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Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but I warned him before about giving what is virtually a potted history, according to him, of MI5. He must relate what he says to the debate. The hon. Gentleman has now illustrated the point well beyond what is necessary to illustrate his reason for opposing the Bill--I take it that he does. I must also point out that he appears to be reading, whereas of course "Erskine May" tells us that Members, apart from Ministers, may not read, although they may look at notes.

Mr. Livingstone: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. As you will recall, I submitted 360 questions about MI5 and its treasonable activities during the previous

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Parliament, and every one was rubbished by the Government. I constantly received evasive answers. When I raised the matter with the then Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher as she then was, she denied them vigorously.

Then, of course, two thirds of the way through that Parliament, a statement was made to the House admitting that there had been a "clockwork orange" plot against the Labour Government, and that the allegations in Peter Wright's book were effectively true. A special inquiry was set up to examine how people had been damaged in that process and we then found, to our horror, that MI5 officers tried to nobble the inquiry set up to investigate the allegations made by Colin Wallace.

When we consider that record, we realise that it involves more than one or two eccentrics such as Peter Wright, and that there is clearly a culture of extreme right-wing politics in MI5, which has been there throughout this century. Occasionally there are brought to the surface very deep links with individual Conservative Members of Parliament who have been able to use MI5, disinformation and black propaganda to damage Labour Members of Parliament and Governments.

I believe that nothing that Stella Rimington has done has changed that culture of treason and anti-Labour bias. I believe that the existence of MI5 is a threat to democracy in this country, and has been terribly damaging--fatal in some cases--to those who have been on the receiving end of it. For that reason, I believe it should be wound up. Anybody who wants to challenge any of the points I have made tonight should know that every single one of them has been proven academically. There is not a single fact in that list of horror stories which could be challenged on the ground of accuracy.

9.7 pm

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills): After the speech of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), it is clear that the arrangements of law relating to our security and intelligence services and to GCHQ do not give all hon. Members confidence in the integrity of the routes that they follow. The hon. Gentleman focused his attention on whether the operation of the service was accountable, decent and effective, and he will clearly have a busy time amending the entire range of the Government's legislation. He should be grateful to the Government, who have given him an opportunity to do so.

The hon. Gentleman touched on some of the matters that have genuinely concerned hon. Members on both sides of the House, including the extent of the service's remit. Listening to colleagues and to the new members of the Intelligence and Security Committee, it has been depressing to realise that there is almost no description of the remit of the service given within the body of legislation; yet, with regard to the drug problem, the SIS has a mandate for serious international crime, so it can follow the matter through. Why, then, do we need the changes to the Security Service?

The Security Service has as its remit national security. That is a huge swathe of a definition that has concerned bodies and communities overseas that have taken common law and the English language as their subject. They include groups in Australia, New Zealand, the United

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States and, of course, the fabulous and famous MacDonald commission in Canada. The commission examined the great difficulty that we face--balancing our freedoms and liberties on the one hand and our security on the other. The commission made that fabulous comment regarding freedom "under the law".

What we have today is an incoherent system of control, or half-control. It is difficult to thread one's way through the subject. We have a Committee made up of Members of this House and of another place whose remit is so limited that it is excluded from examining the commissioner's work and aspects of tribunals. The Committee cannot look back before the time it came into existence, and cannot look at some of the questions that have caused anxiety in the House.

The Bill gives an opportunity to try to define within the terms of the MacDonald commission and with regard to our liberties and freedoms what is necessary in terms of appropriate oversight. But, more important, it provides a definition in statute of what are the appropriate tasks. These are not general phrases that can give rise to anxieties among hon. Members that the tasks are being carried out improperly. I happen to believe that they are not, and there is no reason to think that they are.

Why are we, of all the advanced democracies in the world, so secretive and self-obsessed with what is the proper and prudent defence and protection of our liberties, certainties and confidence as citizens of the United Kingdom? This secrecy derives from the defence of the realm Acts of the second world war, and it can be heard from some of the older fuddy-duddy judges. The intense secrecy almost leads to the Government coming upon the rocks over the Scott inquiry. It is necessary to lie to one another in Whitehall and to keep the House of Commons understanding that a policy is contrary to what it actually is; the whole thing then blows up in one's face.

One of the difficulties with the Bill is that we hear much about the wonderments of the service, but how do we know? Where is the body of information? We have never had a White Paper or any of the other instruments of Government on this subject. There has never been a set of principles enunciated as to what guides the United Kingdom Government and the House of Commons in the conduct of what is, let us remember, the most onerous of intrusions into the freedoms and liberties of our people. We have learnt that most of the activities of the Security Service--carried out under some vague concept of prerogative power--were not lawful. Therefore, the House had to legislate to put on a lawful basis something that hitherto had been unlawful.

The range of legislation includes not just the intelligence and security services Bills but the interception of communications measures and also something that has not been mentioned, the Official Secrets Act. The House can imagine how onerous that Act is. I, as Secretary of State, can notify someone, and that individual, once notified, commits an absolute offence if he reveals any aspect of his work. That is why I shall be supporting the Bill on whistle-blowers which is to come before the House on 1 March. Our freedom is the first concern of this House, and security is necessary for our freedom.

I wanted to question how the information was evaluated. I have heard reference made to the good work carried out by the Home Affairs Select Committee on organised crime, but I see nowhere in the Committee's

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reports interviews with security services personnel, or with police who said that they wanted the intelligence services to come into the police's business to guide and assist them. In fact, the Committee did not interview anyone, and the section on intelligence gathering is what one might call a commonsense attempt to try to get the facts. We have not been told the views of those who are involved in protecting our security, liberty and freedom. However, the police are accountable, and their operations are transparent. These are fundamental questions.

The only two speeches today that were worth anything--if everyone else will forgive me--were those of the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) and of my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason), who expressed great anxieties and asked how the Bill had come about. From where did the push to task the intelligence services--we should never forget that they are self-tasking--with this new power come? I do not know the balance of the argument because we have had no White Paper. We have never considered in a neutral forum what is the proper balance and what are the principles that should guide us. That is important.

We do not know what the Intelligence and Security Committee gets up to. I believe that its report was extremely useful. It would have been useful if the House could have seen some of the evidence that led it to its conclusions. It cannot all be secret information.

Mr. Rogers: The hon. Gentleman has been extremely unfair not only to me but to other hon. Members who have expressed the same strong reservations. Every Opposition Member who has spoken has expressed reservations about the content of the Bill and said that he wants to amend it. Any reservations that the hon. Gentleman now propounds are exactly the same as those that have been expressed by Opposition Members.

Mr. Shepherd: I am sorry if I do the hon. Gentleman an injustice. It was not my intention to do so. My intention was to cite--I know that it is invidious to do so--the two speeches that touched on the reservations.

As we have had no abstraction or setting aside such as the MacDonald commission, it is difficult to make a judgment about the Bill. In 1993, when the first brochure was published on the Security Service, there were no plans to include crime. In 1994 in the Dimbleby lectures, Stella Rimington said that the service would become involved only if organised crime posed a threat to national security, which is one of the tests. If we examine the remit of the Security Service, we can get an understanding of some of the anxieties about whether the Bill is necessary and whether the service does not have adequate powers now.

In November 1994, there were press reports that the Director-General of the Security Service saw benefits in closer liaison with the police. On 16 May last year, my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, in reply to a parliamentary question from the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O'Brien), said:

Clearly, words were going around about reform of the Security Service.

On 17 July, the Home Affairs Select Committee report was published. I do not think that it contained any reference to the intelligence services and their application.

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We then had an announcement at the party conference on 13 October by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that the Bill would be introduced. Then, as a result of the interest shown by members of the Intelligence and Security Committee, its report was published on the Wednesday of our Christmas rising. The Committee had clearly been following the issue.

One of the ingredients of the report was that "serious crime" was a better expression than "organised crime". That was Wednesday 20 December. The Committee held a press conference at 12.30 pm that day. Later that afternoon--most Members of the House had gone; there had been a terrific vote the night before--the Government published the Bill. I did not have a copy. I do not know how many Members collected a copy on that Wednesday while the House was still sitting. The business for the second day after our return was the Second Reading of the Bill.

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