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Intelligence and Security Committee Report on Russia

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:35 pm on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State 12:35 pm, 5th November 2019

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for his questions and for his tone. I simply reiterate the points I made in my statement. It is not unusual for the review of ISC reports to take some time. The average turnaround time is six weeks. The average response to the Committee is anywhere between three and four weeks. It is not as if the Prime Minister has not had one or two other things to do over the past several weeks, notably obtaining a good deal for Britain on withdrawing from the European Union. It is not unusual that the turnaround time is what it is.

The Prime Minister has very specific and particular responsibilities, under the Justice and Security Act 2013, to be sure that any information that ISC reports may contain is properly checked and, if appropriate, redacted. The Prime Minister takes that responsibility very seriously indeed, because the reports that issue from the ISC are important. They carry weight and therefore they must be properly looked at. That is what No. 10 is doing. That is what the Prime Minister is doing by referring to his officials for advice, which is his right and responsibility.

As to leaks, we see quite a few of those and we deplore them all. I certainly would not want anybody to believe that what is in a leak, particularly if it appears on the front pages of certain newspapers, is believable.