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Column 1144"threats to the security of the United Kingdom."
That means our freedom. That is what we are defending.
The Bill deals with the understandable threats of espionage and treachery. Then it comes to the difficult area of what constitutes subversion. Sub- paragraph (d) defines it thus :
"activities directed toward undermining by covert unlawful acts"-- note the insertion of "unlawful acts"--
"or directly toward or intended ultimately to lead to the destruction or overthrow by violence of, the constitutionally established system of government in Canada".
There is a final important caveat. The passage goes on : "but does not include lawful advocacy, protest or dissent, unless carried on in conjunction with any of the activities referred to in paragraphs (a) to (d) "--
(d) being the one that I have just quoted. That is a proper definition of the purpose of the Security Service.
When my right hon. Friend and the Government come to weigh those matters in Committee I ask them to look in a more friendly manner on the necessary balances. Having listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Boscawen), previously a distinguished Whip, I cannot imagine that the House of Commons to which I am a party, can be so subservient as to say that there are things that we must not know or should not look at. The McDonald Commission, in 1, 000 pages, asserted vigorously the right to know--the right even of the Opposition to know--what the security services are getting up to, because they touch on our freedoms in the most intimate way. They touch on our privacies and our rights.
How can we be self-respecting if we say, "I must shield myself on the basis of a concept that there are only two people in Britain who must know"? The truth of the matter is that we know that they do not know. The experience of the noble Baron Armstrong in Australia was riveting because we knew what he did not know. So much did he not know that he had to have an instruction from the previous Attorney-General, the subsequent Lord Chancellor, to retract his evidence.
The Bill confirms arrangements that a deferential House has accepted in the past. I notice that the focus for the Bill is the responsibility of the Home Secretary again. Canada and Australia used the Solicitor-General. I just add, in the spirit of Christmas goodwill, that perhaps that responsibility should fall to the Solicitor-General, who can give the time, interest and direction to those matters.
At the end of the day the balance has to be right and that requires--I argue the Canadian course--an independent review committee and an inspector -general with warrants judicially issued and reviewed throughout, and a report to Parliament. That independent review committee of Privy Councillors is presently outside Parliament. That comes up for review next year, five years after it was introduced. I have heard commissioners say, first, that the system works and, secondly, that they see no reason why those nominated Privy Councillors should not be found from within the body of the House of Commons in Canada. We should respect the experience of our cousins, who come from our own institutions and who have pioneered a way better than we have today.
Column 1145Bill and listened carefully to his remarks, I would argue that rather than a big step forward it is something of a sideways shuffle.
I have read the Bill carefully. Since it comes from a Government who pride themselves on cutting legislation to a minimum, the question that comes to someone such as me, unversed in security matters, is, what is it for? The Bill provides for no improvements in the effectiveness, efficiency or management of the service. Above all, it says nothing about parliamentary oversight. Who, among Conservative Members, can seriously say that there is no need for improvement in the management and efficiency of the security services? To show the need for improvement, I have only to reel off the names of past scandals such as those involving Maclean, Burgess, Philby and Blunt. I remind Conservative Members, that the case of Blunt was kept secret from the Government and the House for 15 years.
The recurrent history of appalling scandals of KGB infiltration of the service ought to make responsible Members consider the need for improvements in management and efficiency. In addition, one senses from reading a number of different accounts that at any given time there will be elements in the service who do not consider themselves accountable to the Government. One does not have to believe a fraction of what Wright had to say, either to Chapman Pincher or in the book, against which an unsuccessful prosecution was brought in Australia, to know that there were elements, even if only half a dozen people, who did not consider themselves accountable to Wilson's Government. How could a Security Service that was serious about being accountable to the Government of the day keep the details of the Hollis investigation from the Prime Minister for as long as it did? There have been recurrent scandals, and a lack of a sense throughout the service of being accountable to the Government rather than a notional accountability to the Crown. There is an anti-Labour theme running through the activities of some of the members of the security services. When Sir John Hunt, the Cabinet Secretary, was asked to examine the Security Service's activities, one of his suggestions was that the recruitment system needed to be reformed to prevent anti-Labour factions from forming. Do we know what reforms were carried out or how effective they were? Leonard McCoy, an ex-deputy head of the CIA, when interviewed, said that, when briefed by James Angleton, head of CIA, he was told that Harold Wilson was a Soviet Agent. I am not a 100 per cent. unreconstructed admirer of Harold Wilson, but it is an extraordinary way to describe a sturdy west Yorkshire patriot.
How can one take the activities and the loyalty of the security services seriously when remarks such as that come from foreign security agents that work hand in glove with them?
I shall touch lightly on the question of madness in the security services. Sir Martin Furnival, an ex-head of MI5, said, and he should know, that possibly four or five years in counter-espionage is too long because it causes insanity. I shall not pursue the matter further.
The hon. Member for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken) talked about the bad drafting of the Bill. That is cruel to the civil servants in the Box. I am obliged, as an ex-Home Office administration trainee, to stand up for my one-time colleagues and remind hon. Members that drafting can only be as clear and elegant as the political intentions
Column 1146behind the legislation. The Opposition believe that the political intentions behind the legislation are neither clear, elegant nor coherent. It will not do for hon. Members to criticise hard-working, underpaid members of the Home Office by talking about poor drafting. The drafting, including that of clause 1(2), is quite extraordinary. It says :
"The function of the Service shall be protection against threats from espionage, terrorism and sabotage from the activities of agents of foreign powers".
That is fine. However, it goes on to refer subjectively to undermining parliamentary democracy
"by political, industrial or violent means."
Some Opposition Members might say that by abolishing tiers of local government the Government are seriously undermining our system of democracy.
The clause continues by saying that the function of the service is "to safeguard the economic well-being of the United Kingdom against threats posed by the actions or intentions of persons outside the British Islands."
What does that mean? Is the Security Service licensed to bug and burgle innocent New York stockbrokers who may be engaged in speculation against our short-term economic interest? The drafting is extraordinary, but I blame the politicians.
Schedule 1, which deal with the working of the tribunal, is equally strange. Paragraph 2(4) contains a circular argument. The service can investigate someone because he or she is part
"of a category of persons regarded by the Service as requiring investigation".
Under paragraph 2(4) that is acceptable to the tribunal. There is no provision for an appeal to find out what categories of person the service deems to be worthy of investigation. It is as if the service is judge and jury. For example, if the service found a category such as ex-general secretaries of the National Council for Civil Liberties worthy of investigation, that would be acceptable under the terms of the schedule. Therefore, as I have said, the drafting is extraordinary, but I blame the politicians.
There has been much talk by Conservative Members about what Labour Governments did or did not do when they had the chance. As somebody who was not born when some of those Labour Governments were in power, I cannot take seriously Conservative Members' claim that what Labour Governments did not do is an infallible guide to what the Government should do.
The Bill and speeches made by Conservative Members refer to fears about the undermining of parliamentary democracy. I am sure that I speak for all my right hon. and hon. Friends when I say that we all take that seriously. What more serious threat is there to the respect and esteem in which parliamentary democracy is held than for the Government to say that Members of Parliament cannot be trusted with scrutiny or oversight of the Security Service? That has been requested by three ex-directors of the Security Service and is found in every English-speaking democracy. The Secretary of State has undermined parliamentary democracy by saying that elected Members of Parliament, the heart of our parliamentary system, cannot be trusted with what every other English-speaking democracy has. That is an unfounded smear. The Bill represents no great leap forward but a crab-like shuffle sideways. I hope that, even at this late stage, the Government will reconsider.
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Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton) : I am pleased that the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms. Abbott) said that what Labour Governments have not done should not be a guide to what this Government should do. One thing is clear--the previous Labour Government did nothing about secrecy or the Security Service. We enjoy with great amusement and pleasure the books and films about spies. Some of them are real and some are fictional. This has been a light-hearted debate. I remember Art Buchwald saying that the best thing that we could do would be to give the Russians our secrets because that would put them three years behind.
But the security of the state and the lives of the people who protect us in the Security Service are precious and important for the existence of the nation. And so we must pay proper regard to the seriousness of the matter that we are discussing.
I believe that most people, including even, the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick), accept that there must be secrets and that they should remain secret. Most people accept that those who work in the Secret Service should be trusted to keep these secrets, although I do not think that the hon. Member for Walsall, North necessarily agrees with that. However, people are concerned that only things that should necessarily be secret should remain so. Many people believe that criminal sanctions should apply only in cases for which they are absolutely necessary.
Many believe that if the Security Service does wrong there should be redress and that that redress will come only if there are visible signs of accountability. There have not been such signs, and it was to remedy that that the Government brought forward this Bill which, in principle, we should all support.
There is argument about how this acceptability should be achieved. We can all agree that putting the Secret Service on a statutory basis for the first time is thoroughly good. We can all agree that its functions should be set out to protect national security, not political parties. They should be so set out to protect us against espionage, terrorism, and sabotage, and against the undermining of parliamentary democracy. Some of us also think that the state should be protected against economic subversion, although as has been pointed out, the wording in clause 1(2) is somewhat mysterious. Most of us can agree that there should be a director-general, as there now is, with statutory requirements that he must follow, that information will be available only for certain limited purposes, and that once they have been fulfilled, that information should be destroyed. So there is a great deal of the Bill about which we must all agree--but there is disagreement about the instruments for achieving accountability.
Most Conservative Members do not believe that a parliamentary Select Committee is the best way of achieving accountability, mainly because we are all intensely party-political and adversarial. That is the strength of this place, but we all know that the best of us are liable, in moments of over-enthusiasm and of political bias, to make misjudgments which can be serious if peoples' lives are at stake. I do not want to embarrass any hon. Member, but we all know of many occasions in the past few months alone--let alone in the rather longer time
Column 1148that some of us have been here--when some hon. Members have made asses of themselves although, in the normal way, they are the most upright, sensible and balanced colleagues. This happens because we sometimes become detached by our political and adversarial status--
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : Does the hon. and learned Gentleman accept that Ministers are Members of Parliament? Surely, if they can be trusted with secrets, when they are out of office they can also be trusted with them.
Mr. Lawrence : Yes, the hon. Gentleman is quite right. He will notice that in the Bill which will be published next week the Government propose to take away ministerial certificates which allowed Ministers to say that they were the best judges of what constituted a secret. The Government propose to give that decision to juries. So now, the fact that people--genuinely or otherwise--might sometimes think that a Minister was biased in his assessment of what a secret was, has been recognised, and the decision on that will be left to an unpolitical, independent, objective and unbiased body of people--the jury.
Mr. Patrick Thompson (Norwich, North) : Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that Ministers have Departments with large numbers of civil servans who can advise them in a considered way, whereas Members of Parliament, who are busy and rushed, have little support?
The Government propose an independent and objective structure for accountability. It is evident from the Bill that there are a number of ways in which people will be protected--ordinary people and people in the Security Service. The operation is under the control of a director-general, who is appointed by the Secretary of State who, usually, if not always, and whichever party is in power, has a general sense of balance and reliability when he appoints important people to important positions. The Secretary of State will have the power to authorise warrants for obtaining information from private property.
A commissioner will review the Secretary of State's use of his warrant power--that is new. The commissioner is a senior judge, past or present. He has a duty to be supplied with all documents and information that he thinks necessary. He is required to make an annual report to the Prime Minister which will be laid before Parliament. So the public and Security Service personnel will be protected at a series of stages.
Next, there is a tribunal to consider complaints about activities of the Security Service. If, in the past, CND or the NCCL or anyone else have been unfairly supervised and have had reason for complaint, there is now a structure to deal with that--a tribunal composed of the most wonderful people in our society : four or five lawyers, utterly independent, not politically biased, not people who CND might say had opposite political persuasions. They will decide whether the complaint is valid, they will make the necessary inquiry and they will cause the records to be destroyed and award compensation if necessary.
So, for the first time, we have a whole ramp of protections--from the director-general and the Secretary of State to the staff counsellor, who has existed for some
Column 1149time and to whom the discontented service man, or woman, can go. There are also the commissioner and the tribunal, and if all that protection and accountability are insufficient, there is always the Member of Parliament. In all this discussion, people have lost sight of the fact that we in this House have direct access to Cabinet Ministers and, in important cases, to the Prime Minister. If secret agents had legitimate complaints to make--
Some of this ramp of protections never existed before ; most have now been put into place in this Bill ; and they are all there for the purpose that concerns us all--accountability.
There may be problems in the legislation--of definition and of scope. They can be sorted out as the Bill goes through Parliament, as most of these problems usually are. There is also the practical problem of unbalanced people. I represent a constituency with a lower proportion of unbalanced people than any other in the country--if that were not so, I would not have been voted into this place as its Member of Parliament. But there are still some people who believe that the Security Service spies on them through their television sets and who think that the noises they hear at night are specially directed at them by the Service. Sometimes they think that the electric currents are directed against them. This is a psychiatric illness, for which the only remedy is to suggest to such people that they wear wellington boots around the house so that the currents will not be conducted through them and cause them any disturbance. All those nuts will have access to the tribunal. The American figures show, I believe, that 30 per cent. of complaints fall into that category.
It is beyond denial that the Bill will provide better protection for state servants who feel that wrong is being done, and for people who are wronged by the secret service. It is not perfect--no legislation ever is, but it will
The Bill will help to strengthen public confidence in a way that a political all-party committee of the House would not. It is because public confidence is so important to us all that I support the Bill. 7.40 pm
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : I cannot join the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) who, in not expressing a vote of confidence in other right hon. and hon. Members, felt that they are incapable of maintaining the integrity of information divulged in the secret proceedings of a committee. However, I join the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) in supporting in principle a Bill that places the security service on a statutory footing.
I confess that when the Bill was published, I thought it likely that I would support it in the Division Lobbies, and
Column 1150I stated as much on a television programme. However, the more I read of the Bill's detail, the more I realised that the absence of parliamentary accountability is a fatal flaw. I drew that conclusion after my visit to Washington during the summer, when I was able to discuss the matter with Mr. Thomas Latimer, staff director of the congressional select committee on intelligence, and to discuss that committee's operations with certain Members of Congress who had business with the committee--if I may put it that way.
The general view expressed to me was that the system worked. One of the reasons why it does not leak is that its members are required to sign a complex document that is exactly the same as that which members of the American security services sign. Committee Members feel bound by that document, and they are people whom Congress feels it can trust.
My own proposals for parliamentary scrutiny can be found in appendix 6 of the first report from the Select Committee of Privileges 1986-87, when it carried out its inquiry into the Zircon affair. During the course of its proceedings, members of the Select Committee were asked to make their own submissions. I made one based on establishing a scrutiny committee that, in its early days or years, would have special responsibility for three areas of activity. They are, first, matters such as the Zircon project, which are reported to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in confidence but are not referred to the PAC's general membership. In making such a reference to the Chairman only, parliamentary accountability is currently provided for--but I believe that that duty should be removed from the PAC Chairman and transferred to the committee that I thought should be established.
The second area is the sums of money shown under defence Votes as applying to areas of expenditure to which they are not in fact allocated ; that is to say, laundered money within the defence budget that does not show up precisely under the specified project definition. That area of expenditure was drawn to my attention by the minutes of two previous PAC hearings in, I believe, 1947 and 1963. Clearly, there are laundered areas of expenditure-- to which I do not object, if that is the way it must be done to hide expenditure that otherwise would fall under the secret Vote.
The third area of expenditure that could be subject to the proposed committee's scrutiny is the secret Vote itself, which I understand now totals about £100 million annually. So there are three areas that, in the proposed committee's early years, could be under scrutiny without risking too much and, if I am honest about it, without unsettling people in the Security Service and perhaps even in the Government.
Those three areas could have come under scrutiny in order to build within the Security Service and the Department, and among Ministers, confidence in the fact that parliamentary accountability can work. However, there has been no response by the Government to that proposal. I have asked Ministers whether they are prepared to take on board the principle behind my proposals, but to date there has been no positive response. Financial accountability is the way in to scrutiny of the security services. That scrutiny can be undertaken only once that first hurdle has been cleared.
I refer next to subversion, and draw attention to conflicting statements that right hon. and hon. Members may wish to consider. The first concerns the interpretation
Column 1151of subversion by the Prime Minister when she announced new vetting procedures in 1985. Referring to her own belief of what constitutes subversion, she spoke of an individual who
"is or has been a Member of the Communist Party or a fascist organisation or of a subversive group, or is or has recently been sympathetic to or associated with members or sympathisers of such organisations or groups in such a way as to raise reasonable doubt about his or her reliability, or people who are susceptible to pressure from such organisations or groups."
I believe that that is the secret interpretation of what constitutes subversion.
That belief is reinforced by a letter that was sent to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), and quoted in the latest book by Richard Norton-Taylor, who researched this subject area in depth. The then Home Secretary, the right hon. and learned Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Brittan), wrote to him that special branches are not interested in trade unionists "as such", but
"only in such activities of individuals within trade unions (as within any other group or section in society) as are relevant to the tasks laid upon them by the guidelines."
The right hon. and learned Gentleman acknowledged :
"is not limited to possible acts of a criminal nature. In an open society such as ours it is all too easy to use tactics which are not themselves unlawful for subversive ends Those who are entrusted with safeguarding our democratic institutions from subversive attack must not be prevented from looking into the activities of those whose real aim it to harm our democracy but who, for tactical or other reasons, choose to keep (either in the long or the short term) within the letter of the law in what they do."
Also, in a letter to my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), the right hon. and learned Gentleman's predecessor as Home Secretary, now Viscount Whitelaw, wrote :
"The preservation of public order may require information to be kept on individuals who are active in a political movement, not because of the views they hold, but because the activities of the group could be such as to encourage public disorder."
Those are two different interpretations of subversion.
If one adds to them the interpretation given by the present Home Secretary when addressing the House this afternoon, there are three. I submit that the interpretation that will be applied is that of the Prime Minister. That will sow confusion in the minds of the public. In my view, that is the intention, because through confusion the Government will secure what they want--and that is, no change. 7.49 pm
Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay) : Although by the Home Secretary's admission, the Bill is some 79 years late, I welcome it enormously. I should like, however, to know the Government's motiviation. Is it the impending judgment in the European Court? Alternatively, is it the controversy earlier this year relating to the royal prerogative? Since its inception in 1909, members of the Security Service have been told that their work is covered not by statute but by the royal prerogative, but earlier this year that plank was well and truly demolished legally. One
Column 1152of the Bill's advantages is that it will give a boost to morale in the Security Service, which for years has in effect been working without strict legal backing.
Although a good deal of both optimism and pessimism has been expressed here today, we have not heard much realism. I want to examine a little of the background to the secrecy of the Security Service. The service has not always been cloaked in secrecy. Before the war Colonel Edward Hinchley- Cooke was a regular figure in the media as the representative of the service, and after the war Jim Skardon would give evidence on its behalf without having to be described as witness A, B, or C. Similarly, in the early 1950s the director-general of the Security Service, Sir Percy Sillitoe, was given official permission to write his memoirs.
I do not want to get involved in the business of accountability ; I have never believed that the Security Service has been truly accountable to the House. I would, however, like to congratulate the Home Secretary on constructing a bridge over the barrier of secrecy. Last year he told me that it was impossible to bridge. I gave him various ideas then about the introduction of two people whom I described as "non-executive directors" who could be involved in the work of the Security Service, on its directorate, and at the same time could write a report each year that could be supplied to the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister. I very much regret that instead of two non-executive directors we appear to be getting just one commissioner, but I hope that that omission will be rectified in Committee.
From whom, though, is any oversight committee to hear evidence? If the suggestions that have been made today are followed, evidence will be heard from the director-general, but I feel that that suggestion is fatally flawed, because experience tells us that the word of individual directors- general simply cannot be relied on. Let me cite two examples.
In 1949 Klaus Fuchs was arrested in an espionage case. At the time the director-general of the Security Service was prevailed upon by senior officers to lie to the Prime Minister, because it was believed that if it was revealed that there had been a major blunder and that Fuchs could have been arrested in 1944 or 1945, the morale of the service would be undermined. That is a clear example of the Prime Minister being misled. I might add that the director-general at that time had severe reservations about what happened.
Another much later case is on the public record. It is one of the most disgraceful documents to be publicly available, and was written by the Security Service. I refer to the White Paper on Burgess and Maclean. I urge hon. Members to read it if they believe that advice from the Security Service can always be relied on. It details no fewer than 17 major instances of deception.
Let me explain why I feel that two commissioners are needed. I have described how reports from the director-general cannot always be relied upon, and I do not believe that we can necessarily rely on reports from a single commissioner working alone. Lord Denning, for instance, was taken for a ride by the Security Service. That was the view of many senior officers at the time. A little pantomime was prepared--a completely bogus operation--for him to witness, which he describes in the report in glowing detail. That is another example of a single person being duped by the Security Service.
What about the judicial qualification suggested in clause 4(1)? While I believe that it is a good old-fashioned
Column 1153British tradition to rely on a judge in such matters, I am not as sanguine as that, or as confident in judges. I would much rather have two commissioners, and I would not restrict their qualification to the law--with the greatest respect to hon. and learned Members on both sides of the House.
I should like the role of commissioner to be greatly widened. It seems to me from reading the Bill that that role will be limited to dealing with the supervision of warrants and with complaints brought by the tribunal. I should like to return to the idea of two non-executive directors who would be involved not in operational matters but certainly in matters of policy judgment, and I hope that that suggestion will be considered in Committee.
The Bill says nothing about what could go into the annual report of the commissioner or commissioners. We know from our experience of the Interception of Communications Act 1985 that the reports by the commissioner under the Act supply less information than we had before. I should like certain detailed questions to be answered on an annual basis in the report. Again, that could be considered in Committee.
There is, for example, the marvellous euphemism "interference with property". I think that it should be a statutory responsibility of the commissioner to mention in his report every year exactly how many warrants have been issued. I do not think that the disclosure of that detail would necessarily undermine operational prowess. It would, however, be of great reassurance to the public to know that there will be rather more in the report than the view across Gower street and the Euston road.
Let me now deal with the Security Service itself. Many reforms have been introduced by Sir Antony Duff in the wake of the Bettaney affair. I remind hon Members who are not aware of quite how appalling that case was that this was a senior Security Service officer operating in the most senior branch of the service, who was promoted although he had two criminal convictions for deception--having also been convicted of drunkenness--and who consumed a bottle of whisky a day. I urge hon. Members to read the Security Commission report on that, because it is utterly damning.
The Security Commission has often been mentioned as having some kind of oversight role, yet within the Security Service it has been suggested that the commission is nothing more than a stable-locking operation. I suggest that anyone who does not agree with that reads the Security Commission report on Michael Bettaney, which illustrates one of the dilemmas placed before the commission. The report contains the statement that Bettaney's erratic behaviour drew attention to him and he was therefore denounced by colleagues, and that that was how the investigation was pursued. What seems odd about that is that we now know in the light of subsequent events that it was Oleg Gordievsky in the Soviet embassy, the KGB resident in London, who tipped off the security authorities to the existence of a traitor in their midst.
That prompts the following question : did the Security Commission lie when it stated that Bettaney's investigation had been initiated as a consequence of the diligence and vigilance of his colleagues? Alternatively, were they lied to, with the best of motives, because the Security Service wished to protect a source? That is a very difficult operational dilemma, but again it calls into question the system of reporting and the difficulties of oversight.
Column 1154The United States has recently been subjected to the Iran-Contra scandal. What is so odd about that incident is that, although the law, as supplied by the Senate, was broken, there were no penalties for Oliver North or for John Poindexter. I hope that in Committee penalties will be incorporated in the Bill.
I warmly welcome the Bill. At long last it provides the Security Service with a legal status. It provides for the appointment of a commissioner, which I welcome, although I hope that in Committee we can add a second commissioner. The Bill provides for the creation of a tribunal, which is also warmly to be welcomed. Therefore, I urge the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.
Mr. Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie) : I cannot, as did the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason), claim to have immersed myself in this subject for many years. I have to consider it in a very simple way. According to the Bill, the purpose of the Security Service is to protect parliamentary democracy. However, the Security Service has a unique power with which to undermine parliamentary democracy. We have to ask ourselves whether the Bill--which hon. Members have welcomed in principle, if not for its content--furthers parliamentary democracy. The answer to that question must be that it does not do so.
Because of its limited powers, the Bill asks us to trust the Government. That request ought not to be made. We should not be asked to trust any Government at any time in any parliamentary democracy, nor should we be obliged to trust any Government. We should be able to ask the Government to tell us what they are doing and to spell out their policies, and then we should be able to subject their policies to scrutiny. The Bill makes no provision for such scrutiny. In recent years a litany of names, associated with the Security Service, have passed on confidential information. Bettaney has just been mentioned. Ponting, Tisdall, Stalker, Massiter, Wright and Campbell also revealed confidential information. The Government behaved badly in public in those cases, yet they ask us to trust them in private. That is extremely difficult to do.
A Select Committee of senior parliamentarians should be set up to scrutinise the work of Government. To put it in psychological terms, there is a grave risk that both politics and the Security Service attract people with authoritarian personalities--those who say, "I know best," and who also say, "National security equals party interest equals my interest." For that reason an outside influence needs to be brought to bear upon such personalities, whether they are in the Security Service or at the top of the parliamentary world. There needs to be a countervailing force--a fresh wind or a fresh breeze--not to authorise the signing of warrants at 9.45 am but to examine budgets and the range of activities that are being pursued by the Security Service.
Conservative Members will have gathered that the clause in the Bill that provides that no action shall be taken to further party political interests is greeted with hollow laughter on these Benches. In recent years, organisations on the Left--trade unions, CND and other organisations that have sought to scrutinise Government policy--have been subjected, on flimsy grounds, to far too many