points of order made by other hon. Members, would it not be incumbent on the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson)--who is unfortunately leaving the Chamber at this moment --to say whether he notified my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Mr. Rost) of what he intended to say? Does that not raise serious issues about the tradition of notifying an hon. Member that he will be referred to in an attack of that kind?
Mr. Speaker : That is correct, but, as I have already said, it is not within the power of the Chair to compel hon. Members to adhere to the conventions of the House, although it is a great pity if they are not adhered to.
Mr. Ashby : Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You have, of course, a duty to protect hon. Members. Is it right that Opposition Members should be able to make slanderous statements against other hon. Members, under the guise of a point of order, and then walk out before they can explain themselves? Are not hon. Members entitled to the protection of the Chair?
Mr. Speaker : The hon. Gentleman is right to say that we have conventions in the House. I have already said that I think that it is a great pity, and lowers the reputation of the House, if we do not stick to the conventions, which have served us well over the years, indeed over the centuries.
Mr. Secretary King, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Hurd, Mr. Secretary Ridley, Mr. Ian Stewart and Mr. Peter Viggers, presented a Bill to establish a Fair Employment Tribunal for Northern Ireland and an office of President of the Industrial Tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal ; to amend the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1976 ; to make further provision with respect to the promoton of equality of opportunity in employments and occupations in Northern Ireland between persons of different religious beliefs ; and for connected purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time tomorrow and to be printed. [Bill 13.]
Mr. Secretary Moore, supported by Mr. Secretary Fowler, Mr. Secretary Walker, Mr. Secretary Rifkind, Mr. Secretary King, Mr. Norman Lamont, Mr. Nicholas Scott and Mr. Peter Lloyd, presented a Bill to amend the law relating to social security and occupational and personal pension schemes ; to make provision with respect to certain employment-related benefit schemes ; to provide for the recovery, out of certain compensation payments, of amounts determined by reference to payments of benefit ; to make fresh provision with respect to the constitution and functions of war pensions committees ; and for
Column 1103connected purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time tomorrow and to be printed. [Bill 3.]
Security Service Bill
Order for Second Reading read.
Mr. Speaker : Before I call upon the Home Secretary, I must repeat to the House that, very sadly, we have a late start today, and many right hon. and hon. Members wish to participate. I regret that not all of them will be called. I shall impose a limit of 10 minutes on speeches between7 pm and 9 pm, but I ask right hon. and hon. Members who are called before that time to bear in mind that limit in consideration of the late start that we have had today.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hurd) : I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The Bill gives Parliament, for the first time this century, the opportunity to establish a framework for the Security Service and to weld it into legislation. A month ago no one suspected that we are about to launch a substantial reform of this kind. Now, so fast does the political kaleidoscope shift, those who in their hearts were amazed at the boldness of what we proposed take it for granted and press for more. Labour Members, who in their time did nothing, are particularly urgent that we should do more than we propose--and much more, of course, than they ever dreamed possible.
Before I come to the Bill, I must say a word about the Security Service. I am well aware that it is hampered by the fiction which envelops it. I have nothing against the thriller as an art form, but those who unwittingly get their ideas of the Security Service from Sapper, Le Carre or Deighton will not bring much understanding to the Bill. The Security Service is not full of latter-day Bulldog Drummonds, nor is it locked in a time warp of the 1950s, for ever fighting shadows that have long since disappeared. Still less equipped for the debate are those who feed on works of fiction paraded as if they were statements of fact.
The precursor of today's Security Service was created in the War Office just under 80 years ago to deal with German army espionage. The unit was called MO5, and later became MI5. In 1935, MI5 was amalgamated with the section of the Metropolitan police working to counter subversion and it was in that year--although one would not always think so--that it changed its name to the Security Service. In both world wars, the Security Service was highly successful in counter-espionage and in the last war, the efforts of all the German agents sent here were frustrated.
Let me deal with the constitutional aspects of the service. At the end of the war, the work of the service was reviewed. In his report in 1963, Lord Denning quoted from a report by Sir Findlater Stewart in 1945, which crisply described the purpose of the Security Service as
"Defence of the Realm and nothing else".
That phrase was repeated and developed in 1952 in the Home Secretary's directive to the Director-General of the Security Service--the Maxwell Fyfe directive. That directive, published in Lord Denning's report, continues to apply to the service today. We now propose that the language of that injunction should be turned into the requirement of a statute. I share
Column 1105the sorrow of the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) that the rolling phrases of the 1940s and 1950s are being replaced, but I think that the term "national security" is now well recognised and understood in statute, and it appears in many Bills passed by the Labour party when in government. By its very nature, the phrase refers--and can only refer--to matters relating to the survival or well-being of the nation as a whole, and not to party-political, sectional or lesser interests.
The main responsibilities of the service for the protection of national security are clearly set out in the Bill. In addition, the Security Service must be able to act if necessary against any substantial threat to the nation as a whole. It is not primarily concerned with matters relating to defence and foreign policy but, as its history shows, it could not, and would not, stand inert in the face of threats to the nation's defence or the hostile actions of a foreign Government. It cannot act in any of those areas, however, unless the security of the nation as a whole is in question. That is what national security means.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) : No one in the House, and very few people outside, would for one moment dispute the need for some kind of security service to protect national security, but how can it be argued that it was in the interests of national security for MI5 to target my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Ms. Harman) and Patricia Hewitt, who are bringing a case against the Government at the European Court of Human Rights? How can my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham, as legal officer of the National Council for Civil Liberties, and Patricia Hewitt, as its general secretary, possibly have undermined national security or the democratic structure of our state?
Mr. Hurd : I shall not deal with the past operations of the service or with cases that are now before the European Court. I am merely explaining what is in the Bill, and I shall be coming to the hon. Gentleman's point later.
Clauses 1 and 2 would not permit the Security Service to act against any person or organisation just because he or it has campaigned against the policies of the Government of the day. The Bill makes the political neutrality of the Security Service a statutory requirement for the first time ever. Clause 1 accurately describes the functions of the service as the protection of national security and the safeguarding of our economic well-being from outside threats.
The House knows that, in recent years, the Security Service has been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism, and the shift in the emphasis of its work towards counter-terrorism has been marked and successful. In responding to the threat from Irish terrorism, the Security Service has gained much information that has been used directly and immediately in preventing attacks and thus saving lives. I am thinking in particular of the timely news of arms shipments that have been intercepted before they could reach the island of Ireland and wreak the havoc for which they were intended.
Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) : In the book "One Girl's War", the lady concerned says that she and other officers broke into the home of R. Palme Dutt because they understood that the main secrets of the Communist party were kept under his bed. When they examined the box under his bed, they found that it
Column 1106contained his marriage lines. That was the great secret that he kept. The point is that they broke into his home, just as they have broken into and bugged the homes of many other politicians and political people. The Home Secretary says that the service will be politically neutral from now on. Can he assure us that, from now on, people who express political opposition will never be subjected to that sort of thing again?
Mr. Hurd : The hon. Gentleman is being offered not an assurance from me but a Bill. We are putting these matters on the statute book for the first time. I do not intend to enter into details of what has happened in the past, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will read the passages in the Bill that are relevant to his point.
Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook) : The Home Secretary said that clause 1 explicitly excluded any political bias in the service. Will he read us the words that provide that?
Mr. Hurd : I referred to clauses 1 and 2. clause 2(2)(b) says that it shall be the duty of the director-general to ensure
"that the Service does not take any action to further the interests of any political party."
That is a precise and accurate answer to the right hon. Gentleman's question.
I was dealing with the first and, at the moment, dominant role of the Security Service. I shall deal with subversion in a moment, because I know that that is the aspect that most perturbs Opposition Members.
As regards espionage, there is not much doubt about the principle involved. During the years since the war, the Security Service has provided information that has led to the possibility of successful and decisive action against hostile intelligence agents in this country. We continue to face other threats from outside the country, which relate to those who would weaken our defences, threaten our economy and suborn those whom we trust with our secrets. Here again, the service exists to protect us.
I know that one aspect that worries one of my predecessors, the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) is counter-subversion. I do not doubt that the Security Service must be able, within the limits set out in the Bill, to undertake that task. I have no doubt--we have considered the matter many times--that the definition of subversion given by Lord Harris of Greenwich in 1975 and endorsed by the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South as Home Secretary was the right one.
I am not alone in reaching that conclusion. The matter was considered by the Select Committee on Home Affairs in the 1984-85 Session. The Committee was considering police special branches and it accepted that the Harris definition was broadly correct.
Mr. Winnick : There was a minority report.