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Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East): Unlike other Back Benchers who have spoken so far, I am not a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee. I hope to have the indulgence of the House in doing what I usually do, which is to talk primarily about intelligence and security issues rather than the work of the Committee. However, I shall touch on one aspect of the Committee's work before I conclude.

The topics that I wish to address are MI5 and subversion, with reference to some recent and on-going developments; some historical topics relating to the retention of files and the examination of foreign archives; and oversight and the problems of reconciling it with the needs of security.

On 12 January 1998, a prominent story in The Times was headlined "MI5 decides that democracy is safe." The reporter, Michael Evans, said:

Indeed, the booklet "MI5--The Security Service" was published in March 1998. It stated on page 19:

That came back to me on 21 June 1999, when the Home Secretary made a statement in the House about the demonstrations in the City of London. There had been some violent demonstrations, and the right hon. Gentleman said:

Hear, hear, we may all say to that.

In the questioning that followed that statement, I pointed out to the Home Secretary that perhaps we were having a problem with non-co-operation of demonstrators taking part in mass and illegal action because F branch of the Security Service had effectively been closed down. I urged him to recognise that that was a mistake and that, when such riots were being surreptitiously organised, the counter-measures that were required were those which that part of the Security Service had specialised in, but no longer carried out.

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I was evidently wasting my breath, because the same thing happened all over again the following year. On 2 May, the Home Secretary once again made a statement to the House about demonstrations in London and Manchester. He said:

A number of times in the statement and in the questions that followed it, the Home Secretary referred to the "benefit of hindsight" when hon. Members said that mistakes had been made in the way in which the London demonstration had been handled. However, I do not believe that it was a question of being wise after the event. It was wholly to be anticipated that, with demonstrations of that sort being organised in a clandestine manner by people who had no intention of obeying the law or demonstrating peacefully, a level of disruption would be caused that could have been dealt with only by the normal methods of the Security Service functioning as F branch of MI5 used to do.

I raise the matter of those two demonstrations because a third is in the pipeline. On 18 February, The Sunday Telegraph carried the following report.

The article quotes one of the plans, which states:

The plan advises activists to "consider the possibilities" and to

The plans also instruct activists to target

A number of speakers in the debate so far have wisely referred to the increasing importance of the role of the internet and of methods of communication by that means. The information that I have may or may not be reliable, but it suggests that the information that the police have managed to gather so far has primarily come from a study of websites such as, or Those sites include information that the organisers of the forthcoming riots have chosen to make available on the internet. I gather that details about how they are really proposing to organise their events are contained in encrypted e-mails. That encryption is easily available via a commercial firm--I will not name it because I do not wish to give more publicity to its activities--which has recently recruited a senior US encryption expert.

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My information is that it would take the most powerful computers of the American National Security Agency or our own GCHQ at least 24 hours to break such a code. We are therefore facing the possibility of quite major, planned disruption that could well spill over into the day on which the general election may be held. However, our police are having to make do without the advice of the Security Service that they would have had in the past if the decision--erroneous, in my view, and in that of others with an interest in this subject--had not been taken to destroy the counter-subversion arm of MI5.

I have been interested to note that some of the events of past subversive activities still have knock-on effects today. A letter published in The Guardian yesterday was headed "Log on to, the democratic way". It encouraged people to visit the website of something called "".

I visited the website, to see what it was all about. Naturally, I had a degree of personal interest, given what the site might have contained with regard to my constituency. The site's home page revealed a commendable degree of honesty in stating that the aims of the organisation are to

In a section called "Background", the website states:

I think that that figure is calculated on the basis that hon. Members who won anything under 50 per cent. of their constituency vote are, in principle, vulnerable to tactical voting.

The site continues:

So far, so good: we live in a free society. However, an item at the bottom of the page caught my attention. It stated that

It is then stated, in bold type, that

Well, yes and no: the organisation is being a little too modest in saying that it is funded by the New Politics Network. A visit to the network's website reveals that the telephone and fax numbers and the address of the New Politics Network are the same as those of, which it funds.

I thought that the name New Politics Network rang a bell, and I was reminded of an excellent article that appeared not in a right-wing or reactionary magazine but in the New Statesman, that journal of progressivism, on 23 October last year. The article was by Nick Cohen, an investigative journalist of the left with a commendably independent spirit. The article was headlined, "Up for grabs: £3.5 Million of Stalin's gold; New Politics Network funded by smuggled Russian gold."

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The article began:

Putting together those few bits of paper and snippets of information might have been routine for MI5, if it had retained its counter-subversion role. It appears that an organisation that is avowedly trying to influence the outcome of a democratic election is doing so on the basis of funds supplied by the KGB--illegally--to the Communist party of Great Britain. That party is the direct ancestor of the organisation to which I have drawn attention.

In the course of this Parliament, a number of other interesting cases have arisen out of cold war history. The case that has interested me a great deal is the targeting by the Stasi of certain activists and individuals in the United Kingdom.

The Home Secretary, whom I am delighted to see back on the Treasury Bench, will remember our pleasant debate on the retention of MI5 files. In the early days of this Parliament, it looked as though those files might not be retained--indeed, some quarters on the left exerted a great deal of pressure to destroy the cold war files of the Security Service. Having secured a half-hour Adjournment debate on whether the files should be retained or destroyed, I had the experience--intriguing to me, as a relatively new Back Bencher--of being fortunate enough to have none other than the Home Secretary himself responding to that debate.

I am not sure whether any other Back Bencher has been so fortunate as to have a Cabinet Minister respond in person to an Adjournment debate chosen by ballot, but I certainly felt duly privileged. Furthermore, I was delighted with the outcome: the Home Secretary took it on himself to refer the question of whether or not the files should be retained for future use by historians or destroyed to a proper committee of academics working in conjunction with the Public Record Office. Although it will be many years before those files are open to academic historians, I am sure that the Home Secretary concedes that it is as a result of that chain of events that a substantial part of the MI5 archive is now to be retained.

A similar process went on in the former communist East Germany in respect of the Stasi files held in Berlin. A large quantity of files was retained and has gradually been worked through by scholars, historians and some intelligence agencies. I shall not rehearse the revelations that have emerged during the course of this Parliament about the role of various people in British public life acting as agents for the Stasi, although as recently as September 2000, my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) and I were intrigued to be identified as people who had attracted Stasi attention because of our work combating unilateral nuclear disarmament in the 1980s.

During the course of that controversy, I became concerned that it had taken a British academic, Dr. Anthony Glees, to go to Berlin, to investigate the

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contents of the files and to bring into the open the role that had been played by some people in British public life in serving the Stasi, and that, at the time that Dr. Glees made his investigations, it was clear that no similar investigation had been carried out by our official intelligence agencies. I believe that since I raised that issue in the House, progress has been made. Dr. Glees has been consulted by the Security Service--I can say that openly, because I received a letter from a Minister confirming that.

My final point arises from those positive developments. Early in the debate, the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) seemed to suggest that the question of who was appointed to the Intelligence and Security Committee should be a matter for a simple vote by parliamentarians. I was greatly impressed by the comment by the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell- Savours)--I am often greatly impressed by his comments--that one member of the Committee could completely destroy its integrity. I have always been concerned to ensure that, if we are to have oversight of the intelligence and security services, we are satisfied that those who undertake the job are themselves as thoroughly discreet and reliable, and have been vetted in a similar way, as those who are privy to the secrets of the agencies themselves. Otherwise, we build a weak link into the agencies' operational security. Although I hasten to emphasise that, in my following remarks, I shall not say anything to identify any individual, I should like to speak in support of the view expressed by the hon. Member for Workington as to a potential danger.

Among the papers that Dr. Glees found in the Berlin archive was a Stasi report in which the agent tasked with reporting on the activities of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament noted the following:

here the agent names two people whom I shall not name--

As a member of the Select Committee on Defence, I can confirm that I have not seen any document marked "COSMIC".

The point we should bear in mind is that the people who made those reports to a hostile foreign intelligence agency regarded the possibility of getting sympathetic Members of Parliament on to a sensitive Select Committee as a potential opening for the obtaining of classified information. I am happy to say that I am not aware of any document in the archive that shows that any such breach of security ever took place.

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