National Security and Intelligence Services

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 21st July 2009.

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Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay Labour, Thurrock 2:30 pm, 21st July 2009

What recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on proposals in his Department's White Paper on constitutional renewal on parliamentary oversight of national security and the intelligence services.

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Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

As part of my duties, I have wide-ranging discussions with ministerial colleagues, including on all the proposals in the constitutional renewal White Paper.

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Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay Labour, Thurrock

Have I missed something, because it was proposed in the White Paper that there should be examination of the parliamentary oversight-of which there is none-of the security and intelligence services? The Justice Secretary has in his various ministerial portfolios always alluded to, and mooted, such oversight, and on 22 July 2008 the Prime Minister promised a joint parliamentary committee on strategy-

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Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay Labour, Thurrock

My question is: have I missed anything-did the hon. Lady not notice that? What is happening-because nothing has happened? We have this White Paper, and the new Bill is out, but there is no mention at all of national security.

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Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I shall do my best, Mr. Speaker. The answer, in short, is that for once my hon. Friend has missed something. We did call for greater accountability for the Intelligence and Security Committee, which does provide parliamentary oversight, and we are delivering it. We are doing so in terms of nominations and we are about to do so in terms of public hearings. We are beefing up the Committee-there is now a new general investigator post and the number of staff has increased by a third.

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