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Other matters should be considered as well in the report, such as the number of internal disciplinary proceedings that take place in the Security Service. The Bettaney case demonstrates that routine disciplinary procedures take place which are of considerable importance. We know, for example, that Michael Bettaney was employed by the Security Service in spite of the fact that he had two convictions for dishonesty. We also know that he was on a bottle of whisky a day and that that information was supplied to the director-general of the Security Service, who did not deem it appropriate or necessary to disclose it to anyone else. The Home Secretary of the day was blissfully unaware of that although, within a matter of months, Bettaney had gone over the edge and was making improper approaches to a KGB officer in London. Is it not worthwhile to try to persuade the commissioner, who will be the author of the report, that such information should go regularly to the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister?

The Government are to be congratulated on setting up the tribunal, but how will we know about the performance of the tribunal and how many complaints have been referred to it? How will anybody know whether a complaint has been upheld or dismissed? The Canadian system provides a good example. In Canada, the names and some other details are excluded, but individual cases are mentioned in considerable detail in the report. Similarly, now that the Security Service is disposing of its mantle of secrecy, would it not be worthwhile to try such a system, which approaches a public relations exercise? Is it not appropriate that the Security Service should give an account of its work, as the service does in Canada? Is it not appropriate that the Security Service should publish some case histories to educate the public, to explain the threat and to explain what the Security Service perceives to have been its functions and responsibilites in the preceding year?

The last topic that should be included in the report is a statement from the director-general about significant changes in practice. Technology is moving ahead all the time. We know about the interception of communications through telephone intercept warrants and we know that technology allows bugs to be inserted into property, without the need for a warrant. But technology may move on. Is it not appropriate, therefore, that the commissioner or the director-general should include in his report, sections of which will be read only by the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary, information to keep them up-to-date with the latest developments?

I am grateful to you for your indulgence, Sir Paul, and I am sorry for the lateness of the hour, but I believe that the Committee should consider carefully whether these topics should be included in the Bill. Are we not giving hostages to fortune--

It being Ten o'clock, The Chairman-- left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress.



That, at this day's sitting, the Security Service Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour-- [Mr. Fallon.]

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Security Service Bill

Considered again in Committee.

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Mr. Allason : This is an important issue because we have lost the opportunity of parliamentary oversight and we have greatly increased the burden on the Home Secretary. Surely one lesson of the past must be that the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary of the day should be well informed of the activities of the Security Service, and what better way is there to keep them informed than through an annual report that could be examined not just by them but by the whole House?

Mr. Maclennan : The hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) said that we had lost the argument for parliamentary scrutiny. I believe that he is right in thinking that the Government will not concede that point at a later stage. They are a fortiori unlikely to concede the scrutiny by the back door for which the hon. Gentleman's amendment would provide. The hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) is being over-optimistic if he thinks that the Government will be prepared to allow the director-general to report to the House on his duties. There is, in any event, a limitation upon the commissioner's ability to report on the Security Service.

The hon. Member for Torbay gave the impression--I do not know whether it was deliberate--that it would be within the ambit of the commissioner's duties to consider the matters set out in amendment No. 12. As the Bill stands, the commissioner has no such general authority or oversight of the Security Service. His tasks are strictly limited to the matter of warrants covered in clause 3 and to the matter of complaint set out in schedule 1. There is no responsibility upon the commissioner to consider the general practice of the Security Service that would enable him to answer questions of the kind set out in the amendment. There is no general responsibility for surveying the priorities of the service or the particular problems that the service faces, save as they may be revealed by his work in conducting the inquiries that are referred to him.

Mr. Allason : May I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to subsection 4(4), which requires every member of the Security Service to supply to the commissioner whatever information he needs to discharge his function? My amendment suggests that we add those responsibilities to his function.

Mr. Maclennan : The hon. Gentleman may have overlooked the fact that the Bill describes an officer's functions quite precisely in both clause 3 and in schedule 1. Those functions do not include matters of the kind to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. If an officer were to have the duty of reporting to anyone, for example, to the Prime Minister within Government, or to Parliament, it would be necessary to give the commissioner a much more wide-ranging remit than I believe it is the Government's intention to do. I do not raise that point in a spirit of carping criticism about the hon. Gentleman's intentions but simply to draw attention to the extremely limited nature of the role of the commissioner, who is not set in oversight over the conduct of the Security Service. It might reassure hon. Members if there were some independent oversight over the whole of the Security Service, but that is not the case.

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The hon. Member for Bradford, South has said that that is for the director-general, but the director-general is not in oversight of the service ; he is the embodiment of the service. He is the executive at the apex of the structure. Therefore, he is not charged with reporting, independently, on how the service is working.

One of the great weaknesses of the Bill to which, perhaps inadvertently, the hon. Member for Torbay has drawn our attention is that there is no independent judicial or other supervising authority to look at the sort of matters that he believes should not only be supervised but reported upon to the responsible Minister and to Parliament.

Mr. John Patten : I listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) said in his description of the provisions under the relevant clause and schedule, just as I listened to what my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) said, and to what the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) said when he opened the debate on this group of amendments. However, apart from the proposals for a 10-year review--more of that later--which I do not think would add anything, the other amendments could lead to dangerous breaches in the barrier of secrecy which must protect the work of the service to make it efficient.

Let us look first at the idea of a director-general's annual report. There is no advantage in making such a report public for those who have no responsibility for the work of the service. Although that would certainly satisfy the curiosity of some--perhaps many--people, it would not do anything other than present a high risk to the security of the nation from time to time. Those who are hostile to this country will be interested in the policies and priorities of those who protect us. Risk assessments and assessments by directors-general of where they think that the threats are coming from are meat and drink to the intelligence agencies of other countries, ditto any explanation of our resources and capacities. Those are exactly the sort of managerial issues upon which the director-general must concentrate in his responsibilies for the efficiency of the service. Nor is there any need to require the Secretary of State to review decisions that were made 10 years ago, probably by his predecessors, as another amendment suggests. It is not the case that every threat that was live 10 years ago is necessarily dead 10 years later.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett rose --

Mr. Patten : I will give way in a moment.

There may be a latency in threats to the security of the country, as can be seen from the history of this century when we have tried to defend the country against such threats.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead) rose --

Mr. Patten : I will give way first to the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish and then to my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor and Maidenhead (Dr. Glyn).

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : Does the hon. Gentleman accept that I took that into account by making it possible for the new Home Secretary--the one 10 years later--to decide whether or not there was the opportunity to

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disclose that information? All that this group of amendments does, which I believe is what the House wants, is to appreciate that there will be continuing pressure for accountability of the security services. Unless the Home Secretary concedes a little more than he has so far, that problem will not go away for the Government and the Bill will not meet the Government's aims.

Mr. Patten : I understand the reasoned and reasonable way in which the hon. Gentleman has both drafted his amendment and spoken to it, but he does not take into account another important factor. We do not have the benefit of the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) in the Chamber at present, but there are constitutional issues involved. Sometimes, though not so often these days, there are changes of Government within a decade and issues about ministerial decision taking is the time of one Government being looked at by Ministers in the time of another. I do not believe that the amendment of the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish deals with that point.

Dr. Glyn : Intelligence is a jigsaw and even after 10 years the jigsaw might be completed with seemingly innocuous information which could nevertheless be important in the jigsaw.

Mr. Patten : Characteristically, my hon. Friend has put his finger right on it. From time to time intelligence can be a jigsaw and there may be matters which for 10 or 15 years have lurked in the undergrowth, but which suddenly turn out to be matters of relevance to the security of this country.

As the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland has said, under the Bill an independent commissioner--we must not lose sight of the fact that the commissioner is a senior judge--is charged with reviewing the exercise by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State of the powers under clause 3 and to report in the way which has been described. That is a better safeguard than a report on warrants made a decade ago under the powers of another Secretary of State.

The hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) said that he would like to see these matters debated more widely in the House. As the hon. Gentleman knows, in the time-honoured litany of junior Ministers at the Dispatch Box, matters concerning the arrangement of future business of the House are not for me. We shall, however, note what the hon. Gentleman said.

My hon. Friend the Member for Torbay has clearly put a great deal of thought into his amendment No. 12, but we believe that placing requirements upon the commissioner in preparing his annual report is both unreasonable and unsafe. For example, to set down in a public document risk assessments by the director-general or anyone else connected with the service would be most unhelpful to the security of the nation.

Mr. Allason : Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Patten : I will, but my hon. Friend had some time to deploy his arguments earlier and I was trying to reply to his points.

Mr. Allason : My hon. Friend has suggested that it would be unsafe to supply this information to the Prime Minister or to the Home Secretary. He will recall that in this context I mentioned clause 4(7), which states :

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"If it appears to the Prime Minister, after consultation with the Commissioner, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Service, the Prime Minister may exclude that matter".

All that I am suggesting is that these reports be supplied to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, which is surely helpful to them.

Mr. Patten : Of course, the supply of that information is necessary to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and, where and when necessary, to the Prime Minister. My hon. Friend has only to look at what he has presumably drafted in amendment No. 12 to see that its import is to prepare matters of this kind for some future publication. I do not accept that that is desirable. Much of the material that the commissioner will be obliged to include in some report, prepared presumably for publication but then subject to security deletions, is not within his functions to acquire, nor would it be right for him to do so. Other material goes right to the heart of Security Service operations, and I do not believe that it could be published. I differ from my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay on that point.

The aim of this group of amendments is to try to allow Parliament to know more about the Security Service and how it works. As was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on Second Reading and by me during the winding up speech on that occasion, it is essential to our philosophy that the proper concerns of the public and of Parliament--they are extremely important--should be met by placing functions and safeguards, and a complaints procedure, on a statutory basis while ensuring that the secrets which are at the heart of our security can and should continue to be kept. On those grounds, I hope that the amendments will not be pressed. Amendment negatived.

10.15 pm

Amendment proposed : No. 93, in page 2, line 9, at end add-- (5) The Director-General shall make an annual report to Parliament'.-- [Mr. Cryer.]

Question put, That the amendment be made :--

The Committee divided : Ayes 123, Noes 209.

Division No. 35] [10.15 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Adams, Allen (Paisley N)

Aitken, Jonathan

Allason, Rupert

Alton, David

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Barron, Kevin

Battle, John

Beith, A. J.

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)

Bermingham, Gerald

Blair, Tony

Boateng, Paul

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)

Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Buchan, Norman

Buckley, George J.

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)

Cartwright, John

Cohen, Harry

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cousins, Jim

Cox, Tom

Crowther, Stan

Darling, Alistair

Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Doran, Frank

Douglas, Dick

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth

Eadie, Alexander

Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)

Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)

Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)

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Flynn, Paul

Foster, Derek

Fyfe, Maria

Galbraith, Sam

George, Bruce

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Golding, Mrs Llin

Gordon, Mildred

Hardy, Peter

Haynes, Frank

Hinchliffe, David

Home Robertson, John

Hood, Jimmy

Howells, Geraint

Hughes, John (Coventry NE)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Illsley, Eric

Ingram, Adam

Johnston, Sir Russell

Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Mo n)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)

Kennedy, Charles

Kirkwood, Archy

Lambie, David

Leadbitter, Ted

Lewis, Terry

Livsey, Richard

McAvoy, Thomas

McCartney, Ian

Macdonald, Calum A.

McFall, John

McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)

McLeish, Henry

Maclennan, Robert

McWilliam, John

Madden, Max

Mahon, Mrs Alice

Mallon, Seamus

Marek, Dr John

Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)

Martlew, Eric

Maxton, John

Meale, Alan

Michael, Alun

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)

Morgan, Rhodri

Morley, Elliott

Mowlam, Marjorie

Mullin, Chris

Nellist, Dave

Patchett, Terry

Pike, Peter L.

Powell, Ray (Ogmore)

Randall, Stuart

Robertson, George

Ruddock, Joan

Sheerman, Barry

Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)

Short, Clare

Skinner, Dennis

Spearing, Nigel

Steel, Rt Hon David

Strang, Gavin

Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)

Taylor, Matthew (Truro)

Wall, Pat

Walley, Joan

Wardell, Gareth (Gower)

Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)

Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)

Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)

Winnick, David

Wise, Mrs Audrey

Worthington, Tony

Wray, Jimmy

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. Bob Cryer and

Mr. Tony Banks.


Alexander, Richard

Arbuthnot, James

Ashby, David

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Beggs, Roy

Bevan, David Gilroy

Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Boswell, Tim

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Bowis, John

Brandon-Bravo, Martin

Brazier, Julian

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Browne, John (Winchester)

Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)

Burns, Simon

Butcher, John

Butler, Chris

Butterfill, John

Carlisle, John, (Luton N)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Cash, William

Chapman, Sydney

Chope, Christopher

Churchill, Mr

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cope, Rt Hon John

Couchman, James

Cran, James

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Devlin, Tim

Dicks, Terry

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Dover, Den

Durant, Tony

Evennett, David

Fallon, Michael

Favell, Tony

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Fishburn, John Dudley

Fookes, Dame Janet

Forman, Nigel

Forth, Eric

Franks, Cecil

Freeman, Roger

French, Douglas

Fry, Peter

Gale, Roger

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Glyn, Dr Alan

Goodhart, Sir Philip

Goodlad, Alastair

Gorman, Mrs Teresa

Gow, Ian

Gower, Sir Raymond

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Gregory, Conal

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Grist, Ian

Ground, Patrick

Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn

Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)

Hanley, Jeremy

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

Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)

Harris, David

Hayes, Jerry

Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney

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