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Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The amendment is fairly tightly drawn. It specifically says "industrial relations dispute". It is not about a catalogue of potential or past disputes.

Mr. Cohen: I take your point, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but if they became industrial disputes, under the clause in the proposed legislation that deals with subversion, MI5 could become involved, and that would be a great waste of time and money.

MI5 is also biased. It is always against the workers in industrial disputes, regardless of the merits or justice of the case. They are seen as upsetting the status quo, and the establishment's position, including that of the employer, is what MI5 thinks has to be fought for. It has a long record of being anti-labour.

During the cold war, the whole labour movement was seen as subversive. That was ridiculous. There were, of course, communist and Soviet sympathisers in the trade union movement, but they were always a minority in

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numbers and influence. Even they were not motivated to overthrow the state by revolution or general strike. Their motivation was to improve conditions for their fellow working men and women. That was and remains an acceptable and laudable motivation.

Many within the trade union movement opposed them and had different ideas about how best to help their fellow workers and trade union members. That certainly was not the motivation of MI5. If those few sympathisers, which were the justification for MI5's involvement, were so influential, why was there only one general strike in 1926, one of the leaders of which was the old right winger, Ernest Bevin? That strike was certainly not organised with the aim of overthrowing the state, and there were no subsequent general strikes.

I cannot think of a single strike that aimed to overthrow the state, and it is a deliberate lie peddled by the Government and MI5 to justify the latter's role. They pretend not to understand that industrial disputes are limited to the aims of the workers involved, that, invariably, they are about pay, jobs and conditions of work, and that a trade union cannot enforce a course of action that its members do not want and will not support.

Industrial action is unsustainable without the support of the members of the trade union. Workers who take industrial action do so for their own vested interests, and their motivations are limited to that. I do not believe that it is for the state to take sides against them in such a dispute. The cold war has now ended, so who do the Government think that trade unions are trying to subvert? That is an interesting question and the Minister should respond to it. I suspect that, if he does, he will be striking at the heart of the legitimate democratic process, but it will be hard to find a reasonable answer. I do not think that the state should interfere.

Conservatives continually tell us that they believe in free markets and the free play of forces in society and the economy. Those forces include capital and labour. Why do that philosophy and approach not apply in industrial relations? Why is MI5 authorised to intervene against the worker? Why is it on the side of the employer? That free play of forces is part of the democratic political process. Industrial action in support of pay and jobs is as legitimate as the role of the bosses in a democracy. MI5 should not interfere. It is a worker's fundamental right to withdraw his labour if he is unfairly treated or picked upon by an employer. Doing that in combination with workmates is the only economic clout that workers have. They do not engage in it lightly, because it also clouts them economically.

It could be argued that MI5 has a role on behalf of the state because the state is an employer, but I reject that argument. The state should have the same tools as any other employer, no more and no less. It should not have access to a secret army that could attack or undermine trade unionists in its employ. The state and its workers pursue different aims. Workers aim for wages, jobs and conditions of work, and the state pursues political policies. Employment laws can be used for the state's purposes and using a secret force to crush opposition by its workers would be over the edge for a decent democratic Government. It is the same tool as that used by a dictator who will not allow any opposition and will intimidate and go beyond the law to enforce his will. Using MI5 in industrial disputes strikes at the heart of democracy.

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Mr. Winnick: Does my hon. Friend agree that democracies, fortunately, have survived despite all the industrial disputes that have occurred, while dictatorships, such as that in the former Soviet Union for which I am not in mourning, and fascist, military, communist and other dictatorships have collapsed despite all their efforts to stop people demonstrating, engaging in industrial disputes and being denied the rights that my hon. Friend mentions?

Mr. Cohen: That is a good point, and it shows that the industrial relations process and industrial disputes are an organic part of a free and democratic society.

A major example of MI5's role in industrial relations was to be found in the miners' strike of 1984-85. The miners had purely industrial aims, which were to save their jobs, their mines and their communities. They were not out to overthrow the Government of the day. In hindsight, their aims are more clearly seen. The state attacked them out of revenge for previous industrial disputes that the miners had won. Defeating the miners was the great Tory obsession which led to that dispute. But the obsession was that of a political party and not that of the nation.

When Baroness Thatcher referred to the miners as the enemy within, she meant that they were the political enemy of the Conservative party, not of the state. The miners were part of the state, which the Government and all political parties are supposed to represent. But billions of pounds were spent on defeating them, and MI5 played a significant and active role in that.

That has been clearly catalogued in Seamus Milne's book "The Enemy Within--MI5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair". I shall give some examples from that. The Daily Mirror and "The Cook Report" campaign of disinformation on Central Television said that the miners' leader used Libyan hardship donations to pay off his mortgage and that Soviet miners' donations were used by him for personal purposes. That was disinformation and downright lies by MI5.

Informers and agents provocateurs were planted. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) spoke in the House about the role of Richard Windsor, the NUM chief executive. The purpose was to destabilise and sabotage the union and Windsor was at the centre of a series of damaging controversies at the NUM. He was filmed with Libyans and made false accusations of corruption against the union leaders. According to Milne, the operations of the agents provocateurs against striking miners included action at the Polkemmet colliery in Scotland, which was flooded and lost during the dispute, raising local tension.

There was mass surveillance and phone tapping and bugging. The County hotel at Bloomsbury where Mick McGahey, the miners' leader stayed, was bugged and so was the North Sea fish restaurant, Leigh street, London near the NUM's headquarters where the left wingers on the executive met to discuss tactics.

Throughout the strike the security services leased the building opposite the NUM headquarters at St. James's house, Sheffield, and every NUM branch and lodge secretary had his phone monitored. Road blocks and restrictions on the freedom of movement were co-ordinated with the police. Miners' car number records were specifically made available from DVLC records and monitored on computer. Electronic surveillance networks were set up to track the movement of miners' funds and the activities of union officials. In addition, a breakaway miners' union was assisted.

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6.15 pm

According to Milne, in 1970 one man and one assistant were based in MI5 monitoring the trade unions--and that was during the cold war. By the early 1980s, MI5's industrial unit had 12 desk officers backed by a small army of handlers, agents, informers and technical and secretarial staff. Hundreds of trade union officials and activists were signed up in the 1970s. Labour correspondents and broadcasters were also targeted.

What is the point of continuing this subversive activity at great cost to interfere with the trade unions in pursuit of their legitimate activities? The cold war has ended. When they take industrial action, trade unions are limited in their aims and aspirations. Are the nurses to be regarded as subversive if they go on strike? Let us limit MI5's role to terrorism and serious crime, and get it out of industrial relations and industrial disputes.

Mr. Dalyell: I strongly support the amendment that has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen). As far as I know, Seamus Milne's book has never been rebutted; nor has he, on anything that was in that book, been taken to a court of law. In those circumstances, the presumption must be that what he wrote was accurate. If it is, it is a disgrace to the British state.

My support for my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton is born of personal experience of the miners' strike. During that strike, I went to Polkemmet pit in my constituency every Monday morning at 4.30. My hon. Friend mentioned that pit, which at the time was the second biggest of the Scottish pits and the supplier of coking coal to Ravenscraig. At that time, it was deemed to have a regular market for the foreseeable future.

Doubtless, relationships were different in Yorkshire, where officers came in from the Metropolitan police, but relations between the Scottish police and the miners were generally good, partly because many of the police officers came from mining families. In those circumstances, those of us with public responsibilities were able to play our part in maintaining a civilised relationship with a view to protecting the pit.

I shall never forget the morning when it became clear that six picket breakers were operating. The late Superintendent Donald MacKinnon, an equable highlander, was incandescent with anger. He was not angry with me and he came up to me and said, "What on earth has Stella Whitehouse to do with this?" A lot of people knew Stella Rimington by her maiden name--she had been a student at Edinburgh university--which was Whitehouse. She worked for the security services, and I do not know to this day what on earth Stella Whitehouse or Rimington had to do with the miners' strike.

It was not her business to get involved and to create industrial mayhem, and that question has never been answered. I am quite convinced that the head of MI5, as she was to become, took a prominent part--

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