Intelligence and Security Committee

Part of Deferred Divisions – in the House of Commons at 8:22 pm on 13th May 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North 8:22 pm, 13th May 2014

Let me make it clear that I have no objections to my hon. Friend Fiona Mactaggart joining the Intelligence and Security Committee. I think we would all agree that she is a person with quite an independent mind, and certainly a strong personality, and no doubt she will make a useful contribution to the Committee. This is nothing personal, and I am sure she did not expect there to be any criticism along those lines.

However, I am far from satisfied that the method of being nominated in the name of the Prime Minister is the best way for a Member to join the ISC. It is going back to former times. The Leader of the House looks rather puzzled, but he knows full well that a system existed in the previous Parliament whereby names appeared on the Order Paper and we would agree to them or otherwise, as the case may be. I take the view that the ISC should be subject to elections. Fortunately, that is not only my view. In paragraph 158 on page 62 of the Home Affairs Committee report on counter-terrorism, which was published last week, it says:

“we recommend that the Commons membership of the Intelligence and Security Committee should be elected like other select committees and that the Chair, who should always be a member of the Commons, ought to be subject to election of the whole House, as is the case for Select Committees.”

It is interesting to note that there has been a great deal of competition as to who should be the Conservative Chair of the Defence Committee. We receive a good deal of correspondence on that subject. While that post is subject to a great deal of competition, and we will decide on it accordingly in the democratic way on Wednesday, for membership of the ISC there is no election whatsoever. A name is put before us and we either accept or reject it.

I simply want to say that whenever an opportunity such as this arises, I will make my views known. This is not an acceptable way to proceed—the Home Affairs Committee agrees—and membership of the ISC should be subject to election. I would hope that at least the Deputy Leader of the House—a Liberal Democrat—would also take that view. Having made my position clear, I do not oppose the motion, but I will use every future opportunity to make my views known.