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Column 292

Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm

Robathan, Andrew

Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn

Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)

Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)

Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)

Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela

Ryder, Rt Hon Richard

Sackville, Tom

Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim

Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas

Shaw, David (Dover)

Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian

Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)

Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)

Shersby, Michael

Sims, Roger

Skeet, Sir Trevor

Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)

Soames, Nicholas

Speed, Sir Keith

Spencer, Sir Derek

Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)

Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)

Spink, Dr Robert

Spring, Richard

Sproat, Iain

Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)

Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John

Steen, Anthony

Stephen, Michael

Stern, Michael

Stewart, Allan

Streeter, Gary

Sumberg, David

Sweeney, Walter

Sykes, John

Tapsell, Sir Peter

Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Taylor, John M. (Solihull)

Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)

Thomason, Roy

Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)

Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)

Thornton, Sir Malcolm

Thurnham, Peter

Townend, John (Bridlington)

Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)

Tracey, Richard

Trend, Michael

Trotter, Neville

Twinn, Dr Ian

Vaughan, Sir Gerard

Viggers, Peter

Waldegrave, Rt Hon William

Walden, George

Walker, Bill (N Tayside)

Waller, Gary

Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)

Waterson, Nigel

Watts, John

Wells, Bowen

Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John

Whitney, Ray

Whittingdale, John

Widdecombe, Ann

Wiggin, Sir Jerry

Wilkinson, John

Willetts, David

Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)

Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)

Wolfson, Mark

Yeo, Tim

Tellers for the Noes :

Mr. Sydney Chapman and

Mr. Timothy Wood.

Question accordingly negatived .

Clause 1 --

The Secret Intelligence Service

Mr. Rogers : I beg to move amendment No. 3, in page 1, line 15, leave out with particular reference' and insert

and where there is a threat'.

Madam Deputy Speaker : With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments : No. 4, in page 2, line 1, after (b)', insert where it is substantially'.

No. 6, in page 2, line 3, after crime', insert

which if not prevented would have a serious effect on law and order in the United Kingdom, on citizens of the United Kingdom or on employees of the Crown'.

No. 38, in clause 11, page 8, line 34, at end insert

(3) The Secretary of State shall by order define the meaning of "national security", "economic well-being" and "serious crime". (4) No order shall be made under subsection (3) above unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(5) An order made under subsection (3) above shall cease to have effect at the end of five years beginning with the day on which it came into effect.'

Mr. Rogers : Clause 1 deals with the principles, circumstances and guidelines under which the security services may operate. The Opposition feel--I think we demonstrated this in Committee--that the clause is ambiguous and places few controls on the operations. The clause gives no indication of what actions are acceptable under its remit--of what laws can be broken and, except in the most general terms, for what purposes ; it describes the shape but gives no one an idea of the colour of the matter.

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The Lord Chancellor stated in the other place that nothing in the Bill put the security and intelligence services outside the law. He was right. But is not that simply because the clause is so all-embracing that it puts every action inside the law to start with ? For example, is a shoot-to-kill policy acceptable in a civilised society ? I am not saying that a shoot-to-kill policy exists ; its existence or otherwise is not a matter for discussion this evening, but it could certainly exist within the remit of the Bill.

7 pm

It can be argued, as it was in Committee, that clauses 8 and 9 cover those problems in the sense that the warranting of the secret services and their ability to operate outside the law are tightly controlled by the Foreign Secretary. However, I am sure that when we come to discuss the warranting of certain actions, we shall see that the guidelines laid down for warranting give the secret intelligence services an open field in which to operate.

The problem with the Bill is that it puts the secret intelligence services outside the law. The warrants and authorisations in the Bill are a circumscription but they are not sufficient because the warrants are issued by the Secretary of State, who is not accountable to anyone--not even a court of law. Therefore, there is no legal proscription. Everything drops off at the commissioner and the tribunal. No one can have recourse to a court of law whether in the normal process of events or as a complainant. That is laid down in the Bill. That means that there is no legal proscription of the actions of the security and intelligence services. The Secretary of State is not a judge or a court of law, so there is no legal proscription. As we discussed in Committee, any task that one can think of- -murder in an extreme situation, clubbing, imprisonment, torture or blackmail--could be put into action under a warrant. If the Secretary of State feels that he is prepared to operate that power without recourse to any secondary process of accountability--and when we come to discuss clause 10 we shall find that there is no real process of accountability--he will certainly have it under the Bill.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Douglas Hogg) : The hon. Gentleman would be well advised to read the narrow terms of the warrant-making power in clause 5. He will see that it relates to

"entry on or interference with property or with wireless telegraphy".

It has none of the other effects to which he refers. He may be talking about clause 7 authorisations. If he is, we can discuss that.

Mr. Rogers : The Minister is right. I said that the warranting of certain actions came under another clause, which we would discuss later. The Minister ought to consider what is enclosed within clause 1. Rather than sitting there smugly thinking that he has made a rather smart debating point, he ought to realise that clause 1 lays out the structure, guidelines and controls under which the secret and intelligence services can operate.

I remind the Minister what the amendments say. We seek to close the open field that is given to the secret intelligence services. For example, amendment No. 3 refers to implementation of the powers where there is seen to be a threat to this country and to national security. Amendment No. 4 says that the powers should be

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implemented "where it is substantially" in the interests of the country--in other words, not for matters of a trivial nature. Amendment No. 6 refers to any crime

"which if not prevented would have a serious effect on law and order in the United Kingdom, on citizens of the United Kingdom or on employees of the Crown".

We are saying that the secret and intelligence services ought not to have the power in an open way, as they do under the Bill. The Opposition accept that we need to have a Security Service and that it needs to be secret. That is why we support the Bill. However, we are anxious to ensure that the service operates and is tasked in a proper way and that it is accountable. There will always be certain circumstances--for example, if we are faced with the forces of nazism or fascism or with extreme communist societies-- in which the means are justified by the end. But in normal circumstances they are not. The Bill should contain general proscriptions. That is why the amendments are reasonable.

We simply want to ensure that the secret and intelligence services are properly accountable. We recognise their role, going into the next century. We firmly believe that they will be important. Our amendments refer to "serious crime". The security services are important because we know that our society is under attack--by organised crime and drug running and peddling, for example. It is necessary for us to have intelligence on those activities so that we can take the necessary actions to prevent our society from being corrupted.

On the other hand, we feel that we have a point and that some form of proscription should be laid down against the open-ended tasking that is available under clause 1. Even the warranting under later clauses does not sufficiently proscribe the actions that might be taken.

I know that it is enormously difficult to reconcile an effective secret service with effective accountability, but that is at the heart of what a democratic society is about. If we do not resolve that difficult problem in an equitable way, we fail in the construction and operation of our society. There is no provision in the Bill under which the secret and intelligence services could be brought to book. That is why the amendments are good and reasonable. I know that the Minister will argue that the Intelligence and Security Committee will be set up and will be reported to, but the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister will control the information which is given to that committee. They are the very same people who task the intelligence services with their job. So the Secretary of State will task the intelligence services under clause 1, will have the power to issue them with warrants under clause 5 and will be the only person to whom they are accountable.

We shall discuss the oversight committee under clause 10. Any information which will come into it will have to be laundered by the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister and, even before that, by the intelligence services. I know that my right hon. and hon. Friends will make strong arguments when we discuss clause 10 for giving extra powers to the committee so that it can obtain information and ensure that the intelligence services are accountable.

Clause 1 is ambiguous. It sets few guidelines and controls for the services and their operations. Our amendments deal with their principal roles and the circumstances within which they may operate. The amendments are reasonable and I ask the House to support them.

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