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Clause 19

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 29th April 2008.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General 5:45 pm, 29th April 2008

Here again, we have provisions dealing with information. The clause states:

“Information obtained by the Security Service for the purposes of any of its functions may be disclosed by it— for the purpose of the proper discharge of its functions”.

In a funny way, that is a slightly circular argument. Interestingly, that appears not to include the purpose of national security, but it does include, in subsections (3)(b) and (c), the prevention or detection of serious crime and criminal proceedings. I contrast that with subsection (4), which states:

“Information obtained by the Secret Intelligence Service for the purposes of any of its functions”,

as opposed to the Security Service,

“may be disclosed by it—

(a) for the purpose of the proper discharge of its functions,

(b) in the interests of national security”,

which apparently does not apply to the Security Service. I do not wish to appear too nosey on the subject—maybe there is something that I ought not to  know about, or maybe it is completely innocuous—but that strikes me as slightly odd. Will the Minister clarify why the test for the Security Service is different from that for the Secret Intelligence Service?

Can we also have some clarification of the difference between disclosure in the interests of national security, which is the primary function of both services, and the blanket expression “discharge of its functions”?