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a Government who have been humiliated in the courts and who have then sought a legislative riposte to the defeats that they have suffered.

It would be better if the Bill were not enacted in its present form. Those who have the important task of keeping secret those things that ought to be kept secret will be under tension as to where their duty lies. When public servants smell wrongdoing they will, I have no doubt, reveal it. It will be their duty to do so. In doing so, they will reveal the folly of the Government's actions.

I thank the Home Secretary for providing us with this final opportunity to pass comment on his miserable measure. It is a measure which will do his repute no good in the eyes of those who care about freedom in this country.

10.57 pm

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills) : There was a charming moment earlier, if I heard it correctly, when the former leader of the Labour party, the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) and the Home Secretary were exchanging reminiscences about the quality of their guillotines. It was a curious moment of sophistry. I do not go along with the former Leader of the Opposition if he maintains that the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act--TULRA 1 and TULRA 2--are at the heart of our democratic and accountable processes and the rights and liberties of citizens. That is not how I see it. Fortunately, the European Court found otherwise. It found that that is an unacceptable law.

The guillotine is a subject which exercises the minds of thoughtful Conservatives. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House listed for us the number of guillotines that it has been necessary for the Government to impose to expedite business. The number of measures of great importance that the Government no longer feel that they have the ability to argue is shaming. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made much of the fact that 28 hours in Committee and 39 hours in total have been devoted to a measure which touches on the fundamental liberty of the citizens of this state.

I have been reading a book by the father of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). Leo Amery reveals his thoughts on the constitution in his book and makes an observation about British democracy by referring to Burke. He says that our system of parliamentary democracy is not about mere arithmetical majorities. It is not a question of x 2 1. It is a reaching-out process to try to obtain consent and agreement to the great measures that affect our liberty. Why the Government should eschew that on such a fundamental issue I do not understand. This trivial concept that 39 hours is a breathtaking allocation of time is refuted by our own contemporary evidence.

Again, L. S. Abrey in "Thoughts on the Constitution" observed that the Labour Government passed 70 pieces of legislation in the very first parliamentary Session after the war, and most of those were taken on the Floor of the House. Indeed, the Cable and Wireless nationalisation measure had two days on Second Reading, yet this Government feel it necessary to impose a guillotine after 13 hours.

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Those of us who have followed the progression of the Bill through the House know why a guillotine was rushed in. The performance of the Minister of State explaining why it was necessary to have powers to designate any person rather than merely Crown servants and Crown contractors and giving, after three hours of debate, the one instance he could think of--the Security Commission, whose members are Privy Councillors and within the circle of secrecy--begs questions as to what the Government was fearful of. Argument was the answer, and it will serve us ill as Conservatives if we have to drive through legislation without being certain and confident of the basis of the argument on which we do it.

The Bill is deeply flawed, and sensitive individuals within the Government know that it is atrocious. As Lord Dacre of Glanton said in another place, it contains principles that this nation rejected by participation in the Nuremberg trials. These are how fundamental the measures are that touch on these very freedoms. That is why it was the right of good Conservatives across the country to expect the House to fulfil one of its principal and primary roles, which is a line-by-line scrutiny of legislation. "Not a bit," say the Government, "We cannot afford this nonsense. After all, we could do away with Parliament altogether. There is nothing in our constitution that insists that we have a First, Second and Third Reading."

We could hand our votes over the Whips Office as soon as we come by power of attorney and go away for four years. I can see my hon. Friends the Whips finding this a most agreeable function. It would simplify government, but it would deny the very concept we want out of this, which is that the Parliament of this country represents the viewpoint of informed, intelligent citizens to ensure those things that we account important, including accountable government. If Government do not have to argue for their contentions, we do not have accountable government. The Government turned their face on those very arguments.

I cannot but support amendments that I wish the Government had introduced or accepted in consultation with the House. The concept of a damage test going from "prejudices" to "endangers" is to be welcomed, and it is something on which the Government could have reached agreement across the country and secured some form of good will for.

I know that my right hon. Friend constantly said that there were important members of my own party who were deeply nervous about this being a dangerously liberal piece of legislation, and he cited my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit). When I saw my right hon. Friend earlier I thought that he was going to come in to vote down the Government's stern liberalisation of clause 2 and clause 3 in the raising of the damage test, but it is unfortunate that this badly flawed Bill will limp out of here with a great deal of scorn for the worst of reasons. This was something the Government could have argued, accommodated and had a consensus on across the Floor of the House. I hope that in future my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will recall that for us to reach out and secure consent is the firmest foundation for the rights and authorities of an Executive to lead our country, and that is an important principle which the Government are denying.

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10.58 pm

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) : It seemed to me, both from occasional visits and from reading the Lords debate, that those Lords who know most about it on the Conservative side were precisely those who were most critical. Hugh Trevor-Roper is not exactly a Socialist, but he was only one of a number with real knowledge of intelligence matters who have made a study of these things, who was most deeply critical.

I want to ask one question. In his opening speech, the Home Secretary seemed jolly sure that it would work out as he suggested, rather than as the rest of us who have taken an interest believed. He suggested that it would work out far nearer his proposals. If that is the case, how will Parliament monitor the operation of the legislation? We are very bad at monitoring what we have done. I should like to hear--not necessarily tonight--that the Government will at least consider giving us the opportunity, on the basis of a short annual report on the working of their Act, of knowing how it has worked out. If they are so certain, there is no reason why they should not put it to an annual parliamentary test.

11.2 pm

Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, South) : Although I share the strong sentiments of indignation which have been expressed so ably by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd), at this late hour I cannot sustain the tone of high moral seriousness which, quite rightly, has run through the speeches of hon. Members from both sides of the House.

The timetable motion reminds me of one of the few examples of judicial wit in an official secrets case. I refer to a very small official secrets case in 1938 involving a journalist in Yorkshire called Driffield who was prosecuted for the heinous crime of collaborating with a GPO telephonist to get stories about police activities for the local paper. He was prosecuted under section 2 of the Official Secrets Act for receiving official information and faced a term of imprisonment. The Attorney-General of the day came up to prosecute him, but the judge in charge of the case did not think much of that and said that the Official Secrets Act was never meant to be used for such a purpose. Towards the end of his summing-up, he leaned across the bench and said, "Mr. Attorney-General, I hope that such a case will never be brought again. If you have to kill a field mouse, it is not always necessary to use a field gun."

I have a vision of the Cabinet Committee discussing the tactics in Parliament on the Lords Amendments saying to each other, "Come on boys, we have to go big-game hunting in Parliament tonight to kill a field mouse. How shall we do it? We had better summon up the heavy artillery, the King's Troop, the big berthas and the howitzers, and put down a long timetable motion." I have had time to count it and it is nearly 750 words long and covers 68 lines on the Order Paper. What is it all about? It is about passing a two-line amendment to delete the word, "jeopardise" and insert the word "endangers"--the very amendment which was suggested on the Floor of the House and totally rejected by the "Three Men in a Boat" team in charge of the Bill's destiny. I cannot imagine what paranoia or insecurity made them think that it was

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necessary to wheel up the field guns to kill a field mouse, to blast the enemies of the Bill out of the water once and for all. The term "field mouse" is pretty appropriate. If I can draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary away from his personal correspondence, being a classical scholar he will remember the words of the poet Horace in "Ars Poetica" :

"parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus."

which, if I may translate for the benefit of my fellow Old Etonians, who are mostly among the Opposition, means :

"The mountains have been in labour, they have brought forth a ridiculous mouse."

What a ridiculous mouse the Bill has turned out to be.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) pointed out that he read in The Independent this morning about a new book being produced by a new overseas author. The whole purpose of the Bill was to give Peter Wright and his successors a jolly good whacking so that they would never do it again, but a Mr. Bristow in Marbella is about to do it all over again. My hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason), who is always in the forefront of receiving secret information, is receiving through his letter box books about Blake which cannot be stopped, and future novels. Nothing can be done about them. A ridiculous mouse has been born, but it cannot be killed even by the heavy field artillery on the Treasury bench. What a farce we are taking part in.

11.9 pm

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Southend, East) : It is rather unfortunate that the Government seem to be doing so many disagreeable things late at night. We discuss funny Euro-regulations over which Parliament has no control at this time of night so that nobody knows about them. I want to put one brief point to the Government. What on earth is the point of bringing forward a guillotine on this matter when we are discussing Lords amendments that are unlikely to provoke any disagreement in the House, but about which we need a considerable amount of information? Amendment No. 4, which involves changing "jeopardises" to "endangers" for international relations, is vital because we know that among international relations, we are talking about Britain's relations with the European Community. The amendment would make an enormous difference. I would like to know a great deal about it, but if we have a guillotine, how do we learn that information?

We also want to know why such a major change is proposed for clauses 2 and 3--and consequently for clause 5--but not for clause 4, which deals with crime and special investigation, especially when we bear in mind the recent activities of the serious fraud squad. I suggest that the reason is that the Government faced huge hostility during earlier debates on the Bill on the principles we discussed and we are dealing tonight with detailed and important amendments. If our discussions are to be contracted unnecessarily tonight, could we have a clear assurance that the Government will give a full statement--perhaps in written answers--of the consequences of each of the amendments? To people who study them, they seem to be significant. They are not amendments that we seek to oppose, but about which we need to know the consequences. Bearing in mind that voting is unlikely, I hope that the Government will withdraw the motion and let us get on with the job of simply asking questions.

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Question put :--

The House divided : Ayes 165, Noes 110.

Division No. 184] [11.11 pm


Alexander, Richard

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Ashby, David

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Baldry, Tony

Batiste, Spencer

Bendall, Vivian

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Boswell, Tim

Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Bowis, John

Brandon-Bravo, Martin

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

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

Burns, Simon

Burt, Alistair

Butterfill, John

Carrington, Matthew

Carttiss, Michael

Cash, William

Channon, Rt Hon Paul

Chapman, Sydney

Chope, Christopher

Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)

Conway, Derek

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cope, Rt Hon John

Cran, James

Currie, Mrs Edwina

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

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Dunn, Bob

Durant, Tony

Favell, Tony

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Fishburn, John Dudley

Forman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forth, Eric

Fowler, Rt Hon Norman

Fox, Sir Marcus

Freeman, Roger

French, Douglas

Gale, Roger

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Glyn, Dr Alan

Goodhart, Sir Philip

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gow, Ian

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Grist, Ian

Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn

Hague, William

Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)

Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)

Haselhurst, Alan

Hayward, Robert

Heathcoat-Amory, David

Hind, Kenneth

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

Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)

Hunt, David (Wirral W)

Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas

Irvine, Michael

Janman, Tim

Jopling, Rt Hon Michael

Kirkhope, Timothy

Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)

Knowles, Michael

Knox, David

Latham, Michael

Lawrence, Ivan

Lightbown, David

Lilley, Peter

Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)

Lord, Michael

Luce, Rt Hon Richard

Lyell, Sir Nicholas

Maclean, David

McLoughlin, Patrick

McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)

Malins, Humfrey

Mans, Keith

Marlow, Tony

Marshall, John (Hendon S)

Martin, David (Portsmouth S)

Maude, Hon Francis

Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin

Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick

Meyer, Sir Anthony

Miller, Sir Hal

Mills, Iain

Moate, Roger

Monro, Sir Hector

Montgomery, Sir Fergus

Morris, M (N'hampton S)

Moynihan, Hon Colin

Nelson, Anthony

Neubert, Michael

Nicholls, Patrick

Nicholson, David (Taunton)

Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley

Oppenheim, Phillip

Paice, James

Patten, John (Oxford W)

Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth

Porter, David (Waveney)

Portillo, Michael

Powell, William (Corby)

Raffan, Keith

Renton, Tim

Riddick, Graham

Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)

Rowe, Andrew

Rumbold, Mrs Angela

Ryder, Richard

Sackville, Hon Tom

Sayeed, Jonathan

Shaw, David (Dover)

Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')

Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)

Sims, Roger

Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Speller, Tony

Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)

Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)

Stevens, Lewis

Stradling Thomas, Sir John

Sumberg, David

Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Taylor, John M (Solihull)

Temple-Morris, Peter

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