Politics UK: Culloden

Full Version: Intelligence Services Act 1992
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Mr Speaker,

I rise today to present legislation – the Intelligence Services Act 1992 – relating to the work of our security services, intelligence services, and GCHQ.

All three organisations, and the individuals who work for them, keep our nation safe in the face of significant threat. They are an important line of defence against those who seek to do us, our nation, and our wellbeing harm. Often, they put their lives on the line – and many of us will never know who they are or what sacrifices they made.

But recent events have shown that the current arrangements for scrutiny and accountability are unsatisfactory. We experienced an unprecedented violation of basic human rights to further the political ends of a few individuals in government. Yet there was very little means to insist on accountability for the complicit behaviour of security personnel. That has to change.

This is why the Government is bringing forward legislation to cast some light on the work of the security services, intelligence services, and GCHQ. It will allow Parliament to hold them to account broadly, while also protecting the ability of these services to get the job we expect of them done. The secrecy they need to get the job done must be combined with the transparency our country requires to ensure they do the job properly.

The legislation will put both the intelligence services and GCHQ on to a statutory footing for the first time, setting out its specific responsibilities relating to the security of our nation. It also sets out the specific responsibilities of the leaders of each service. I want to emphasise the requirement of the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service and the Director of GCHQ to ‘not take any action to further the interests of any United Kingdom political party or individual within a political party’. A similar stipulation is placed on the Director-General of the Security Services. Not only will this prevent the intelligence services or GCHQ being used for a purpose to further the interests of one political party, but to prevent them being used for a purpose to further the interests of an individual within said political party. This will, I hope, prevent the repetition of the shameful events of the past few months.

We have also clarified the issuing of warrants for all three services, making it clear which Secretary of State is responsible for issuing them – and how they must be used. This legislation also gives individuals the ability to hold them to account through a Commissioner and a tribunal, which have the powers to investigate the actions for all three services. This is an important step forward, allowing citizens to hold services to account – without threatening the ability of those services to keep us safe.

A new parliamentary committee will be established to scrutinise the ‘expenditure, administration and policy of the Security Service, the Intelligence Service and GCHQ’. This will give Parliament a new voice in overseeing the work of all three services.

This legislation deals with a vitally important topic and it is necessary, I believe, for this House to speak with one voice: to state clearly that the actions of a few in using the secrecy and lack of accountability, of services that keep us safe, to further their own interests must end. This Government is clear that it must, and I hope the entire House will join me in supporting this legislation.
Mr speaker

I beg this bill is read and printed a second time
ORDER! Second reading!
Mr. Speaker,

I rise today to support this bill and I thank the Prime Minister for introducing it and the Government for sponsoring it, a bill that is very necessary and for this reason I ask both sides of this House to pass it, we need to take necessary reforms to make our Intelligence Services really independent.

In a strong democracy like ours, all public powers and offices depending on them, like the security services, the intelligence services, and GCHQ, have to be accountable and should be guided by the principles of good faith and no corruption/scandals. That’s why, the Conservative Government introduced the Intelligence Services Act 1992, to prevent scandals or crimes in the core of our intelligence services, and to guarantee their efficiency in the fight against terror and other domestic and foreign threats to our nation and citizens. British people should feel safe in their land; Conservatives are working for it.

As British, we must be proud of our men and women in uniform that give their lives for democracy, security and freedom, that’s why we have to honour them, help them and giving good conditions to work, and this will happen if we assure their independence from politicians and parties, that’s why the Government introduced this very necessary reform.

They also introduced the bill, because by maintaining og intelligence services independent, we can avoid leaks or similar situations, with this we allow our intelligence officers to do their job safely, and guaranteeing a major probability of success of their operations.

For all the reasons above, I believe this is a good and a necessary bill, and that’s why I ask again the support of major and minor parties in this chamber, let’s work together to be stronger in this great United Kingdom.
Mr. Speaker,

I thank the Prime Minister for offering this Act to us today. As we have seen over the last year, the security services of this nation are vital parts of our national life, but can be easily abused by those who wish to take advantage of them. The Labour Party is pleased to join him in thanking and supporting the men and women in them. And we thank the Prime Minister for this necessary Act and for cleaning up the mess his predecessor caused. However, Mr. Speaker, there are a few things.

Sections six and seven, Mr. Speaker, both discuss warrants and how the Secretary of State must approve them. I must unfortunately express my skepticism that the appropriate member of the Government would never once be tempted to approve a warrant to gain information for personal or political reasons - ministers in this government, from multiple disgraced Secretaries in the McDrummond-MacBeath Ministry to your most recent Minister for Security have acted outside their boundaries when it comes to our national security and the right usage of our security services. As such, it is our belief that a judge, an inherently unbiased individual, must approve any warrant so recommended to them by the Secretary - so that we can know, once and for all, that our security services are not wasting their time playing political games for their ministers.

Much of these improvements, as I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, are great. One of my personal favorites is the creation, finally, of an Intelligence and Security Committee in this Parliament. Like every other governmental institution, our security services must be subjected to the appropriate parliamentary scrutiny. And, keeping in line with my previous comments on warrants, it is imperative that, to further their scrutiny of the security services and the ministers in charge of them, this committee must also have the powers to investigate warrants issued under the terms of this Act to get a fuller understanding of the work that the security services have been doing - as well as if there were any attempts to breach the rules set out by this Act by members of any future Government. Mr. Speaker, with these in mind, I move the following three amendments, should the Government accept them:

Adding the following as subsections 3 and 4 of section 6 of this act and renumbering accordingly:
(3) The Secretary of State must receive the approval of a judge before the execution of a warrant. The chosen judge shall only approve warrants that meet the requirements laid out in section 6(2), section 2(2), and section 4 of this Act, as well as section 2(1)(b) of the Security Service Act 1989. Specifically, the Secretary must consult
(i) for warrants relating to matters in England and Wales, a judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales except for former Lord Chancellors;
(ii) for warrants relating to matters in Scotland, a Senator of the College of Justice;
(iii) for warrants relating to matters in Northern Ireland, a judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature; or
(iv) for warrants relating to matters in other nations, the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, or the Vice-Chancellor.
(4) In an urgent case as described in section 7(1)(b) of this Act, the Secretary must ensure that the chosen judge has at least two hours to study the warrant.

Adding the following as subsection 9 of section 11 of this act:
(9) No more than 96 hours after the completion of a task laid out in a warrant, information on the warrant must be delivered to the Committee, informing them of the warrant’s timetable, target, outcome, necessity, and any comments made by the approving judge.

Striking “Prpoime” in section 11(8) of this act and replacing it with “Prime
Mr Speaker,

I am grateful for the Right Honourable Gentleman’s support for this legislation and the work this Government is doing to ensure the security services are trusted and accountable. It is vital that the British public recognise that the security services are acting the best interests of the nation, and For no other purpose. 

With that in mind, the Government accepts the amendments made by the Right Honourable Gentleman.
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