Intelligence and Security Committee

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:39 pm on 16th March 2015.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Conservative, New Forest East 3:39 pm, 16th March 2015

I will detain the House for just a brief moment. I indicated some months ago to the Chief Whip that it was my intention not to apply to stay on the Committee if I am fortunate enough to be re-elected to another term in this House. I did so because, although the intelligence agencies are, for the most part, well-resourced, well-led and do everything that we expect them to do, the situation is not so rosy for defence policy. In a choice between focusing on where I might be able to make a difference—on defence policy—and continuing with the pleasurable task of overseeing the intelligence and security services, I have opted for the former.

I should like to take this opportunity to say that it has been a fascinating five years, working with the excellent staff and under the outstanding chairmanship of my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Malcolm Rifkind. The Committee has worked harmoniously on many issues. I should like leave my term with the Committee by putting on the record just one thought. The intelligence agencies, the Security Service and GCHQ are damned if they do and damned if they do not. I saw this in relation to two inquiries. I shall make one point about each and then sit down to allow a great deal of unused time allocated for this short debate to be applied to other matters.

In relation to the Woolwich atrocity inquiry, people asked how the intelligence services knew that the people who went on to commit the atrocity had been radicalised, yet were unable to stop them. The answer is that—[Interruption.]