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Mr. Patten : The hon. Member for Sunderland, South is well known in the House for his frivolity and his lack of serious attention to these matters.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook wanted general supervision. He completely failed to understand the workings of the tribunal and barely mentioned the important role of the commissioner. He did not realise that the generalised supervision for which he was apparently calling at the beginning of his speech could never deal with the individual misdemeanours of those in the service. The only people who would ever have such information available to them would be the management of the service, the director-general, the Home Secretary and of course the commissioner, who is an independent figure, a judge from the high judiciary at the right or left shoulder of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

When the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook began to talk about general supervision, I thought that he was suggesting a body such as that which had been described to the House earlier by the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen), who is not his place--a general checking body. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook then put before the House a model of that general supervision. He suggested that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary would be going off to the Cabinet at 9.45 am on a Thursday and someone would come up to him with a warrant. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook went on to say that what he expected to be interposed between my right hon. Friend and his decision-making process was some sort of parliamentary body. [Interruption.] It will be in Hansard for all to see.

If only the right hon. Gentleman could have seen the looks of amazement and then embarrassment on the faces of his colleagues. He had suggested a concept which would put parliamentary scrutiny between the bringing of a warrant and the decision by the Home Secretary of the day. No democracy in the western world operates parliamentary scrutiny over the operational decisions of the service which guards it. That was the precise remedy that the right hon. Gentleman put before the House. I dare say that he did not mean it. The hon. Member for Walsall, North well illustrated the problem of parliamentary oversight. It was noted very carefully that he wanted to require my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to come to the House and answer allegations about the reasons for the service allegedly targeting particular individuals or organisations. What an absolute gift to any organisation which threatens our security to ask the Home Secretary through Parliament so that the Home Secretary will have to tell Parliament the exact facts. That would be a gift to anyone.

to the central question about warrants that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West so wanted me to answer. In his notable speech my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North, from his considerable experience of the difficulties of the Select Committee in trying to examine the workings of special branch, encapsulated thproblems that would face any parliamentary oversight should the Housdecide that there should be one. Mr. Winnick : Will the Minister give way?

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Mr. Patten : I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman must forgive me. I was replying to the point made by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West and I hope that he has the decency to recognise that. For the first time ever, Parliament will have the assurance that there is a proper statutory procedure for the examination of warrants and, for the first time ever, the commissioner, the independent judge, will make a report on such matters, subject to security exclusions, to which his report drew specific attention. That report will be published and laid before Parliament. These are important provisions, providing significant new safeguards. The House would be wise to welcome them.

The warrant procedure is public. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook asked that it should be made public, as did the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West. That provision is in clause 3. The system will provide for considerable oversight of all the warrant activities involved in the Bill.

Public confidence will be greatly improved and deepened by the Bill. It will be impossible to deal in depth with every point made by hon. Members. I hope that in the answers which I have given--I have tried to be as even- handed as I could be across the Floor of the House--I have demonstrated that I have listened with care. We shall continue to do so and to reflect on hon. Members' points during the Bill's progress. We believe that the Bill is a good answer to difficult questions about the role of the Security Service in our system. Of course they are difficult questions to answer. We have answered them by a short, comprehensible and clear Bill which is easily understandable. It apportions directly the fundamental responsibilities on matters of security and recognises this country's traditions.

The Bill and the spirit with which we have brought if forward compare ill with the carefully measured attack by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook on the record of the Security Service, which has helped this country so much. That statement will be in Hansard tomorrow. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook sits giggling. In the Europeanwide fight against terrorism--for example, in the Trevi group--my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary finds that our European partners recognise and appreciate the skill and professionalism of the Security Service. That is why they can operate with it. The right hon. Gentleman should not have attacked the Security Service. He will live to regret those words--[ Hon. Members :-- "That is a threat."] The right hon. Gentleman should have listened carefully to the speech--

Mr. Heffer : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Surely the Minister must think carefully about the words which he used. They can be interpreted as a threat. He should be prepared to say that he did not mean that formulation of words in the sense in which he used it.

Mr. Patten : The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook should have listened to the moving speech by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome, one of the last Members who can speak without a hint of humbug about spilling blood to defend freedom. There was a time when the Labour party could, in the interests of national security, be counted upon to put the nation's interests beyond the internal problems of its party

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managers, following the fiasco across that party after the muddle last week over the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill.

The Labour party condemns terrorism, but it does little to help. We have not a single constructive alternative to the policies which we have laid before the House in the last couple of weeks to deal with terrorism--powers to detain suspected terrorists for questioning, no ; exclusion orders, no ; restrictions on terrorists' access to the media, no ; and now, putting the Security Service on a statutory footing, no. Whatever the reason, the Labour party shows by those attitudes that it has quit its role as the reasonable alternative party of government.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Secondtime :-- The House divided : Ayes 204, Noes 105.

Division No. 21] [10 pm


Adley, Robert

Aitken, Jonathan

Alexander, Richard

Allason, Rupert

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Ashby, David

Atkins, Robert

Baldry, Tony

Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)

Batiste, Spencer

Beggs, Roy

Bellingham, Henry

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Benyon, W.

Body, Sir Richard

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Bottomley, Peter

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Bowis, John

Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard

Brandon-Bravo, Martin

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Browne, John (Winchester)

Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)

Burt, Alistair

Butler, Chris

Butterfill, John

Carlisle, John, (Luton N)

Carrington, Matthew

Carttiss, Michael

Cartwright, John

Cash, William

Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda

Chapman, Sydney

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cormack, Patrick

Cran, James

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Devlin, Tim

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Dover, Den

Dunn, Bob

Durant, Tony

Eggar, Tim

Emery, Sir Peter

Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)

Fallon, Michael

Favell, Tony

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey

Fishburn, John Dudley

Fookes, Miss Janet

Forman, Nigel

Forth, Eric

Fowler, Rt Hon Norman

Fox, Sir Marcus

Franks, Cecil

French, Douglas

Gale, Roger

Gardiner, George

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Goodhart, Sir Philip

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gorman, Mrs Teresa

Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Grist, Ian

Ground, Patrick

Grylls, Michael

Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn

Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)

Hanley, Jeremy

Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')

Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)

Harris, David

Haselhurst, Alan

Hawkins, Christopher

Hayes, Jerry

Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney

Hayward, Robert

Heathcoat-Amory, David

Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.

Hill, James

Hind, Kenneth

Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)

Holt, Richard

Hordern, Sir Peter

Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)

Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)

Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey

Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)

Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)

Hunt, David (Wirral W)

Hunter, Andrew

Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas

Irvine, Michael

Jack, Michael

Janman, Tim

Jessel, Toby

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