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The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hurd) : One is enough.

Mr. Heffer : I am just giving an example. It may be that one or two Members have used privilege wrongly. In all my years in the House I have not seen it happen, although there may have been some things about which I have thought, "I would not have done that."

Mr. Maclennan : The Home Secretary has just said, "One is enough." Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one police constable misusing information that had been put in his hands would also be enough?

Mr. Heffer : That is absolutely right--I could not have put it better myself.

The fact is that most Members of Parliament--in fact, all that I have known --raise matters in this way only when they consider them to be matters about which the nation must know. It is that important. Certainly, I would never use the privilege of the House of Commons except in respect of a matter that the nation needed to know about and had a responsibility to act upon. I do not think that Members of Parliament use their responsibility-- or their so-called

responsibility--wrongly. If hon. Members have

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proof to the contrary they have to argue that case, but in all the years I have been here I have not known Members to use privilege in that way.

The important point has already been made that we are the representatives of our constituents. We are not here as individuals. The people elect us. We are their voice. If someone comes to a Member of Parliament as a representative of the electorate and says, "I feel you should know about this matter," or, "I want you to act upon this in the interests of the nation," the hon. Member has not just a responsibility but a duty to do something about it. Therefore, that should be covered in the Bill.

Let us consider the point about going to a police officer or to the chief of police in relation to the civil servants who gave information to Churchill. What would a police officer have done if he had got that information? The only way the information could have been used in the interests of the people was for Winston Churchill and his friends to act upon it. When we look back at history, we can only thank God that they did. Unfortunately, there were too many people ranged against them, so their action was not as effective as it might have been, but things would have been far worse if the information had not been passed to them and they had not used it. Anyone who took similar action now would be in real trouble under the provisions of the Bill. Members of Parliament should have the responsibility to act in similar circumstances.

In the Watergate case, the revelations were made to the press by civil servants around the President. We know how it happened. We have read the books and seen the films. Elected representatives should have had the opportunity to act on the information in the interests of the United States.

All Governments, including Labour Governments--despite my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) for whom I have a great affection-- tend to use their power to keep things secret and to act against people who want to open matters up. I do not know why, because when I was a Minister I never found a secret worth bothering about. I do not know what people were on about when I was told, "Do not let the world know." What was I not to let the world know? I never knew any great secrets about anything.

For years I was classified by some organs of the press as an agent of Moscow because I was once a Young Communist. I used to joke that the worst thing that had ever happened to me was that when Stalin died, he stopped sending me a cheque regularly. I never got a cheque, but I am sure that the press thought I did.

te nonsense is talked about secrecy. It is time we had a different discussion about how we can make things available to the people. Thegreater the lack of secrecy and the more people are involved, the more democracy there will be. Mr. Dalyell : It is not so much that secrecy is about national security ; it is often about political embarrassment. That is what causes the problem. A great deal of this problem has been about lying to the House of Commons rather than about national security.

Mr. Heffer : I could not agree more. As a Minister I regularly wrote a column for the Walton Times, . I had written it before I became a Minister. I also used to write a column for The Times, but I had to stop that. I continued to write a column for the Walton Times. I do not know the

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circulation of the Walton Times, but it was not great. The Prime Minister of the day said that I had to stop writing that column. [Interruption.] It was not for literary reasons ; he thought that I might embarrass the Government. I said in pleasant terms, "Thank you very much ; get knotted," because I had no intention of stopping my column in the Walton Times.

Mr. Dalyell : Did the Walton Times have a circulation in part of Huyton constituency?

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Mr. Heffer : No, it did not, but some people in Huyton might have read it. That was absurd ; it was secrecy taken to the nth degree. On one occasion I got a notice from the Prime Minister that I should not appear in a television programme. Where did the notification come from? It came from Moscow because the Prime Minister was on a visit there. How the heck he knew that I was about to appear on a local television programme, I do not know. All this secrecy is absolute nonsense and it is time it stopped.

The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland may not have used the best words in his amendment, but the Government should agree that it raises an important point involving the vital role of a Member of Parliament. The Government should agree that Members should be the voice of the people and should be the recipients of information that people want raised publicly. If we cannot get the point about public interest into the Bill, at least hon. Members should be able to act in the public interest. Therefore, I ask the Secretary of State to note the arguments used in the debate and to bring forward on Report a suitable amendment covering the basic principles advocated by various hon. Members.

Mr. Hurd : It is always agreeable to hear the autobiography of the stormy youth of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). This is the third time that I have heard it during these debates. I am sorry that, perhaps because of the pressure of the timetable motion on this rushed, hurried debate, he left out the next chapter about the clicking on his telephone. Perhaps we can hear that later, as it is very good stuff.

Mr. Heffer : It has stopped now.

Mr. Hurd : It is one of my worries that the hon. Gentleman has become respectable. I am afraid that he has produced evidence to that effect. I shall try to show later that inadvertently in part of what he said, he mortally wounded the case for the amendment.

As the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) said in his modest introduction, this is a modest amendment in that it does not cover Crown servants. It covers any other person and members of the public. Therefore, it does not attract the advantages that some of its supporters have argued for it. I will not dwell on that point, which is rather technical. The hon. Gentleman was making a different point about a different part of the public than that made by many of his supporters on the Conservative Benches.

This trenches on matters of privilege. That is why the Minister has to choose his words carefully. The Bill does not affect the operation or the present extent of

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parliamentary privilege which has developed over many years ; nor does it seek to add to it through the medium of primary legislation. It is not for the Executive or for Ministers at the Dispatch Box to tell the Committee the full extent and doctrine of parliamentary privilege, because these are ultimately matters for the House of Commons.

The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) rightly reminded the Committee of the Sandys case. He said that it led to an inquiry into the operation of the Official Secrets Act 1911. The report of the Select Committee was published in April 1939. It is worth making three short quotations from that report because they are germane. The report said :

"Privilege enjoyed by either House of Parliament or by members of either House in their capacity as members can be abrogated only by express words in statute".

I think that we would all agree with that. There are no such words in the Bill. It continued :

"Your Committee are of the opinion that disclosures by members in the course of debate or proceedings in Parliament cannot be made the subject of proceedings under the Official Secrets Act".

That is a statement of the extent of privilege and I do not think that anyone would disagree with it. The report concluded : "it would be inadvisable to attempt by legislation or otherwise to define with precision the extent of the immunity from prosecution under the Official Secrets Acts to which members of Parliament are or ought to be entitled."

I know that later committees have returned to the question of putting some definition of parliamentary privilege in statutory form, but that raises questions which are outside the Bill. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland and, in a more ambitious way, his supporters, seek to extend by statute the operation of parliamentary privilege, thus making lawful any disclosure of official information protected under the Bill by a member of the public to a Member of Parliament.

The matter was raised earlier this week when Mr. Speaker said in response to a point of order during the timetable debate on 13 February :

"As the rules stand at present a communication from someone outside the House to an hon. Member is not privileged."--[ Official Report, 13 February 1989 ; Vol. 147 col. 114.]

That is a statement by Mr. Speaker of the existing situation. The question is whether that existing situation should be changed. In answer to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), the House should think long and deep before extending privilege not to hon. Members but to members of the public who might wish to communicate with them, and think about whether it wishes to provide by statute some privilege by which a member of the public might communicate with a Member of Parliament on a possibly criminal matter. I believe that the House should reflect deep and long before doing that.

Mr. Dalyell : I questioned Mr. Speaker on this matter and was told by the Clerk of the House that the distinction was between members of the public volunteering information and, for example, witnesses who had been called before a Select Committee and who were covered by privilege. Is there really a distinction between those who are called by a Select Committee as official witnesses and members of the public going to their own Member of Parliament? I think that that is a rather dangerous distinction.

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Mr. Hurd : I think that it is a crucial distinction, because of the point that I have just made. In effect, the amendment is extending privilege in a way that would have implications and ramifications which the House would need to consider very carefully.

Mr. Gorst : Will my right hon. Friend give me an assurance that there will not be any narrowing of privilege in the sense that, if an hon. Member were to reveal on the Floor of the House something that was privileged and it were reported by the press, the newspaper reporting the matter would not be treated in any way differently from the way in which newspapers are treated in reporting our speeches today?

Mr. Hurd : There is no narrowing of privilege under the Bill. In one respect, which I shall mention, the position of individual members of the public is improved.

I shall now consider the matter from the other point of view that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook mentioned--the view of the member of the public, or Crown servant.

Mr. Hattersley : I am beginning to understand the Home Secretary's debating technique. He told us that to allow the public to reveal such matters to Members of Parliament is a matter on which the House will want to think long and hard. We have thought hard for as long as the guillotine will allow, but we need to know the Home Secretary's view on the matter. We want to know not that it is a difficult problem, but whether he thinks it is appropriate. If it is not appropriate will he try and justify an assertion which up to now has been wholly unsubstantiated?

Mr. Hurd : I am coming on to my view about putting it into statute. What I have said up to now has been rehearsing the present situation in terms with which I do not think the right hon. Gentleman disagrees. However, it is important because Opposition Members have made claims that the Bill restricts parliamentary privilege. I have already established that it does not, but from the point of view of us all as Members of the House of Commons, the amendment lays down a completely new principle which I do not think can be dealt with within the confines of the Bill. It raises the point whether it would be sensible to extend privilege to members of the public communicating with Members of Parliament over matters which might be criminal. That is a major matter which goes beyond the confines of the Bill.

I now turn to members of the public or, although they are outside the terms of the amendment, Crown servants or members of the security and intelligence services. Members of the public who are covered by the amendment--people who are not Crown servants--would not in the majority of cases be affected by the amendment. It would have no effect on the ability of a person to consult his Member of Parliament about some piece of unauthorised official information which had come into his possession. In most cases, the information would not be protected by the Bill. Furthermore, in all but one of the areas that are protected by the Bill-- that is warrants, which we shall discuss later--a disclosure by a member of the public is subject to a harm test, as my hon. Friend the Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) said, or in the case of crime, its equivalent, which means that it has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

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It would be an offence for a member or former member of the security and intelligence services, or someone who is notified under clause 1--the general category with which the Committee is now familiar--to disclose information relating to security or intelligence to a Member of Parliament. That is the nub, not of the amendment, but of the argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) and the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. Are we really saying on reflection that that would be a wise conclusion?

I now turn to the speech of the hon. Member for Walton. Any hon. Member--it does not have to be the relevant constituency Member--might well receive such information. The hon. Member for Walton has said that two or three hon. Members might abuse privilege, but I am not talking about abuse of privilege. An hon. Member, on receiving information, which might be of enormous sensitivity, from members or former members of the security or intelligence services, might, in the light of his own political convictions, decide to publish or to announce to the House what he had been told. The damage might be very substantial and would be fully protected by the privilege of the House.

The analogy with a police officer mentioned by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland is wrong, as the police officer would not be protected while a Member of Parliament would be protected. When I said that it only needs one, I was simplifying the argument, but some Members of Parliament might feel, not as a matter of abuse but as a matter of political conviction, that it was their duty to read out what had been disclosed, in a manner fully protected by privilege. In that case, the damage would have been done. Does the Committee believe that it would be sensible to embody that risk in statute? Mr. Maclennan rose --

Mr. Winnick rose --

Mr. Heffer rose --

Mr. Hurd : I shall give way to the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland who tabled the amendment.

Mr. Maclennan : I do not understand the Home Secretary's argument that a police constable would not be in the same position as a Member of Parliament. As I read the definition in the Bill, the police constable is a Crown servant and is covered under clause 7(3)(a). A police constable could take it into his head to act inappropriately, just as a Member of Parliament might. He is in pari materia.

Mr. Hurd : He is subject to discipline and under the law, whereas the Member of Parliament has the full protection of privilege, as long as he makes his disclosure not outside St. Stephen's entrance but on the Floor of the House or in a Select Committee. There is a basic difference.

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Mr. Heffer : If the individual goes to a police constable, he cannot say anything more about it. He certainly cannot go to the public. He can go to an hon. Member, but he cannot go outside. If he did, he would immediately be in trouble. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) said that, no matter how strongly an individual may feel, no matter how an hon. Member may

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feel on receipt of the information, the information must not be disclosed. That means that the Government are saying that, for all time, no matter what the problem is or how seriously it might be against the national interest, it must never be disclosed and nothing is ever to be done about it. That is the most serious statement that any Government can make. It is like what has happened in the past in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe, and all the countries that the hon. Gentleman and I have opposed because they have kept from the public the real interest of the people.

Mr. Hurd : The hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I am coming to the rights of a Member of Parliament if he were to receive such information. I am still at the earlier stage. I am talking about the absolute duty, as set out in clause 1, of a former member of the intelligence and security services. The amendment would limit, restrict or remove that absolute duty in communicating with a Member of Parliament. It is right that that should not be permitted by statute, for the reason I have given. I simply believe- -I am sure that the overwhelming number of our constituents would believe it--that that is not a sensible course to take. Therefore, I could not recommend it to the House.

Mr. Gorst : Is not the protection of free speech a matter for the House to decide? If there is a danger of abuse, is it not for the House to decide, and not for the Government to lay down the parameters in statute?

Mr. Hurd : That is one of the points that I have been making. The amendment suggests that, by statute, we should create the risk that I have described. I simply do not think that many people would regard that as a safe or sensible thing to do. My hon. Friend is right. Suppose we did take that risk and put it into statute, and an hon. Member does what I fear, and uses parliamentary proceedings to disclose something of great difficulty or danger. There might then be questions about privilege and about whether he had gone too far. I am not postulating an abuse of privilege ; I am postulating somebody who, because of his genuine political convictions, felt that it was his duty as a Member of the House to disclose information.

Mr. Winnick : Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hurd : I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, and then I should like to answer other points.

Mr. Winnick : As the Home Secretary has just acknowledged--and the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) made this point--if there is an abuse of parliamentary procedure, it is for the House to take any action that it considers necessary. The lurid picture which the Home Secretary is painting concerns alleged spies and someone reading out a list of their names on the Floor of the House. That will not happen every one, 10 or 15 years ; every case in which abuse has occurred is far more likely to be a Cathy Massiter type of case. What she revealed confirms our view that if such abuses occur, they have nothing to do with foreign agents, spies or anything else, and they should be dealt with on the Floor of the House.

Mr. Hurd : I do not think that I have been at all lurid. I have made no accusations. I have been extremely careful in the words that I have chosen. I do not wish to be pushed

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further into suggesting abuse of privilege, which the hon. Member for Walton himself suggested on a limited scale. I have made the point that I wanted to make--it is an important one. Honestly, it is a strange proposition before us, and it would be hard for our constituents to understand it.

To complete the argument, I refer to the civil servant--that is to say, a person who was not a member of the public in the terms of the amendment, and not a member of the security or intelligence services or notified. My hon. Friend the Member for Lancashire, West was quite right. A person in that category making unauthorised disclosures to a Member of Parliament may be committing a disciplinary offence. Whether he commits a criminal offence will depend on whether the disclosure satisfies the harm test in the Bill.

The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken) has come up several times. It has also been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst). What is the position if a Member of Parliament receives such information? There is no offence of receipt of information in the Bill--everybody agrees with that--but there has been under earlier proposals. Quite a substantial change has been made. The Member of Parliament has not committed any offence by receiving the information. What he could do in the circumstances described would depend on the harm which he judged a disclosure by him was likely to cause. The options are wide. If he considered that any further disclosure would be likely to cause harm under the Bill, he could put the matter to the Secretary of State, under Clause 7(3)(a), or, if he was uncertain, he could seek authority to disclose it. He could behave in the way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, South evidently behaved in the case that he told us about.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook is right. We are not concerned so much with the position of the Member of Parliament, because that is safeguarded under a combination of the Bill and the existing extent of privilege. We are talking about the position of the member of the public and, in particular, a member of the security or intelligence services. I do not believe that it would be wise, from the purely parliamentary point of view, from the point of view of the extent of privilege, or from the point of view of the protection of necessary secrets against risk to accept the amendment or, rather, to accept the line of argument that the amendment begins and which my right hon. and hon. Friends have developed.

Mr. Richard Shepherd : Will my right hon. Friend refer to evidence in court, the duty as contained under the statute, and the duty to give evidence?

Mr. Hurd : I am obliged for the reminder. It is a point that my hon. Friend has made.

If a person acting as a witness in legal proceedings is asked to disclose official information and he believes that to do so would be an offence under the Bill, he may explain to the court that he does not believe that he can give the information without committing an offence. It is then for the court to decide whether to require that the information be given. If criminal proceedings cannot be concluded without a disclosure of official information which is harmful, or more harmful than the offence which is the subject of the proceedings, then the prosecution may have

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to be withdrawn. If a Crown servant is required by the court to give information, it is not an offence for him to do so, as it is obviously in accordance with his official duty.

Mr. Dalyell : The hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) referred to the Scottish Law Society evidence. I listened carefully to the Home Secretary. He will correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think that he has clarified the point. The Law Society of Scotland is concerned about

"a disclosure by a Crown servant (or in certain cases, another notified person), as being with lawful authority, if it was made in accordance with his official duty. We are concerned that this would still leave cases of conflicting duties where the position of the person concerned would be unresolved."

To be fair, I do not think that the Home Secretary addressed this matter. It goes on :

"If a Crown servant is giving evidence on oath, for example, and is asked in effect to disclose information covered by clause 1(1), he clearly has, in one sense, a duty to disclose but this cannot be called his official duty as such."

Incidentally, this was the result of a good deal of work by the officers of the Law Society and their working party. It goes on to state :

"We do not comment as to which duty should prevail in such circumstances but believe that a clear resolution should be provided by statute for such a conflict."

I gave that statement to officials and I hope that the Home Secretary can clear it up.

The hon. Member for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken) spoke about the Blunt case. This is not the occasion to go in detail into that case, but I am in a minority and believe that such minorities should be able to voice an opinion. I was horrified when the statement on Blunt was made. I was also horrified when the statement was made on Hollis. I was equally horrified when statements were made on Cavendish. If Ministers are to make statements of that kind in Parliament, they had better be full statements. Frankly, Cavendish wrote his book, which caused so much difficulty, because he thought that the statement that was made was grossly unfair to a mutual friend of his, and of mine, and possibly of the Home Secretary's, the late Sir Morris Oldfield. It was the unfair treatment of Oldfield that caused Cavendish to write that book.

This is not the time or place to reminisce, but if statements were to be made on Blunt, the whole story should have been told because--I put it not higher than this--Douglas Sutherland was possibly in a position to know that Blunt acted in the way that he did partly because he was under the instructions and orders of the late Guy Liddell and the late Dick Brooman- White, who later became the MP for Rutherglen and who had been a senior officer in the intelligence services.

If statements of that kind are to be made, it behoves politicians to tell the full story, and therefore we must be extremely careful. I appreciate that we are under the guillotine, and although the Home Secretary does not have a lot of time, I hope that he will at least comment on the Law Society of Scotland point.

Mr. Gorst : I would have liked the Home Secretary to more specific when replying to my intervention in which I asked whether something revealed in the House and then reported by the press would in any circumstances attract the possibility of prosecution. I may not have heard my right hon. Friend correctly, but he did not seem to make a clear and emphatic statement on whether any change is likely to take place in that respect as a result of the Bill.

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Will the Bill make any change in the position of a Member of the European Parliament, or will he remain in exactly the same position as he is now?

My next question arises out of the possibility of information of a classified nature being supplied to an hon. Member on an anonymous basis. This is not as fanciful as my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken) implied. I recall a few years ago receiving an anonymous letter informing me that a considerable security risk attached to some people employed in the Palace of Westminster. I was inclined to treat the matter in the way that I treat all anonymous letters, but the terms in which it was couched and the information given was sufficiently specific to persuade me to pass it on to the authorities.

I heard nothing for about two months. Then an official of the House came to see me to assure me that the matter had been followed up. There had been a specific security risk, I was told, and the matter had been dealt with. I mention that case to show that occasionally--it may happen only once in a decade--the odd anonymous tip-off that an hon. Member receives--remembering that some members of the public feel that only their MPs are in a position to follow certain things up--must be followed up, or one takes the risk of something dangerous being ignored.

If information of an extremely sensitive nature is brought to one's attention, one draws it privately to the attention of the relevant Minister, or whoever else. One hears nothing and in due course one inquires whether anything has been done. Finally one is told, "We have looked into it. We think we know from where you got the information. We have dealt with it. The man is a nut." That is the end of the story.

One can be left with the feeling that that is not enough and that one should pursue the matter. As I say, this may happen only once in a decade-- even once in a generation--and one is left feeling that something is being hidden. One is left wondering whether the tip-off, received anonymously, came from someone who has gone through all the procedures and feels that there has been a cover-up.

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What will happen in such a case if one becomes persistent? One may behave in the way in which the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) behaved over the Belgrano affair. One may refuse to take no for an answer, and whether one is right or wrong is neither here nor there. One is persistent and, let us suppose, one is on to something. I want to be assured that there will be no question of making one a notified person so that one can never reveal exactly what one has discovered.

I believe that there is danger in this legislation of creating a new class of informants--not those who give their names but those who anonymously give information which one must then decide how to use, and if the cover-up continues despite one's inquiries, one may be forced eventually to reveal it on the Floor of the House. That bothers me about the part of the Bill with which we are dealing.

Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr) : I hope that the Home Secretary will speak again and answer various points that are being raised following his last remarks.

We have heard the expression "nut-case" used by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee to describe

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people outside who might wish to raise with us matters that might not seem, as it were, to be quite normal. Hon. Members will agree that those are the very issues that we must watch carefully--the persistent people who raise matters that appear dodgy, stupid and vexatious. They are the very cases at which we look carefully because of the niggle at the back of our minds, "This must not slip through the net just in case there is the germ of some substance of a complaint." The idea that Ministers or others might say, "This is a nut-case ; just ignore it ; everyone knows about it and nobody has bothered to do anything about it," could be dangerous.

I have served in the House for only 15 years. I was about to say that I could not recall a certain action being taken by a Member of Parliament. I should refer to a Member of the House of Commons because, in the terms of the amendment, there is no such person as a Member of Parliament. The proposal is deficient because it would cover Members of the other place, whereas we are really speaking exclusively of Members of the House of Commons.

In any event, I have not known an hon. Member to use--not misuse--privilege in bad faith. That is the test. I have used it and subsequently I have apologised, but not in relation to an issue as significant as that which we are discussing. [Interruption.] I think that the Home Secretary said, from a sedentary position, "One is enough," and I agree that it would be enough if only one hon. Member used privilege in bad faith.

It could be argued that it is not possible for a Member of Parliament to abuse privilege. The question is whether privilege is used in good faith and as a last resort.

The Home Secretary, in responding to my right hon. Friend the member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) drew a distinction between the privilege that exists when a member of the public contacts a Member of the House of Commons, and that which exists when a member of the public is called to give evidence to a Select Committee. The right hon. Gentleman said that the witness before a Select Committee is participating as part and parcel of the proceedings of the House.

The Home Secretary also says that the amendment goes too wide. Today, unlike 10 years ago, there is a Select Committee covering every activity of Government--save the Scottish Office, for reasons that we understand. Given that an individual cannot send a letter addressed "To Parliament", because it would be opened and sent to the sender's constituency Member--which is something that the Home Secretary wishes to avoid--what would be wrong in that member of the public, who I accept is most likely to be a former civil servant, writing to the chair of, or the Clerk to, the relevant Select Committee? Such a communication would surely carry with it some privilege in respect of the person who sent it.

The Home Secretary will not think about my suggestion now, and will probably dismiss it. However, we have not yet reached the end of the Bill's passage through this House. I presume that there will be a Report stage, when amendments will be tabled. The Leader of the House indicated that that will be so, if there is time.

Mr. Hurd : Be relaxed.

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Mr. Rooker : I am relaxed, but the Home Secretary is very relaxed because, as a result of the bad faith among members of the Government Front Bench, Ministers know that they are under no pressure to answer questions or to respond in debate. They are the most relaxed set of Ministers imaginable, because they enjoy the protection of the guillotine. Nevertheless, I ask the Home Secretary to give the matter further consideration before Report. It was the right hon. Gentleman who drew the distinction between an individual corresponding with a Member of Parliament and a witness before a Select Committee. I take that distinction one stage further, introducing the individual who discloses information to the Clerk to, or Chairman of, a Select Committee.

The hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) asked about the reporting of the House, and the Home Secretary was not as clear as he might have been in replying to that point. The right hon. Gentleman only has to say that there will be no changes from the present position, applying as we debate the Bill, when the Bill is enacted. I do not refer to future television or radio broadcasting, but to the existing provisions for the press and broadcasting authorities, which I trust will remain the same when the Bill becomes law. If the Home Secretary gives that reassurance, he will satisfy right hon. Members in all parts of the Committee.

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