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Column 1113Rathbone, Tim
Rhodes James, Robert
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Rossi, Sir Hugh
Sackville, Hon Tom
Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Shaw, David (Dover)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Shelton, Sir William (Streatham)
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Soames, Hon Nicholas
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Stokes, Sir John
Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Townend, John (Bridlington)
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Waddington, Rt Hon David
Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Young, Sir George (Acton)
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle and
Mr. Michael Fallon.
Question accordingly negatived.
a Crown servant or government contractor'.
The Temporary Chairman : I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss at the same time the following amendments : No. 38, in clause 7, page 7, line 2, leave out from servant' to end of line 5.
No. 39, in clause 8, page 8, line 1, leave out subsection (3).
Mr. Richard Shepherd : The purpose of this series of amendments is to take up the Government's own distinction and limit the range of people who can be notified by a Minister that they are under the same absolute bar on disclosures as members of the security and intelligence services. Under the amendment, only Crown servants and Government contractors could be notified. Those are the only people whom Ministers have said might need to be notified.
Clause 1(1)(b) allows a Minister to extend the absolute bar on the disclosure of information about security and intelligence to certain designated people who are not themselves members or former members of the security or intelligence services. Clause 1(6) states that this may be done where the person's work is connected with the security and intelligence services and where the bar on disclosure is required in the interest of national security.
In explaining this provision, the Government have said that it will apply only to certain civil servants and members
Column 1114of the armed forces. But the power under the Bill goes beyond that by permitting the designation of "any person."
According to paragraph 45 of the White Paper, designation would apply to :
"those who work closely in support of or who are in frequent contact with the services, such as certain members of the armed forces who provide technical support for the services, or officials in specified posts in certain Departments who deal with the services on a regular basis as part of their normal duties."
The Secretary of State said last July that designation would apply to civil servants
"in my private office who nevertheless acquire, inevitably, an extensive knowledge of the services."--[ Official Report, 22 July 1988 ; Vol. 137, col. 1415.]
The Minister of State, on the same day, at column 1478, suggested that it would apply to departmental principal private secretaries who convey information about the services to their own Secretaries of State.
Although Ministers have said that designation is intended for civil servants, the Bill refers to "any person". No explanation for this wide definition has been given and its purpose is unclear. It has led to speculation that people such as the Comptroller and Auditor General, or even newspaper editors sitting on the D notice committee, might be designated, making them subject to the absolute bar on disclosures about security and intelligence, denying them the defences provided in clause 1(4). The Government have so far given no indication that this is or is not intended.
The effect of the amendment is to restrict designation to those people for whom Ministers have said designation is intended--that is, Crown servants. The definition of "Crown servants" in the Bill, in clause 12(1), is wide and includes civil servants, Ministers, members of the armed forces and police officers. The amendment would also allow Government contractors to be designated, which would permit the designation of people who might occasionally assist the services on a freelance basis. We are clearly concerned that that power of designation should not reach out and grasp anyone and thus place an inhibition on them that was not intended by Ministers when they promoted this measure and argued the case in the White Paper.
Mr. Archer : The hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) has made out clearly and effectively the case for the amendment and it would not improve if I sought to repeat it. I seek only some guidance from the Minister on a matter about which I ventured to intervene at an earlier stage in our debates. As I understood it, the Minister said that the effect of the draftsmanship of the Bill was that someone on whom a notice had been served should be inhibited from disclosing information which came into his possession during the currency of the notice, and should continue to be inhibited even after the notice had been withdrawn. He would not, however, be affected by information which came into his possession afterwards. If that were the position, whether I agreed or disagreed with it, I could see the reasoning behind it, because that clearly is what the Government intend to do. I wonder, however, whether the draftsmanship achieves that, because clause 1(1) says :
"A person who is or has been--
(b) a person notified that he is subject to the provisions of this subsection, is guilty of an offence if he discloses any information".
Column 1115I should have thought that he had been a person notified, whatever happened afterwards.
If we then look at clause 1(7), it is fairly clear what it is intended should happen. It states :
"A notification shall be in force until revoked by a further notice in writing".
That I understand, but surely the effect of a revocation is that he is then not a person notified.