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The agencies are unlike law enforcement agencies in that they do not have intrinsic executive powers of action—they cannot arrest or detain people, search or seize property or charge and start criminal proceedings against those they investigate. The powers that they have are governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994. Every action taken under either measure must be properly justified and authorised. The most intrusive of those actions, such as interception of communications, must be authorised personally by the
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Secretary of State. Those activities are overseen by independent commissioners, who must hold or have held high judicial office. The oversight is undertaken by Sir Peter Gibson, the intelligence services commissioner, and Sir Paul Kennedy, the interception commissioner, as appropriate. Each commissioner is under a statutory duty to produce an annual report on their oversight activities. Those reports go to the Prime Minister who, in turn, is under a duty to lay them before each House of Parliament, excluding only such information that, due to its sensitivity, cannot be made public.

Last, but in no way least, anyone who is aggrieved by what he or she believes to be inappropriate conduct by the intelligence and security agencies may complain to the independent investigatory powers tribunal whose president must also have held or hold high judicial office. The tribunal has full powers to investigate any complaint and unfettered powers to order such remedies as it sees fit in a case where the complaint is upheld either in part or in full. Such information on the investigation of complaints as can safely be made public is contained in the commissioners’ annual reports. I think that the House will recognise that the oversight arrangements that I have described represent a comprehensive set of measures whereby we can be reassured about the conduct of the agencies.

Dr. Julian Lewis: When the Minister talks about the possibility of complaining to the oversight body, does that simply mean that people can complain if they believe that the security services have done something against them, or could, for example, someone who had loyally served the security and intelligence services and been denied a pension complain about that?

Mr. McNulty: I shall deal with that briefly later.

I have outlined why I cannot go further into the details surrounding Mr Makarov or any other
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individual case, save for the following information. Mr. Makarov has been the subject of several letters from his previous constituency Members of Parliament, my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland) and, before that, my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott).

Since Mr. Makarov’s arrival in the UK in 1992, a series of attempts have been made to assist him and tackle his concerns without conceding their validity. With the benefit of advice from his legal representatives, he accepted a generous lump sum payment in 2001, to which the hon. Member for Hexham referred. He agreed that it was a full and final settlement of any claims that he had made against the UK Government. He has also complained about his treatment to the Security Service and intelligence services tribunal, which did not find in his favour.

On Mr. Makarov’s concerns about his personal security, Northumbria police are aware of his background, would be informed of any specific threats and are best placed to offer appropriate advice, which would be the normal process for anyone who felt that their personal safety was in jeopardy. We have 43 police forces in this country, all suitably equipped with special branches and so on to deal with such matters among others.

I am terribly sorry if the response to the last question was unhelpful, but I have set out the facts as they can be laid out at the moment in this country. I have tried to explain how the security and intelligence services are accountable, among other things, to this House. I have tried to explain in some detail why it is not appropriate for me to go into any more detail than I already have on this specific case. I have tried to put at least some of these matters on the record from the Government’s perspective purely to be helpful rather than otherwise.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at twenty minutes to Eleven o’clock.

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