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Mr. Bermingham: If my hon. Friend reads the whole of paragraph 55, he will find that we said that we had not examined the matter in detail and were therefore not in a position to make a recommendation. Does he agree that experience teaches that the last thing that a major criminal ever does is file a tax return?

Mr. Rogers: I cannot therefore see why the Select Committee, of which my hon. Friend is a member, referred to tax returns. I referred to them only because I saw them mentioned in the report.

Mr. Mullin: Is my hon. Friend aware that Goldwater also said that America should drop the nuclear bomb on Vietnam to blow the leaves off the trees so that the Americans could see whom they were fighting? I do not, however, see how that assists the debate.

Mr. Rogers: Neither do I. I wonder why my hon. Friend mentioned it--

Mr. George Galloway (Glasgow, Hillhead): I hope that my hon. Friend will accept from me that he is probably the only Labour Member of Parliament ever to quote Senator Barry Goldwater with approbation in a speech dealing with civil liberties. The Senator was one of the most reactionary, anti-democratic and anti-freedom people in the entire history of United States politics.

Mr. Rogers: In general I would agree, but he did get one thing right--the quotation I have given the House.

I return to the central point that there are evil people at large, even in our junior schools. Our children need protection from those criminals. There have been tragic

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suicides and overdoses; there have been ruined lives and parental heartbreaks. We are all aware of the increase in drug-related crime, and in muggings, assaults, robberies and car theft. People have a right to protection from such crimes--a fact to be borne in mind in any discussion of liberties.

My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) and I last summer launched a drugs campaign at the beginning of the school holidays in our respective constituencies. I was amazed to learn the extent to which drug taking has infiltrated schools--the right hon. Member for Bridgwater has heard me say as much before. The idea is that people should be helped to help themselves, so in the Rhondda valley and in Taff-Ely we have set up drug awareness groups that can help, among other things, to relieve the misery of mothers whose kids have committed suicide or died from overdoses. They are in a good position to describe which citizens' rights need defending. They look to us to create a framework in which their rights can be defended.

I certainly agree with my hon. Friends who have intervened that a balanced measure is called for here. We cannot allow a secret organisation in our criminal justice system without a proper system of accountability.

Mr. Winnick: In an intervention, my hon. Friend said to my hon. Friend the Labour Front-Bench spokesman that, when we were considering last year's Bill, the amendments in Committee were probing amendments.

Mr. Rogers: Some of them were.

Mr. Winnick: Would I be right in saying that, when my hon. Friend, supported by all Labour Members, pressed from the Committee Front Bench that the scrutiny Committee should be accountable to Parliament, that was not a probing amendment? We were committing ourselves. With his experience of the Committee that he has been speaking about, does he agree that what we said in Committee is right and proper, even more so if MI5 is going to have its work extended? In the way in which the Committee operates, there should be proper accountability to Parliament; it should not simply be to the Prime Minister.

Mr. Rogers: It would be presumptuous of me to presume on the prerogative of the Leader of the Opposition, who I hope will be the next Prime Minister, and to say what his views will be about how the system will be organised. The day after he wins the next election, he will be responsible for the intelligence and security services, so it would be extremely presumptuous of me to prejudge his view in this matter.

However, as my hon. Friend has asked me, I can relate that matter only to the working of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Part of the problem that we are attempting to overcome is the extremely difficult dilemma of balancing the responsibility that we have been charged with statutorily with our responsibility to parliamentarians. As Committee members, we must have trust from both sides. We must have trust from the agencies that we are there to oversee, involving administration, finance and policy development, but we also have a responsibility to our fellow parliamentarians. Our first responsibility statutorily, however--there was no big argument about this in Committee following the amendments that we tabled--is to the Prime Minister who appointed us and who, in law, is responsible.

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I accept that a dilemma exists and that there will be a dilemma for the Labour Government as to exactly how far they go in opening the intelligence and security services to the public gaze, but that matter is not for me: it is for the Leader of the Opposition or the next Prime Minister to expound himself. As I said, I would not be that presumptuous. However, I know that it is important to militate all resources in pursuit of crime.

Mr. Richard Shepherd: I am still puzzled at this. We are at some disadvantage in the House in that we cannot reach in and know the evidence that has led the hon. Gentleman to the conclusion that this formula of words or the Bill is appropriate. For instance, I do not know why it was not possible for the views of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to be published by the Committee, unless there is some injunction against that, but I have not heard anything as to the balance of the argument. Who supports the measure? Do the police support the security services having a purchase into intimate domestic matters that affect our civil liberties, with all the panoply of the Official Secrets Act 1911--the right to designate individuals, the absolute offences attached therein, bugging--the whole thing? What was the clinching argument that convinced the hon. Gentleman that this is the appropriate way forward? Who supported it?

Mr. Rogers: I was coming to the accountability issue in relation to the Bill's proposals, with which I do not agree particularly. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not listen closely when I started my speech. I said that I was most disappointed by the fact that the Bill was only a one-sentence addition to the Security Service Act 1989. I have substantial reservations.

I did say that a Committee is not the place to amend such a short Bill and that we should not then lumber it with what the Home Secretary said he was prepared to take on board. It would have been far better if the Government had taken their time, and presented a far more comprehensive Bill so that we could have discussed it properly. Rightly, the issue is what is serious crime as described in the Bill.

The Home Affairs Select Committee rightly said--this is the basic issue that we should be considering--that


In the desire to define organised crime, we should not hinder the pursuit of criminals. The NCIS and the Home Office, however, have come up with a definition. One could read at great length those different definitions, but why did not the Government wait until publication and consider the Intelligence and Security Committee's report, where we discuss the problems of serious and organised crime, before publishing the Bill?

A simple illustration will demonstrate my point. Sexual child abuse could be an individual act; that is a serious crime. The collective acts of paedophile and child pornography rings are also serious crimes, but they are organised crime. Surely we are not suggesting that the security services should be involved in individual criminal acts, but that is the suggestion in clause 2(3B)(a) and (b). That is why I have substantial reservations about the Bill.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. David Maclean): I have been listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman's excellent speech. On his last point, I can see

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a danger. He seems to be arguing in favour of the use of the word "organised" and the paedophile ring that he has taken as an example may be a good one. Would he not be concerned that, if we had a definition using the word "organised", some serious paedophile offenders with some clever lawyers might escape justice and walk scot free because they managed to prove to the courts that, although they were serious criminals, they were not organised as such, or the Security Service would be found to have been acting inappropriately in pursuing people who proved that they were not organised?

Mr. Rogers: Frankly, that is a trivial point. If the Government's legislative lawyers cannot come up with a decent form of words other than what is in the Bill, I should like to know what they are being paid for. I do not know whether the phrase "serious and/or organised crime" could be incorporated in the Bill, but I hope that the Government will not leave it in this simplistic context.

Mr. Ashby rose--


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