Results 1–20 of 5000 for (in the 'Commons debates' OR in the 'Westminster Hall debates' OR in the 'Lords debates' OR in the 'Northern Ireland Assembly debates') speaker:Kim Howells

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: I have not got a problem with a judge-led inquiry, if it is designed to try to reassure the public that we have now got all the facts out, but I certainly do not agree that either the ISC or Ministers lacked the means of getting to the truth at the time. What we did not have at the time was the evidence from the Americans. I would not have stood up in the Chamber and said I was absolutely...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: I hope that my hon. Friend is not assuming-he would be wrong if he did-that the Intelligence and Security Committee was party to the late delivery of the report to this House. We were informed by the Prime Minister that it would be delivered yesterday, in good time for Members to read before this debate. It was not delivered, but it is not the Committee's fault that it was not delivered. I...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: Is my hon. Friend aware that he is referring to a court case involving someone known as witness B who may be charged with an extremely serious offence? Is it not immensely irresponsible for my hon. Friend to say that he does not believe witness B, when he has read none of the documents and knows none of the evidence, and will not that do a great deal to jeopardise witness B's trial if he ever...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: That was never the case as far as records were concerned. We looked very hard at this and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that although the record-keeping was very poor, people kept digging back into previous computer systems and discovering material, some of which was hopeless. Eventually we got everything, or at least we assumed that we got everything that there was on the...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: indicated assent.

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: I have had the honour to chair the Intelligence and Security Committee since October 2008, or for roughly 18 months now. This is the second time that I have had the opportunity to open such a debate, and it will be the last. I wish to put on record my thanks to members of the Committee and its staff for their hard work in what has been a remarkably difficult year for it in more ways than one,...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: I have hardly got started. I will not give way yet, but I will come back to my hon. Friend.

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: It is my right to continue, is it not, Mr. Speaker?

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: Then I will come back to my hon. Friend. There are many other important issues that have come before the ISC and I am sure that they will be dealt with by the hon. and right hon. Members who are present. Those issues include the allegations generated by the Binyam Mohammed case, and the relationship that exists between our intelligence and security agencies and their counterparts in other...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: That is for good now. I am very grateful, as ever, to my hon. Friend for bringing these matters to our attention, and I am sure that they will be discussed by the usual channels. This debate should be on the Committee's 2008-09 annual report on our work from December 2008 to July 2009. We sent it to the Prime Minister in December 2009, but unfortunately it has taken more than three months for...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: Much as I do not want to disagree with the hon. Gentleman, I have to say I have not experienced those panicky debates on the Floor, but, as I said, I bitterly resent these delays. They are needless and they should be addressed. Shortcomings in the way the ISC has been treated over the last 18 months have for the first time led us to publicise in our 2009-10 annual report our concerns about...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: That is a very good question. I would have no objection to the Chair of the Committee being a member of Her Majesty's Opposition. That does not seem to me to strain credibility in any shape or form. I hope to deal in a moment with the question of its becoming a Select Committee. If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I will come to that shortly. The ISC has been in existence for 16 years. It is...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: That was a very fine speech, and I appreciated it, but my hon. Friend has a speech of his own to make and I am sure he will do so.

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: My hon. Friend is quite right. Those undertakings-or promises, or pledges, or whatever we want to call them-have been made. I have to say to him that I would love to chair such a session with the media circus waiting to hear the great questions that we will ask the directors of our agencies. When we ask them, they will sound like patsy questions because that is all they ever can be. As I...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman, who has been a distinguished member of the Committee.

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: I am not sure that I understood the hon. Gentleman's question-I know that he is a tough questioner because he is a member of the Committee. In his wisdom, the former Prime Minister John Major thought long and hard before he created the Committee. The hon. Gentleman knows that over the years the Committee has been around the world, talking to other committees that have such oversight...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: I have always found the right hon. Gentleman's words to be very wise, but on this point we are very close to drifting towards gesture politics. I am not sure that the hard, central question of what the Committee does and how it has that access would be addressed by such a change of title. I agree entirely, however, that it should always be ready to evolve. This House should take a great...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: I am very glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised that point. We have the NAO as one of our investigative advisory bodies. It is cleared for studying secret documents and it looks at the issues and reports to us. We take great cognisance of its reports and we have our own investigator, of course. If he is asking me whether the Committee needs more resources because of its importance, I...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: I tried to answer the hon. Gentleman in the best way I could. I have no objection to that at all. Sitting to his left is the right hon. Member for East Hampshire, who chairs the Committee when he has to. He also speaks on behalf of the Committee when the Committee agrees, and he does so in a robust and effective way. However, I fear that when parties are in opposition they tend to think that...

Intelligence and Security Committee (18 Mar 2010)

Kim Howells: I could not agree more, as I shall try to make clear. As for our staff, the secretariat of the ISC, allegations have been made, sometimes in this very Chamber, that they are not independent. Nothing could be further from the truth. They work wholeheartedly for the Committee, and they defend its independence absolutely-to the point where their own careers have been put in jeopardy, as the...


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