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Column 243Shaw, David (Dover)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Speed, Sir Keith
Spencer, Sir Derek
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Spink, Dr Robert
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Townend, John (Bridlington)
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Sidney Chapman and
Mr. Michael Brown.
Question accordingly negatived.
Bill committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 61 (Committal of Bills).
Queen's recommendation having been signified--
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Intelligence Services Bill [Lords] , it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of--
(a) any expenses incurred by the Secretary of State under the Act ; and
(b) any expenditure attributable to the establishment of the Intelligence and Security Committee and the carrying out of their functions.-- [Mr. Andrew Mitchell.]
Mr. Cryer rose--
Mr. Richard Tracey (Surbiton) : On a point or order, Madam Speaker. If my memory serves me right, the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) was not in the Chamber when the debate on the Bill was opened from the Government Front Bench. Surely if he had been here he would have had a full opportunity to raise the issues that he now intends to raise, undoubtedly at great length, on the money resolution.
Mr. Cryer : I would very much have liked to be here for the beginning of the debate, but unfortunately I chair the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments, which these days have a huge volume of work due to the record number of statutory instruments poured out by the Government. That means that, if we are to do our public duty, the Committee has to spend a great deal of time upstairs examining legislation, as required by Parliament. I hope that that makes the position clear.
I shall not follow the speeches made by other hon. Members, which were in the form of applications to join the committee that will be set up under the Bill. I am bound to follow the rules of the House and raise finance questions. The explanatory and financial memorandum of the Bill says :
"The total costs of the arrangements for administering the procedures under Clauses 5, 6 and 7, for establishing and staffing the Tribunal, for assisting the Commissioner, and for assisting and staffing the Intelligence and Security Committee are expected to be about £530,000 a year".
In terms of public expenditure, £530,000 is a small amount. I know that in people's individual experience it is vast, but for providing accountability under the Bill, it is a relatively small amount. I hope that the Minister will be able to provide some answers to questions about the allocation and calculation of what is, of course, an illustrative sum, but none the less a sign that the Government have made some calculations. In my view, they ought to justify the calculation because it does not seem to me that sufficient money has been allocated.
The right hon. and learned Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) is on the Front Bench. As a Minister, he has had the experience of having to justify a money resolution and then coming back to the House with two further money resolutions for the same Bill because sufficiently extensive authority had not been given. I hope that the Minister will be able to assure me and the House that the money resolution gives full authority for all the expenditure that
Column 245the Government have in mind. I shall feel bound to examine the Minister's response critically. If it is unsatisfactory, we can vote against the money resolution.
First, the £530,000 covers all the paraphernalia and administration of obtaining warrants. On the face of it, that may not be a very comprehensive activity, but when one recalls that the warrants are for burglary and bugging, one realises that there must be careful assessment. Careful assessment involves time. Either there will have to be many people making the assessments or the officers will have to be used for long periods to produce the information that the Secretary of State will require for authorisation of warrants to enter property, bug telephones and undertake operations of the sort about which Peter Wright wrote in his book.
Peter Wright has been denied tonight. We have been told that this new and changed legislation is a departure from activities of the sort that he engaged in. It is claimed that all the people in the security services are very decent and not at all like Peter Wright. One wonders, therefore, why the Government spent several million pounds in their attempts to prevent Peter Wright from publishing his revelations. In any case, the advice that Ministers receive in connection with the production of those warrants will be very comprehensive and important. I wonder what financial provision has been made.
We are talking not about the generality of costsarising from the secret services--the so-called security services which has been agreed at just under £1 billion a year, but about expenditure that will arise directly from the Bill. According to the explanatory memorandum, the expenditure under clauses 5, 6 and 7, which deal with the issue of warrants and their authority, is completely separate from, and over and above, the approximately £900 million that the security services spend each year.
The commissioner charged with overseeing the security services will have to be a person who has held high judicial office. Judges' salaries are in the telephone-number range pushing six figures. If the commissioner receives a salary of £100,000--or close to that, taking into consideration national insurance contributions--that will be virtually one fifth of the calculated expenditure. It will be interesting to know whether the commissioner is to be full time or part time.
Then there will be the staff, all of whom will be dealing with highly secret matters and will therefore be paid at a higher civil service rate. Three, four or five staff, together with the commissioner, will knock a big hole in £200,000, or will they be paid out of the annual budget of £900 million? We are talking here about money authorised to cover actions under this legislation, not about the generality of expenditure. It will be interesting to know what proportion of the £500,000 the commissioner and his staff will take up.
The tribunal has an important function. It will cost a significant amount-- certainly significant in the context of £500,000--and it will have to be able to direct the Secretary of State to pay compensation to people who have been mistreated by the security services. Individuals have their private correspondence opened and their telephones tapped, and people are misrepresented. We know that the security services are not above feeding misinformation to sympathetic journalists. People can be misrepresented in
Column 246the press and on television, which also has sympathetic journalists. Homes are burgled, and private lives are intruded upon to a significant degree.
A welcome step is that the tribunal will have the authority to direct the Secretary of State to award compensation. Will that be authorised as part of the £530,000, or whatever the figure is--it is about that amount-- or will it come from some other fund? Compensation cases must arise from activities authorised in the Bill. It is clear that two or three compensation cases could soak up the entire £530, 000 mentioned in the explanatory memorandum. It would be helpful if the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster could tell us the sort of compensation that he has in mind and whether adequate compensation will be provided in the serious cases on which the tribunal can direct the Secretary of State.
Finally, the costs of the Intelligence and Security committee are not made clear. I listened to several speeches in the debate on Second Reading. Some hon. Members thought that the committee should resemble a Select Committee, which has relatively modest expenses. However, the committee will not be like that. It will be a clique of the righteous--a clique of Privy Councillors and of safe people. Do we really want safe people--safe in the sense that they will not ask pertinent or probing questions--to supervise the security services ? As the Chancellor said when he replied to the Second Reading debate, the powers of the committee members will be considered in the Standing Committee. That is right and proper, but will the £530,000 mentioned be enough if the Intelligence and Security Committee is provided with the power to call persons and papers before it as a Select Committee would do ?
Will committee members be paid ? Surely this clique of the so-called great and the good--I would put that in quotation marks--will include some pillars of the establishment, who are usually greedy people who want additional money when they serve the establishment that they so diligently protect. Will they be paid ? If they are, their salaries and additional amounts for secretarial services will take a fair chunk of the £500,000 that the Minister said would be the sort of annual expenditure involved.
If there are two or three cases requiring compensation and if the six members of the Intelligence and Security Committee do their work properly, ask for the volume of evidence and comb through the security services when there are miscarriages of justice, the cost of running that step towards accountability will be much more than the £530,000 mentioned so far.
When we are debating money resolutions, it is important for the Minister to give a rough account to the House, so that it can be placed on the record and I expect the Minister to do so. I also expect him to be well briefed because money resolutions have a welcome tendency to be debated in greater detail these days. I dare say, therefore, that the Minister is well prepared to respond. 10.28 pm
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Waldegrave) : It is greatly to the credit of the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) that money resolutions are debated in greater detail. I think that he holds the record for doing so and I shall attempt to answer his perfectly fair questions.
Column 247The resolution provides for expenditure of about £530,000 a year and, as the hon. Gentleman said, that is the sum that we have estimated to be necessary to cover the costs associated with the appointment of a commissioner and tribunal, the establishment of the Intelligence and Security Committee and the general administrative provisions of the Bill.
The costs will be met from the existing public expenditure provisions for the agencies and relevant Government Departments. Where the commissioner and members of the tribunal are serving members of the judiciary, no additional salary will be payable for duties undertaken in connection with the legislation. The estimated costs include incidental expenses that may be incurred and necessary administrative support. It is difficult to be precise about such costs, but we have done our best.
The estimate is partly based on the experience of the operation of the Security Service Act 1989. It is anticipated that the intelligence service commissioner and tribunal will perform broadly similar duties to those undertaken by the comparable organisations under the 1989 Act. I can confirm that the current Security Service Commissioner and members of the tribunal have already been approached and have shown their willingness in principle to assume those duties--apart from being sensible, that will save money.
The hon. Member for Bradford, South spoke of compensation. He is perfectly right that, if compensation awards are made, the money should come out of the allocated sum. It is impossible to make a rational prediction. If there were a rash of justified complaints that won compensation and overbalanced the budget--I hope that that would not happen--I have no doubt that the committee would have to seek further resources.