Skip to main content

Mr Agee And Mr Hosenball

Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1977

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[ Mr. Bates.]

Before calling the Home Secretary, may I remind hon. Members that this debate lasts for only two hours. A very large number of right hon. and hon. Members feel strongly on this issue, but they will all be heard only if hon. Members discipline themselves.

I also have to go back on one thing that I said this afternoon about hon. Members who spoke in the earlier debate. I have given further thought to this matter, and it may be that some hon. Members who spoke in the earlier debate will catch my eye again tonight.

10.11 p.m.

The purpose of the debate is to allow the discussion for which a number of right hon. and hon. Members have asked on the cases of two United States citizens whom I propose to deport under the Immigration Act 1971. I have never sought to avoid this discussion and it would have taken place earlier but for actions that the men, as they had every right to do, brought in the courts.

The decision to deport has been mine and mine alone throughout and it was taken solely in the interests of this country. It was taken neither at the behest of nor after consultation with the Government of the United States or its agencies, including the CIA. I have said little about this, but those who believe that that is the way that the government of this country takes place are talking with great naïvety.

It is more than six months since the original notices of intention to deport were served, so there has been no unseemly haste. The courts have reviewed the cases and have seen no reason to interfere with the way I have acted.

Some people are concerned about the procedures to be followed under the law, but I have followed what is laid down in legislation. Others object to my decision in the particular cases. I understand that, but I have the information before me. It is my decision, and I have responsibilities to the people of this country.

In a two-hour debate, I should cut short the background of the case. I have explained the men's immigration history and have also told the House the grounds on which I have taken my decision.

On 11th February I explained that I had received and considered advice from the advisory panel and that I had considered various representations made to me by Mr. Agee, Mr. Hosenball, their advisers, right hon. and hon. Members and members of the public. I explained that I had reached a clear conclusion that in both cases my original decision should stand, and accordingly I have made a deportation order against each man.

It may be of assistance if I remind the House of the law within which I have to operate. Under Section 15(7)(a) of the Immigration Act 1971, a person who has been given notice by the Secretary of State that his deportation is conducive to the public good has, with important exceptions, a right of appeal to the independent Immigration Appeals Tribunal. Among the exceptions in Section 15(3) is one specifying that a person is not to be entitled to appeal against a decision to make a deportation order against him if the ground of the decision is that deportation is conducive to the public good as being in the interests of national security.

Under Section 17(1), where a direction is given for a person's removal from the United Kingdom on a deportation order made against him, he has a right of appeal to an adjudicator against the directions on the ground that he ought to be removed, if at all, to a different country or territory specified by him.

Removal directions are given in accordance with Schedule 3 to the 1971 Act. They have not yet been given in the cases of Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball. I have given ample time for them to notify me of a country, other than the United States, that would be prepared to accept them. Mr. Agee has told me that he would be admitted for three months, in the first instance, to Holland. He has given me written evidence of that. Orally, he has indicated that he would be admitted to Sweden. Mr. Hosenball has not notified me of any third country that would be prepared to accept him. [AN HON. MEMBER: "He is getting married."] I intend to act to give reasonable despatch to the deportation orders unless they leave voluntarily.

I have given the House an account of the present statutory provisions to make an important point. There have been suggestions that in taking the action that I have taken in these two cases I have in some way acted unconstitutionally and unlawfully. Throughout I have acted in accordance with the provisions which the Parliament of the day approved. These provisions do not provide for any appellant or advisory procedure.

The procedure which operated in the cases of Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball, which was outlined by the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) during the debate on immigration on 15th June 1971, is extra-statutory. Its existence is acknowledged by the Immigration Rules. The relevant rule is contained in paragraph 42 of the statement of "Immigration Rules for Control after Entry: EEC and other Non-Commonwealth Nationals".

A number of hon. Members have felt strongly that they were given insufficient details of the grounds on which I proposed to deport Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear. We were given none at all."]—and that this lack of details failed to satisfy the undertakings given by my predecessor when he explained the extra-statutory procedure during the debates on the 1971 Act.

My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) said on 16th February that it was clear from my predecessor's speech in 1971 that the intention was to operate these procedures in a manner which is different from the way in which I have operated them in this case. I do not think that my predecessor's remarks will bear that interpretation.

The question has been fully ventilated before the courts. The Master of the Rolls made it clear that the Court of Appeal accepted that there was a danger of revealing sources if details went beyond the original particulars given. I have studied carefully what my predecessor said in 1971. It is important that his relevant remarks should be appreciated in their full context and against the reality of the issues of national security that are at stake.

First, my predecessor made it clear that it was the Home Office and not the panel that should decide the sort of information that the person concerned would be given. He said:
"The person concerned is notified of the decision and he will be given by the Home Office such particulars of allegations as will not entail disclosure of sources of evidence."
He went on to say:
"Neither the sources of evidence nor evidence that might lead to disclosure of sources can be revealed to the person concerned, but the advisers will ensure that the person is able to make his points effectively and the procedure will give him the best possible opportunity to make the points he wishes to bring to their notice….
Since the evidence against a person necessarily has to be received in his absence, the advisers in assessing the case will bear in mind that it has not been tested by cross-examination and that the person has not had the opportunity to rebut it."—[Official Report, 15th June 1971; Vol. 819, c. 376.]
There is nothing in this to justify the view that my predecessor intended to proceed in a way which is different from mine. It was not my intention to depart from the form and spirit of what my predecessor said. It is highly unlikely that he could have contemplated giving any more specific grounds than I have given after careful thought. The root of the argument, however, is not a matter of mere textual interpretation but the more difficult proposition of finding and explaining a way of testing security evidence in public. No one has yet been able to devise an alternative procedure which both protects sources of evidence and gives the person concerned as full an account of the allegations against him as he would regard as necessary for rebuttal.

Some people I know do not think that there is an acceptable way in which security information can be tested in public. They think that there is no alternative but to place the responsibility of testing the information on Ministers themselves before they come to a decision.

What I think all this goes to show is that the final decision, where the issue is a security issue, must remain with the Home Secretary of the day. It is fundamentally an Executive decision taken under the immigration law as opposed to the criminal code. It follows that there is no practicable way of assimilating the decision or review procedures to a criminal judicial model.

As the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet put it during the 1971 debates,
"I feel that the present system of a statutory advisory tribunal is wrong in principle, because these are matters of policy and administration and are not justifiable, and wrong in practice, because it can do a lot of harm to the individual without doing any additional good to the security of the State."—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 20th May 1971; c. 1120.]
Perhaps I should add a word about the attitude that the Labour Party took during the debates in 1971. There was an article in the New Statesman the other day which was wrong in the conclusion that it drew because the facts that it gave were wrong. I have checked with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary who was quoted in that article.

The fact was that, although we differed from the then Government about whether the procedures should be statutory or non-statutory, or about whether the advice of the tribunal should be disclosed, the amendment that we sought to make left the position fundamentally as it had been under the 1969 Act. It did not and, I think, could not resolve the fundamental dilemma which is bound to persist over security information.

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister put it on Second Reading of the 1969 Bill,
"In cases involving national security it is desirable that the Home Secretary of the day should retain his responsibility for the final decision. It is essential that there should be provision in such cases for safeguarding evidence the disclosure of which could be harmful to the national interest."—[Official Report, 22nd January 1969: Vol. 776, c. 496.]
Of course, I knew when deciding my action on these cases that there would be objections, and I understand why. However, anticipating criticism or not, I must have regard to my responsibilities for national security. The decision to do this is mine and mine alone. It is not a normal decision in a Department, in which advice comes up through the Department or in which other Ministers play a part. It is mine and mine alone.

I fully appreciate that many people dislike the procedures involved. I appreciate their reservations and I understand the concern. I shall listen carefully to their views and I shall consider them. I am not averse to looking at the procedures again in general. I have noted the motion that the relevant parts of the 1971 Act should be considered by a Select Committee. On the other hand, however that may be, I have to say that there are fundamental difficulties about applying a judicial model that I think a number of people have in mind.

My right hon. Friend has agreed that many of us, on the Government side of the House in particular, have objected to the procedures that he has used, because of Agee and Hosenball being ignorant of the charges laid against them. He will also agree that we have objected to their inability to cross-examine on the charges brought against them. If Agee and Hosenball had been British citizens, what attitude would he have taken? What obstacle stood in the way of referring these matters to a court in camera, which would have allowed these two men to have known the charges laid against them and to cross-examine those who were bringing the charges?

If this had been a case of citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies in this country, one would have had to consider it. But not every case of a security nature is dealt with under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act. We are talking not about Section 2 but about Section 1, the "spying clause", the "dockyard clause" or whatever historically it has been called. In my mind there is no analogy at all. If—and I am not referring to the case at issue here—it were known that in every case that happened, in the movement in and out of this country—and this happens in relation to people who are, in Section 1 terms, spying—a court case would be involved before someone who was not a citizen of this country could be removed, it would happen all the time.

These are two unusual cases but they are under my decision. It is an Executive decision. It is not meant to be a judicial decision. I am dealing with two visitors to this country. I am not dealing with people who are citizens of this country. The analogy was made the other day of Czechoslovakia. That is not a true analogy. I am dealing with two of 9 million people who have come in and out of this country in the course of a year.

It may be that they have rights, but I am saying that I have to carry out the law as it is—I do not make up the law—and not the law as I should necessarily like it to be.

Is not the nub of the problem how the right hon. Gentleman tests the weight of the allegations? We accept that the Home Secretary is an honest and straightforward person, but the House and the country want to be reassured that he has had the means of testing the weight of the allegations.

I can only tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that if I were seeking an easy life—there was an easier way of dealing with these matters—I should have let things slide. Of course I weighed the evidence. Of course I considered it carefully. Of course I gave it a great deal of thought before I acted. However, I have to carry out the law on behalf of the British people.

My mind is not closed to possible changes. I have no reason to believe that that possibly invalidates the course that has been followed in these cases, with which the courts have not disagreed. Those who want to change the law should look carefully at the debates that we went through in 1969 and 1971.

I stand by the decision that I have taken. I shall be glad to examine constructive and realistic proposals for the handling of such cases in future.

This is a security matter. It is not a matter of politics. Neither of these two gentlemen with their political views, whatever they are, could be a danger to the people of this country. I have been brought up never to be afraid of political argument and I am not the slightest bit concerned about it. This is a security matter and I have acted under the law. I have carried out the law properly and I have put my case to the House.

10.28 p.m.

I am grateful for the chance to intervene in the debate and to support the Home Secretary in the decision that he has taken. To my mind, his account of the 1971 Act and what Parliament then decided is wholly accurate. We made it quite clear in 1971 precisely what Parliament was being asked to decide, and the right hon. Gentleman has completely followed the provisions of the Act.

These cases are difficult to decide. People do not realise the extraordinary difficulty of the Home Secretary's job. One has to deal with the basic problems of individuals. It used to be said how difficult it was for the Home Secretary to decide about capital punishment. It is much more difficult for Home Secretaries to decide whether to release someone who might murder again. Under my authority, someone was released who did murder again. I exercised my authority, and people are now dead who would have been alive.

These decisions are difficult and lonely ones, but, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly says, they are decisions for him alone. Under our law it is a heavy responsibility, and I believe that the House is right to trust the right hon. Gentleman to carry out that responsibility with integrity and judgment.

I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that when we were discussing the 1971 Act, especially this part of it, considerable disquiet was expressed both in Committee and on the Floor of the House. Although the right hon. Gentleman says that ultimately Parliament accepted the measure, those were the facts and I think that they must be stated.

The hon. Member is absolutely right. Of course there was disquiet, and so there should be. This is an extremely difficult problem. Despite the disquiet, however, Parliament accepted the procedure that the Home Secretary has faithfully carried out.

We should be quite clear about the issues involved. No foreign citizen has any right to come here. We as a nation, through our Government, say who can come here, and we also have a right to say if we want people to leave. No nation in the world acts on any other principle. Our country has the right to say who can come here and, after a certain time, who must leave our shores. People who come here come on our terms and according to our legislation. In coming here they accept the law, the practice, and the procedures of Britain.

We above all others can say this because we have the proudest record in the world for liberal admission of people from other countries.

We still have the proudest record. And because we have this proud and enduring record and tradition of liberal admission we are entitled to say on some occasions that it is in the interests of our own people to say "No". That is a reasonable point of view to put forward.

There is a feeling in this case that people have been charged with some un known offence. That is not true. There is no criminal charge involved. If there were, the procedure would be wholly different. There is no punishment involved No one is losing his right of abode in this country. We are withdrawing from two men the privilege given to them by the British Government of coming into this country. There is no right of any kind being withdrawn, and no punishment is being inflicted.

The right hon. Member is suggesting that there is no duality or plurality of the law—it applies to all who are here. There is not one law for citizens and another for those who come here to live. Can he instance an occasion on which a British citizen has been accused of an offence, not told what the offence was and not given an opportunity to refute it in a court of law?

The hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) has missed my entire point. There were no offences here. It is the difference between British citizens with a right to be here and foreign citizens with the privilege of coming here. These are different things. If a criminal charge of any kind were involved, the procedure would be quite different.

Of course, it is right to give all possible information to those people when we tell them they must leave. I am confident that the Home Secretary has done that. But that does not extend to giving to people who come here information of the kind that will undermine our own security services. That is a fundamental principle. If we got away from this, anyone could come here and say that he would stay here for ever unless he was given access to our security services or our sources of information. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] If hon. Members had been in charge of security and had experienced what is involved on these occasions, they would know that in certain cases we cannot give the origin of the sources of our information without undermining our own security. A British citizen on a criminal charge is another matter. Why should we risk our own security for the sake of people who come here and whom we decide subsequently should leave—

That is not "cloud nine". That is practical, hard, solid fact. Why should someone come here and claim the right to stay here, against the interests of this country, unless we disclose the secrets of our security services and undermine our own interests?

The whole point is that this is not a criminal offence, and this is not a matter for the courts to decide. This is, as the Home Secretary rightly said, a matter of policy, administration, government and prerogative. No criminal offence has been alleged, and there has been no denial of any kind of legal right of any sort applying to either man.

What has happened is that the Home Secretary has used the powers given to him by Parliament to decide, on evidence available to him, that the continued presence of these two foreign citizens in this country is not conducive to the public good. Had he decided otherwise, he would have been failing in his duty.

10.35 p.m.

There is no disagreement about the duty of the Government, and it is the duty of us all to safeguard the national security against any threat that might endanger our fundamental liberties or our way of life. If the Home Secretary could demonstrate that Messrs Agee and Hosenball represent a threat, opposition to his decision would disappear.

The essence of the argument deployed by those of us who oppose the Home Secretary's decision is precisely that the Home Secretary refuses to produce any evidence on which his decision is based. I understand that the revelation of sources might undermine national security, and that is a plausible argument. Unless some evidence is produced, however, my right hon. Friend's decision will be widely regarded as unjust and there will be a permanent slur on his record. [HON. MEMBERS "Rubbish".] I repeat that unless that evidence is produced, there will be a slur on my right hon. Friend's reputation—which in Northern Ireland is a very honourable and liberal reputation.

I believe it is regrettable that the Home Secretary took this decision without making some of the evidence available. A refusal to reveal evidence has been used throughout history to perpetuate injustice and to conceal the truth. In the modern world the fabrication of false evidence, black propaganda and ingenious introduction of untruths into otherwise factual accounts have become a fine art widely used in Stalinist Russia and in other totalitarian societies, and we have all denounced such a practice. It has been widely used by the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States.

The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, chaired by Senator Church—anybody who doubts what I am saying can read all this in the Library—found that the CIA conducted 900 major or sensitive covert action projects plus several thousand smaller projects from 1971 onwards. The reference is Book 1, page 495. Much of this activity involved putting out false reports. Even the Penkovsky papers are considered to be a CIA falsification. Evidence exists that the CIA tried to arrange for the assassination of world statesmen.

If my hon. Friend doubts what I am saying, I suggest that he examines the evidence produced by the Senate Committee, which indicates that Fidel Castro, Trujillo, Lumumba and others were the targets of assassination plots.

Is it not reasonable to believe, if the CIA has conducted operations of that sort, that it would have objected strongly to the revelations which were made by Messrs. Agee and Hosenball about its activities? Is it not equally reasonable to believe that the CIA would have been willing to plant evidence designed to discredit these individuals, and that such evidence could have reached the Home Secretary's desk in due course?

We may well say that it is impossible for us to determine the question one way or the other. In that case, what I say is that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary cannot claim infallibility. He cannot claim that he is always right. There was an article in The Sunday Times only recently which suggested that in certain respects in Northern Ireland he had been misled. Whether or not he was misled can be proved only if the evidence is produced. In this case, therefore, let us see some of the evidence which has been used to justify his decision.

Keen as he is to see the evidence, does not my hon. Friend agree that it would be more important that the two persons concerned against whom these accusations—not charges—have been made should see the evidence?

I agree entirely. The charges against Philip Agee, apart from that of maintaining contact with foreign intelligence officers—for which not a scrap of evidence has yet been produced—are that he continues to be involved in disseminating information harmful to the security of the United Kingdom, and that he has aided and abetted others in obtaining such material. The information which Mr. Agee has disseminated has been disseminated through his book "Inside the Company" and in various articles, and the help he has given to others has been used by them to compile articles on similar subjects.

I ask my right hon. Friend a point-blank question. Is this material exposing the CIA regarded as harmful to the security of the United Kingdom?

May I reply straight away? No, I am not concerned about the CIA either in the provision of information or anything else. My job is to protect not the United States of America but this country.

That is a most useful statement, which helps us a lot, but it is well known that the American National Security Agency co-operates with British intelligence and that British civil servants and intelligence staff, paid for by money voted by this House, assist the United States in various intelligence operations.

If it were regarded in any way as a crime to reveal those activities, it would be a serious state of affairs for us to consider in the House, and it would be a dangerous precedent to take action against these two American citizens, because journalists, Members of Parliament and others in political and public life generally would in other respects, as some of my hon. Friends have tried to point out, be vulnerable, if not to deportation, at least to various other steps being taken against them. I suggest, therefore, that hon. Members on both sides should think very carefully on this issue.

Mr. Agee was allowed to reside in the United Kingdom by two Conservative Home Secretaries and one Labour Home Secretary without any problems or allegations. Presumably, therefore, some information has come to light more recently. I should like to know what the nature of that information is. I think it germane to our argument to point out that some of the people who advise the Home Office are not always free from prejudice.

There was recently the case of the refusal of the chief adjudicator under the Immigration Act 1971 to allow an appeal by two Chileans, Ivan Gonzalez Becar and Nancy Gonzalez Becar, against the decision not to allow them to reside in the United Kingdom as refugees. The chief adjudicator, Mr. Peterkin, made a statement as follows:
"I could see no marked compassionate circumstances special to the appellants. The male appellant had apparently played an active part in supporting the Allende Government which to any moderate minded man had not exactly treated its political opponents with compassion when it was in power".
That is doubtful, but if that adjudication was given on the basis of no political prejudice how on earth do we know that the sort of evidence on which my right hon. Friend has been basing his decision was not similarly prejudiced when it was given to him?

The bias against those holding Left views is absolutely clear. Is it now suggested that people who in certain respects organise the opening of mail, the tapping of telephones or keeping watch outside foreign embassies, or those to whom they report, are free from all bias in the evidence they submit? Does anyone maintain that?

The United States Justice Department has informed Mr. Agee's lawyers that there is no charge against him in the United States, despite the fact that his book harmed the CIA. In those circumstances, what evidence have we for believing that he has done anything which could endanger British security? Mr. Agee has, of course, visited the Cuban and other embassies, but so have many hon. Members on both sides of the House. How would we feel if there was a presumption of guilt in any suggestion that this had led to actions which endangered national security merely as a result of our visits to these places? But that is what we are asking hon. Members to accept in the case of these two American citizens.

Evidence exists to demonstrate that a number of aliens in this country have been gathering information and using it to discredit British citizens over a considerable period. I refer to the activities of BOSS, SAVAK of Iran and the Central Intelligence Agency. My right hon. Friend knows that I have in the past submitted certain evidence to him with regard to the activities of SAVAK relating to myself and my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry South-East (Mr. Wilson). In fact, my right hon. Friend saw fit to take no action about it. In those circumstances, I wonder whether he should exercise the same degree of leniency with regard to Messrs. Agee and Hosenball.

If they left this country, there is no question about it that there would be just as great a danger of their disseminating information as exists at present in this country. Is deportation intended to impede their actions against national security, or is it a punishment for their political activities in this country? Perhaps my right hon. Friend will answer that clearly when he replies to the debate.

I believe that if Messrs. Agee and Hosenball have endangered British security they should be put on trial, if necessary in camera. Then it would be quite clear. If not, it is totally lacking in compassion, particularly in the case of Mr. Agee, who has a wife who is Brazilian and who suffered torture in a Brazilian gaol and who has two sons from his first marriage attending a comprehensive school in this country, if they are forced to leave. It is putting a stigma on these two men and their families.

As the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) pointed out, this country has a long record of providing political asylum for persecuted people and for welcoming people of dissident views. In the nineteenth century we managed to take such people as Karl Marx, Kossuth and Mazzini. Yet in modern times, even under Labour Governments, we have prevented such people from coming here. For example, Delgado of Portugal was not allowed to come here, and afterwards he was murdered by the Portuguese secret police, as has now become clear.

If we decide to support what my right hon. Friend proposes to do, which seriously undermines precisely those traditions of which we in this country should be so proud, and which many of our predecessors, particularly in the Labour movement, fought to achieve, we shall be supporting a decision which will not only do harm to the individuals concerned but will create a permanent blot on the record of the country towards political dissidents from all over the world. I appeal to my right hon. Friend to reconsider his decision. I appeal to him once again to think of what he is doing and change his mind.

10.52 p.m.

The fundamental issues that we are debating are rather more profound than the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) seems to have recognised, because, important though the cases of Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball are—and they give some cause for anxiety—I do not think that it is right or sensible to mount a head-on challenge to the Home Secretary for his action, since he has acted within the law and has information which is available exclusively to him and to which no one in the House has had access.

I believe that there is a deeper issue of principle to consider. Should any Minister of the Crown have the unfettered and arbitrary power to punish an individual with deportation without the regular judicial system playing any meaningful part once the words "interests of national security" have been mentioned as the basic reason for that decision?

During the long weeks of argument preceding the debate, I have found myself increasingly depressed by and isolated from the Pavlovian reactions from both Right and Left so often in discussion of these cases. On the Labour Benches—we have just heard a representative speech of this attitude—there are several hon. Members who are almost paranoic in their hostility to all Western intelligence work. I do not share that view. But also, on the Conservative Benches, some of my hon. Friends virtually genuflect in their enthusiasm to agree with any Executive action said to have been taken in the interests of national security, even though the meaning of that phrase has really gone entirely unquestioned.

I find both those attitudes unacceptable. We are sent here not just to pass laws or rubber-stamp Executive action but to scrutinise the decisions of Ministers and to preserve fundamental liberties. I wonder whether we are doing our job properly as parliamentarians in examing these two deportation cases and in considering the wider issues of whether deportees should have any rights at all and whether they should have any access to the proper judicial process.

On this wider issue, it is salutary to remind ourselves that in the United States, a country no less security conscious than we are and which has tougher immigration laws, the Government cannot deport an alien without the deportee knowing what is alleged against him and without his having the benefit of a full court hearing. In short, the United States Government are required to respect the procedural safeguards and due process of law in deportation cases even when they involve security.

To those of my hon. Friends who do not believe that legal safeguards and due process of law should apply here once a Minister has claimed that national security is involved, I say that I do not believe that it is too fanciful to see a day when we might have a Minister with Marxist leanings and loyalties who may wish to deport a right-of-centre American journalist whose activities embarrass the Government of the day's Russian allies.

If that Minister was to claim that national security was the reason for deporting that journalist, my hon. Friends would have forfeited their right to protest at the deportation because of their automatic acceptance of the same nonsensical procedure that surrounded the Agee and Hosenball deportations and their de facto acceptance that the Minister should have an arbitrary power to deport.

We should be under no illusions that the procedure adopted by the Home Secretary in the Agee and Hosenball cases has made Britain something of a laughing stock in other democratic countries. To set up a procedure where charges are unknown, no evidence is taken, no representation is allowed and no result is given is worthy of a Kafka novel or of "Alice in Wonderland".

It would have been much wiser if the Home Secretary had had no procedure for appealing to the advisory panel. It would be better to strip away the humbug and rely on the executive decision of the Home Secretary rather than go through the charade of a secret procedure that can only create disrespect for the authority of the Home Secretary. I do not wish to challenge the authority of the Home Secretary, but I issue a caveat.

Where such decisions are taken, the Home Secretary undoubtedly relies to some extent on the advice given by the security forces. My caveat is that there is a real danger in accepting as infallible the judgments of the security services in cases that have involved journalists or writers, because the track record of the security services has not been infallible in the past. One can point to several examples. [Interruption]. I am encouraged by the sedentary interruptions of Labour Members.

There have been fairly frequent cases where the security services have made claims against journalists that have subsequently proved not to be justified. Some years ago Mr. Chapman Pincher, of the Daily Express, was about to publish an article about the Windscale atomic reaction, saying that the wrong type of concrete had been mixed and that the walls were porous to radioactivity and would have to be rebuilt. The security services told him not to publish the story because, they said, it was contrary to national security. When an article was subsequently published more than a year later, it turned out that this was simply a device to cover up mistakes that had no relevance to national security at all. The original claim by the security services was simply not justified.

A more recent example was the injustice—fortunately, only temporary—done to a former Conservative Minister, Lord Bethell, who, as an expert on Soviet affairs, had contacts that led to some erroneous judgments by the security services. These were later admitted to be erroneous.

If I may be personal, the House will recall that I was once involved in an official secrets case, and I have not forgotten the Foreign Office security expert who said in evidence:
"Embarrassment and security are not really two different things."
Later in the case the judge asked:
"Are there any rules about the classification of documents?"
and the expert replied:
"No, my Lord. I am afraid that those rules are themselves classified."
I make this point not to deride those who serve the Crown in the security services. I have a high admiration for the difficult task they do. I merely wish to point out that on previous occasions a rather heavy-handed and wrong line has been taken with writers and journalists whose activities the security services have not understood and whose motives they do not always appreciate. Even if the security services' reports are correct, I take leave to doubt whether the Home Secretary has chosen the correct penalty in the case om Mr. Hosenball.

Is not the case of Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball even more serious in the context of Mr. Duncan Campbell, who, as I understand it, appeared before the "three wise men" and admitted responsibility for an article which, it is said—it can be no more than that—the "three wise men" suspected Mr. Hosenball wrote or was engaged in writing, because 48 hours later Mr. Campbell was knocked off as some dark figure at the back of that dark court was listening to the evidence?

I think that that case comes under the sub judice rule, and it would be unwise to go into it.

I think that in Mr. Hosenball's case the Home Secretary, in using the deportation punishment, has used a field gun to kill a field mouse. Having read the articles which are supposed to have caused the trouble—we do not all have the evidence—it would be difficult to see how they could possibly merit such serious punishment.

If there is to be such serious punishment, why have double standards? If one journalist, who is British, is tried under the Official Secrets Act, why not try the American writer, Mr. Hosenball, whose offences, as far as we can judge, come under the same heading, if necessary in camera? The answer is that Mr. Hosenball is an alien.

This may be a legally correct argument, but I believe it to be morally wrong. It is a nineteenth-century attitude that nations have the automatic right to kick out those they do not like on national security grounds, rather like the way a bad-tempered host can kick out a provocative guest from his house.

We are living in a smaller world, sometimes called a global village in the communications industry. Certain ideals are universal—at least, in democratic countries. Ideals of human rights and of individual Press freedom are among those which are or should be international.

Britain, by its action, is in danger of being suspected of having violated those universal ideals. Because we have not had all the evidence, we do not know. Certainly we respect the Home Secretary's judgment, but in the absence of facts and reasons given and full legal process being entered into the best we can say is that the Home Secretary's arguments tonight must remain non-proven.

11.3 p.m.

My excuse for intervening in the debate is that I am one of only three Members who have had direct ministerial responsibility for this kind of case, and two of them have already spoken. I should like to add my comments to theirs.

The Home Secretary said that the courts had considered what he had done in this case and had come to the conclusion that he had acted properly. That is not what the Master of the Rolls said in the Court of Appeal. The learned judge said that the Home Secretary
"was answerable to Parliament for the way in which he did it and not to the courts."
Indeed, that was what the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said when he introduced the procedure on Report stage of the Immigration Bill in 1971. The right hon. Gentleman said that these were not judicial decisions.
"They are executive, political decisions, subject to the House of Commons and not to the courts of law."
That is why I have been pressing for a debate in the House upon these decisions. This House alone can oversee the Home Secretary's decisions. It is true that we have put this burden upon the Home Secretary, and the Home Secretary alone, but that does not mean that he is not accountable to Parliament. My right hon. Friend is accountable to Parliament for the way in which he exercises that power. I claim that he has exercised the power wrongly. I have made that allegation before, and he has repudiated it tonight.

In addition to what the Home Secretary read from the statement made by the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet in 1971, there is another crucial part. My right hon. Friend read:
"Neither the sources of evidence nor evidence that might lead to disclosure of sources can be revealed to the person concerned"
—that is, in the "three wise men" procedure. This is the part which was not read by my right hon. Friend:
"but the advisers will ensure that the person is able to make his points effectively and the procedure will give him the best possible opportunity to make the points he wishes to bring to their notice."—[Official Report, 15th June 1971; Vol. 819, c. 378, 376.]
I claim that the introductory part of the statement made by the Home Secretary of the day meant that allegations would be made in general terms by the Home Office, that the case could go to the "three wise men" and that, within the informal nature of their proceedings, they would be able to allow the deportee to know the general nature of what was alleged against him so that he could answer it.

All that Mr Agee knew was that he
"had maintained regular contacts harmful to the security of the United Kingdom with foreign intelligence officers"
—he was not told with whom or when or in which country or where—and that he
"had been and continued to be involved in disseminating information harmful to the security of the United Kingdom."
The same questions arise. The Government's statement went on to say
"and had aided and counselled others in obtaining information for publication which could be harmful to the security of the United Kingdom."—[Official Report, 18th November 1976; Vol. 919, c. 1567–68.]
Once again, the same questions arise. That is all that Mr Agee knows about the allegations against him, and it is all that we know.

I do not know whether Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball are guilty of the allegations that have been made against them. Nobody on this side of the House knows that, and so we cannot say that the Home Secretary is wrong. But nobody on the Opposition side knows either, and so the Opposition cannot cheer the Home Secretary when he says that he will deport Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball.

More than that, Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball do not know, and they cannot say whether they are guilty. Of course they know what they have done over the last few years, but they do not know whether any part of that is in the allegation that has been made against them to justify their deportation, because they have never been told.

The most important consideration of all is that the Home Secretary does not know. He has evidence that has been put before him by the security services, but he does not know whether that leads irresistibly to the conclusion that these men are guilty of subversion because he does not know their answer to the charges. He has never heard their side of the case.

The Home Secretary has said that under the "three wise men" procedure Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball were allowed to say anything they liked. Of course they could—but they did not know what they had to answer and they did not know whether they were getting anywhere near the crucial part of the allegations. Therefore, Mr. Agee read out his life story since he came to this country to the "three wise men". I was present, and it was the most farcical procedure I have ever heard in all my life. The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet said that it was not a justiciable issue. It was a charade of a justiciable issue. No query was made by the "three wise men"; there was no lifting of an eyebrow or anything to indicate that the life story was relevant. How could Mr. Agee know whether he was getting anywhere near the allegation?

Suppose that the crucial issue was that Mr. Agee had gone to the Cuban Embassy holding a yellow umbrella that had some significance as a sign. How could he have known, when he took his yellow umbrella from the wardrobe to walk to the embassy to obtain a visa to visit Cuba, that that was being interpreted by the security services as having a sinister significance? He would not have known, and so he would not have mentioned it. It would have been an innocent thing that had occurred to him. It would not have been in his life story. How could the Home Secretary receive Mr. Agee's explanation that he was innocent when Mr. Agee could not put that into his evidence? That is wrong.

Some people suggest that we should leave national security to the Home Secretary because it is vital to our future as a country, but I have some inhibitions about that. There have been only three cases since 1971. One was Rudi Dutschke, and that brought about the "three wise men" procedure and established a right of appeal. This is another case, and the other one was that of Caprino, which came up while I was at the Home Office. In that case the then Home Secretary had a sufficiently liberal reputation to vie with that of my right hon. Friend the present Home Secretary.

I do not think that I was an evil man, and I was also engaged in that decision. When we came to a conclusion that we thought was right, we were prepared to come to the House to justify it, just as the Home Secretary has done tonight. But we were wrong. We learned that we were wrong when other information came to light in the agitation that followed our decision. When we put that into the balance, we concluded that we had been wrong to deport, but the original evidence supplied to us by the security services was convincing and we reached our decision in all honesty.

The House cannot go on saying that these are matters for the Home Secretary alone. The right hon. Member for Chip, ping Barnet asked whether it mattered because the men are only visitors. This power extends to anyone who is not patrial, and there are two hon. Members on this side of the House who are not patrial. A person may live here for 25 years and have his roots here, but he may not be patrial.

The precedent being followed by the Home Secretary will be followed by all future Home Secretaries unless we change it. Every Home Secretary will provide every deportee with some sort of general allegation and nothing else because that is the safest way. One day we shall deport a man who has been here a long time to a country where he may be shot. Opposition Members should not say that it would not happen. It happened in the case of the two Moroccan pilots who were sent back to Morocco, and when the then Mr. Brooke was Home Secretary it happened to Chief Enahoro. It has happened repeatedly, and on occasions the consequences will be much greater than those facing these men if they go back to the United States.

However, we should not minimise their position and talk, as did the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet, as though they were Frenchmen on a day trip to Brighton. One of the men has fallen in love with a girl who lives here and wants to marry her and settle down in this country. But for this slur, he would be able to do so. The other man has established a reputation as a fighter against the CIA. He has done an inestimable service to the Western world by indicating what the CIA has done in various parts of the world. If he has to go back to the United States, he will take with him the slur that he did not do what has has done out of integrity but did it because he was an agent of the KGB or Cuban Intelligence. It is wrong to take the view that such slurs can go unheeded.

We cannot say that it does not matter. It matters not just for the deportees but for us. Why are we so concerned with preserving national security? It is because we are concerned about the sort of life that we live here and we want to preserve it. We are undermining the values by which we live if we allow injustices to continue without trying to preserve our standards.

People talk about our pride in our liberal values and traditions, but they were fought for and won by people such as those of my hon. Friends who are protesting about this decision. They were not won by complacency, intransigence or conservatism about the Executive's decisions. If those attitudes had held sway, we would not have a liberal tradition. It is because articulated opinion held sway that we have that tradition. This case is crucial to the continuation of our liberal tradition. If it is allowed to proceed, we shall have a slur against us.

The Home Secretary asks what we should do in future. If the "three wise men" procedure is to be continued in its present form, it is not worth going on with it. We should say to the deportee in future cases that it is proposed to deport him and that because it is a case of national security he will have no right of appeal to an adjudicator. If he does not wish to go, we should charge him with criminal offences and take his case to the courts. We should tell him "You either go quietly or we have it all out in the courts". Many leave without fuss and complaint.

When I was in charge of these matters, I deported many people that the House did not know about. They all went because their cases were a true bill. If such people had the opportunity of going before the court to air these matters, that would meet justice and safeguard security. The same conduct perpetrated by a British patrial must be dealt with through the courts. The same could be applied to a person who is resisting deportation. That would be a better alternative.

I have listened with sympathy to my hon. Friend. For some years he had responsibility for refusing entry to this country to immigrants. He had to make decisions on evidence that was less solid than that of the Home Secretary in this case. If he had responsibility in the future, under his proposals how would he avoid anyone against whom he has suspicions insisting upon criminal proceedings being brought against him?

My hon. Friend has asked that question of me before. In every other case, except deportation on the grounds that it is against the public good. there is a right of appeal to the adjudicator. If I was wrong in any of the cases that I decided under the Immigration Act, the adjudicator could put be right. In this case there is no right of appeal.

I accept that I took those decisions with the then Home Secretary. In most cases the procedure worked well because it was a true bill. If the deportee feels that he is not guilty, he should be given the right to be charged and go before a public court. It appears that there is no other way that the Home Office can give the necessary amount of information about allegations to allow a man to defend himself. We cannot go through this farce again.

11.18 p.m.

Two distinct themes are running through the debate. It is important to distinguish one from the other. The first theme is that the law is bad as it stands and should be altered. I have some sympathy with that view. In 1971 I said that it was difficult to mix up the judicial process with the executive, political process. This type of case was bound to arise.

The theme of the speech by the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) was that one cannot have a judicial process and say at the same time that in the last resort the Executive must have the last say because that reduces the value of the judicial process. That might be an argument for considering whether we should go back to a totally executive process or whether we should give an overall power to the courts which the Executive cannot override. We could debate that at length.

The second theme of the debate is that in some way the Home Secretary, within the law, has not interpreted his judgment correctly or fairly. It is on that point alone that I wish to contirbute. It has nothing to do with my sitting on one side of the House or the other.

I ask hon. Members to consider whether they are overstating the difficulties of the Home Secretary, who has to live and work within the law. He has to take the last executive decision because that is the responsibility that Parliament has put upon him, as upon his predecessors. I try to put myself in his position.

If the right hon. Gentleman has come to a decision—I am sure that he has, because I have complete faith in his integrity—that the presence of these two men represents a threat to the security of this country, how can anyone expect him to do other than that which he has done within the law? If the right hon. Gentleman has honestly and truthfully come to a decision, on all the facts available to him, that these men are a danger to the security of the State, he could do nothing other than come to the House and make the announcement that he has made tonight. I defy anyone else, in any other position, to do otherwise.

The only other points that I want to make are very brief. Firstly, I do not differ from the Home Secretary's denial that he has been influenced in his decision by what Mr. Agee has done in regard to the CIA. That is a perfectly proper position. But nor should we be blinded in the other way into thinking that there is something very good about Mr. Agee because he has attacked the CIA. There are Labour Members below the Gangway who are sympathetic to him because he has done so.

My final point to those hon. Members is that they are extremely selective indeed in their indignation on these matters. [Interruption.] It is no good the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr) following his usual practice of rather inanely talking from a sitting position, because I shall finish my short speech in the way in which I want to finish it. Some Labour Members below the Gangway are proving themselves selective in their indignation. We all know that if these two men were of a different political affiliation from that to which they adhere, we should not be having a late night debate as we are.

The hon. Member always does this. We are quite used to the fact that he never dares to get to his feet but just keeps to his seat and interrupts others. [HON. MEMBERS: "Perhaps he cannot."] For quite a lot of the day he cannot.

I shall not give way. There is plenty of time for the hon. Gentleman to make a speech if he wants to do so. He at least does that, and says what he wants to say.

I conclude by repeating that in a situation such as this, I should have thought that wherever we sit in the House and whatever our political views, we would realise that, within the law, the Home Secretary has done the only honourable and sensible thing that he could do, which is to interpret the law as it stands to the best of his ability and on the best information he could obtain. I for one would not have the slightest hesitation in supporting him in the action that he has taken.

11.23 p.m.

The references of the hon. Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett) to the motives of my two hon. Friends who have spoken on this matter are wholly unworthy. Anyone who knows these two people is certain that they act on principle and not party prejudice when matters of this sort arise.

My sympathies are with my hon. Friends in some respects. I have always been an ardent civil libertarian. I hate a situation in which anyone who is accused of anything may lose his job or his right to live in this country and is condemned without proper trial.

On the other hand, my sympathies are with the Home Secretary, because I have had personal experience, in a very similar position, of having to judge people and to decide whether they were to be dismissed from important jobs in this country, not because of facts but because of grounds of belief that I had, and the Home Secretary now has, that if those people continued in those posts they would constitute a threat to national security. I shall return to that matter shortly.

I was interested in the admirable argument of my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon), which came to a climax, after a very fine and moving speech, when he said that the choice before the Home Secretary should be either to do nothing or, if he believes that a man is a danger to our national security, to say "I shall have you arrested. You will be charged in court. We shall try to prove that you are a threat to our national security, and you will have the opportunity of denying it."

That is not really a serious alternative, because the whole point is that these men have not committed any crime. The whole point is that these men and those with whom I had to deal in 1947 and 1951 as Minister of Supply were people who were believed to have Communist sympathies and occupied positions of responsibility and security but had not committed any offence for which they could be charged. However, because of their associations and backgrounds I had reason to believe, after close scrutiny, that if they continued in their positions our national security might well be endangered. They had not committed any offence that could be proved in a court of law.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that two of the most famous British spies who were ever discovered—Burgess and Maclean—both covered their tracks extremely well? Surely it is those who are spying who do not disclose their real beliefs. They hide them. People such as the two gentlemen we are discussing do not openly express their political views. In all the circumstances it is hardly likely that they will be national security risks.

Their political views were not known until they fled. Their backgrounds were not known. If it had come to my notice as the Minister responsible for development and research in the Armed Forces that these people had a close association with the Communist Party, I should have acted in the knowledge of my experience of Pontecorvo and Fuchs and that they, too, might find it necessary to flee to another country with an immense amount of knowledge. I should have said that they were a risk to security. I should have applied the procedure of the "three wise men" which was developed during the period to which I have referred and which has now been copied. The "three wise men" would have known about these people's backgrounds and the individuals concerned would have been able to make their statements to the "three wise men", but it is no use saying that the alternative is a court of law.

The whole essence of this business is that those who are said to be a danger to security have not committed an offence. If they had done so, they would have been charged. If they had committed an offence, they would probably be in prison. The problem is that a great deal cannot be disclosed in public. If it is disclosed publicly, much of our security service becomes exposed and is destroyed. Therefore, we have to act not on proof but on suspicion.

It is regrettable and unfortunate that in matters of this sort we have to act on personal judgment. We have to be convinced that it is necessary to deprive these men of some privilege that they are enjoying.

Without making any judgment on whether they should stay, is my right hon. Friend not in some danger of saying that these two men are exactly equal and hold exactly the same political opinions? Does my right hon. Friend agree that they are probably quite different and that there is probably as wide a difference between them as there is between the two sides of the Chamber?

I do not know whether these men are dangerous. All I know is that someone who is trusted by the House has gone into the history, background and activities of these two men with great care. I do not think that the House believes that my right hon. Friend would have taken such action unless he were convinced that it was dangerous to leave these men in their present positions.

The point is that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has been unable to test the evidence. Is that not the point?

The only way to test the evidence is in a court of law. I have been trying to say that there is no proof in any court of law that these men are dangerous. All that we have is the evidence that my right hon. Friend has, which he believes shows that if these men continued to live in our country they would pose a danger. It is possible that my right hon. Friend may be wrong. My right hon. Friend may be too alarmed. It may be that the men are perfectly safe and that if they remain here no damage will be done.

The man responsible for our security has shown himself throughout, in Parliament and elsewhere, as very sensitive on all matters of civil liberty. He has now come to the decision that if these men continue to live in this country there will be a threat, howeved small, to national security and that he must act. He may not be 100 per cent. certain, but if he is 90 per cent. certain he must do so.

It is for the House to be the court of appeal, and our court of appeal must look at it in this way: do we trust the man who has made this decision? This is how we must act. We must ask, "Is he the sort of man who would take this drastic decision, depriving individuals of their rights, unless he was absolutely convinced, and had ample evidence to convince him. that it was necessary to do so?"

That is the only way in which we can act. We cannot ask for proof that the men are dangerous. If there were proof, they would be arrested and imprisoned. All we know is that the man we trust, the Home Secretary, says that he believes that their associations are such as to make it dangerous for them to stay here any longer.

Under those circumstances, we have no alternative but to put our full trust in my right hon. Friend, however much we may dislike the procedure he has had to carry out, and support him in the action he has taken.

11.32 p.m.

I think that the Home Secretary, who has had rather a rough ride tonight, will take some comfort from the fact that voices of experience which we have no reason to deride—those of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) who was Home Secretary in his day and the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss)—bore out his judgment and gave their reasons cogently.

It seems to me that what divides us tonight, rather unhappily in a sense and not necessarily on a party basis, is this. There are those of us who accept and support the good faith not only of the Home Secretary but the security services in their efforts to protect the constitution and parliamentary democracy. This is a serious matter, and must be related to that. There are those on the other side who do not accept that good faith.

Let me attempt to look at the back ground to all this. It is not easy, and it may ruffle some hon. Members, but I hope that they will bear with me. To some extent we can only guess at the background anyway, but let it at least be a fair guess.

The security services—the CIA in particular, but not exclusively—have been continually criticised. My hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken) was to some extent critical of our own security services and so were other hon. Members. Let me pay the only tribute I can to them. Years ago in Cyprus I was brought into contact with them and their work for a short time. The circumstances were very difficult, but I can pay this tribute with absolute sincerity. The people with whom I had to deal were diligent, unfailingly unselfish and scrupulous to a fault.

There was no public glory for them. Their only lot was endless, patient and often dangerous work. We do ill in this House to criticise them, as some hon. Members have tonight, in doing a job of which we understand very little but which at least I saw being carried out for a short time.

What has not emerged in our debates in what the security services are up against. There is a connection with the subject of this debate. They are up against an organisation which has not met one word of criticism yet in this debate—the KGB. Labour Members may laugh. The KGB is hailed—and much pleasure may it give them, although I cannot believe that of the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens)—as "the sword and shield" of the Communist Party. Yes, indeed! For without the KGB the Communist empire would crumble. This organisation is a vast instrument of internal oppression and external subversion and it is the sole guarantor of the existence of Russian Socialism, or Socialism in Communist terms.

Although little is known of the facts about Agee and Hosenball, upon which the Home Secretary had to make his judgment, a certain amount has emerged in public. There was a Press conference at the end of last year. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr) wishes to make a speech, I hope that he will try to do so. In all the years that I have seen him lolling on that Bench, I have not heard him make a single speech. If he is unhappy with his lot in this country, why does he not go back to where he came from.

I was saying that there was a Press conference at the end of last year when a question was put to Agee:
"Why do you not attack the KGB as well as the CIA?"
That seems to be a perfectly reasonable question. He replied:
"Because Russia long ago had its Socialist revolution, Russia is safe."

I wish to make only one other small quotation, if the House will bear with me. It comes from a journal that anybody taking an interest in foreign affairs will agree to be serious and to be taken seriously. Certainly it used to be in official life when I was mixed up in it, but that is a number of years ago, as I have said. I refer to the Economist foreign report. I shall not weary the House with much of this quotation, which is:
"Former CIA officials believe that Philip Agee—the ex-CIA officer who is now under deportation order in Britain—established a significant contact with Soviet intelligence back in October, 1964, when he was still working for the CIA. It was then that he first encountered Vassiliy Petrovich Semenov in Montevideo. Semenov was a senior KGB officer who was then working under cover as a military attaché…He was based in Cuba during the months that Agee spent there researching his book 'CIA Diary', after leaving the CIA…Semenov travelled to Moscow when Agee went there two years ago—by his own account, to explore the prospects for a Russian edition of his book."
Et al. That quotation is easily verified.

The question I wish to put, which is quite appropriate at the moment, is this: it has been alleged publicly on more than one occasion that Agee frequented the KGB and had contacts with them in London. Various hon. Members have alluded to that. He denies it, but he admits frequent meetings with Soviet and Cuban embassies, as the hon. Member for Harlow said. There is nothing particular about that. Last summer he said that two years ago he spent some days in Russia to discuss his plans to expose CIA agents. Some people, certainly in the United States, would call that treachery, but never mind. With whom did he imagine he was discussing those plans? The Russian Ballet, Moscow Dynamo? I hardly think so. He must have known perfectly clearly with whom he was discussing them.

In answer to me my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that there was no question of Agee's activities on the CIA having any influence on his decision. I remember that the hon. Member made a speech here in support of Rhodesia at the time of UDI. If he had been subjected to similar charges of treachery, of betraying his country, and of being a national security threat because he had a close relative in the Rhodesian Assembly, he would have objected strongly, and rightly so, to these aspersions being cast on him. As with Mr. Agee, they should have nothing to do with it at all.

The hon. Member is as confused about me and my family as he is about the matter we are debating tonight. If he wants an account of my antecedents in Rhodesia, he is welcome. But any experience I have had with the Rhodesians is nothing whatever to do with what we are discussing tonight.

I am talking about the basis on which the Home Secretary is called upon to make these decisions. The CIA is not my prime concern at all, but the KGB is. That is why I am trying to explain the background of Agee and Hosenball in this context. That is a fair approach.

I turn next to the main burden of the argument. Hon. Members opposite ask why this matter has not been conducted in the open. They want to see a trial of some kind in the courts. By all means have maximum disclosure on these matters, but let it be balanced. Let it not just be in the interests of those who, at best, abuse the hospitality of this country, and at worst could be regarded as traitors to their own country. Let it be in the interests of the British people as a whole, whose liberties, way of life and system of parliamentary democracy is threatened by the organisation I am talking about.

If there are to be disclosures, let us have them balanced. Let the Home Secretary describe the proportion of Soviet diplomats in this country and in this city who are members of the KGB. Let him tell us about the number of Czechs, East Germans, Cubans, Romanians, Bulgarians, Hungarians and Poles who actually work in the Russian interest here. What links do these people have with British citizens? How can this Parliament and the people judge justice from injustice, fact from fiction in this admittedly murky field, unless they know the facts, and not just one unbalanced account?

For many years we have lived our lives; pursued our endeavours; innocent of the deadly conspiracy mounted by the Soviet Union and its Communist helots against all we stand for through the KGB a conspiracy of unparalleled dishonesty and ruthlessness. Slowly it seems to me, the people of this country are beginning to awaken to what is going on. It is out duty in this place to warn them, not to beguile them or to confuse them. I hope that this debate will alert people, not to the specious protests of some hon. Members opposite but to the real menace which the KGB, and these their creatures, represent for us all.

The Chair appeals to hon. Members for brevity.

11.45 p.m.

The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) has demonstrated accurately the iniquity of this procedure. He smeared people and called them agents of the KGB. But the Home Secretary said that these are not people who are alleged to have committed any crime, or to have spied, or to have done anything of the kind. Smears of that kind result from this procedure, and this is one reason why we on this side of the House protest.

The hon. Gentleman read one article concerning Mr. Agee. He implied that there is no connection between Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball: therefore, Mr. Hosenball is an agent of the KGB. That was the logic of the hon. Gentleman's argument—and since that came from a man with his distinct sympathies for Southern Rhodesian and South African régimes, we can well have anxieties about the kind of people who might have fed information to the Home Secretary.

I was grateful for the intervention of the Home Secretary in this debate, if only to show the House how these matters arise. But I fear that the Home Secretary's announcement on these two men has started a dangerous slide in terms of Press freedom. It has been accompanied by the devaluation of the words of two former Home Secretaries and of the words of the present Prime Minister who said of the Rudi Dutschke case that if survelliance showed that Dutschke was engaging in harmful activity, he would expect Dutschke to have been warned about it. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister added that Dutschke should have been cautioned before the deportation notice was issued. In other words, if a working journalist such as Mr. Hosenball had stumbled on a delicate area, he should have been warned. Indeed, he did not know, and to this day he is still ignorant of, the charge against him.

I recognise that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has to administer the immigration laws as they are and also has a duty to ensure the security of the State. My right hon. Friend came fresh from Northern Ireland, and in my view he has fallen into a well-baited and carefully prepared trap. My right hon. Friend made himself—I say this sorrowfully because the Home Secretary is a friend of mine—look both foolish and perverse and he has exposed himself to the accusation of double standards.

Since my right hon. Friend started on that slope, people's houses have been raided by the police for no other reason than that they sent a Christmas card to a gentleman who was arrested under Section 2 of an Act which the Franks Committee recommended for repeal. I shall not dwell on the Duncan Campbell case, but we see how these matters begin to spread.

It appears that sections of our security service are suddenly becoming sensitive, The result is counter-productive because it is producing the opposite of what is intended. Now everybody is trying to find out what is sought to be concealed The brilliant minds of those who comcocted the trial that led to the death of Lennon and who had us hauled before the bar of world opinion at the Hague because of what happened in Northern Ireland, the great brains which have botched up so many aspects of our community, are being allowed to feed information to the Home Secretary on which, honestly and with integrity, he has acted But my right hon. Friend has acted without proper scrutiny and without going through the correct procedures.

This is an age-old dilemma. If we are to protect parliamentary democracy we need security, but there comes a time when security can act against the very institution which it is designed to serve—not least because of the mental processes and political prejudices of many people involved in our security services; We are witnessing a campaign of intimidation now extending to anybody who might issue articles such as "The Eavesdroppers"—an article that seemed to cause a great deal of trouble in Hosenball's case.

The procedure against which these men had to battle was a farce. I attended and gave evidence at the Hosenball inquiry. I was not asked a single question. There were these three men, who themselves did not even know what the charges were, trying men who did not know what the charges were, with witnesses giving evidence in relation to matters in respect of which the charges were not known.

Mr. Hosenball is a working journalist doing a job, and it is natural that he, as any Member of Parliament doing his job may do, may stumble into a sensitive area without knowing the security implications. We faced anonymous accusers. One could not even cross-examine them behind a partition. There were unspecified offences, unknown charges and even dates unknown. How on earth can anyone defend himself against no charges, with no opportunity to cross-examine, which every lawyer in the House knows is the greatest safeguard for the person who is innocent? Above all, there was no way of knowing the motivation of those who had laid the information before the Home Secretary in the first place.

I believe that there are many who will be only too pleased to see the removal of an investigatory journalist such as Mr. Hosenball because he has trodden on their toes. It is painful for me to say it, but I believe that the Home Secretary has been very naive in accepting at face value the information which has been put before him in this matter. He seems to have failed to realise, for example, that Mr. Hosenball was the man who exposed the KCIA links of an organisation, which he has failed to investigate but on which I have documentation which fills a whole drawer and which is the subject of an investigation on Capitol Hill in the United States at the moment, concerning the activities of a Mr. Tongsun Park—I have sent my right hon. Friend all the documents—wanted for fraud, wanted for bribing Congressmen in the United States, yet allowed to come to this country and not regarded as an undesirable person.

Yes Mr. Hosenball, who let us know about these matters, is undesirable. A self-confessed BOSS agent comes to this country. He is not undesirable. Mr. Hosenball is. But Mr. Hosenball trod on BOSS's toes a great deal last year. He trod on Mr. Crozier's toes. He produced the dossier which I forwarded to the Prime Minister, showing the links between the South African security forces and the Institute for the Study of Conflict. Are we so naive as not to believe that there are people at work infiltrating our security services and our Civil Service, in positions of power, who would be only too pleased to feed into the machine something which would get rid of a radical journalist of this kind—and, I should add, one who, as I do, would abhor the KGB even more than the CIA?

There is one key point, and I ask my right hon. Friend to answer it. If he was not aware of the "Eavesdroppers" article, which seems to have been the bone of contention and which was published in Time Out in May 1976, until it was put upon his desk, who in the security service waited until he became Home Secretary and failed to give it to Roy Jenkins when he was Home Secretary? And why? One of two things must have happened. Either Roy Jenkins saw it and refused to touch it with a bargepole, or those in a position to supply it to Roy Jenkins did not supply it to him but supplied it to my right hon. Friend. If that is the case, we want to know why they sat on it for a year before passing it to my right hon. Friend.

There can be no other way about it. I know that I have offended my right hon. Friend, because I was misquoted in The Times on this matter, but the point is that either it was known about a year before and was sat on by someone lower down or it was sat on by the then Home Secretary. Which was it? It it was not supplied, why was it not supplied until later on?

I turn now to another matter. If it is suggested that these men have committed some offence, or that they are in any way party to an offence, they should be tried. Let them be put before a court of law, under the Official Secrets Act. My right hon. Friend knows well enough from his experience in Northern Ireland that one does not have to expose one's security. One can have trials in camera, and one does not have to reveal one's sources. There are ways of doing it without damaging security.

There certainly cannot be a danger to security in telling people what they are alleged to know already. That is what we are told. It seems rather illogical to say that these people who may have published something, and walked around the streets for two months should be put beyond our jurisdiction where they can publish anything without our being able to take any action.

I say only this with regard to Mr. Hosenball. He is highly regarded by the Evening Standard. The work permit was issued only a month before this action took place. It shows how ludicrous it is because the Evening Standard and the NUJ have backed Mr. Hosenball to the hilt.

I believe that the Home Secretary is acting upon information which he now ought to examine. He ought to go back to the source and ask "Who supplied this information in the first place? What were the motives of those people?" That is the sort of investigation that we now want.

I think my right hon. Friend has fallen prey to something very dangerous. Even at this late stage I hope that he will be big enough and willing to say "I may be wrong. I will look at this again". There are perhaps some hon. Members in this House who know Mr. Hosenball better than does the Home Secretary. I would claim to be one of them. The Home Secretary has got to examine these matters again before taking final action.

11.56 p.m.

This House is rightly jealous of individual liberty and individual freedom. It is perfectly correct, therefore, that we should have a debate like this and it is to the credit of the House that both sides of the argument have been expressed strongly and with great feeling. Wherever we sit in this House, and whatever view we may take about the cases of Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball, we can surely all accept the need to maintain the traditions of this House to uphold individual liberty and individual freedom.

Equally I would hope that we are all united in our determination, as the hon. Members for Harlow (Mr. Newens) and Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) have made absolutely clear, and belief that we have a duty to maintain the security of the State and to give full support to those who work for us and, indeed, on occasions risk their lives for us.

The hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) said that he has worked in this area and has knowledge of the security service. He has mentioned my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) and the Home Secretary as others who have had contact with the security service. Others of us have. As the hon. Gentlemen can well appreciate, I have myself.

I do not believe in parading in this House or in public one's particular feelings about the security service or one's contacts with it, but it is right to say one thing perfectly clearly: from my own personal knowledge, its determination to give to the Ministers whom it serves the fairest possible evidence that it can produce, in the best interests of our country, is without any doubt whatever. I shall stand before anyone and take that point of view.

I, of course, agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken) that no one is infallible. We can all be fallible. We are all human and therefore not infallible. Let us have no doubts about that. But nevertheless let us be under no illusions about the situation: any Minister who is in any way receiving security service information must access it for himself, as of course the Home Secretary has done. It is purely fundamental that in this debate we have to face the problem and to reconcile these two positions, and it is also fundamental to our judgment that in these two cases we are dealing with visitors to our country and not British citizens.

The procedure which the Home Secretary has followed was laid down by the House, after considerable argument, to deal particularly with the case of visitors. Contrary to what some hon. Members have said, any Government in any country—and particularly the British Government, with our long tradition of fairness to people coming here—are entitled to make a clear distinction between their own citizens and others who enter temporarily from abroad.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will hear me out. There are in this case certain double standards on both sides. A British citizen has certain rights, just as he has certain major responsibilities to Britain. A visitor, on the other hand, accepts only a few temporary responsibilities; correspondingly, he has fewer rights. That is a fundamental principle. We are like hosts who reserve the right to ask guests to leave because we find their behaviour unacceptable. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet said, I can see nothing wrong in that. It seems a sensible approach.

The Home Secretary made it clear on 16th February that he considered that he should not entitle Mr. Agee and Mr. Hosenball to remain here. He also said that because of security issues involved he was not prepared to go into greater detail about the grounds for his decision, Under the procedure laid down, he is not required to give such details.

The question that those who wish to change the procedure designed particularly for visitors have to answer is what they would do, and how they would change it, while preserving and safeguarding national security and the lives of servants of the Crown. The hon. Member for Blackley said that there were procedures available in Northern Ireland which would do just that. For two years, as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, I desperately sought to find such procedures and was unable to find them, and I doubt whether a better procedure can be found, particularly if one accepts, as I do, that a decision in such a case as this cannot be a legal one but can only be an executive one taken by a Minister of the Crown answerable to this House.

Of course no Minister is likely, when concerned with a very lonely and difficult decision, to do other than consider it with the greatest possible care. I find in the very fact that he has to take a lonely and difficult decision a considerable safeguard, for I cannot believe that any Minister would decide on a deportation unless he had, after very careful thought, overwhelming evidence in his possession on which he had to act.

I believe that, in the end, in cases like this we have to trust the judgment of the Home Secretary. I am prepared to do so because I believe that it is part of our constitution to trust the judgment of any Home Secretary in these circumstances. I believe that that has to be said, but in this case I go further.

Knowing the right hon. Gentleman as I do, as we all do, knowing his concern for liberty and the rights of the individual, I cannot conceive that he would have taken this decision unless he had been totally convinced that it was in the interests of the country and its people. It is for that reason that I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the Home Secretary in his decision. If there is a Division at the end of the debate, I trust that they will support him in the Lobby, but I hope that there will not be a Division, because this House has to have regard to the security of the State and to support the right hon. Gentleman in what has been a very difficult decision, taken, I know, in the best interests of the people.

12.5 a.m.

I should like to wind up the debate by taking a number of points raised in the debate. I repeat that there is the law which was passed in 1971 and that I have carried out that law. That is what I have to do, irrespective of the cases involved.

That is another matter. I have carried out the law, and if anyone argues that I have not, that has not been said tonight. Doubts were expressed about the extra-statutory procedure of my predecessor, and the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling), who made the statement on which the immigration rules were based, gave his view that I had followed faithfully the procedure that he made.

One subject that has not arisen, except in one respect, is the use of the panel. As much as we argued for this in 1971, and as much as it is an outside body looking at an executive decision, I realise the imposition that one puts on members of the panel. Nevertheless, I must make it clear that the advisory panel had before it all the information available to me. Because it was a condition of the appointment of the panel members that their advice to me should not be revealed, I am unable to tell the House what that advice was.

However, perhaps I should remind the House of what my predecessor, who was then the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Jenkins), said in 1967 when referring to the possibility of creating a panel to look at security cases. He said:
"I would reserve to myself, or future Home Secretaries, the power of final decision, but the applicant would have the advantage of having his case considered by independent and judicially-minded people to whose advice I would give full weight. Clearly, in the majority of cases, it would be decisive weight."—[Official Report, 15th November 1967, Vol. 754, c 457].
My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) mentioned the case of Caprino, but in that instance the case was reconsidered by the Home Secretary of the day, operating what seems to have been a different procedure from that which I have operated, because no junior Minister has been involved in this case. But my predecessor, Mr. Roy Jenkins, changed his mind.

The House would be wrong to think that I had not reconsidered this case from time to time, or that I had not done so very recently. My predecessor decided to change his mind, but I have not. I also put it to hon. Members that there was a case the other day involving a United States citizen from Wisconsin, who used a Nebraska address for the dissemination of virulently anti-Semitic and anti-negro literature but spends much of his time in Europe. He is the leader of the foreign organisation of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, a West German illegal organisation. His name is Lauck. He has been expelled from West Germany but continues to be active as the organiser of the organisation's activities outside Europe. The other day, using my personal power under Section 13(5) of the Immigration Act, from which there is no right of appeal, I did not allow that man to enter the United Kingdom, and that decision still stands.

Thus we have a different case of a person who is not here and is kept out. Is it being suggested that because that man was outside and I kept him out I was acting morally in that instance?

My right hon. Friend explains the reasons why he refused to admit that person. However, we do not know why these two gentlemen are being deported.

The point that I am making is that when the courts recommend or do not recommend deportation, I can overrule them. I play a major part in deportation

Division No. 120]


[12.10 a.m.

Allaun, FrankHooley, FrankMikardo, Ian
Atkinson, NormanHoyle, Doug (Nelson)Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Kerr, RussellRose, Paul B.
Bidwell, SydneyLamond, JamesSkinner, Dennis
Carter-Jones, LewisLatham, Arthur (Paddington)Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton and Slough)Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Corbett, RobinLoyden, EddieWhitehead, Phillip
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)Lyon, Alexander (York)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)McDonald, Dr Oonagh


Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Madden, MaxMr. Stanley Newens and
Garrett, John (Norwich S)Maynard, Miss JoanMiss Jo Richardson.
Heffer, Eric S.Mendelson, John


Alison, MichaelBrown, Hugh D. (Provan)Davidson, Arthur
Amery, Rt Hon JulianBrown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)
Archer, PeterCarlisle, MarkDavis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Ashton, JoeCarter, RayDeakins, Eric
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Chalker, Mrs LyndaDell, Rt Hon Edmund
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Clegg, WalterDormand, J. D.
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)Cocks, Rt Hon MichaelDouglas-Mann, Bruce
Bates, AlfCohen, StanleyDuffy, A. E. P.
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodColeman, DonaldDunnett, Jack
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)Cope, JohnEadie, Alex
Berry, Hon AnthonyCox, Thomas (Tooting)English, Michael
Bishop, E. S.Crawshaw, RichardEwing, Harry (Stirling)
Booth, Rt Hon AlbertCryer, BobFoot, Rt Hon Michael
Brotherton, MichaelCunningham, Dr J. (Whiten)Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)

in ways that my hon. Friend knows, and nobody raises objections. The problem in the present cases is one of security. That is the difficulty that we have to face.

With regard to the suggestion that I was misled in Northern Ireland, if I was misled I nevertheless did as I wished, because the misleading was to convince me not to release all detainees. I took my decision against all the advice to the contrary. I have to take a decision in these cases, and I have taken a decision.

The CIA has played no part in this. The evidence is not of that nature. The Americans can have what view they like about their nationals in their country. My decision has been taken for the security advantage of this country. It is not similar to the Dutschke case to which my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) referred and on which he quoted my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. This is not a political matter.

I shall be glad to examine any other constructive proposals for changing the procedure. I have carried out the procedure. I shall stick to and stand by it. I had to take the decision, and I believe that I was right.

Question put, That this House do now adjourn:—

The House divided: Ayes 34, Noes 138.

Freeson, ReginaldMarshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Stoddart, David
Freud, ClementMaudling, Rt Hon ReginaldStott, Roger
Gilbert, Dr JohnMayhew, PatrickStradling Thomas, J.
Golding, JohnMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Grant, John (Islington C)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Hardy, PeterMoyle, RolandThatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Harper, JosephMulley, Rt Hon FrederickThomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Oakes, GordonThorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Hastings, StephenOgden, EricTinn, James
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyOrme, Rt Hon StanleyTomlinson, John
Havers, Sir MichaelOwen, Rt Hon Dr DavidUrwin, T. W.
Healey, Rt Hon DenisPalmer, ArthurVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Hooson, EmlynPrice, William (Rugby)Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Horam, JohnRawlinson, Rt Hon Sir PeterWalker, Terry (Kingswood)
Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)Ward, Michael
Huckfield, LesRhodes James, R.Watkinson, John
Hunter, AdamRoberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)Weatherill, Bernard
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)Wellbeloved, James
John, BrynmorRoper, JohnWhite, Frank R. (Bury)
Jones, Alec (Rhondda)Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Jones, Barry (East Flint)Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)Whitlock, William
Jones, Dan (Burnley)Rowlands, TedWilliams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Judd, FrankSandelson, NevilleWilliams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Kaufman, GeraldSheldon, Rt Hon RobertWilliams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Lamborn, HarryShore, Rt Hon PeterWoodall, Alec
Le Marchant, SpencerSilkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)Woof, Robert
Lester, Jim (Beeston)Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)Wrigglesworth, Ian
Lewis Ron (Carlisle)Sims, RogerYoung, David (Bolton E)
Luard, EvanSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)
McElhone, FrankSmith, John (N Lanarkshire)


MacFarquhar, RoderickSnape, PeterMr. Ted Graham and
MacKenzie, GregorStewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)Mr. A. W. Stallard.
Marks, Kenneth

Question accordingly negatived.